Friday, October 02, 2009

The Underpinnings of Israeli Society are Starting to Piss me Off

Hello from celcom: on evenings strating from 8 pm until 7 am and on weekends from 2 pm on Friday until 8 am Sunday morning our service representatives will provide service in the event of lost or stolen phones. For all other matters we will be happy to assist you starting on Sunday 8 am.

This is the message I just received on my phone when trying to make an outgoing call. This, after being notified that my phone had been marked as lost or stolen! I repeatedly get this message in Hebrew and English alternately whenever I try making any call, including the customer service phone number designated specifically for lost and stolen phones. So, what’s wrong here?

According to the message, they will provide service in my case; yet nobody is answering the phone!

But let’s analyze this message a little more closely. Note that the message is quite cryptic and very difficult to comprehend for several reasons:

• The message does not clarify that the time I am calling falls within the range of “afterhours”.
• It starts with an introductory clause –a complicated linguistic mechanism—for no reason. The emphasis should be on the task the listener wants to perform, not on the hours celcom is available to help. The introductory clause totally distracts my attention since it doesn’t seem to address the issue I am concerned with.
• Assuming that the customer is calling to seek routine customer service and it is therefore unavailable at that time insofar as it is afterhours, the message actually fails to drive that point home. The listener is still left wondering whether celcom is willing to help him during afterhours. At best, the message seems to imply that they don’t “happily” provide service during afterhours, but it is far from clear that service is not available at all during afterhours for non-phone theft matters.
• “we will be happy to assist you starting on Sunday….” What about the ending? Once again the announcer makes an unwarranted assumption that the listener still remembers that Friday afternoon at 1pm is when “afterhours” kick in. Besides, it’s never been mentioned that any particular service becomes unavailable on Friday at 1pm.
• The message could be construed as stating that phone theft support is only available during afterhours.
• The announcement illogically first deals with the unusual case of phone theft support and only later mentions the available hours for regular support. This is a very bad practice since the listener is likely to hang up the phone –be in intentional or not-- before he gets to hear the part of the message that is relevant to him.

All this sows who Israeli society is not logically organized and there is no real commitment to customer service in this country despite the great strides they seem to have made in the overall adoption of western mores. And what’s up with all these holidays? Am I not expected to be on the phone on a holiday? What, then, do people do on holidays and weekends? If having a functional celphone is not important on a weekend, then what is? In the country I come from (USA) there is fierce competition for the sale of goods and services to consumers. If the consumer wants or needs something, the consumers gets it, because if they don’t, they will find another company to provide it for them or a company will happily spring into existence in order to fill a void in consumer demand that can and should be filled. What
is wrong with this country?