Friday, May 19, 2006

An ungentle reminder

I got an ungentle reminder today of the frustrations of being deaf in a world designed for the hearing - and not designed very well for them, either.

I am about to purchase a replacement for my outdated Palm m130. The logical choice seems to be the Palm Z22, but I was a bit taken aback to see that while it's listed on the US website for $99USD, attempting to order it redirects Canadian customers to a Canadian "PalmStore" where it's listed for $149CAD. At the current exchange rate, $99USD is only $111CAD. I understand things can be more expensive in Canada than the US, but the fact that the US and Canadian prices hadn't budged since I priced the Z22 at Christmas, while the Canadian dollar has gone up dramatically since then, was kind of disturbing, so I emailed to inquire about getting a better price.

I searched around the website until I found a link to contact customer support with a question. I was forced to choose a topic - even though none of the listed topics addressed my issue - in order to send the email to Palm. I chose "Product availability" since it was, vaguely, the closest to my issue.

In response I got an automatically-generated generic email that gave a mealy-mouth, vague explanation as to why some product or other might not be available at any given time, said I wouldn't be getting any other response to my query, said I could not respond to the email, and that if I had further concerns I should call a toll-free phone number.

Thanks a lot, Palm. Using the phone is still very difficult for me. Tallking to customer service reps with their glib, musical patter is the worst. They seem to think speaking swiftly is a sign of efficiency (and maybe hearing people think it is) but even on a good day, "HellothanksforholdingmynameiskimberlyhowcanIhelpyouuuuuuuu?" is really, really tough to follow - and that's just their opening line.

When I was completely deaf, it was impossibly clumsy with the use of a TTY operator, or impossible, period.

This is what Palm considers "customer service"? Even a deaf person can hear "#@$% off".



Blogger Rob Wynne said...

Consumer advocate and radio personality Clark Howard often refers to such organizations as Customer Noservice. Some of them are frieghteninly non-customer focused.

Of course, you have friends in the US who would be happy to agent such a purchase for you, if you cannot manage to get around it any other way.

8:14 a.m.  

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