Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Customer Service Day

Today was quite the Customer Service day! Either this is a reward for the terrible service I've had in the past, or else there's a very bad week coming up. Hope it's the former.

I called InStyle Magazine this morning, hoping against hope that I could straighten out the billing and mailing issues that my sister and I have had for years. Last year, I renewed my subscription and hers, as a Christmas gift. At first, she received her copy and I received none. After I called the help line to complain, they started sending me two copies – one in my name and one in my sister's - to my house, plus another copy to her house. I was too worried how they might multiply if I called again, so I left things as they were for the rest of the season, and gave the spare copy to our babysitter, who promptly increased her shopping expeditions, inspired by the fashion pictures (Sorry, K!).

Note though, that an extra copy of InStyle landing in the mailbox is no joke to the structural soundness of your house. They can weight between three and seven pounds, filled with glossy ads. One Letter to the Editor last year stated that the reader had successfully beaten off a mugger with her Holiday issue.

Back to this morning - another year, another attempted subscription renewal. I'm now getting two copies at my house and my sister is getting none. Even more oddly, I received a bill for $9, on the account, even though I kept a copy of the original offer price and the check that I sent to cover it in full. After the help line phone tree led to a "system down" message and a second attempt, I reached a customer service agent who investigated, and said that it was all fixed.

All fixed? You mean I will get one copy in my name at my house, my sister will get one copy in her name at her house, and that we're fully paid up? Yes.

I'll let you know what really happens.

Later in the day, I embarked on another hopeless (I thought) effort, with the agency that manages our company healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts. I finally reached a live person to handle the ongoing saga of rejected receipts and extended 2005 reimbursement deadlines and mis-credited checks, which ended with her saying that "On April 1st, we will automatically transfer reimbursements credited in the first three months of the 2006 against any remaining funds in your 2005 account."

This completely solves our problem. If it isn't an early April Fools joke, anyhow.

Three cheers for empowered Customer Service Representatives!

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