Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mr. Furious

If Pynchon were a superhero (and, of course, he's my superhero), his code name would be Mr. Furious. Because when he gets angry ... very very angry ... watch out!

Now, neither Pynchon nor I are terribly patient people. We are quick to anger, and although we are working hard to fight our natural inclinations, there's no denying that the urge is there. When set off, I like to swear a blue streak and get really sarcastic and cynical. Pynchon likes ... to ... ur, punch things. Or possibly kick them. His main superpowers are, in no particular order, brute force, and blind rage. These powers can be put to good use: opening jars of baby food, ramming together furniture from IKEA, ripping the overfull garbage bag from the can, etc. Brute force and blind rage are not so good for finesse work. And sometimes, lacking a proper object--for example, when the offending stimulus does not admit of a brute-force-blind-rage solution--sometimes, things go awry. For example, exasperated beyond all measure by Miss Baby's behaviour one fine day, he handed her off to me and went up to the guest room for a time out ... where, kicking off his slipper with brute force and blind rage, he accidentally put a hole in the wall.

You can imagine this didn't help anyone's mood.

However, Mr. Furious has been redeeming himself lately, channeling both force and rage into productive encounters with recalcitrant 'customer service agents'.

Let me just say that I am generally the most tractable and pleasant customer I can be. I listen carefully, I carry exact change, I make pleasant and respectful chitchat, and I rarely return anything. I understand that most front line retail workers make very poor wages, suffer inadequate training, and are offered no incentive for loyalty or even competence. I don't like conflict, and I don't like trouble. I think in the past this has led to me getting snookered. But now, Mr. Furious has swooped in to rescue me!

First case: Mr. Furious recently and with great vigor renegotiated our cell phone contract. To make a long story short, I got him a phone for Christmas and put us both on a shared plan that I intended to be the plan I already had plus some extra minutes. I tried very hard to make this clear to the woman who sold me the package, and she kept assuring me verbally that I got what I wanted but that, it being Christmas, there was no paper documentation she could give me to examine. We did not get the plan I expected, though: I had in fact lost all my long distance minutes and most of my local minutes, as well as my voice mail, and our 'evenings' now started at 9pm where they used to start at 5pm on my plan. One startling several-hundred-dollars bill later, we were getting the runaround from everyone as we tried to figure out what went wrong. The retail outlet told us we needed to call the 800 line. The 800 line tried very hard to send us back to the retail outlet. Well, Mr. Furious dealt the Front Line Phone Sap such a round of fury and persistence that he managed to get a manager on the phone, a reduction in our bill, and a custom-designed minutes plan plus early evenings and weekends in perpetuity. By the time that phone call was over, Mr. Furious allowed Pynchon to kindly chitchat with manager Ted, and for them to wish each other good evening. Take that, Telus Mobility! It was a marvel.

Second case: Today, Mr. Furious directed his fearsome energies toward the Sears Major Appliance Repair Service. Our still-under-warranty dryer is not working, and you can imagine what it is like to have a 9 month old baby and no clothes dryer. Our front porch has all week been festooned in underthings drying in the sun. If it starts to rain, we're in big trouble. Pynchon called Sears to book a repair appointment--you know, the kind where you stay at home all day because they don't know when they're coming? The first appointment was cancelled due to technician illness. Fine. They rebooked for Wednesday. Again, Pynchon and Miss Baby stayed in all day in breathless anticipation. Of a repairman who didn't show up. Mr. Furious stepped in and phoned Sears: "Ah," they said, "looks like you got booked for February 28". Period. As if that explained it all away.

Yes, that's right: they booked our appointment in the past.

Mr. Furious is especially good in these kinds of clearly-moronic scenarios. When told, after some pressing for redress by Mr. Furious, that we might be put on 'standby' for today, he unleashed a tide of righteous rage, and was told someone would call him first thing this morning. This morning, the 'standby' line was used again, effectively parsed by Mr. Furious thus: "You mean you screwed up our appointment, and I had to wait around all day yesterday for nothing, and now you want me to wait around all day today because MAYBE you might make it, but maybe you might not? Are you kidding me?"

The technician arrived 30 minutes later. And we're getting a $50 gift certificate.

I was raised to believe that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I was also raised to be polite and to avoid conflict. So I'm quite ambivalent about this business of efficacious furiosity. However, I was also raised to believe you got what you paid for: and by buying appliances and services from big name, expensive retailers, I expected to be treated respectfully by competent servicepeople. And all we got was stonewalling and "it's not my problem" and "the computer won't let me help you" so that, ultimately, I don't feel to bad about unleashing Mr. Furious on the collective 'service' behind. I have never, never, actually managed to get an apology or a reparation from any commercial organization every before. And now we've had two in two months, all because my husband gets angry, demanding, and inflexible. Sigh.

At least he's using his powers for good, instead of evil.


Omaha Mama said...

I live with a hot-tempered hubby. I think I will have him make all future 800 number calls to companies we do business with. Brilliant!

David said...

I'm the more hot-tempered one in my marriage, and I'm the one who pushes companies trying to avoid doing right by us.

I had EXACTLY the same (well pretty much) situation with Telus. As I was reading, I was like, that MUST be Telus.

Go, Mr. Furious!

cinnamon gurl said...

oops - that was me!

Mad Hatter said...

Like Sin, I am the hot-head in the family. I don't ever go by the name David, though.

I have only seen my husband angry once in 17 years of knowing him.

Mimi said...

Yeah, Mad, I'm trying to imagine your husband angry ... I'm failing. But he looks menacing. Something about the quiet. That can be very effective, too, you know ;-)

NotSoSage said...

Oh, Joe and I are both TOO laid back. I'm probably the first to get frustrated, but that's way WAY beyond when it should have happened.

Do you know about Ben Stiller's superhero character Mr. Furious in the movie Mystery Men? It's should check it out if you haven't.

nomotherearth said...

I'm the one who needs anger management in our marriage. Unfortunately, I am also working in client services, so I know the flip side of these things. I do know that if you make enough of a fuss, something usually gets done.

Jenifer said...

I have gotten much more bitchy about stuff like this in recent years. I don't know if it was having the girls , but I am not so much into taking the customer service crap anymore. In the past month I have been sent a pile of hair barrettes from Goody after sending an email (gently) complaining. They were quick and very accommodating.

Hubby still uses his charms to get what he deserves and to be honest I will say it probably works better.

I just don't have the patience. You are right about customer service though. My sister-in-law has been fighting with Bell for months. Long story short they screwed up her bill massively and she has talked to numerous managers etc. and she is still fighting with them. And, she works in a call centre as a manager so she is well versed in this environment. It is so disgraceful that these companies just don't give a crap. Or, if they do it takes a lot to get it from them.

ewe are here said...

Go Mr Furious!

I have a split personality when it comes to customer service people on the phone, expecially when there's a problem. I'll start off by being nice, calm, and clear. If that fails, the politeness will slide and I will let them know in no uncertain terms how their company has screwed up and needs to fix things. I do make a point of telling them I know it's not 'their' fault, but I expect them to help me get it sorted out. know it and work my way up the chain very quickly... And, if that fails, I write letters.