Dave Lieber’s Wackiest Customer Service Call of the Year

What’s the strangest customer service telephone call you had in 2009?

I have one, and fortunately, I taped it. [Actual audio links are at the bottom.]

The latest sting perpetrated on us by software companies is that employees at their call centers attempt to charge us for technical support because of flaws in their own stupid software. I mean, you shell out $100 for a package, and when it doesn’t work properly, the person at the call center tries to hook you into spending more money to fix it.

However, whether you get charged or not is often up to the customer service rep. Now I’m not going to name the software company involved here because, honestly, I don’t want to get this dude fired. He lives in India. He’s worked for the company for two years. And I like his style. Enough said.

But here’s the rub: He was trying to charge me $80 to install his company’s financial software. I rebelled.  Explained that the salesman said installation was free. Then we struck a gentlemen’s agreement. I would grant him access to my computer if he could look around and examine some of my software programs. Seems that he likes software that Americans have on our computers.

Sounds strange, I know. But remember he is earning the equivalent of about $2,000 U.S. dollars a year helping people like me. He could poke around — with me watching — and have some fun. And maybe I could save $80.

Turns out this guy has a massive infatuation with Microsoft Office. Once, he saw that Microsoft Word installed, he was mesmerized and couldn’t wait to try the buttons and ask me questions.

“We don’t have Microsoft Word here,” he said about his office setup.

“What do you use?” I asked.

“Chris,” he answered, as he continued to push the various tabs to see what Word can do.

“Do you have a computer at home?” I asked.

“I’m planning on getting one.”

Before that, I never realized before that many of the people who help us overseas probably don’t make enough to buy the products that they know (supposedly) so well. They talk to a guy like me who spends more money on electronic equipment than they earn in an entire year. Sometimes, we’re nice to them. Sometimes, we’re not. Whatever.

We spent 10 minutes talking about whatever he wanted to talk about. I was in no hurry. Obviously, he wasn’t being carefully monitored by his supervisor.

“There’s a lot to learn,” he said at one point. “Study never ends.” (Tell me about it.)

Finally, he asked what I did for a living, and I showed him my Web sites.  When he asked what WatchdogNation does, and I explained its purpose, his reaction was abrupt:

“Can you minimize it?” he asked about WatchdogNation.com’s home page.

He quickly turned to my problem. Fun time was over. In minutes, he fixed my installation problem.

And, no, he didn’t charge me.

Listen to Part One of Dave Lieber’s Wackiest Customer Service Call of 2009 here.

Listen to Part Two of Dave Lieber’s Wackiest Customer Service Call of 2009 here.

What was your wackiest call?

Dave Lieber, The Watchdog columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is the founder of Watchdog Nation. The new 2010 edition of his book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, is out. Revised and expanded, the bookwon two national book awards in 2009 for social change. Twitter @DaveLieber