Saturday, September 20, 2008

Your call will be taken in the order it was received

You guessed it. I was put on hold... and hold... and hold. I was calling back a woman tasked with booking me for diabetic training. She'd left a pleasant message, giving me a call-back number which I foolishly deleted. I thought, why bother when I have her number displayed on my blackberry? Her failure, in this diva's opinion, is that she did not state the nature of the call. She simply said she was calling from Capital Health link to make an appointment.

(Note to self: Include pictures with every post to liven up the text)

When I called the displayed number back (which varied from her call-back number by one digit, by the way), I was put in to holding hell for about twenty minutes. I didn't dare hang up, because the pleasant automated voice reminded me of the dreaded consequences. I'd lose my place in the queue. So as my husband shouted conversational inanities at me over a Tim Horton's lunch, I listened in succession to health tips, elevator music, and dire warnings not to hang up. I offered to let my husband listen in to the helpful tips, but he declined.

The second failure was an automated message that came on every five minutes or so, advising me that they were experiencing a high number of calls and if I wished, I could "press one" to leave a message. After ten minutes, I gave that "1" a try. It doesn't work! So then I was stuck. Do I hang up and risk a longer wait in the future? I grimly stuck it out.

The receptionist at the general health line was unhelpful. She asked what the appointment was for. When I said I did not know, she told me I would have to wait for the lady to call me back again. (The horror of hours of hold flooded my imagination). In desperation, I mentioned that my doctor was hooking me up for diabetes training. Could this possibly be why they are calling? "Well then, I'll forward your call to Diabetes booking. If I lose the call, here's the number." I made her repeat it two times. She said it too fast to write or memorize.

What was doubly unfortunate is the receptionist bothered to explain how difficult it is to locate the right department, now that they have gone through a major reorganization. She detailed that for me, just in case I was unaware. Like that prig of a psychiatrist years ago, I got the sense she was trying to pull me in to her political reality.

It's not my fight, lady. I want out of hold hell, and I'd pretty please like to set up that appointment.

The woman who originally called me was delighted to hear from me. She was so pleasant and efficient I forgot to tell her that her original voice mail was unclear. But we got through the necessaries and I am booked for my appointment. It was disconcerting that the closest clinics for the Northeast are far West and Central.

Now I am envisioning several "mystery shopper" forms that people could complete to describe their own experience. I'd need one for waiting rooms, queues, and for automated phone systems.