Friday, March 11, 2011

How Cursing Became Part of Common Speech


I've been bracing myself for two weeks. I knew I'd have to call. You know who. The BANK. I have to call because the BANK's website is designed by monkeys on steroids. I have to call because I pay my homeowner's insurance myself, rather than have it paid from my mortgage escrow account and apparently this is a concept too difficult to handle on line from THE BIGGEST BANK IN THE F-ING WORLD.

OK. Breathe in. Breathe out. Coffee - two cups. BANK website open. Insurance company website open. Homeowner's policy pulled up. Numbers-a-plenty. Social security card. Property zip code. Mother's maiden name. First school. First best friend. Most annoying customer service center -- oh, wait, that's not an approved security question.

Every March I have to do this. Every March the BANK thinks I have let my homeowner's policy lapse and feels compelled to send me a letter indicating that they will be buying a policy for me and charging me for it. I've never moved my homeowner's policy. I've been with the same insurance carrier for almost twenty years. They automatically renew my policy every year. Funny, how they never seem to forget to automatically deduct the payment from my account -- the account at the same BANK that holds my mortgage.

I would love to renew this policy on the BANK's website, but it is not capable of understanding that I pay the premium myself. But just because it feels like spring today and the daffodils are starting to pop through the frozen earth, I thought I'd try. You know. Just in case. Like today could be the day when the world gives out free chocolate ice cream. Sigh. Today had no free chocolate ice cream.

Coffee. Third cup. OK. Dial. Hello Automated-Female-Person with False Human Inflection.

How can I help you today? Please press or say 1 for account services, 2 for payment services. 

1

Which account can I help you with? Please press or say 1 for checking, 2 for savings, 3 for mortgage, 4 for credit card.

3

Thank you. (She's very jolly now) Please enter the last four digits of your social security number followed by the pound sign.

*$()#

Thank you. Please speak your mother's maiden name.

($*))#((  (How do people who do not know their mother's maiden names manage their daily lives?)

Thank you. Please confirm the zip code of the property you are calling about.

#*$()

Thank you. How may I assist you today? Please press or say 1 for property insurance, 2 for ....

1

Thank you. What would you like to do? Please press or say 1 for change or renew policy, 2 for...

1

Thank you. 

(Here's where we're going to have a problem. I know this Fake Human can't help because I've tried it before. The Fake Human wants to pay my homeowner's insurance from escrow. She's extremely rigid. She could benefit from deep breathing.)

I'd like to speak to a representative.

I'm sorry? I thought I heard you say, (dramatic pause) "I'd like to speak to a representative."

Yes.

There are many things I can help you with. Frequently, there is a long wait to speak with a customer service representative.

I'd like to speak to a representative.

I'm sorry? I thought I heard you say, "I'd like to speak to a representative." (she's pissed now)


Yes.

I am capable of providing a wide range of services. Let's begin again. How may I help you? Please press or say 1 for ...

I'd like to speak to a (deep breath, don't swear at the Fake Human) representative.

Did you say you would like to speak to a representative? Please press or say 1 for yes ...

1

She doesn't even say good-bye. There's a double beep, during which time I am sure she has disconnected me. Within the untenable wait of twenty entire seconds, I am greeted by a gentleman who assures me that customer service is very important to him. How can he help me?

I need to renew my homeowner's policy.

May I have the last four digits of your social security number?

(Refer to conversation with Fake Human for the next series of questions)

Thank you, Ms. Herring. How may I assist you today?

I need to renew my homeowner's policy.

You can do that at www. THEBIGGESTBANKINTHEF-INGWORLD.com

Actually, I can't because I pay my premium myself.

Pause. Can I put you on hold, Ms. Herring?

OK. You said you pay your premium yourself? Do you mean you write the insurance company a check?

No. I mean they deduct my payment automatically from my checking account in your BIGGESTBANKINTHEF-INGWORLD.com bank. You can pull it up. For the last seven years.

Pause. Can I put  you on hold, Ms. Herring?


OK. Thanks for holding. You're trying to tell me that your insurance premium is not paid from the escrow account, but that you pay it yourself.

Yes.

So, you don't forget to pay it?

No. You can check yourself in my checking account in your BIGGESTBANKINTHEF-INGWORLD bank.

Pause. OK. How do you remember to pay it?

I don't have to remember. The insurance company remembers.

May I have the insurance company's number please?

*$))@*()$&()

And the policy number?

$*))&()#&)

What is the premium?

$ &&()

Is that even or are there cents?

It's even.

So we'll send a check to the insurance company from the escrow account.

No. I have already paid the premium.

Pause. Can I put you on hold, Ms. Herring?

OK. So you actually pay the premium yourself.

Yes.

OK. That is OK. I am sure that is OK.

It's been OK for seven  years.

OK. I am sure that is OK. Let me just ... OK. So, you're all updated, Ms. Herring. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Can you put a note in my account that I pay my premium so I don't have to go through this next year?

Next year you can use www.BIGGESTBANKINTHEF-INGWORLD.com to update your policy.

No, I can't.

Oh, right. Because you pay your own premium.

Right.

That's very unusual.

OK. So can you put a note in my file?

I'm sorry. There's no field for that. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Nope.

Thank you for calling BIGGESTBANKINTHEF-INGWORLD. Again, my name is $*(*. Please have a pleasant day.

Until next March ...

1 comment:

Janna Qualman said...

I admire that you didn't back down! I'd have been so fuddled halfway through the call that I'd have hung up. :/

Laraine, I bought The Writing Warrior today, and I've come to look at your website and find your blog. I'm pleased to see this casual sort of real place you have, and am inspired by your warrior message. I love the style of your writing, too!

Best to you in everything. :)