books, readers forum, television

Gotcha Capitalism, Waiter Rants, and Cancelling Cable

One of the helpful things Bob Sullivan does in Gotcha Capitalism is explain how to complain in a polite, productive manner. “After you get a human,” he writes about the trying, Muzak-intensive customer service call experience, “you’ll want to act like one.” There are numerous accounts of inhuman customer behavior out there; one, Waiter Rant, recently made the jump from blog to bestselling book.

This is not to imply that boorishness and idiocy flow in just one direction, from customer to CSR. Take, for example, this famous AOL incident as featured on The Today Show:



Then there is this story about Comcast CSRs altering LaChania Govan’s account information so that when her bill arrived, it was addressed not to Govan but rather “Bitch Dog.” (The CSRs responsible were fired.)

These examples make Ben’s experience cancelling his cable service in Pittsburgh pale by comparison.

BEN: Hi, I’d like to cancel my cable.

CSR: OK, I can help you with that today. [verifies all the personal info] Now why do you want to cancel your cable service with us, Mr. Vore?

BEN: I just don’t need it anymore.

CSR: Really? Don’t need cable? You don’t like to watch TV?

BEN: At the moment, no.

CSR: You’re saying you don’t like to watch TV?

BEN: I’m saying I’m just trying to cut TV out of my life.

CSR: That’s unusual. Are you not getting the amount of channels you want, because we have some great packages that would give you HBO and Showtime for a very affordable rate.

BEN: I’m not interested, thanks.

CSR: Not interested in HBO or Showtime? Wow, I’m surprised.

BEN: Yup. I just want to cancel my cable, thanks.

CSR: I just find that hard to believe, Mr. Vore. You’re telling me you really don’t enjoy having cable?

BEN: That’s what I’m telling you, yes.

CSR: Hmmm. But I thought everyone liked TV?

BEN: Well, at the moment, not me.

CSR: So what are you going to do without TV?

BEN: I thought I might read more often, exercise a little more. It’s going to be scary, I know.

CSR [as Ben pictures her, shaking her head in disbelief]: Well, okay Mr. Vore. I don’t understand it myself, but let’s go ahead with it.


Had a similar experience? Or been on the receiving end of a nasty customer complaint? The Voreblog Forum invites you to comment with your own story. Talk has also turned to bad cases of food poisoning, alternate suggestions for BW3’s tagline, and farts “that smell like the ocean.” We don’t know whether to breathe deep or dry heave.


3 thoughts on “Gotcha Capitalism, Waiter Rants, and Cancelling Cable

  1. I canceled Comcast over the summer. It took me nearly 20 minutes of saying over and over, “I have no money. Offering me other packages is not going to change that. I have no money. I am not going to change my mind. Please close my account.”

    Of course, they then told me they could only close the account effective 10 days in the future. And, of course, this was followed up by a bill for those 10 days.

  2. Here’s my interaction with the Allstate CSR a few years ago. It all started when they called because they realized I was single, not married, which is somehow what they had marked on my account:

    CSR: It appears here that we have you listed as married. Is that correct?
    Me: No sir, I am single.
    CSR: Well, okay then, that will change your insurance premiums.
    Me: Oh great, will it be cheaper now?
    CSR: No, actually it will go up $30 a month.
    Me: Really? I have to pay $30 more a month just because I’m single. I already have to pay for a lot of extra things since I don’t have anyone to take me out and buy me things.
    CSR: I’m sorry ma’am, that’s just the way it is.
    Me: Well, can you explain the logic behind that?
    CSR: Sure… single people go out more often which leads to more driving while intoxicated which makes you more of a risky driver.
    Me: Well, sir, I can assure you that I am very responsible and I always take cabs or the metro if I am going to be drinking, so this shouldn’t apply to me.
    CSR: Well, unless you’re no longer single it still does.
    Me: That’s too bad.
    CSR: Yes, I guess it is. Can I help you with anything else today?
    Me: No, I guess I need to get going then so I can find a boyfriend to spend $30 a month on me.
    CSR: He probably wouldn’t be worth it.
    Me: Thanks, have a nice day.
    CSR: You too, and good luck.

  3. Hello Vores… I must admit I am a closet reader of your blog and by closet reader I mean I sit in my bedroom closet with my computer and read so as not to allow my wife to find me and ask me why I haven’t done anything productive in months… but I digress… the point here is that after reading this post I awoke (still in the closet) to find myself sweating and panting like a pug locked in a car in August. The post caused my post tramatic stress disorder to return after my horid CSR experience with Sears.

    I will sum up the experience because even typing about it is causing me to have chest pains and pee my pants just a little. Basically, my brand new fridge died after 3 months of use. I called and expressed my displeasure and stating that I would like to use the warranty to get a new fridge. As a lawyer I thought my incredible Jedi mind tricks that I learned in law school would work… instead I was told that they would need to send a person out to look at the fridge before they could look into getting me a new one. I took a day off work, a guy shows up, taps on the fridge with his wrench and comes up with the brilliant diagnosis that the fridge is busted and that someone else needs to come out to fix it… Long story short 2 1/2 months and 5 service visits later someone from Sears finally calls my fridge a lemon and puts it out of its misery. Meanwhile, my wife and I go into counseling, I develop a crack habit, and I spend the entire time eating canned meats and vegetables because I have no fridge.

    Sears is dead to me.

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