The Devil Is in the Details

Rick Jobus avatar

by Rick Jobus |

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“Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.” Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, “Sympathy for the Devil”

Last week, I experienced an abysmal customer service episode. Lasting the better part of a full workday, the bitter crescendo left me privately pledging to write about it. Opting not to identify the company, I will merely call them Anon. 

On the day in question, my to-do list contained only one important item. My objective was the successful scaling back of services from my cable and internet provider — hardly a marathon game of chess. More than eight hours later, I toppled my king, mission unaccomplished. 

What’s more, I attempted something for the first time. While I have enjoyed deferential treatment on account of ALS, I had never intentionally sought it. On that day, when I finally did, the tactic proved as ineffectual as the historical progress the scientific community has had in disarming ALS itself.

Setting the stage for prolonged frustration was my naive expectation that the process would be simplistically turnkey. My intent was to discontinue only telephone service — since ALS has rendered verbal communication unproductive for me — and perhaps explore any available internet and TV savings. I anticipated a self-directed, menu-prompted effort of no more than 30 minutes. But after logging on to my account and choosing the “Change Plan” option, I was presented with — cue the conspiracy theorists — “We’re sorry. Please contact us, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives can help.”

I dutifully complied. As testimony to both the dearth of meaningful options to spend my day and the confounding resolution of the task, I was finally making headway seven hours in. 

Following multiple exchanges with both inorganic attendants with exotic monikers and real people more subtly named, I stumbled upon Michael. He was sympathetic to my dilemma and was determined to reverse my call center fortune. He identified a new plan, sans phone service, that enabled monthly savings and a righteous ending to my otherwise customer-care-from-hell debacle. Just as I was acknowledging my acceptance, my internet feed went kaput.

Eager to finalize the matter, I immediately logged back on when connectivity was restored. Being 99% certain my initial contact was of the robotic variety, when the now nauseatingly familiar script commenced, I immediately typed “Live Agent.” 

The following are excerpts from my final foray toward my modest goal: 

Anon: Marvelous day! This is Eduardo, thank you for reaching Chat Support. What can I help with today?

Rick: Michael was helping me, but we got disconnected. He was helping change my plan to remove voice, because I no longer am able to speak.

Anon: I understand. I will help you change your account plan. Pulling your account. Thank you for choosing us since 2016. We really appreciate your loyalty and business with us. Be assured you have reached the right department. Let me quickly pull your account details and check for new promotions.

Rick: Michael had a promo offer without voice.

Anon: Checking for one deal that can provide upgraded internet speed and current channels. I have checked all promotion deal and can see that all deal is on regular pricing for internet and cable and for the same internet speed and channels it will cost you more.

Rick: That makes no sense. It’s like you are trying to force me to pay for voice, which for health reasons I can no longer use. I cannot speak due to a neurological condition.

Anon: Please understand, I don’t have access to remove voice or else I would have remove voice and share internet + cable deal only.

Rick: But Michael was able to. Please check his notes.

Anon: I cannot see any chat history. SO, I suggest you can go for the triple play promotion and later on you can call and remove voice, after the removal your bill will become more lowered.

Rick: But I suffer from ALS, and can’t speak because of it. That’s the whole point. I suppose I can have someone call to remove voice later. OK, sign me up for the promotion you mentioned. 

Anon: Sorry, that chat agent has been disconnected. Please wait while we locate another agent.

Fearful that my next interaction may be with Phil O’fecal or Flo Weenpoo, I surrendered until another day.

Still, a promise is a promise. I only hope I have been faithful to Richards and Jagger’s exhortation to “have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste.” My aim was to apply all my “well-learned politesse” in giving the devil his due.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Bill avatar


I’ve been there with Comcast ( oops I mean anon) many times.

Mike avatar


I completely feel your frustration and annoyance.
I was on the phone with the alarm company for 2 hours and 3 agents trying to get my service cut. They even had me log in online to my account. Asking me dozens of questions, just to tell me I have to mail in more information otherwise they can't cancel my subscription.
They hang up the phone on me when I tried to ask for a manager.
Later on my own, I find out you can cancel your subscription from the online account.
I talked to 3 people. Not one mention I can cancel it on own online.
Bad customer service by a lot of companies now days.


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