Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Weekend Assignment: Running the Gauntlet

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

We've all become used to automated phone routers ("To continue in English, press 1"), long waits at government offices and other bureaucratic obstacles to getting something done. Have you any particular horror stories along these lines, or have you had mostly good experiences with government agencies?

I haven't had to deal with government agencies much lately over the phone. Chris has his own tale to tell about getting his class schedule together for college this year, and it seems to be a tale that might make Douglas Adams turn a time or two in his grave. I don't have all the details (I just write the checks), so it's not mine to tell.

Most of my dealings with the city and county have been via their web sites, which, amazingly, work fairly well. I can pay my water bill, renew my car registration (except I forgot, so I'll be standing in line later this week), get hold of city and county departments, and so on. It's not perfect, but it beats sitting on hold.

Now corporate entities are another issue. I get so tired of sitting on hold for ages being told that my call is important. They certainly have a funny way of showing how much they value my business.

Extra Credit: Does this problem seem to be getting better or worse?

It certainly seems so - especially as companies and government agencies are slashing budgets. Web-based customer service works when it's implemented well, but we ran into a couple of frustrating situations over the last week and had to resort to the telephone to get things taken care of. One was a credit card activation. I hate those. One wrong digit and you have to hang up and call again. I finally got it done, but it was like pulling teeth. And of course, while they activate my card (which probably took all of three seconds) I had to sit through a 30-second commercial for some product I'd never use.



Filed under: Weekend Assignment            
7/27/2009 10:47:20 AM
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