I was reminded of Benjamina last night when a cable salesman came to our door. Fortunately, we now use Netflix and don’t even have to deal with Giant Cable Company any longer, but friends still teasingly call me Benjamina from time to time, especially when there is trickery involved. Please enjoy the legendary tale of Benjamina..]
45 minutes on hold.
5th phone attempt this week.
Just want to downgrade my cable.
Please, Giant Cable Company, hire just one more person. I’ll forgive you for routing the call to India. Please, just someone pick up the phone. I hate taking the phone into the bathroom with me. Please just pick up.
Speaker phone. Good idea.
Elevator version of Phil Collins song. Bad idea.
Fold laundry while on hold. Good idea.
Bump the phone with the laundry basket and lose call. Bad idea.
Re-dial Giant Cable Company.
More instrumental Phil Collins.
Then a small miracle.
“Thank you for calling Giant Cable Company, how may I assist you?” Smooth, articulate voice. Nice enunciation. Young guy. African-American, maybe?
Fumble to get phone off speaker. Careful…..you must not lose this call.
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
“Yes, yes, sorry….just switching off speaker phone. “
“Can I get your name and account number?”
“Yes, 5320150. Joy Thomas”
“What can I help you with today, ma’am?”
“I’d like to switch to the basic plan, please”.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, you’re not the main account holder. I would need to speak to Benjamin Thomas in order to make any changes to the account.”
Not the main holder?
“Seriously? I take care of all the bills and household logistics. Plus, Benjamin is the one who told me to call and downgrade because we just don’t watch enough TV to make it worth it. I’ve been trying to get in touch with someone the whole week and finally just got through.”
“Ma’am, I would need to speak to Benjamin about this matter. I am not authorized to discuss Benjamin’s account with you. He will need to call back to discuss any changes.”
We are still talking about cable, right?
Irritation turns to panic.
All those hours on hold. Wasted. All those Phil Collins nightmares. For naught.
Ben will never have time to stay on hold for an entire week.
This will not get done unless I do it now.
“Um…okay. Let me get my husband on the phone.”
You cannot lose this call.
Just be Ben. Use a deep voice.
Heart beating outside of chest.
(pathetically-deep Darth Vader voice) “Hi, this is Ben.”
(incredulous, no-nonsense half-laugh) “ma’am, this is still you.”
Am I in an SNL skit gone bad? Doesn’t this guy know how improv works? Play along, dude.
You cannot lose this call.
(more Vader voice) “No, this is Ben. I want to switch our cable to the basic plan.”
(ice-cold tone) “Okay, in that case…..you would lose your current special Internet pricing. So doing this would actually increase your cost.”
I don’t think so.
(steady, deep voice) “Then I think I need to cancel our cable altogether. “
(fierce) “Okay, you can do that by bringing in a valid photo id to any one of our Giant Cable Company locations.”
(still trying to stay Vader but hitting a falsetto here and there) “So you’re saying I cannot cancel my cable unless I physically come in to one of your office locations?”
(Stony) “Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”
You lost the call.
You need to use your own voice.
With a new name.
Dial Giant Cable Company Sales, not Customer Service.
Someone answers right away.
Don’t waste time.
“Hypothetically, if I were to sign up for cable, would I be able to cancel over the phone or would I need to go into your office to cancel?”
(sheepish) “Um, as far as I know, you can just cancel over the phone.”
I knew it.
“Okay, I’m actually a current customer and called sales because your department answers the phone quickly. Could you please transfer me to Customer Service?”
On hold again.
Time to think.
No more Deep Throat. You need a different identity.
Seemingly less hold time.
“Thank you for calling Giant Cable Company, how may I assist you?” Young guy. But different guy. Phew.
“Hi, I’m calling because there seems to be an error with the spelling of my name on my account. There’s actually an “a” at the end of my name, Benjamina. Sometimes people mistake it for a guy’s name.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am. I can change that for you.”
Was it really that easy?
“Thank you so much. I’d also like to talk about different package options.”
“Certainly, Benjamina, let me go over some of our current specials….”
Lower price and all.
Several hours later.
Text from Ben: Why am I getting e-mails from Giant Cable Company written to Benjamina Thomas?”