I had received what appeared to be a duplicate bill for health services I had already paid for, but this time for a larger dollar amount.
Not wanting Collections People to be sicced on me, I called the billing number on the statement. Mind you, this isn’t some rinky-dink operation, it’s one of the largest hospital/clinic systems in town. (the exact name isn’t relevant to what transpired on the call)
Surprisingly, in fairly short order I got an actual human on the phone.
I told my story; the following dialog ensued, and I admit, my voice may have risen just a tad as it went on.
“Are you just making up new charges as you go along?” “The latest statement covers the whole episode, but is asking for the amount, $133, that you haven’t yet paid.” “Oh, but I surely did pay it!” “I’m sorry, we don’t have any record of any payment for this statement. You’ll have to send us a copy of your check to prove that you paid.”
Now! I know very well that the O.J. Trial proved that you can’t necessarily know the race of a person just by hearing their voice on a POTS line, but what about their age?
I’m sorry Grandma, but what is a.. check ? “It wouldn’t have been a check, it would have been by credit card.” “Then send us a copy of your credit card statement.” “Sure, great, can you give me an email address to send it to?” “Yes, send it to
Huh? It sounded like maybe they had a special domain just for customer inquiries… “Um, okay, what’s the name? The user name?” “The name is ‘
Are you kidding me? (voice rising) “Yes, but there’s no ‘at’ sign! Where’s the ‘at’ sign? You’ve only given me a domain name!”
She doesn’t know what an email address is! What decade is this?
(sounding confused) “Hold, please, while I try to find out what you’re asking..”
Time went by. I assumed she had thrown me into Hold Purgatory for having the audacity to raise my voice. I had nothing better to do (sure!), so I just hung on the line.
Eventually, she came back, and this time, she proudly gave me something that sounded close to the jumble of words she’d given me in the first place, but this time with a couple of dots and an at-sign at the appropriate places. Wonderful. I was so shocked and amazed by this that I didn’t even write it down before hanging up!
Wow. I’ve spoken frequently against the evils of outsourcing, but it may be merited in this case! I’m guessing that ANY person in a below average, barely-English-speaking Bangalore call center would at least know what an email address is!