Throwback Thursday: Looks like it’s gonna be another six months

Did you just ask me to sue you?

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

This company moves its plant to a new location and switches its internet service from a local cable company to a satellite provider, reports the pilot fish who handled the switchover. The transition goes smoothly, but six months later, the accounting office receives a collection bill from the cable company for a half-year of unpaid service, says fish, who is instructed to sort it out ASAP so the company can get it off its credit report.

Fish dials the cable company's customer service line, listens to the same on-hold rock medley 20 times, and finally gets through to a customer service rep and explains the situation.

Rep asks fish for his cancellation number and fish provides it. Then rep explains that, per company policy, all cancellations must be validated online by responding to a cancellation verification email sent to the customer’s account.

We need a workaround, fish explains, because he no longer has access to the account. Maybe the rep could give him an access code so fish can get back in to verify the cancellation. While he’s at it, fish could get time-stamped copies of the emails to send to the cable company’s accounting department to plead his case for nullifying the last six months of charges.

This is more than a fairly new rep can handle, so he says he’ll ask his supervisor what can be done. After many more minutes of the rock medley, rep returns and tells fish that the solution is to log into the account and simply verify the cancellation.

Fish patiently explains again that he cannot do this since he does not have access. The cable company needs to reactivate the account temporarily or give fish a new access code.

Rep goes back to his supervisor and finally returns to tell fish that company policy dictates there can be no access or reactivation until the overdue balance is paid.

Hold on, says fish; I’m going to send you a scanned print copy of the cancellation order. Can you make one last effort to find a solution?

Rep heads off to the supervisor again and, many medleys later, returns — to reaffirm that nothing can be done until the overdue account is paid.

“There has to be a better solution,” says fish, as calmly as he can.

“Customer rep says his supervisor anticipated this response, and has found another solution.

“‘Great,’ I say with a sigh or relief. ‘What is it?’

“The customer service rep pauses for a moment, and then blurts out, ‘Seek legal advice.’”

Don’t cancel on Sharky. Send me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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