Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Combat Pay (PART II)

After a bit, a new computer patron happened in and I was forced to go back and log them onto a computer within Barbara Turdmurkle's field of vision.

"Oh, oh, excuuuuuse me. I need some help heeeere," Barbie T said in her slow, breathy, singsong voice, upon catching sight of me. I stepped over to her system. Barbara explained that she was trying to look at her credit report on her credit protection agency's website, but couldn't seem to get into it.

"Did you try your username and password?" I asked her.


"Your username and password," I said. "In order to access your account with them, you have to log into the site using a username and password."

Barbie thought for a moment. "I don't have one."

"Yes, you do," I said. I told her that the last time I'd seen her in the library, she'd been trying to check her credit report and had phoned up her protection agency and spoken to someone who had given her a username and password, which she'd written down and used to access her account. In order to do that again, she would have to use that username and password.

Barbara said she didn't remember any of that. She remembered I had helped her then, but she didn't know what her password might be. I suggested it might help if she phoned up her credit protection agency and asked them what it might be.

At that moment, a patron carried some books on tape past me headed seemingly toward the front room.

"I'm sorry, but I have to go back up front. I'm the only staff member in the building," I said.

"Oh, no, I'm going to be a while," the tape carrying patron said. I nearly spat on her.

Barbara Turdmurkle pointed to her screen. "Since I couldn't get my credit report, I wanted to look at something else." She explained then that she was trying to find a list of local car dealerships who were friendly with her insurance agency, the PROMINENT TEXAS-BASED INSURANCE COMPANY.

"Have you been to their website?" I asked, noting that the auto insurance search engine on her screen was not it.

She said she had and had tried to find it but nothing had worked and it had taken her twenty minutes to find the screen she was now on which wasn't giving her what she wanted either. To demonstrate, she clicked the search button beside of which was a completely blank search field. Nothing happened. I could feel my head start to ache.

"Ma'am, that isn't PTBIC's website. If you want to find PTBIC-friendly dealers, I suggest you start back at PTBIC's website."

"But it took me twenty minutes to get here," she said.

"Ma'am, I really REALLY recommend that you go back to PTBIC's site and start again."

Barbie T blinked at her screen and made no move to do so. She seemed reluctant to leave the incorrect screen on the grounds that it had taken her so long to incorrectly get there. So I explained to her again that the site she was on was not PTBIC's site and if she wanted to find information about them the best place to start was WITH THEIR SITE.

"Or maybe you know which dealerships would work with them?" she asked hopefully. The only explanation I have for this is that apparently the memory that I too am a customer of PTBIC filtered through her noggin.

"No. I do not have that information," I said. I then, for a third time, suggested she return to the PTBIC website, hoping to leave her to it.

"I don't know how to do that," she said.

Blood vessels in my brain strained at the force exerted upon them

So, I stepped over and showed her how to click in the address bar and told her what to type. She misspelled both the address and the ".com" following it. We corrected and moved on.

At the PTBIC's site, there was no indication of what she wanted. We searched high and low and didn't find it in any readily apparent place.

"Ma'am, what I would suggest you do is to phone PTBIC and ask them to tell you the names of the dealerships they work with."

"I've already been on the phone with them for two hours, today," she said. Oh, those poor poor people. "They gave me this password," she said, pointing to a piece of paper she had brought. Ah, now she knows about passwords. Unfortunately for her, there was no accompanying login for her "password" nor any place on the site where it made sense to type it. I tried to explain that in probably 99.999 percent of the cases where a password is required, there will also be a username or login name as well. She would not only need that, but would also need a better idea of where to type them. Barbie T then slowly and breathily told me that she needed to find the information not in order to purchase a new car from a PTBIC friendly dealer, but because she had ALREADY purchased a car from a non-PTBIC-friendly dealer and had gotten herself into some sort of financial trouble doing so. Deeper and deeper grew the dungpit of dealing with Barbie T.

Thankfully, having now spent 10 minutes away from the circ-desk, a patron popped her head into the hall to see if I might come check her out, so I was able to leave Barbie T to her own devices. She was not finished with me, though. After a few minutes she hobbled on up to the circ-desk and proceeded to interrogate me further on the subject of PTBIC friendly dealerships. I even returned to the PTBIC's site and tried to find something—ANYTHING—that might prove or, better still, disprove that there was any help to be had for her. Throughout the process, we were interrupted by patrons checking out, each of whom Barbie T—in a desperate, attention-starved ploy—dropped hints to about how her life was a sob story in an effort to get them to engage her in conversation about it. Wisely, they avoided taking the bait. I was eventually able to convince her that her best course of action was to leave and go call PTBIC and let some other poor bastard deal with her.

Barbie T thanked me for my patience and my help, lingered at the desk a bit longer, as if considering possibly asking me for help on other topics, then finally hobbled her way out the door.

Immediately, I wrote a note to my boss that in the future she should really consider giving the staff a Barbara Turdmurkle Combat Pay bonus whenever we have to deal her, cause it's just not worth it for what we make now.


Heather said...

Maybe some day we can deal with annoying patrons via video conferencing and we ourselves can be at a different location. Then if they really start to annoy us we can have a technical malfuction and have the system go down. Or we can do the old standby and call the desk from our cell phones and run off to answer the phone.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it comes to the point sometimes where the best customer service option is simply to deny the existance of said customer as no good can come for either of you from any interaction.

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.