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SOLENNE San Jose, a woman from the Bordeaux region of France, recently received a cellphone bill for 11,721,000,000,000,000
We won't speculate about what went through her mind, even in French. This is a family newspaper.
There were so many zeroes, she told the French newspaper Sud Ouest, that she wasn't quite sure how much the amount was.
It was clearly a mistake. But we haven't gotten to the good part yet.
She told the French newspaper that when she called her cellphone carrier, Bouygues Telecom, to report the error, she was initially told nothing could be done and that the total would be debited from her bank account. Assuming that San Jose didn't have $15 quadrillion in her checking account, the subsequent call from the bank would have been interesting.
She talked to someone else who was nicer about it. That person reportedly offered to set up an installment plan to pay off the amount, which is many times greater than the entire world's economy generates in a year.
After making a lot of calls, San Jose eventually got someone to admit the mistake and change the bill to 117.21 euros, or $154, Sud Quest reports.
We should all check our bills for the less obvious errors that always seem to favor the biller, not the billee.
And we should all expect common sense and courtesy when we call about our cellphone, cable or other bills. But too often, we get the kind of reaction San Jose did, and we just end up with a headache, not a funny story to tell, like she did.
But this story also got me thinking about what it's like to be a customer call service representative. So I went online and looked at an aptitude test. Suddenly, I was feeling a little more compassion--not so much for the people San Jose dealt with on the other end of the line, but for ones I have.
Some of the questions had to do with how well one might perform:
Being confined to a small workspace.
Having your customer calls recorded.
Having your customer calls monitored by your supervisor.
Being yelled at, insulted or otherwise verbally abused by customers.
I doubt that any of our readers have received a quadrillion-dollar bill, but I'm wondering what your worst and best experiences have been, and which phone, cellphone and cable companies you consider the worst and the best in terms of customer service.
Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163