Monday, November 01, 2010

I used to be a paralegal. Which, really, means that I did all the work an attorney does, but for 10% of the pay, none of the credit and ALL of the blame. It's a miserable career.

Tres miserable.

But miserable or not, I know how to read a darn contract. I used to write them, for God's sake. And I have read our Dish Network contract forwards and backwards, with a find-a-mining glass (Paloma lingo for "Magnifying"--how adorable is that?!?), under a spotlight. So I knew---*knew*--that we could downgrade our cable package to the Family Plan. Which would save us nearly $26 a month.

Cool, right?

Well, every time I called, I got a series of fast-talkers on the phone, all men and all Hispanic. All who try to talk to me in Espanol first.

I am convinced that when you call many a large company and punch in your account numbers--and your surname is a uber-common Hispanic last name--the majority of the time-- that company will automatically push you through to a Spanish-speaking rep.

And most of the time (in my 10 years of experience), those reps are not helpful. They will lie to you. They will pretend things are not on their computer screens when the info actually is there. They will tell you that you HAVE to buy into this service or this protection plan, or no service (even when you don't have to.) The credit card companies I have dealt with are the worst with that last one.

I know that many phone reps do this sort of thing. But this takes it above and beyond.

My only "proof" of this phenomenon is that I used to have a SUPER Anglo last name. And I was NEVER experienced any of those things to the degree that I do now.

My only thought is that for many immigrants to our country, they already feel behind the 8-ball. Their language might be lacking; their experience with these situations minimal, if any. I can't help but feel that large corporations are trying to take advantage of them and their "ignorance" of these systems.

It is a damn, horrible, inexcusable shame.

When the Mister and I were first married, Hatfield still had my former Anglo last name. And my maiden (Anglo) last name was on her medical files and accounts.

Then I gave birth to Atticus. Who has a Hispanic last name, and a Hispanic last name (my married name) on his account.

Now, we go to the Aurora Baycare medical system here in our region of the state. They are a For-Profit hospital.

Meaning, if you have a bill that they sent you 5 days ago, and they have not yet received it, they will start calling you day and night, hunting you down, at 5 days and 1 minute past the day you received the bill.

Anyways, we just a had a baby, who was being added to our insurance plan, and everything had not yet been processed.

Nevertheless, everyday, I had a complete prick named Victor call me, hounding me about this bill. He would always address me in Spanish first. I would ALWAYS have to ask him to speak in English. Everyday, he would try to get me to pay my bill, in full, on a credit card. Even though he knew that our insurance was processing everything. Even though he knew that the bill due date was still 20 days away. He never offered a payment plan, and when I did asked, he said, "No. Not if you have a credit card. We can offer no payment plan. But when we find out that the insurance company paid us, you can WRITE TO US, sending it certified, and ask us to reimburse you the rest."

Lies. Lies. Lies.

Now, on the other hand, I had phone calls everyday about my little Hatfield Anglo-Last Name. While it was still nuts that they were calling a mere 6-days after her 4-year old checkup, the calls were always from a somewhat nice woman who spoke English. I asked about payment plans. We only owed $35 dollars, but Aurora Baycare was offering us plans letting us pay $5 a week, or every other week.

So one day, I pointed this out to both Victor and the ladies.

And you know what happened? They all STOPPED calling me.

* * * * * * * * *

Anyways, that was a long time ago. Here's my most recent story, I was telling you about my experience with Dish Network.

So all of these reps on the phone--all male, all Spanish-speaking--all INSISTED--swore upon their mother's graves--that I could not lower my satellite service to any package smaller than the one we had.

I got nowhere.

Now, before I felt the need to go all Chuck Norris on them, I told the Mister to call. He kind of balked, because he feels that if a company tells you they can't do something, they can't.

Clearly, he forgot two things:

1) I was a paralegal and while I may have blond highlights in my hair (sadly, about 3 inches below my roots), I do understand what a contract states (see above);


2) I kicked Dyson's ass. And I was betting we could kick some Dish ass too (oooooo, big talker, I know, lol! But the Dyson story is pretty crazy :)

So, the Mister calls Dish. He hits "0" for "Customer Service" right away, so that he has to tell his info so Dish can manually look up the account.

And get this:

1) He gets an English-only rep.
2) That rep tells him, "Of course, sir. Let me transfer you to the Account Manager."
3) He is transferred immediately. The nice lady downgrades our package quickly and without hassle.
4) The phone call takes 5 minutes, tops.


Needless to say, I did an Internet search to find out a VP at the Dish company (public tax records and Linkedin rock) and I wrote an email.

Now, do I truly expect any of this to change anything?

No, not really.

But, I do believe that we have to slowly chip away at this. Not let companies get away with this type of total garbage.

I have 5 kids, all of whom carry non-Anglo last names. 4 of whom are not in the racial majority. I want things to be better for them when they are grown.

Do I think it will be?
I have some hope.
I have some doubts.

But either way, I feel that as a parent, the Mister and I have a responsibility to pick up my ax and slowly chip at to this huge mountain of inequality.

I would say that Mister would go all Kung Fu on them, but sadly, he won't be learning any more new and fresh MMA moves each and everyday. Because, believe it or not, Spike tv is NOT part of the Family Package.

Sorry, Mister. But you're welcome to use my ax anytime you'd like. You all are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it was the Colin Powell effect- "my, but he speaks English so well!"

I sometimes think we should change to Fenwick for a few years, just to see what it would be like....

-Mr. X