Ever place a call and receive a recorded message that your conversation “may be recorded for training purposes”? Next time, offer up a small prayer that someone out there is actually listening. And learning. Here’s our story:

After an exhaustive six-month search, we selected a new Internet provider that could boost our service to the level we had longed for, at a price that was actually less than our current contract. (High fives and sighs of relief all around.) All that was left was the dotted line.

O! M! G!!!

But this is where the customer service story starts to go down the tubes.

The contract with our future provider arrived in mid-August. The first review was a bit unsettling as there were multiple errors throughout: our company name was wrong, our address appeared incorrect in several places, our federal ID number belonged to someone else and above all, the rate was not what we were quoted.

I sent an email to our account manager with the corrections and received a revised contract containing only half the corrections made, plus the addition of a totally new error. And this version of the contract came with an unexpected caveat: we had to sign now because the rates were expiring. Now, usually delays in contract signing are due to negotiations over money and terms, but we were just trying to get a contract that we recognized. It took three weeks and multiple conversations to get a correct contract. Our account manager was reassigned (hopefully to a retraining site).

Unfortunately, we’re not finished. Now we move to the company we were about to leave.

In order to successfully disconnect from our existing provider, I placed a call to their Customer Care department. I was given a list of procedures to follow in order to prevent an automatic rollover of the current contract.

Care Person #1 directed me to send a disconnect request on our stationery to their corporate office, a copy to my sales rep and a follow-up phone call to him – apparently to remind him to read his mail. After I completed the three tasks from Care Person #1, I placed a second call to Customer Care to confirm everything was covered. Care Person #2 informed me that I should have contacted a completely different division by email, which I immediately did.

Now, we were at Care Person #3. He informed me the request for disconnection should have been signed by one of three authorized people at R+M, as they could not process the request using my signature. The first person named was no one who had ever worked at R+M. The second was an assistant who left over a year before the existing contract was signed. And the third person was our president. (He got one out of three.) I asked Care Person #3 to check the records, as I was the person who actually signed the existing contract. If I was the one who started it, I should be able to stop it.

If you boast that you monitor phone calls and communications for training purposes, please listen and learn. If you have a designated person to handle customer inquiries, please train them. If you have a call center with multiple people taking calls, please make sure ALL your customer service reps are “pettin’ the same dog.”