As a young blonde woman, I am almost always the victim of poor in-person customer service, whether it’s from bitchy old women or condescending old men. I spent years getting an attitude from people behind the counter of life, struggling to get a word in edge-wise, dropping pleases and thank-yous like Miley Cyrus drops her dignity. Most of the time I was shooed away like a fly, given a pat on the head and sent in the other direction, my item not returned or my refund not given.
Then, Michael and Gina Mercante took me under their wings and taught me how to get things done.
Retired cops and unabashedly Italian, my parents are a force of nature. My mother may be the same height as me and also blonde, but her Brooklyn accent is fierce and her ability to think on her feet is incomparable.
My father often resorts to his physical prowess — he’s a big dude with a big voice and when he screams, shit happens. Babies cry, birds fall out of the sky and people get fired.
After weeks of rigorous training, vocal coaching and argument practicing, my parents transformed me into a customer service nightmare — quick-minded, capable of projecting my voice and chock full of fantastically flavorful Italian and English curses. I was ready to take on the world.
Fast forward to this year. I’m sitting on the floor of the house I rent with my girlfriends, struggling to get my Slingbox to work on my new wireless network. Slingbox is a program that allows me to watch my at-home cable network from my computer. I bought it to watch New York Ranger games, and I’d been struggling with it for days.
Slingbox re-routes their customer service to an Indian country and I had been on the phone with them multiple times. They kept telling me that I had to call my cable provider, open up some ports on the router, blah blah blah. When I called Time Warner Cable and asked about open ports they told me I was clinically insane, so I called Slingbox back.
“Hi. I called my cable provider and they said there are no closed ports on our router,” I said, still in polite form.
“Well that is the problem, ma’am, so if you don’t open the ports your Slingbox won’t work,” Super Bitch said.
“Well what you’re talking about doesn’t exist so …” I replied, with anger slowly creeping into my voice. I crushed a pencil in my hands into dust.
“It won’t work if you don’t fix it, ma’am,” Super Bitch interrupted.
Wrong move, sworn enemy, prepare to feel the wrath of Alyssa Mercante.
“Listen, ma’am, I’ve called my cable provider and they said you’re making stuff up, so can we try attacking this problem from a different angle?”
Super Bitch sighed and said, “No, I’ve already told you, I can see that it’s connected from my location, so your Internet must be the problem.”
It was then that I began my assault.
“I don’t give a shit if you can watch MY Slingbox from YOUR location and I don’t give a shit what you’ve already told me, it doesn’t work. And I paid over $300 for this stupid thing and it hasn’t worked since I’ve gotten it. You’ve been nothing but nasty, you absolutely fail at your job and I can barely understand you!”
“There’s no need to raise your voice at me,” Super Bitch said, daring to play the moral high-ground card.
“Oh, but there is,” I said, now in evil villain mode, taunting my prey. “Apparently, you think I enjoy calling you seven times a day just to be told the same thing every time so I can sit here and stare at a laptop with a non-functioning Slingbox on it. Apparently, you think I enjoy arguing with someone of sub-par intelligence for 20 minutes after spending 10 minutes on hold listening to static-y elevator music while simultaneously boring my eyeball out with a pencil.”
I then paused for dramatic effect.
“I am a customer and you aren’t serving me, therefore you suck at your job and should be fired. Now give me a manager, or someone of comparable intelligence to me, because you are making my brain hurt.”
A pause. A click. I assumed for a moment that she had hung up, but suddenly …
“Hello, my name is Tom, I’m the manager here, what seems to be the problem?”
Tom fixed my Slingbox in under five minutes.
To make a long, hysterical story short — my parents taught me that being polite with customer service representatives almost always gets you nowhere. They taught me a valuable life lesson.
When dealing with customer service, going bat-shit crazy always gets things done.
And that, my friends, is a motto to live by.