Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whatever Happened to Customer Service? (or, Pastor Craig, Part 2)

In case you were wondering, I still haven't heard from Pastor Craig. Nevertheless, K's dinner is shaping up nicely. We're up to 12 people, which is a blow-out for someone once who cancelled her own surprise party.

When I checked in with a friend whom E-vite listed as "not-yet-replied," I learned that I mistyped her e-mail address.

It got me to thinking. What if I had the wrong address for Pastor Craig? I've embarrassed myself enough to invite him, so I would be peeved if a missed keystroke kept him from coming.

After confirming online I had the right Pastor Craig, I made another call.

I was greeted by Sally, the mechanical voice of all things automated.

I'm sorry, but the number you reached is no longer in service.

I tried 411 next.

This time, Sally seemed impatient.

What city?

Is this a business or residence?

Please state the name of the business.

I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Please restate the name of the business.

Please restate the name of the business. (By now, Sally was getting really pissed.)

Please hold while I transfer you to the next available operator.

The operator's voice was high-pitched and twangy.

"Do you have an address for this church?"

"Sure." I read her the address from online.


"Say what?" My head was starting to hurt.

"I don't have a listing, ma'am." She sounded more annoyed with me than Sally was.

"Ok, thank you."

Instead of saying "thank you" in return, the operator transferred me back to Sally.

Thank you for using 411 connect.

Really? Are we so busy now that we can't say thank you anymore? We need an automated voice to do it for us?

And, I still didn't find Pastor Craig!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pastor Craig

A friend of mine is leaving our shared place of employment to follow her passion. It's a move that's both gutsy and admirable, and during the company's peak period of 50-plus hour work weeks, I'd say it's a pretty smart move as well.

K's not big on parties and hoopla, but I figured an event like this deserved a celebration. After a well-crafted pitch and three weeks of begging for a guest list, I got K to agree to a simple dinner with those who know her best.

The list was short, and it was missing contact information for most of the guests, but one name stood out. Pastor Craig.

Next to his e-mail address was a short notation. "Highly unlikely that he could make it."

I didn't see the point in inviting someone who had little-to-no shot at coming. So I thought I'd increase the odds of an affirmative R.S.V.P. by calling the Pastor and getting the date on his calendar right away. A quick trip to Google was all I needed.

"Good afternoon, Pastor Craig's office."

This should have been a red flag right here. K mentioned he was the pastor of small ministry. Too small for an office, and way too small for a secretary.

"Is Pastor Craig available?"

"No, may I take a message?"

"Sure." I gave my name and phone number.

"What is this regarding?" Something in her tone of voice wasn't quite right.

"I'm calling to extend an invitation to an event."

"Are you friend of Pastor's?"

"Um, no, not exactly." This was going downhill fast. I dodged a few more questions and hung up the phone.

A few days went by, and I didn't get a return call. When I went back to the Web site, the Pastor's bio and photo popped up. This man was about 20 years older than I expected.

I called the wrong Pastor Craig.

So, somewhere in Chicago, there likely is a man who has to explain why some woman called to invite him to a dinner. I just pray his church isn't one that is full of drama.

Who am I kidding? That woman's tone of voice told me all I need to know.

Pastor Craig, I'm really really sorry.