August 2010 issue
Phone-E Customer Service
I hate to keep harping on the same old stuff, but my battles with ISDN service providers has grown to almost comic proportions. The really disturbing part is that it seems to be universal among service providers.
It took over a month between installation and getting an actual working line when we moved here to the Hudson Valley region of NY. (see last months newsletter for the gory details) When service was finally established, the technician notified the billing department that I should not be billed for service prior to that time. So I ignored the first bill.
A couple weeks later, I lost one channel of my ISDN service, rendering it useless. Repair techs worked on it for three or four days and couldn't find the problem. I called the business office to complain, and was told it had been disconnected for failure to pay! So I paid the bill just to get my service back within 24 hrs., as promised. I figured I could fight for a refund later.
Three days later, service returned. The day after that, it was disconnected again. Nobody knows why, but it took a long time to get restored once again! Out of three month's I've gotten three weeks of use and paid for the full quarter!
Then there's AT&T. I cancelled my ISDN service in NC effective June 11th, the day we moved North. But I've still been getting billed for continuous service. I've called Ma Bell several times, and always get someone who says, "That's odd... let me get someone to help." I'm transferred to the telephone company equivalent of Siberia, or some other incorrect department.
Take a look at your phone bill. I'll bet you can't find a customer service number on it! Plenty of numbers to buy more services, change plans, report a technical problem, etc. But no customer service. Y'know why?
Phone companies don't have any.
Working Without A "Net."
OK, so I've had to get along without ISDN for the better part of three months. This hasn't stopped me from doing a lot of voice work! Fortunately, many of my clients are comfortable with having me do their VOs and then send them an email link where they can download the audio file from my web site. Some direct by phone-patch, and some just say; "Do it and ship it!" No approval process... they trust me a lot (which I appreciate). And, of course, there's the new kid on the block in real-time audio; "Source Connect".
Those Jos.A Bank TV commercials for the past couple of months were voiced here in a spare bedroom of a century-old victorian house, with an air mattress propped up in front of me for acoustics.
Davenport University, in several Michigan locations, has kept me jumping with five or six basic scripts customized for as many as 16 different campuses, as they try to pump up that state's dismal employment figures with newly-trained adult graduates in Healthcare, IT services and more.
Automobile manufacturing jobs may be lacking in Michigan, but it looks like sales are beginning to pick up in the retail end of the industry. At least the dealers are starting to advertise more, and I've been voicing car spots in a dozen states or more... including the local BMW dealer down the street from our new home!
Irene, with her new professorship and increased salary, bought herself a car that caught her eye on the BMW used car lot... a cute little Mini Cooper convertible. In the process of negotiations and delivery, we became great friends with the salesman and other staff, who suggested to the owner that he consider using me for their spots (which previously were, apparently, embarrasingly bad by their estimation). ...Another air mattress delivery, and a new client is on the air!
The political season is starting to heat up, and I'm already voicing spots in Kansas. The Democrats have heard the angry voices shouting "throw 'em all out" and are getting ready early for a tough election season. The Republicans, sensing opportunity, are also ramping up their efforts. It's gonna be a slug-fest!
Help For the Overextended
To say our country is facing a credit crisis is not news to anyone. But I read an article in the Times that makes me wonder if help is on the way, or something else...
Banks are considering offering a budgeting service for checking accounts and credit cards. You tell them what your monthly budget limits are for expenses like dining and such, and they keep track. If you try to charge or debit a bill from a restaurant, and you're over your "dinner-out" budget, they'll decline the card. This is supposed to help us stick to our budgets.
Is it just me, or does this sound like an incredibly bad idea? A windfall bonus celebration? Nope... not in the budget! And how do you feel about washing dishes? I'll bet there's a fee for the service, too.