A chat! With Optimum!

No one actually likes, I don't think, their cable/internet service provider. Being neutral about it is probably the best case scenario. Even having to endure the annual song and dance-- after your initial promotional period ends and your bill jumps up like $20-- of having to call your provider to get a new promo is tolerable if it works. Just provide the necessary services at a decent price, with good customer service when needed, is all we ask.

Being middle aged and having aligned myself with a number of cable/internet providers over the years from around the country, none of which I've particularly liked, I can say with confidence that Optimum is the worst. Not the worst of all providers; the worst of everything. I don't like to use the word hate, but I hate Optimum. Hate them. HATE. Them. (Hate.)

"But Mike, why don't you switch services?" Great question. BECAUSE I CAN'T. Optimum is the only provider in our area. This seems like, and definitely is, a monopoly, which is illegal? The very second Verizon Fios establishes its service grid in our neighborhood-- a promise going on years now which I fear may never be fulfilled-- I am jumping ship, but for now I must deal with the incomparable and, if I'm being honest, hilarious incompetence of Optimum.

HOW INCOMPETENT? I'm glad you asked. My battle with the company is long lasting, and if you're so inclined you can check my Twitter feed for more. (As gross as it is to have customer service battles publicly on social media, it's often the only way to get an answer! What a time to be alive.) But I think the best evidence for the argument I'm presenting here is a recent chat I had with the company. Here it is.

I could, like Optimum did here, begin and end this conversation now, and my argument would be made. Not captured here is the number of prompts I had to go through to reach a real person, Seon E (not a real person), who graciously heard my issue and responded by immediately ending the conversation. 

Nevertheless, she (he) persisted. I started a new chat.

Please excuse my rudeness here, but a) I'VE HAD IT ALREADY WITH THIS SH*T and b) I want to strategically establish a grounds of me being pissed off in an effort to get better and quicker service. This is arguably a pointless strategy to employ when communicating with a series of internet robots, but that hasn't stopped me before.

Also, it didn't work.

I neglected to screen cap the prior part of this conversation where Patrikai told me to be patient for "a moment" while she looked into this, and I asked if it would take an hour for her to verify my account which is what happened last time.

Here is a good spot to provide a little background and context. Earlier this summer, Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power in our neighborhood for a couple days. When it was restored, our internet was still down. I called Optimum SO many times but couldn't get through because, as a pre-recorded message stated, the storm had "affected your area, and crews are working to restore service ... goodbye.") Problem was, at that point, our neighbors (who all have Optimum because, again, it's the only provider in town) had internet. I had to jump online, using my phone as a hotspot, to start a chat with Optimum, which was ONLY successful thanks to my own sheer endurance. The chat lasted nearly two hours, and it was ultimately revealed that yes, the problem was, in fact, Optimum's fault. Our connection was restored.

I started receiving communication via email from Optimum stating that customers who lost power from the storm would receive credit on their next bill, no action was needed. Great, fine. I didn't even care about the extra day of not having internet; if I received credit for just the amount of time the power was out, I would have been satisfied.

The following bill reflected no credit. So I went on their website and completed a request for credit. I received no confirmation that this request was received or in process. The next bill reflected no credit. And here we are. Actually, where are we? Ah yes, Patrikai is checking my account notes.

As someone who's taken part in WAY TOO MANY Optimum chats and boasts a 1-percent success rate, I know how this goes. They keep telling you "one moment" to keep you on and then, like 15 minutes later, they will ask you such an absurd question-- "Thank you for your patience. What is your name?"-- that it's abundantly clear NOTHING HAS HAPPENED AND THIS IS ALL A RUSE. The only reason I keep coming back for more is that a) Optimum sucks and something is usually wrong and forcing me to interact with them, and b) this process is somehow infinitely more efficient and promising than trying to reach them on the phone. Anyway, I like to occasionally remind them of how much time they're wasting which, again, has absolutely no effect whatsoever.

Nothing better encapsulates my overall experience with Optimum than the phrase, "When did you requested for the credit?" which I am going to hire a pilot to sky write over my house while I pop champagne the day another service provider reaches our neighborhood.

This is the point at which I've lost my mind in the chat, but can you blame me? You know when you make a customer service call and the prompts ask you for all of your info, which you input, and then you finally connect with an agent, and THEY ask you for all of your info, and you're like DON'T YOU HAVE IT ALREADY? Imagine logging into your Optimum account, following Optimum's directions on how to request a credit-- which Optimum had already promised to do because no action is needed, but didn't-- having an Optimum robot tell you they are checking your account notes, and then asking YOU for that info? WHAT IS IN MY ACCOUNT NOTES IF NOT THIS? 

This whole thing is a matter of a few dollars, but obviously I am a principled man. Like Michael Douglas in Falling Down. 

I just ...

If I were the robot I would have responded, "More like Tropical Storm MIKE lol." That is not what the robot responded.

This is where the chat ended. I would like to say that I was so offended by Patrikai telling me that a storm did NOT, in fact, take out our power that I ended the chat on principle, but the truth is that in my furious attempt to screenshot everything for the purposes of this post, I accidentally closed the whole browser while toggling back and forth. Ah well, probably for the best.

IN CONCLUSION, rather than provide a few dollars of credit to my account which it had already promised to do, Optimum instead took the rather bold stand of informing me, much to my bewilderment, that Tropical Storm Isaias had not affected my house, and that we did not have to live at my in-laws' house during that time, and that I'm not currently in the process of trying to purchase a generator so we're not in such a compromised position again. So that's a relief. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a moment.




Just great stuff all around.