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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Woe is the Phone Company

How is it that an industry that was so fundamental in the creation of the World Wide Web can be so universally bad at taking advantage of it?

When I moved into my current apartment, I shopped around online for phone service. It was a brutally painful experience. One site had created an infinite loop of going from region to state to region to state. Another forced you to guess their bizarre address format in order to continue ( quick - do you live on an Ave or an Ave. or an AVE? Maybe it's not a Street but a St ). Frequently I would waste precious time only to get to an error page before I could proceed.

Ever wonder why your phone company puts you on hold? It's because their website sucks and they force geeks like me to call them, when you could be talking to them instead. Yesterday when I tried to swap my cell phone to provider which has now acquired my service, their form field disabled the zip code - which was annoying since that was the only piece of information they wanted me to update.

Then, when I called them - I got a very odd conversation. First I complained that I couldn't even browse for new plans online. So he suggested that I browse as a new customer instead of as an existing one. When I asked if it wouldn't just be simpler to go to a Cingular store - he responded:

"No, you don't want to do that. They're privately owned."

WTF? Way to treat your sales staff.

Now, however - really takes the cake. They apparently updated their site and I was able to register. But right now, I'm logged in - and I'm not logged in. I can see my account page, but if I try to do anything else I'm asked to log in. And when I try, I get an error.


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