March 14, 2003
March 14, 2003


Some Customer Service people have become machines. My readers have probably had at least one or more automated robot human who was either lazy, uninterested, or had been trained improperly by their company; who arrogantly refused to process your complaint and insist that you call another department. Using my recent experience with MCI, I’ll outline each procedural step in order to decrease the mounting stress from frustration of being ignored, demeaned and treated as if you were the perpetrator rather than the victim.

The first call I received from MCI was January 15, 2002 demanding I send payment immediately for a balance I did not owe. (In fact, it was a check I had paid in advance of the billing period because I was leaving the country for a month.) I quickly located the canceled check in question only to be told, “You need to immediately fax the front and back of that check to us.” I xeroxed the check and sent it by snail mail the next day. Then in early February, I began getting calls (which came up on the caller I.D. as “unavailable”) which stated, “This is MCI. Hold on until the first available representative comes on the line.”

Thinking that this is a sales pitch which impinges on my limited time, I hung up. A number of these calls came in creating an annoyance for me. Finally on February 17, 2002, I hung on, determined to request that they remove me from their sales list. Instead, I was informed that the xeroxed check which I had sent with the front and canceled back proving that I had paid the bill was still not entered. Moreover, I was greeted with an unpleasant voice, ”How are you going to make payment? By Visa or check?” I reiterated who the contact person and Department was, where the initial information had been sent after the first inquiry of January for the December bill. However, the representative and then the Supervisor both insisted that I must repeat the same process of proof. The Supervisor asserted, “I can not make the call.” (??? To correct MCI’s own inner departmental error?)

I then called the Research Department again, whose “robot” still ignored my offered information of the department number and the staff member’s name who had the information which I had previously sent one month earlier and also refused to contact her, and then told me that I must fax the same information to them again. (The entire process took sixteen hours of my time over a period of two separate days what with waiting up to an hour each time on hold,gathering the information, xeroxing it and writing the required cover letters explaining repeatedly the details.)

However, at this point my problem skills of preplanning for the next event kicked in. I asked the Research person, “How will I know that you have received this fax since this will be the second time I have sent it. I wish to be assured that you received it.” His answer was," You can call us in three days. It will take us thirty days to correct the account." I then faxed the necessary information.

However, after four hours of work on letters, and faxing, it dawned on me that I could and should call the original contact individual at that department number. After an hour of holding, I finally spoke to the representative who looked into it. I was disconnected twice, so I never found out if it were resolved.

By a fluke, I called the Billing Department on another matter later on the same day and was told that, that expense was deleted from my account. The ways to handle stress in these ludicrous situations (which happens all too frequently lately): Deep breathe; Meditate; Or rely on God (if you believe in God) to give you strength; Write letters to the main business office, the Better Business Bureau and/or the Consumers Complaint Department; Determine what law the company is transgressing. In the above case it is the Fair Trade and Billing Act. (It is against the law to refuse to cooperate with customers over a disputed balance. Should mediation go beyond the point where there is a strike against ones credit rating; the customer could take legal action.) Contact your Congressmen and/or Senators to help enforce laws already on the books. Lately, changing to a new service provider enables one to decrease ones sense of helplessness and often eliminates future problems. I find the last tact very successful in cases such as this, as it eliminates the problem so there is not a repetition.

Helplessness causes depression and apathy. Just the opposite reaction that one needs to overcome the obstacles of life. We must know that we can overcome, whether that strength comes from faith or from knowledge or both combined with the diligent work to finalize the outcome and the stress is dissolved.


There is a happy ending to this story. I received a Suspension and Termination notice from MCI which had a couple of telephone numbers on it for customers to call and request help. I phoned and was connected with a very lovely service person who, at my request, even explained the entire fiasco to the other number she said I had to call in order to get the credit that was coming to me (because now they had added late charges,too). After prolific apologies, I was offered a very handsome credit to my account. I declined the appeasement because I would prefer not to have a repetition of the obvious MCI customer policy that was in place to only collect bills, not investigate where they had erred. On 2-19-03, after the District Manager contacted me I was assured that the representatives would be investigated. I hope that MCI will consider all its practices so that another customer will not experience a similar frustration and waste of time. If that transpires then my efforts will rewarded. Rewards make efforts worthwhile and decreases the sense of helplessness one can feel within a technological society.