Does fear trump customer service when it comes to the U.S. government?
So, after waiting for what seemed like days, I finally get connected to the government rep. Let's call her Patty Cake. I asked Patty my question and she gave me an answer. The answer, unfortunately, didn't provide the information I needed. Therefore, I rephrased my query and asked again. For the second time, Patty gave me an answer, but it still wasn't an answer that helped me. Ms. Cake then told me I wasn't paying attention.
I listened to her talking at me for another minute and then I repeated back to her what she said and I ended with, "Do I understand that correctly?" Her response, "No, you're not listening to me." Ah, gee, I suspect the issue is more important to me than it is to Patty, so I find it hard to believe I wasn't listening. Patty Cake continues talking, but I'm no wiser for it.
Now, I'm not stupid. I'm a good listener and I've handled communications for some large companies, so trust me when I say I know how to decipher information. Therefore, I try again. I take the latest details she's given me and repeat them back to her to verify that we're both on the same page. She snaps at me.
At this point, I want to call her a bad word (you know the one). Instead, however, I say, "Why are you being so mean to me?" She says she's not. Liar.
In any other circumstance I'd ask for her supervisor to express my dissatisfaction. However, the fact of the matter is, this rep has my social security number, my birth date, and my computer file open. She can delete something or add a note that would make my life a living nightmare. This woman has my entire existence in front of her and can turn my world upside down with the swipe of a key. I know that; she knows it, too.
As is the case with most government agencies, the customer service reps have the power to make things easy or tough for you. And, I'm sure I'm not alone in my fear that a rep might do something nasty just to spite an annoying caller. Yeah, yeah, don't tell me there are safeguards in place. I'm sure there are. But, despite health laws, an annoyed waiter still finds a way to spit in your food, right?
So, that leads me to the question: Can customer service ever be superior in a government agency if people are afraid to complain about bad service? Or, am I the only paranoid Scaredy Cat?
Let's hear it! Be honest, but be kind. I'm still a little fragile from my Patty Cake experience.