The Benicio del Toro-Fred Fenster School of Call Center Training

I’d research where AT&T is outsourcing their call center to before I write this, but since I’m still on the phone with them, I’m capturing this comedy routine while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Somewhere, there’s an AT&T Call Training Center with scripts being taught by THE USUAL SUSPECTS’ Fred Fenster…

So far, the first thickly accented woman I spoke to in my attempt to reduce our monthly bill sounded like the understudy to Benicio del Toro’s “Fred Fenster” character in “The Usual Suspects.” (Benicio intentionally invented his film accent to be virtually impossible to understand.) You know…THIS character:

Actor Benicio del Toro in my favorite role (so far).

The part of the conversation I did understand, the woman was trying to convince me that the “Deesh Network” was the way to go. But I know AT&T installation people. They have protected us from stepping foot on that electronic land mine. Even they won’t do the deesh. They divulged that if it rained, snowed or our verdant oak trees got a little too shady, the Deesh would be rendered impotent. That was all I needed to hear. Next, she suggested I downgrade to the Uverse 300 bundle. We were online researching everything she suggested. It turns out, anything below the Uverse 450 bundle is no longer in HD. Dave was visibly vibrating at the prospect of that. He’s an A/V savant. There are certain lines I am not allowed to cross. I’ve spent a bundle on their HD bundle for the past nine years. If only I had invested that money in Bitcoin instead…

Suffice it to say, Frederica Fenster’s solution did not satisfy me. She moved me up the chain to her supervisor.

The next person on the line, Frederica’s male supervisor, asked me for my “circumcise” in his thick accent. “Did you just ask me if I was circumcised?!?” I asked, in shocked disbelief. Dave slapped his forehead, or SMH in text speak. Apparently, this is how they pronounce “service address” in his part of the world. I live with a mumbler, so I’m pretty good at discerning the let’s-not-put-any-effort-into-it style of elocution. So it was Dave who understood and answered the supervisor’s question.

I’ve seen plenty of documentaries on call centers. I know for a fact that they spend an inordinate amount of time training offshore call center representatives how to enunciate English clearly. I do feel bad for them when they get saddled with these unbelievable, Americanized names like “Dustin” and “Jessica.” Why not let them just be themselves? Isn’t life hard enough, dealing with disgruntled customers like me all day? If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sheepish embarrassment in their voices when they have to introduce themselves.

I didn’t catch the name of Frederica’s supervisor. What I did catch was his same line of bullshit. He, too, explained that he could do nothing for me, despite my nine years of customer loyalty. He offered to send me to what Dave — also listening in on the call — interpreted as the “Fluoride Department.” Perhaps they could hear me gritting my teeth too tightly — a fluoride treatment could replace what I’ve possibly chipped off from tension. Maybe they have a “Temporomandibular Masseuse Department” for the ensuing TMJ, as well. We were put on hold for the third time. I slowly realized it’s how they say “Loyalty Department” over there. They should really call it the “Customer Disloyalty Department,” since only when the customer is jumping ship to XFINITY do they step in.

Now I’m on the phone with my third person. He’s the supervisor to the supervisor. He can hear me typing away, describing our call to you, Gentle Readers. I know I’ve now graduated to the big time. This gentleman speaks perfectly understandable, accent-free English. I didn’t catch his name, but I’ll call him Nebraska; I think he was raised in Johnny Carson’s neck of the woods. In five minutes’ time, he knocked $80 off of my monthly bill. I am beyond irritated that I didn’t negotiate this sooner. Lesson learned.

So, boys and girls, the moral to today’s story is, if you ever need a circumcision in the fluoride department, call AT&T Uverse. Just prepare to be on hold for a while.

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