Where Logic Meets Love

Excuse Me, Your Sole Method of Communication is Broken...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

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Excuse Me, Your Sole Method of Communication is Broken... | Faith Permeating Life
Sometimes, the facelessness of corporations and organizations in America, and their ability to be even more so through the Internet, really makes me angry.

Here's a brief example, and I'm kicking myself for not remembering which company this was or which e-mail address I used, but I don't even think I had a problem with the company, I think I just wanted to let them know that some part of their website wasn't working. Since they had no contact information listed, I used their "Contact Us" form to write up a note telling them the problem. I then received an error message saying, sorry, this form wasn't working, please copy/paste my message into an e-mail and send it to such-and-such e-mail address. So, dutifully, I did just that. I then got an automated response back from the e-mail address saying it didn't accept incoming mail, and to please go to their website and use the "Contact Us" form to contact them.

The thing that kills me about this is that 1) I was trying to help them in the first place and 2) now they have no way of knowing that both their form and the e-mail address are not accepting comments, because I have no way of contacting them to tell them.

I also had a huge headache with PayPal in which they limited my account for no apparent reason and requested I upload my driver's license to verify my address, which I did immediately, and then it sat for a month and a half waiting for someone to check it against my account. The thing that pissed me off there was that I kept getting e-mails telling me my account was limited and to please log in and see what I needed to do to resolve it. I found some contact form on their website that I used to explain the problem and never got a response. I finally tracked down a phone number for them (not an easy task), spent a good long time on hold, and then talked to someone who took less than 30 seconds to look at my driver's license, remove the hold on my account, and apologize for the delay.

My more recent frustration came from Equifax, the credit reporting agency. I got my free credit report from them recently, but only by using my maiden name -- they had my married name listed under "Other names" but had my maiden name as my current name. Obviously, it should be the other way around. So I hunted around their site and found that I had to file a "dispute" in order to get it fixed. So I did just that and filed a dispute explaining that the names were reversed. Given that the Society Security office has my correct name on file, I didn't think it should be that difficult to verify, and I could send them whatever backup documentation they requested.

I received an e-mail in an alarmingly short amount of time -- maybe a day later -- saying my dispute had been resolved and I could log in using the confirmation number in the e-mail to view the result of the dispute. I went to the link provided, and rather than just being able to put in the confirmation number, I had to give them my name, my address, my Society Security Number, the whole nine yards.

I tried it with both my married and maiden names and got the same result both times: A page explaining how to interpret the dispute resolution results, and then a big message saying, "You have no pending disputes at this time." No record of any dispute I'd submitted anywhere. I looked all over the site and found nothing except information about how to submit another dispute.

I decided to give it a couple of days and try again -- maybe their site was having problems. I then started getting e-mails once or twice a week reminding me that I had dispute results to review. Every time I logged in, it was the same story. I finally said, screw it, I'll wait a year until I order another credit report and then see if it got fixed.

Well, today I got a "final reminder" (actually two) that my results were going to expire in three days. The kicker was, there was a greeting on the e-mail this time, and it was greeting me with my maiden name. This was not good. The format of the e-mail had also changed, and when I clicked "view the results of your dispute online," the website format had changed as well. Good, I thought, maybe they fixed it.

When I clicked "Check Status," a new window opened up and sat for a long time before finally giving me a "temporary error." I waited a while and tried again, with the same result.

I went hunting for a phone number, but Equifax told me I had to have an "Equifax membership" even to access their contact information. Thanks to Google, I was eventually able to find the phone number elsewhere, with information saying they were available seven days a week, 8am to 3pm Eastern Time. Just missed them. Damnit. I decided to try anyway.

I was actually put through to someone, a nice lady with a strong accent who asked for my confirmation number. I patiently read her the ten-digit number, to which she replied, "I can't do anything with a confirmation number. You have to talk to the dispute center and give them your confirmation number. I can't transfer you there because they're only open Monday through Friday 9am to 6pm."

Holy freaking crap. Why is this so difficult? I swear, getting anything resolved anywhere requires me to make calls during my lunch hour at work, which means I either have to spend the first half hour eating and then hope I'm on hold for less than half an hour, or call first and hope I have enough time to eat when it's all done.

I've got all the luck, don't I?

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