Are you being fed a line? 5 secrets for breaking through the script

Marcinski/Shutterstock
Marcinski/Shutterstock
Talk to me.

That’s all customers like you want when they call a company. They want someone to talk to them.

But corporations don’t always talk back. Last week, I mentioned the second-generation form letters many consumers were getting. Turns out there’s a little more to the story.

For the better part of the last decade, large companies have scripted many of their most common call-center responses. What does that mean? Well basically, when you contact a company with a question, the agent can type in the issue into their computer and receive a “scripted” response that will answer the question. Then they read it back to you.
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Did Sprint break its “buyback” promise?

Cellular tower, waiting to be disconnected. / Photo by Gary Lerude - Flickr
Gary Lerude – Flickr
Question: I need your help with Sprint’s buyback program, which lets you receive credit for your old cell phone. I recently had to cancel my Sprint account because I moved to an area where I didn’t get service.

When I canceled the contract, I agreed to pay a cancellation fee, but the rep on the phone said I could go through Sprint’s buyback program and receive a $177 credit for my phone directly on my account.

But when I went into a Sprint store to return it, a representative told me I had to mail it back for the credit to go to my account. I went to Sprint’s website and did an online chat, and I was told the credit would not go onto my account, but I would have a check written to me.
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New law aims to short-circuit public phone overcharges

1-no phoneThe trouble started when Tom King’s cellphone died on his way to a job interview last year. He saw a public phone at Washington’s Bainbridge Island Ferry and was relieved when a sticker reassured him that he could make a four-minute call for $1, he says.

That didn’t turn out to be entirely accurate. King made four one-minute calls using his credit card, for which he expected to pay $4. But a few days later, he discovered that he’d been charged $14.98 for each connection, for a total of nearly $60. “I was shocked,” he says.
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My T-Mobile phone doesn’t work — now what?

Cellular tower, waiting to be disconnected. / Photo by Gary Lerude - Flickr
Cellular tower, waiting to be disconnected. / Photo by Gary Lerude – Flickr
Question: My daughter and I have been experiencing problems with our T-Mobile service, and we need your help. I’ve made multiple calls to T-Mobile and received the exact same responses: “You’re not the first person to call about this problem, and a ticket has already been opened,” and, “Remove the battery and SIM card and put them back in.”

I saw one of your recent columns, and I took your advice and sent a very long email requesting that my accounts be canceled, without penalty. After a month, I received a generic letter stating T-Mobile “can’t guarantee service in all areas.”

It infuriated me. I’m not asking for service to be guaranteed in all areas. I should be able to expect adequate service in areas where there is service. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
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Help! My phone’s been disconnected!

Question: I need your immediate assistance. Tonight at 5 p.m. Comcast disconnected my phone service without a verbal or written warning. When I asked Comcast agents why this transpired, none could provide me with a valid answer or fix it.
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My house burned down and now my phone company won’t answer my calls

Aftermath of forest fire. / Photo by Ken Schwarz – Flickr Creative Commons
Question: My house in Fort Collins, Colo., burned to the ground during this summer’s wildfires, and I’m having some trouble with my phone company that I could use your help with.
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Help, they canceled all of my Travelzoo vouchers

Question: Travelzoo ran this deal a few weeks ago that offered two nights in Palm Springs, Calif., including dinner for two.
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#Nophone day one: Are we suffering from cellular withdrawals yet?

Maybe we picked the wrong day to quit talking.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Am I stuck with this $378 phone bill?

Question: I’ve been haggling with Travelocity for almost three months about a flight, and I need your help. I recently booked flights from Newark, N.J., to Madrid, Spain via Continental Airlines and on to my final destination of Barcelona, Spain, via Iberia.
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