Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Impatient Ms. Kitty Comes Out of Hiding

Usually I am the soul of patience. In my opinion, anyhow. I am polite to telemarketers, indulgent with rebellious youth, tolerant of my cats' tendency to wake me up way too early, able to listen to criticism reflectively (at least in public), and grateful for the attentions of those I've asked to help me fix something. Like my Comcast internet service.

For two weeks, I have suffered the inconvenience of not being able to send email on my primary account name with Comcast. I didn't discover it right away; it began to dawn on me that I hadn't gotten responses to several emails sent to people who normally sent me a note in return. So I began to check things out and, yup, nobody for two weeks had gotten any messages from me.

In addition, for approximately the same period of time, all the comments for this blog had been landing in my spam folder, where I would find them, mark them "not Spam" and respond to them from my inbox.

This all seemed to coincide with some newly unveiled "improvements" on the Comcast home page, so I figured if I was just patient, it would all resolve, though I took the precaution of calling the tech desk at Comcast to ask them to check my account.

The techie at Comcast couldn't find anything wrong but reset the account and made a referral to the Big Techie who could investigate further. When the reset didn't accomplish anything, I decided to dig a little deeper. It turned out that my two secondary account names were able to send messages, so I forwarded all the messages coming into my primary inbox to one of the secondary inboxes and limped along that way for another week.

Thursday I called back to Comcast to see if the Big Techie had learned anything yet and was told I'd have to be patient a little longer----the 72 hours of wait time wasn't quite up yet and I'd be hearing something soon.

Friday morning, magically, the primary account was able to send messages and comments to Ms. Kitty's were landing in the regular inbox. I was delighted, naturally, and thanked the invisible Big Techie and his/her supervisor in the Cosmos in my prayers for the gift of repaired internet service.

Friday afternoon, Big Techie called. There's nothing wrong with your Comcast account, he said, and there hasn't been all along. It's not our fault, your email must have something wrong with it and all the recipients' services are blocking it. This was said in a somewhat accusatory tone of voice, as though he suspected me of sending porn or spam and deserved to be blocked by AOL, Whidbey Telecom, Earthlink, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. No solutions or suggestions offered as to how to deal with this and instead his tone of voice touched off an internal response I hadn't even known I was capable of.

"STOP!" I said to him after a few minutes. "You're not listening to me. This is my experience and it is related to Comcast. I am sending out the same kind of email I have always sent out, it is not spam or porn, it coincided with changes Comcast made to its home page, and I am convinced that it is connected."

His response was to reiterate his "not our fault" mantra over and over, talking over me, and eventually I just slammed down the phone in frustration. The interesting thing was that I felt absolutely no regret or guilt, no need to apologize for my attitude, nothing but impatience with how Big Techie had come across. A good customer service rep needs better people skills and I hope he gets them.

Of course, in retrospect, I realize that he is probably right, that whatever it was, it wasn't really Comcast. Somehow my primary account was erroneously marked as suspect, possibly connected to the name of this blog because it is slightly bawdy, and comments to Ms. Kitty's are emailed to my primary account. The fact that they both corrected simultaneously seems significant.

I may be entirely wrong in my theorizing but it's the best I can do. And while I am prepared to admit that Big Techie might be right, I am not inclined to apologize for my impatience. I do wonder where it came from, though. I just started taking a medication to improve my cholesterol numbers and am enough of a hypochondriac to wonder if three days of Zocor could make me an irascible old lady. I guess time will tell.

There are times it is safe to be impatient, hang up on somebody who is being rude, and enjoy the satisfaction of having spoken one's mind and acted impatiently under the circumstances. There are other times it is not safe to do so. I hope to be able to tell the difference!


Robin Edgar said...

Well at least you were considerably more patient and reasonable than (in)famous U*U Mona "The Hammer" Shaw Ms. Kitty. ;-)

Chalicechick said...

Well, Ms. Kitty didn't have a house miles from any neightbor, a husband with a weak heart and a comcast-imposed inability to call 911. She has reason to be annoyed, but I don't think it's saying much to say that the lady with the Hammer had a much more pressing one.

That both requests were very reasonable and were ignored speaks to the sort of company comcast is. does a large "worst company in America" voting thing every year and of all the companies in the world, Comcast traditionally comes in second or at least makes the final four.

Don't remember how they did this year, but I think the final four was AIG, Ticketmaster, Bonk of America and Comcast.


ms. kitty said...

True, Robin, she really lost her cool! But I've always had such good service from Comcast; Big Techie's manner was so anomalous from what I've been accustomed to. Even though he was probably right.

ms. kitty said...

Oh, gosh, I've got to remember to roll over my VALIC/AIG account---but to Fidelity? Wait a minute. And did you mean to write Bonk of America? Somehow that's so appropriate!

Comcast has never before been a problem for me. I have cable and internet, but not phone, because we get too many power outages here on the island, so I need a good landline.

Joel said...

I don't think Mona the Hammer needs to make any excuses. She was rudely treated by supercilious chairwarmers who figured a sweet old lady wasn't going to give them any trouble. If more sweet old ladies would take the same sort of action, our society might start showing them the respect they've earned many times over.

In the same vein, Auntie, I don't think you need to make any apologies for losing your patience.
You're not only his paying customer, you're his elder. It's his place to placate you, not the other way around. And it sounds like he's full of hooey, to boot.

CC, I hope the typo was intentional. It's great. Maybe Bunk of America?

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Joel. Anyhow, anyone named Mona (with or without hammer) is a legend in our minds, right?

Robin Edgar said...

Oops! I came *this* close to mistaking your "Favorite Son" for Joel Monka again. . .

Joel I know that I am not exactly a "sweet old lady" but it seems to me that if I showed up at the Unitarian Church of Montreal or 25 Beacon Street in Boston and started smashing things up with a hammer to express my displeasure with U*U "customer service" that I would get into serious trouble with the law. Are you really condoning such tin pot terrorism, because that's what it come down to Joel. . .

Chalicechick said...

I think Mona was wrong to do what she did and I absolutely abhor the minor folk hero status she got just because lots of people hate Comcast.

I think the fact that she was worried that because Comcast was so casual about fixing their mistake, her husband would need an ambulance, wouldn't get one and would die is very useful context, but I sorely wish that the Washington Post had used something other than her church affiliation to illustrate how she was just a regular person who got pushed over the line. To say that she set a bad example for our youth is to put it mildly.

Ms. Kitty, I did just type that incorrectly, though I'm glad that I've given y'all some fun.

On AIG was this year's winner. Comcast came in second.

ms. kitty said...

This Joel is my nephew, Robin, not Joel Monka.

Robin Edgar said...

I know Ms. Kitty but I almost mistook him for Joel Monka *again*.

Robin Edgar said...

"I think Mona was wrong to do what she did and I absolutely abhor the minor folk hero status she got just because lots of people hate Comcast."

It's always a pleasure when CC and I are on pretty much the same wavelength about something pertaining to U*Uism. :-)

Joel said...

I didn't see her religion as anything significant except in that it made for something to tease my aunt about. The stories mentioned it as background; I doubt anyone who wasn't UU paid much attention.

Yes, I suppose smashing things with a hammer is probably bad form. :) But the principle stands. If more people made cavalier treatment of old ladies a risky proposition, they would be more likely to receive the respect due them.

(Then again, I'm a bit of a hyper-traditionalist. I'm not sure doing away with pistols at dawn was an improvement in society.)

ms. kitty said...

"If more people made cavalier treatment of old ladies a risky proposition, they would be more likely to receive the respect due them."

So perhaps I've taken a metaphorical swing for all the little old ladies of the world?

Joel said...

I like to think of you as a little old lady in training. You've got a ways to go yet.

But yes, you contributed nicely. The yahoo in question was probably my age or younger, which means he regrettably needed to be taught proper respect in adulthood. Too many of my generation failed to learn manners in our childhood. (I tried to fail, but my grandfather wouldn't allow it.)

Chalicechick said...

((( I didn't see her religion as anything significant except in that it made for something to tease my aunt about. The stories mentioned it as background; I doubt anyone who wasn't UU paid much attention.))

You are surely correct, Joel. The same article mentioned that she likes to square dance. I doubt the square dancers of the world liked the shout-out either.

Most UUs either pitied her or were annoyed that she made us look silly and violent. The public at large seemed to like her because she was attacking a company that treats its customers so famously badly.

If she'd taken a hammer to, say, an Apple store or a Toyota dealership or anyplace else generally known for making products its customers love, I doubt the public reaction would have been as favorable.*

John Dillenger became a folk hero robbing banks during the Great Depression, when a great many people felt the banks had themselves stolen the money from people like them. It's a similar principle.


*To clarify, MANY Comcast customers are not Comcast customers by choice. Comcast loves to work out deals where everybody in a given apartment complex has to have comcast. People have been known to take this into account in the apartment-selection process.

Chalicechick said...


Virginia Court records are public. Shaw was charged with disorderly conduct, fined, ordered not to go near Comcast for a year and given a three month suspended sentence.

My impression is that this sentence is about what you get for setting a dumpster on fire or doing something else that causes a bit of property damage but isn't directed at a person. (Obviously, if the fire gets out of hand or if Mona had threatened or hit a person, we're talking about a different situation)

Assuming the judge found you reasonably sympathetic and you didn't have any prior history, my guess is that you would get the same for a similar act of vandalism. But I am not a lawyer and I do not know the laws of Canada or Massachusetts, so don't assume I'm correct. Also, to reiterate, this was Mona's first offense. My guess is your prior issues with UCM would not look favorable even though I know the court decisions have mostly been on your side.

One of the reasons Mona got off fairly lightly was that she seemed like a regular person who just snapped. You wouldn't look like that because this has all gone on so long. Had Mona's problems with Comcast happened a decade ago and she spent the intervening time protesting in front of Comcast and THEN went in there with a hammer, my guess is she'd still be in jail.

Also, if the cops had told her to put the hammer down and she had turned with the hammer to face the officers, in most police jurisdictions they would have had grounds to shoot her.

So yeah, for your own sake don't do that. You and Mona's situations are fundamentally different, and the law would punish you far more.