"...And Make It Real Creative!": Disconnected

and-make-it-real-creative-logo-3By Trent Rentsch

I won’t lie to you, things are looking pretty bleak. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m far from optimistic. There are some losses that swallow you whole and leave an aching emptiness where your soul used to be... trust me, this is one of those times. I regret to tell you, my Friends, that my wife and I are in the middle of a multimedia crisis, fueled by the inadequacies of two major cable-internet-phone providers. And yes, that howling you’ve been hearing in the distance means my missus has missed yet another episode of Doctor Phil...

Our misery began some weeks ago, when our bill arrived from company number 1 (to protect the guilty, let’s call them “Uime-Xarner”). It seems our rate had suddenly jumped to nearly double the usual amount. Obviously concerned, I called, hoping for a reasonable resolution. After 3 ½ hours on the phone, the most reasonable resolution seemed to be parting company with the company. Phrases like, “You’re locked in,” and, “There’s nothing we can do” took up the majority of the conversation, while phrases I was hoping for like, “It means something to us that you’ve been a customer for over 20 years,” or, “we’re sorry” never came up. Fine, I can take a hint... let’s end this dance and look for another partner. Now, who would it be...

Enter company number 2 (uhm, “B U & U”). Seemed like a reasonable option. Similar services, newer equipment, and most importantly, lower cost. And the young lady on the phone was very nice, which was a welcome change after... well, after company 1. So, we made the move. An equally nice Tech showed up the following week to set us up. Seemed to know what he’s doing, it all works when he’s finished, happy ending. Well...

As the set-up Tech was leaving, he mentioned that there’s an “extra line” on our hub, which was going to mess things up if he didn’t send another Tech to disconnect it. OK... odd, but OK, if you must. Tech number 2 arrives (another very nice person), looks things over and tells me they will have to do “a little digging” to fix the issue, but I didn’t need to stay, as they wouldn’t need to come in the house again. I go back to work, imagining a bright, shiny TV/Internet/Land line future.

What I came home to was, not what I imagined. There was a huge hole in my front lawn (a hole that tip-toed some feet into the neighbor’s front lawn), and a new service that kept cutting out. When I say “cutting out,” I mean every five minutes cutting out, for 5 to 10 minutes at a time... NOTHING would work. Oh, and then there’s was the beeping from the back-up power supply every few minutes. At the time I assumed they hadn’t finished the “fix,” and once they did whatever they needed to do in that HUGE HOLE, all would be well.

The next day... not well. The day after... not well. The day after THAT... the only well was the one they had dug in my front yard. At some point a day or so later, the hole is magically filled while I’m at work, but the drop outs in service continue. I call “customer support.” A VERY NICE gentleman informs me that Tech number 3 must come out, because the “issue in the hole” had been fixed, but “something else must be wrong.” Uh...

A very nice person, Tech number 3 braved a thunderstorm for a good hour, at one point coming to the door and assuring me that he’s “narrowed down” the issue. Another hour in the driving rain, a drenched Tech number 3 throws open the door and announces the service FIXED! I try it all... it’s all working. I go back to work, safe in the knowledge that all was well in home multimedia-land...

…an hour later, my wife called. “We are down,” she grumbles. “For how long?” I ask. “Since I got home,” she growls. “How long have you been home? I ask. “ABOUT AN HOUR,” she groans.

The battle continued, but you get the idea. Tech 4 (a REALLY FRICCKIN NICE PERSON) was sure he “had it,” but didn’t. As I write this, Tech 5 is outside, replacing this, that or the other thing. Frankly, we are not hopeful.

Because trying to find a lesson in all of this is more productive than having a heart attack while screaming at some customer service flunkie on the phone (a flunkie who, I’m sure, is very nice), I’ve come up with something I’d like to share. You might have worked with a thousand clients, produced thousands of commercials and pieces of imaging. You might be a mega-networker and tireless self-promoter. And, you might be really, really, REALLY nice. But if you and your work do not deliver, your client is not going to have any confidence in you. Whether you’re providing 3000 TV channels or an advertising jingle for a doggie daycare, business is business... and at the end of the day, business is providing what you promise.

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