The Absolute Best Customer Service Experience That Didn’t Fix My Problem

Graphic language warning. If you’re offended by foul language then this post is not for you. Seriously. You should go find some stuffed unicorns to play with, or watch cute kitten videos on YouTube instead. Really.

Hey all you monkeys. It’s official! I have bought tickets for Abyni and I to return to the boat on July 25! We haven’t finished up everything here on land, but enough of it is done that the 15′ x 35′ storage space that was FULL is now empty and vacated. We still have a fairly large pile of stuff in storage at our house, but it’s only about a tenth of the size it was when I started.

For our return trip home I was searching for the most economical route and as such I pieced together my own travel itinerary from different sources. In the end, instead of Abyni and I flying straight from Tulsa to George Town we’re taking a bit longer route. I did save about $800 in the process though.

The only problem is that when I ordered one of the sets of tickets, I inadvertently selected the wrong date of departure. I had been playing with various dates to figure out the cheapest route and once I had identified it and started buying tickets I neglected to change this particular set to the date that I needed. My error is turning out to be a major pain in the ass. Fixable, but a pain. I realized what I had done pretty much immediately and called them to change the date from the 26th to the 25th. “No can do over the phone”, they said.  “You have to go into the terminal and they can change it from there. Going to cost you $20.”

OK, it’s my mistake so I guess I have to jump through their hoops – though why in this day and age I have to talk to a live person to do something on the very same computer system that the person on the phone is using I cannot begin to fathom.

*I swear that what you’re about to read is absolutely true. I’ve changed the names and obfuscated some of the details to protect the hero of the story (you’ll understand why after reading this). They’re not direct quotes because I don’t have an eidetic memory and wasn’t recording the event. Nevertheless I’ve done my best to reassemble the actual interactions. Back to the story.*

I hopped in the car and drove all the way to the terminal. Behind the counter was an older black gentleman named Jeremiah, who rapidly became my favorite person I’ve come into contact with lately. He’s probably late 50 something, bald, with a gray mustache trimmed shorter on one side than the other, wearing a stained t-shirt emblazoned with the company logo and a name tag pinned diagonally across his chest. He has an overall disheveled appearance. I was not hopeful. I told him that I’d driven down because I needed to reschedule my fare and that it was totally my fault. He said, “I can do that but there’s some bad news.”

“Yes, I know,” said I. “They told me on the phone that it was going to cost $20. I don’t understand why it has to be done here instead of over the phone, but whatever needs to happen to make sure I have the right day I’m willing to do.”

Jeremiah, who wears those really skinny profile reading glasses perched on the very end of his nose, looked at me over the top of the glasses and said, “It’s because those stupid jackass big shot types have their heads up their ass.”

“Oh,” said I.

“They’ve outsourced all the God Damned call center stuff outside of the fucking country to people who don’t speak English and don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.”  He said this in a pretty loud voice.

Mind you, I’m in a fairly crowded terminal. There are easily 30 people within hearing range, all waiting to board for the first (or next) leg of their journey.

He said, “Don’t worry though, I’m the supervisor here and I’ll get things straightened out for you.” Whereupon he proceeded to type on the computer with a single finger for about 5 minutes. Not even one finger off each hand. Just the index finger of his right hand. Peck. P. Peck. A. Peck. T. Peck. R. Peck. I. Peck. C. Peck. K… and so on and so forth until he had all my information plugged in.

The computer then told him that he couldn’t reschedule my fare because I’ve already printed tickets (which I hadn’t). He said, “This stupid fucking piece of shit seems to think that you’ve already printed your tickets, which you obviously haven’t because they’d be for the wrong fucking day and that’s why your ass came all the way down here to have me change them. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to call customer service and have their stupid asses fix this over the phone so that I can then go in and reschedule your fare.”

I’m totally in love with Jeremiah by this point, even though he so far has been unable to help me.

So he dialed customer service for me on his phone and when the agent came on I explained to him that the system won’t let the supervisor reschedule my fare because it thinks I’ve already printed tickets.

The agent on the phone (who happens to have a the very thickly accented English that makes it readily apparent he is in India) says, “It doesn’t matter what the system says. He can go ahead and reschedule the tickets. He is doing something wrong.”

“He’s standing right here, would you like to speak with him?” I asked.

“Yes, go ahead and put him on the phone,” says the agent.

I hand the phone to Jeremiah, who has a pretty dubious look on his face. He stares at the handset for about 5 seconds before putting it to his ear. “What do you want?”

Now up to this point Jeremiah has been speaking in what I can only call a ‘Midwest’ dialect. It’s pretty clearly spoken English, with no real hint of any specific dialect or accent, regardless of the slang and swear words. That changed fairly rapidly.

I don’t know what the agent on the phone said, but Jeremiah’s eyebrows raised and he said, “Is that so?”

He listened for a bit more, dropped his chin and looked at me over his glasses again, shook his head, and said into the phone, “Is that what you think?”

This is where Jeremiah’s manner of speaking changed significantly. The best way that I can describe it is that he started speaking like the stereotypical pissed off elderly inner city black man. Think Redd Fox on steroids. This is also the point where he started yelling. Loudly. It’s also the point where Jeremiah became my new favorite person.

“Now you listen heah you stupid Mothafuckah! How longs yo idiot ass worked heah? Huh? Cause my tiad ol ass been heah ten fuckin years! Now why dis man come all da way down heah to reschedule a god damned ticket he don’t want and didn’t print only for yo stupid ass to tell ‘im he caint b’cause it done been printed?”

*brief pause as the guy on the phone tries to get a word in edgewise*

“RUDE? YOU THINK I’M BEING RUDE, YOU GOD DAMNED ASSHOLE? I’LL GIVE YOU RUDE YOU STUPID NO BRAIN GOD DAMNED SOM A BITCH! YOU KNOW WHAT? PUTCHYO GOD DAMNED MANAGER ON DA PHONE RIGHT DA FUCK NOW B’CUASE YO STUPID IGNANT ASS IS ALLEDDY ON MY LASS GOD DAMN NERVE YOU STUPID FUCKIN RAGHEAD!” (Apparently Jeremiah doesn’t know the difference between an Indian accent and an Arabic accent).

*Another brief pause, I can only imagine because of shocked silence on the other end of the phone. I can assure you that the crowded terminal had come to a complete standstill in shocked silence as well. Jeremiah was PISSED THE FUCK OFF, and nobody within shouting distance had any doubts to that fact.

“I WILL NOT CALM DOWN YOU IGNANT MUDDAHFUCKAH! I DON’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT DA FUCKIN PUTER SAYS OR WHATCHYO STUPID ASS TINKS I SHOULD BE AYBAH TA FUCKIN DO RIGHT NAH BUT IMMA TELLIN YO STUPID IGNANT ASS IT WON’T FUCKIN LET ME. PUTCHYO MANAGER ON DA PHONE RIGHT DA FUCK NOW. WHAT? I AM DA FUCKIN MANAGER HERE! DERE AINT NOBODY ELSE FO ME TO PUT ON DA PHONE YOU DUMBASS! PUTCHO MANAGER ON DA PHONE. PUTCHYO MANAGER ON DA PHONE. STOP RUNNIN YO DAMN LIPS AND PUTCHO FUCKIN MANAGER ON DA PHONE RIGHT DA FUCK NOW AFOE I FINE OUT WHERE DA FUCK YO ASS IS AN I COME RIGHT DA FUCK DOWN THERE AND BEAT YO FUCKIN ASS YOU STUPID FUCKIN IGNANT MUDAFUCKAH….”

It went on like that for some time. Just a guess, but I’d say he yelled obscenities into the phone for about two minutes. That’s not actually that long of a period of time in the grand scheme of things, but in a crowded terminal that has come to a complete standstill it seems like a VERY long time.

He finally stopped yelling, which resulted in absolute silence within the terminal. You could have heard a mouse sneeze. Really. Other than the phone, that is. Jeremiah pulled the phone away from his ear, looked at me over the top of his glasses, and held the phone out in my direction. Not to hand it to me, mind you, but because he wanted me to hear what was coming out of it. The guy on the other end was completely incensed, and was screaming obscenities of his own into the phone. This went on for about 10 seconds with everyone locked in place, the entire tableau of all the passengers, me, the baggage handlers, the security guys, and Jeremiah locked in a state of suspended animation while the guy on the phone screamed his own series of obscenities. Ten seconds can be a very long time. Whereupon at the end of ten seconds Jeremiah slammed the phone down on the cradle.

Looking at me over his glasses, he said (again in near perfect English and a completely calm and rational tone), “You know what? No matter what I say to them they’re not going to understand. Do you have access to a printer? The library is close by. You could go print your current tickets out there. If you have a printed ticket, then I can scan it in with the bar code and then I will be able to reschedule your fare. Looks here like there are still 38 seats remaining for the day that you actually want to leave, so if you want to wait until tomorrow that’s OK.  I know it’s getting late in the day. I don’t work tomorrow, but here’s my cell phone number. If you do come down tomorrow, the person who will be here won’t know how to fix this for you. If you call me on my cell I will come down especially for you and get you all taken care of. I’m sorry I couldn’t help and that you have to do some more legwork to get this situation straitened out, but this is unfortunately the best I can do with what I have to work with.”

So I left without my tickets being rescheduled, and I still have to make another trip to the terminal before it’s fixed, but all in all this was absolutely the best customer service experience I’ve ever had. Jeremiah needs to run for President. He already has my vote. Maybe with him in charge Washington might get some shit done.

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