Oct 232012

We pulled out of Bass Lake RV Campground in Dillon, South Carolina at 10 AM yesterday morning and headed south on Interstate 95. It was a nice day, plenty of blue sky, no wind, and traffic was moderate. A good day for traveling in an RV.

We stopped at the Flying J in Latta, filled our tank, and then pulled over to the side of the parking lot until Greg and Jan had filled up. Then we got back on the highway. Except for a few very slow moving vehicles that had traffic backed up behind them that we were forced to pass, it was an easy trip.

We arrived at Hardeeville RV Park in Hardeeville and pulled into a site, only to find that our Winegard Trav’ler automatic rooftop TV dish couldn’t lock onto a signal because of a tree in the way. So we moved to another site where the dish quickly zeroed in and all was right with my world.

Well, at least it was until I turned on my computer. When we were here two years ago, the 4G Verizon signal was flakey and Verizon’s explanation was that they were upgrading the system in the local area. (Yeah, I know, any customer anywhere who has ever called Verizon to complain about service gets the same line of BS. If that were true, there would be 100% employment in this country, because everybody would be busy working for Verizon to upgrade its systems.) So I wasn’t surprised or upset that the internet service was slow, because I knew the campground’s free wifi is very fast.

But I was dismayed to find that when we pumped $284.37 worth of fuel at the Flying J earlier in the day they had charged Terry’s Visa card $500. We called our credit union’s customer service number, who said we first had to call Flying J and try to resolve the issue with them. Terry called the truck stop in Latta and talked to somebody named Paula, who had no idea what to tell her, so she put Terry on hold and never came back. Terry called back and got another employee, who transferred her to a supervisor, who eventually gave her another number to call for Customer Service. First they told her to call our bank (already did that), and then said to call Customer Service back today. Why in the hell do we keep patronizing this outfit?

I imagine that this is some type of security hold they put on, and they will blame it on my bank, who will blame it on Flying J. But if it is bank policy, why doesn’t it happen at other Flying Js where we have bought fuel? Oh well, it will get resolved eventually. But what ever happened to true customer service, not just passing the buck?

While Terry was dealing with that, I was on the line with Adobe, dealing with their unique way of pissing off customers. We are part of a lease program in which we pay a monthly fee to use a wide assortment of Adobe professional publishing software, and I had received an e-mail that our account had been suspended. I called to ask why, and after a very long time on hold, was told that somebody would call me back once they researched the problem.

An hour later an Adobe rep who could hardly speak English called, and after 30 minutes on the phone with him, he said he had no idea what the problem was and transferred me to another department, where I waited on hold over 30 minutes again. Then the call was dropped and I had to call back yet again, only to get a message that my call would be answered in no more than four hours, please stay on the line. Four hours!

That was all the frustration I could deal with in one day, so I hung up. I guess if they want my business bad enough, they’ll call me. Of course, if they do, I probably won’t be able to understand what the hell their rep says anyway.

Thought For The Day – I used to be schizophrenic, but we’re okay now.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  16 Responses to “Customer Service (Or Lack Thereof)”

  1. Nick,

    While you are in farm country, go out and watch a bull SERVICE a cow.

    Then you can understand, the Internal Revenue SERVICE, U.S. Postal SERVICE and now a lot of what is referred to as Customer SERVICE. Simple enough!


  2. I have noticed that I bought car gas they charged my account $100 for about 4 days. Don’t understand why.except they get to use that extra money for free for those days.

  3. I’m with you Nick, customer service has been lost in this country. First of all why do I have to push 1 for english then get someone from Thailand that can’t speak english. Press 2 if you want to talk to a rep, but first listen to the recording on how we can in most cases fix your problem without even talking to us. Ah yea……Customer Service today!!

  4. what a wonderful, day you had. . .NOT!


  5. Nick – Terry and I often use Pilot/”the hook” for our diesel fuel in the Freightliner and our pickup. Since we have to turn in 2 copies of the receipt for the work truck, he makes 2 trips. First one PRE-Authorizes the card(s) for X amount. In our case, for the Freightliner, it’s usually $250 – the daily limit on the fuel card.

    For our personal card, he only authorizes $75. We rarely need more because we top off at a half-tank – and he tells them “we are just topping off pump 8 – we don’t need much”. And we stay under $75. Of course, if it needs a fill-up Terry will still stay under how much he guesstimates our truck will need.

    Then after pumping, he goes back in to get the 2 copies of the REAL receipt(s) which shows how much fuel was actually pumped. The final transaction wipes out the pre-authorized charge AND we have proof how much was REALLY purchased in the event there is a “goof” down the road.

    It’s a credit card/debit card thing. Debit cards will hit your card for the charge IMMEDIATELY, but take a few days to credit it back. All card transactions are closed out in a batch process at the end of the day, and IF (that’s where the rub is) IF the clerk who handles your card transaction will go back and VOID (not credit) the pre-authorization charge to the debit card, then the only charge that should appear on any card after batch processing the day is the valid charge. IF you check your debit card before the end of the day, you may see both charges, but the next day should clear out the pre-authorization.

    The problem is so many desk clerks are not “authorized” to make those VOIDS to the cards (for obvious theft reasons) and the manager is no where to be found, so they just let the cc company process everything in the wash and that’s where it takes a few BUSINESS days for your pre-authorization charge to clear off.

    Any time a debit card is used and “they” charge you in error, what SHOULD happen-from the customers’ POV – is to VOID the bad transaction and enter a new correct one. But, that rarely happens, for time reasons unless they know what they are doing, and as you well know – that is the rarest of all!

    Enjoy Savannah – and give us lots of tips… it’s on our bucket list for a long time vs. quickie visit one day. I’m taking notes!

  6. I guess one of my pet peeves about calls to deal with some type of problem is that after telling you about the possibility of resolving the problem at the online site (which I have already attempted) the lengthy period on hold is often a series of messages trying to sell something else. Then when you finally get a live human being repeating things to them many times and having them repeat things to you because of their thick accents really is annoying.

  7. I wonder if when Adobe customers in that part of world call in are transferred to a service rep here who can only speak Texan.

  8. Nick since you and Greg like good eats. If you get a chance check out “Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room” in Savannah. We went for lunch, had to wait in line to get in but well worth the wait.

  9. We have only had the problem of them putting a $500 charge on our card once at a Flying J, the next day it was taken off and only the amount was charged that we used for fuel. I do agree thought that getting placed on hold forever and then getting someone who does a terrible job with our language is really the pits, I have had luck at times in these situations asking for someone who speaks English so I can understand them, a few times I am glad I did not speak the language because I am sure it was not very nice and they called me every name in the book. Sometimes though it works.

  10. We stopped going to Flying J after three problems in a row last year. At the same one you stopped at Latta, the girl at the counter yelled at my wife because she didn’t know how much fuel we would need and demanded a figure. Then at the one on I-95 in Florida the pump kept cutting off, even though Sheila took the credit card inside. So three times she had to go back in and wait in line to have them turn the pump back on. Then at one in Gary Indiana the manager refused to come out of his office and talk to me when I went in to complain about the filthy language the man was using in front of my wife when he filled someone’s propane tank. Calls to their “customer service” went nowhere. The 3 cents a gallon we save on fuel isn’t worth the BS and problems.

  11. Yea, why do you still go to their stations?? On every rv forum I view I post my opinion on their terrible “rv pumps” design (fuel, propane & dump clustered together), then you have to make a 90 degree turn and try to avoid the cars backing up in front of the store. People that love their discount flame me. We avoid them like the plague and will only go there if we are 10 miles to empty and they are the only choice, THAT’S never happened. Have fun in Savannah, we really liked Hardeeville RV. When we were there in 2011 a microburst came through and knocked over 3 trees, no rv was damaged.

  12. Nick, you’ve never had a nice thing to say about FLYING J, yet you continue to go there to be abused, Einstein had a saying about that.

  13. Some days you just want to say, “To hell with it” and crawl back into bed & pull the covers over your head.

  14. I was recently told by someone who works in a call center that in order to legally outsource a call center, a company must have at least a basic one located in the USA. She also told me that as a customer calling from the US, you have the right to request to be connected to the USA based call center. I tried it once and after a few redirects, I finally got to talk to someone I could understand located in Ohio.

  15. I use an APP called Gas Buddy, it gives you the price of fuel and will map all the service stations in your area. I find it quite interesting how much variance in prices within an area. I have also found that FlyingJ/Pilot are not always the cheapest or the most convenient. Gas Buddy is a free APP and is one of my most used APPs when I am on the road. Another very good APP is iExit, gives you all the businesses near the exits and uses your phones GPS to know where you are. Most Flying J’s are just too difficult to get in and out of due to traffic and the inside “help” seems to be mostly not very helpful. Found one exception, in Hagerstown Md, they were very competent and nice.

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