An All-Day Customer Service Affair

I guess everyone has their favorite customer service nightmare story. I’ve had a few over the years. Had a few good ones as well. I made a few changes in my cellular plan last year with AT&T that went smoothly. And I recently started home Internet service with T-Mobile and have been very well pleased with the interactions I’ve had with them. And GEICO is always a pleasure to deal with. Crisp and efficient.


I’m dumping my Walmart Money Card after all these years. Their service has steadily gone downhill since about 2019. If I call the customer service center I get someone whose foreign accent is so bad I have trouble understanding anything they say. I’m enough of a nationalist to say that as an American I should NOT have to deal with a bunch of foreigners in a call center somewhere in Phukistan or Outer Mongolia or wherever. I should be able to speak with someone who sounds like me. Why? Because I’m a phuking American and a paying customer.

And they’re getting paranoid about any purchase that is (to them) outside of my normal habits. No one will give you a straight answer about anything. They read from their script without really listening to their customers. They talk over you and then ask you to repeat yourself. I’ve lost my cool with these people more than once. And I do not like losing my cool. It gives me a headache.

The last straw was a recent denied purchase at a well-known and respected company that provides low-priced web hosting. Walmart (via Green Dot Bank) sternly refused to authorize the purchase. They refused to investigate the matter, simply saying that their “AI” denied the purchase and that was final. So I set about looking for a new bank. Now I’m letting my Walmart card’s balance trickle down to zero, at which point it’ll get sliced in half and tossed away.

Imagine my evil, vengeful smile today when I got an email from Walmart card services. They wanted to do a customer satisfaction survey. I gleefully gave them a bad rating and left some nasty comments where I was able. Now mind you, I know it won’t matter in the greater scheme of things. Walmart is too big to give a shit what its customers think. But at least I had a chance to vent just a bit. A small satisfaction but one takes what one can get these days.

But let me back up a couple of days…

As it happens, I had received a sizable check a few days prior that I had not cashed. I decided to use it to open an account at another bank. This check was on Wells Fargo Bank, which as far as I knew at the time was a fine institution (it isn’t). There isn’t a Wells Fargo branch where I live so I made the fortunate decision not to open a Wells Fargo account. I went to my new bank of choice (I ain’t naming names) and all went swimmingly well… until it was time to deposit the check. Wells Fargo told my bank lady they could not verify the funds. Finally I gave up and made the 40-mile trip from Laurel down to Hattiesburg where there are a couple of Wells Fargo branch locations.

I visited the one closest to me and spent a half-hour trying to cash the check. Same story. Can’t verify the funds. So I traveled across Hattiesburg (nightmare traffic on US 98) to another branch. Here I encountered a sweet little Hispanic lady with a gigawatt smile who, once I’d told her my story, said she’d absolutely get it done. She did, but it took nearly an hour. She apologized and handed me an envelope full of cash, for I which thanked her profusely, and then I bolted out the door like my hind parts were ablaze. Not wishing to travel back home with $6300 in my center console, I went to a (my new bank) branch in Hattiesburg and made the deposit. Finally, it was done.

Now, a word about what a difference proper management can make. At my new bank, the environment oozes quiet professionalism. I was simultaneously impressed and at ease with everyone I met during my visit. But at the first Wells Fargo location it was a drastically different story. It was like being in an inner-city hospital emergency room. People babbling loudly in every language but English. Noisy, ill-behaved children running amok all over the waiting area. Overworked and overwhelmed tellers trying to deal with justifiably impatient customers. The general atmosphere of incompetence was strong enough I almost felt the need to go wash as soon as I left. The second Wells Fargo location was marginally better. At least it was quiet. And oh, that gigawatt smile.

Side Note: The man who had written the check called me after I was back in Laurel to tell me “that silly bastard at Wells Fargo” had finally contacted him about the check. I should send Wells Fargo a bill for the gasoline I used going to Hattiesburg and back.

Back to the present…

After venting on Walmart I went to my next email and it was from my new bank, wanting to ask me all about my recent experience setting up my new account. I thought what the hell, let’s make’em feel proud. So I was going down the list giving them a 4 (of 5) on just about everything until I got to the pictured question above. What kind of silly-assed question is this? Was the nice lady supposed to give me a hug or something? Pat me on the head and tell me I’m cute? What?

I closed the page and left it unfinished. This is the kind of wishy-washy claptrap that permeates our culture nowadays. Whatever happened to just taking a survey that asked straight-up questions? If I had answered “No” it might have reflected badly on my new bank lady. I certainly didn’t want that. But had I answered “Yes”, then I would have been wondering if I was becoming as fake and superficial as so many other people here in 21st century America.

So as is often the case, saying nothing was the best choice. Maybe I’m the asshole here. Maybe there’s some modern nuance that’s over my head. Maybe I should at least understand the question. But no. I have no need to feel “special.” And with that I’ll quit my ranting and call it an evening. Best to all, and to all a good night.

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