Thursday, September 18, 2008

On a Scale of One to Five

Towards the end of the July my house alarm started giving me an error message, "Sensor 8 Trouble." The alarm would make this announcement whenever we turned on the alarm and when we turned it off and at least 2 other random time during the day in case we missed it. The first time I received this error message, I called the alarm company and scheduled a service call. The next available service call was in August. The day before the service call appointment I had a migraine and the only doctor appointment I could get was at the same time as the service call. So I had to reschedule the alarm service. It got pushed back to the beginning of September. By then another sensor started having trouble and I had to put the alarm into "sleep mode" or I could enjoy getting each error message twice a day and not being able to actually turn the alarm on. I wish there was a "sleep mode" button on my kids!

The first week of September, the alarm technician arrived at my house as scheduled. He turned on the alarm and quickly announced that he doesn't have the programmer that he needs to program my alarm. You see, I have an older alarm. They no longer make this alarm. If I want to pay over $700 then I can upgrade to a more high tech alarm. But I'm in no hurry to pay over $700 to replace a system that still works usually. So I stay with my outdated alarm system.

The technician says he can return with the programmer on Monday, which was fine with me. I had been without a working alarm for over a month, what's a few more days, right?

On Monday the technician arrives and says that the person who has the programmer called in sick, so he still doesn't have it and he'll have to reschedule. I gave him my schedule for the week and let him know which days I could be home and he said he would call me back.

On Wednesday I got a phone call from the customer service department of the alarm company. I thought she was calling to reschedule, but she wasn't. She was calling for me to complete a survey about my most recent service call. I explained that the service wasn't complete and that I was still waiting for someone to call me back to reschedule. She said that she would look into it.

The next day someone called me and rescheduled the service call for Wednesday morning between 8:30 and 10:30. On Tuesday around 5pm, I got another call from the alarm company's customer service department asking me to do a survey about my most recent service call. With gritted teeth, I kindly explained that someone had already called me about this and that I was still waiting for the alarm to be fixed. I even told the person that I had an appointment for the next morning. She continued to ask me, "So on a scale of 1 to 5 how would you rate the knowledge of your technician?" So I thanked her for reminding me that I still don't have a working alarm and hung up.

The day of the service appointment finally arrived! I woke up excited and anxious! And then my phone rang at 7:30 am. It was the alarm company. I thought for sure they were calling to cancel on me again. I was sure that someone else had called in sick and that I was never going to have a working alarm system again! But no. Can you guess why the alarm company would call me at 7:30 in the morning? They wanted me to complete a survey about my most recent service call!

Customer service lady: On a scale of 1 to 5 how would you rate the professionalism of your technician?

Me: Umm... Where are you calling me from?

Customer Service lady: Kansas

Me: What time is it in Kansas?

Customer Service lady: 9:30

Me: Do you know where I live?

Customer Service lady: It says you live in Washington.

Me: Do you know what time it is in Washington right now?

Customer Service lady: Oh gosh! I'm so sorry. So on a scale of 1 to 5...

Me: Excuse me! It's 7:30 in the morning! And my alarm is still broken! The technician is supposed to be here in an hour! Can you call back later after the alarm is fixed?

Customer Service lady: Um... So on a scale of 1 to 5...

Me: Click

I don't usually hang up on people, but I still had to get the kids dressed and fed and out the door and I didn't have time to repeat myself to this lady who must have a had a bad phone connection because she didn't seem to understand anything I said.

I walked my son to the bus stop and as I'm walking back to my house a van with the alarm company's logo on the side passes me. So I speed up and get to the house as quickly as I can. The technician was 20 minutes early! Ok, so the entire alarm company is made of morning people. Still, it's not really a big deal. I'm home, he's there and yes! He has the programmer! (I almost did a happy dance right then!)

He comes inside the house and gets started. He needs to change a few batteries in some sensors. He asks if I have any 9-volt batteries. I check the battery drawer and I don't. So he says that he can replace them and will charge me $5 each battery. I need 4. I've had this alarm service for over 2 years. I've had a few technicians come to the house at various times and they have replaced batteries as needed. Not once has anyone charged me for batteries (I pay for a service contract). So I tell him that I'm not willing to pay for the batteries. I tell him that I can buy some later when I go out if I need to, but I will not pay $5 for a $1-2 battery! He looks a little surprised at my response. He doesn't know what to say or do. I go about doing the dishes and checking email and other things that keep me busy while he continues to work on the alarm.

He tests the alarm and then tells me that since I had to wait so long for service that he's not going to charge me for the batteries. Now I'm wondering if my contract changed? Is this a new thing that I'm going to be expected to pay for batteries in the future? Or did this technician just need $20 for lunch that day?

After the test of all of the sensors on the alarm, I sign off on it and he leaves. That night I go to turn on the alarm for the night and it doesn't work. I enter "# password" as I had done many moons ago, and I only get a busy signal. Since it has been a while since I last used the alarm, I check with my husband to make sure that I'm pressing the right combination. He agrees, the code is "#password." I still get a busy signal. I went to bed thrilled with my alarm system and the wonderful service I had received.

The next morning I called back to Customer Service. I was tempted to say, "So on a scale of 1 to 5 how do you rate a technician who takes 2 months to arrive, tries to charge you $20 for batteries, and leaves you with a broken alarm?" But I didn't. I simply explained that I was having trouble turning on my alarm again. This lady suggested that I try using "*" instead of "#." Why would I try that??? I have been using "#" for over 2 years? Why would it suddenly change???

I tried pressing "* password" and then the clouds parted, the sun shone and I heard angels singing "Hallelujah!" The alarm system finally worked! And since then no one has called me back to ask, "On a scale of 1 to 5..."


Michelle said...

Just saying, but if it were me, I'd have a VERRRY long letter to said alarm service composed and sent. And I might have to rate each individual service tech (seriously they came out to tell you they didn't have the programmer and had to reschedule?).

girlytwins said...

Hahaha. I am laughing out loud right now. I had a VERY similar experience with AT&T when we swicthed over to their internet service. It was so frustrating. I'm happy to hear it's back in working order at least.

chantal said...

oh my...but at least your alarm works now!!!