Friday, February 3, 2012



I have this condition called phone-o-phobia. Basically, I'm a big chicken on the phone and am afraid of making calls or taking calls from businesses. The symptoms of this condition are as follows: loses train of thought during phone call, highly emotional during phone calls regarding disagreements, shaky voice, and an overall lack of confidence in myself during the phone call. I have been able to fake the confidence before and that does work, but, when someone calls me instead of me calling them, I don't get a chance to pump myself up for the phone call and therefore my confidence goes out the window. It's a very serious problem. Anyone else a fellow sufferer?

When it comes to ordering pizza or calling the bank to ask for an overdraft fee to be reversed, I like to divert those types of calls to John. He gets really annoyed with me, but he has much better success with phone calls because he doesn't suffer from this condition. Let me give you some examples.


I hate to start with such an extreme example, but, might as well set the tone for how these usually go. So anyways, Charley had just been born and I needed to add her to my insurance through my workplace. Your baby is covered under your own insurance for 30 days, but they need to be set up within that time period or you'll have to wait until open enrollment to add them, so it's imperative that you call pretty soon. I happened to have the information with me at the hospital and since the thought occurred to me on our drive home from the hospital, I decided I might as well get it over with and make the phone call to get her added. It actually went well, and "Bonnie" (name has been changed) reassured me that I had given her all of the information she needed. Great! Phone-o-phobia be damned!

So, after the 30 days was up, Charley just so happened to have a pediatrician appointment that next day. About one week later, I was billed for the entire amount of the visit, about $1,000. I thought to myself, silly insurance taking forever to update her coverage. Just to double check, I logged into my insurance's website and to my shock and horror I saw this: Coverage had been cancelled after the first 30 days. What!? I called when she was only 3 days old! How could this be!?

So I knew I couldn't divert this call to John to handle. It was my workplace, after all. And even though Bonnie worked two floors above me, I'd never actually met her so I didn't know who I was dealing with. So I made the call. Bonnie is surprised to hear my story and asks me, "Well, who did you talk to??" And I squealed/yelled/shaky voiced, "YOU, BONNIE! I TALKED TO YOU!". This isn't off to a good start.

She questions my statement as she doesn't remember this and says she would have sent me some paperwork to fill out to officially add Charley had I really talked to her. But I had! I really had! The tears start welling up. [Granted, I am only 4 weeks post partum here and the hormones are still all wonky.]

Imagine this, only 26 years older.

So I start some mumbly, cry-ey rant about Charley's last appointment not being covered since she didn't set it up in time and that's not fair and wahh wahh wahhh. She says she'll call back after she's looked into it. We hang up and I feel like such a dummy. I'm going back to work in 8 more weeks and I'm going to be so paranoid in the elevator everyday wondering if Bonnie is in there laughing at me. But eventually she calls back, (never admits her mistake, mind you), and assures me we can still get her added and the pediatrician will just have to resubmit the bill. I managed to keep my composure during that phone call, thankfully.


And then there was the long phone call with a company I'll call Wime Tarner Fable. Again, I was about 4 weeks post partum so maybe that had something to do with this, but I assure you that I was pretty much like this before a baby too.

So, Wime Tarner changed their website recently, well, the bill pay section of it specifically. They would show you the amount you owed, but to access your actual bill and pay it you needed to further verify yourself. The options for further verifying yourself were this: 1) Enter your account number as shown on your bill, or 2) [some other piece of information that I didn't have so #2 wasn't even an option.] Anyways, I got e-bills in the past from Wime Tarner, so I didn't have a bill to access to get my account number. Keep in mind, all I'm trying to do is PAY my bill. It's not late or anything, I just am unable to pay it because of the website upgrade. So, a phone call was in order. Dun dun dun.

I call, go through about 50 gazillion telephone prompts, and finally I'm connected with a customer service representative named Carlos [again, name changed]. I tell him what I'm looking for, and he goes through the typical verification questions. Name. Last four of your SSN. Birth date. Mother's maiden name. Name of your first pet. Favorite TV show. You know, the works? Only, it's getting a little ridiculous at this point and I wonder which verification question I must have failed because he obviously doesn't think I have verified myself enough to give me the information so I can go on and PAY MY BILL. As in, pay your paycheck Carlos.

Eventually he tells me that due to the fact that I could not verify my correct NAME, he is unable to give me this information. And then it occurs to me that after I got married, this company would never update my name to my married name unless I went to the place of business and showed them my marriage certificate. That's extremely ridiculous, so I've been Lacey Maidenname to them all this time and I accidentally gave him Lacey Marriedname when he asked. So even after explaining this mix up, he refuses and transfers me to some other department to talk about the name change. [OH! And not to mention that one of the verification procedures was to hang up with me, and call the phone number listed on MY ACCOUNT to be sure that I am the person he is talking to. He does this, I answer, RE-verify myself, and it still wasn't enough. It's like I was asking for the president's social security number or something.]

I'm already really annoyed, but have kept my composure through Carlos' antics. Next dude I get got the brunt of my antics. I'm annoyed from Carlos, and then this guy, we'll call him Peter, tells me that in order to change my last name I have to come to the place and bring my marriage certificate and blah blah blah. This is when I get a little teary, okay sobby, and tell him that I REFUSE to bring my 4 week old baby to some place just to change my name and why couldn't I just email or fax him what he needed, this is so ridiculous, wahh, wahh, etc. etc. Oops. Poor guy got it and it wasn't Peter's fault, it was Carlos'! And, he also did the hang up/call back verification thingy. This is getting ridiculous. But yes, he assures me that he is the wrong department to give me what I need and I'd have to be transferred again. Sigh.

Next person finally picks up the phone after I waited another 10 minutes. This lady seems promising, we'll call her Carla. I tell her the deal, but then, when she goes to verify, I realize something. If I just give her my maiden name instead, she'll be able to fully verify me and give me what I need. So I do that, and she wonders why Carlos and Peter couldn't help me in the first place and apologizes for what I've just been through. She gives me the number, and I finally am able to go on and pay my bill.

And then I went to the bathroom to clean up the mascara runs on my face. [Who am I kidding...I had a 4 week old baby...there was no mascara-wearing going on.]


So it was a breath of fresh air recently when I was feeling extra phone-confident and had to call about an order I was placing. Would you even believe that I called, the phone rang 2 times, and a PERSON picked up!? A real, live person that then listened to the issue I was having with the website, fixed the issue promptly, and was finished with everything I needed in less than 3 minutes. See, all of my phone calls don't end in tears!


And maybe this is why I'm so in to the internet and all it has to offer. I can talk to people online. I can brag blog (face it...isn't that what a blog is?) to people online. I can order my pizza and my shoes online. And rarely (when those things fail me) do I ever have to touch the dreaded phone. 

So, I know I can't be the only one. Someone pipe up and join me in my phone-o-phobia-ness. And if you don't have this phobia, maybe you could just leave me some words of encouragement. Please. Poor customer service reps everywhere are begging you.


MillerMama said...

I went pregnancy hormone ballastic on a Sprint rep when I was four months pregnant and my phone wasn't working and they told me I would have to mail it to them to fix it. "I'm pregnant and have a 45 minute commute! I NEED MY PHONE!" *waaaaahhhhh*

I am also still Miller Maidenname with Wime Tarner for the same reason.

My hubby has door phobia. He makes me answer it when people are selling things (probably for the better because he can't say no and we ended up with a newspaper subscription bc of it). He also make me give the pizza man the money.

Andi said...

I am the same way, although not QUITE as bad as I was in high school. I literally would almost throw up if my mom would make me order pizza back then. Now, at 38, I can order pizza without puking or even a hint of nausea. I do, however, hate having to deal with customer service reps or account reps or anything of the sort.If there is any sort of dispute with the account, it is even worse. I try to pass the buck and have my husband do it.

Trisha said...

I'm that way for the most part too. I always hate to call to order food, etc. I always make Curtis do it. And I'm a Buyer professionally so I'm always on the phone with CSR's so you'd think it wouldn't bother me. But now its just that I do it all day and don't want to make those calls when I get home.

Heather said...

I'm a fellow sufferer.

I had a similar experience with my HR dept when adding Tory to my insurance. I called and added her within the 30 days, no problem. Then when open enrollment rolled around, I never verified our benefits because it seemed like too much work. But when the confirmation paperwork arrived (after the enrollment window closed), Tory wasn't added as a dependent and I about died (why did I pretend not to see any of that enrollment paperwork!!). Four phone calls with HR later they added her back to our insurance, thank goodness. Felt like I needed a cookie or a cocktail as a reward for dealing with all of that drama!

In case you didn't notice, I'm also afflicted by "close my eyes and pretend the problem will go away" disease. You?