Press 1 for Frustration . . .

I cannot resist echoing the sentiments expressed by Gerald F. Merna ["Customer Service Woes," Loudoun Extra, Letters, Sept. 4] regarding the state of customer service.

For two months, I went around and around with a well-known Internet service provider about a simple request for cable Internet service at our new home in Purcellville. For two weeks, I was on the phone almost daily with various customer service representatives (based in Pennsylvania) trying to get someone to do the prerequisite "site survey."

It seems our house (newly built) did not exist because it was not a "recognized address" in the company's system. (Explaining that all of our neighbors are customers got me nowhere.) I tried a different path: visiting the billing office in Leesburg. A lovely woman there contacted the woman in charge of local site surveys, and after another week of fighting about our house's existence, we were approved for service.

Three weeks later we lost service after an electrical storm. I began my calls to customer service, pressing 1, pressing 2, being asked if I was sure I was without Internet because the provider didn't have a report of a service outage in our area. They finally relented. They would send someone "on Wednesday between 8 and 5. You must be present." I was present. Nobody showed up. I called on Thursday. Someone would come out on Monday between 8 and 5. No one did. Someone would come out on Tuesday between 8 and 5. No one did.

I stopped calling. Someone showed up on Wednesday at noon (thank goodness I was home) and within 10 minutes had replaced a damaged box on the outside of the house.

I called Thursday to cancel my service. The customer service person asked me why; I am sure it was only because she was required to give a reason in her report. I went through my tale of woe in great detail, just to vent. Her response: "If we promise to show up next time will you stay with us?" They'd even credit me $20 on my next bill for all the trouble.

I now use a truly local broadband provider that doesn't use the "Please Press 1" system. A person answers the phone. The provider came to install the hardware within a week of my request -- and arrived 10 minutes early. Yes, I am paying a little more than I was, but it's worth the extra money to know that I am a valued customer rather than a bothersome account number.

Patricia George