Alice really doesn’t live here any more

By Marla Boone - Contributing columnist

Here is a real conversation that took place with a representative of a real company. The dialogue, such as it was, occurred between me and a real person after several minutes of repeatedly pushing the number zero on my phone.

The issue at hand was an attempt to change the address associated with an annuity account. Because we are beset with scammers and terrorists who apparently use false addresses in Troy, Ohio to access their ill-gotten gains, it takes a great deal of effort (on the customer’s part, of course) to change an address. God help you if you need to change your name.

So here, believe it or not, is the short version of what transpired on the phone.

Me: (Pushing zero over and over to speak to a customer service representative because nothing on the automated menu remotely meets my needs.)

Phone: Please enter account number

Me: (Pushing zero over and over to speak to a customer service representative because I had made the incredibly stupid and rank rookie mistake of not having the account number memorized.)

Phone: Please enter account number

Me: (Pushing zero over and over, etc., etc., etc.)

Phone: Let me connect you to a customer service representative.

Me: Hallelujah

Phone: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite get that. Please enter account number.

Me: (expletive deleted)

In relatively short order and by that I mean in less than three hours, a real live person came on the line. She wanted — guess what? — the account number. I told her I had only the last four digits of the account number, my date of birth, my social security number, my mother’s maiden name, my father’s middle name, and all the verses to America the Beautiful. This obviously reassured her I was not funding an insurrection in Miami County because she asked me how she could help me.

I told her I wanted to change the address on my account. Feeling just a little snippy by this point, I felt compelled to mention I had replied to three previous requests for information but I kept getting the same form letter asking for the info they already had.

She did whatever it is customer service representatives do when assaulted with logic. She went out for coffee maybe because she put me on hold for a long long time. When she was adequately hydrated, she reported the previous letters I had returned had been “denied” because the signature on them looked different from the one I signed in 1985. Mind you, my penmanship is awful most of the time, except for when it is downright dreadful.

I explained that at no time had the company let me know my previous replies had been given a big red X. She cleared that right up by saying, “Well they did.” This made everything much more understandable. I asked how I could fix the problem, which, in all honesty, I thought was her job. She said I needed to have the signature notarized and then I was to return the form (for the fourth time) in the envelope they had enclosed for my convenience.

To review:

Me: How was I supposed to know the signature had to be notarized? The letter doesn’t say that.

CS Rep: Well, you do have to have it notarized and sent back in the envelope we sent you.

By this time, I am well past feeling snippy. I am feeling victory slipping away. I’d have felt even a little vindicated if I could have gotten this person to acknowledge her company is not quite scoring in the 99 percentile on attention to detail because …

Me: But there’s no envelope enclosed with the letter. I need a return envelope so I can send my notarized signature to you so you can then have my correct address to which you currently will not send my mail because you’re so un-trusting.

CS Rep: I’ll send you an envelope.

Me: But you don’t have the correct address.

CS Rep: Give me your new address. I’ll send the envelope there.

Me: Isn’t that how this conversation began? With me trying to update my address?

CS Rep: Uuuhhhhh

Me: I win!

By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.