You don’t know who will put you on hold and for how long. Yet I was surprised when I called Volkswagen Credit and got the crackling Muzak and recurring crank message driving me to use their website. My profile was clean. I have leased five Volkswagens and have great credit. At the end of each lease cycle, I always turn my car in and get a new one. How could I be put on hold?!
Even though I know buying a leased vehicle is a bad deal, (All the fees have been front-loaded) I needed to talk to a human being. I could not explain on the Volkswagen website what had happened. I had been swept away by emotion! I wanted the whole world to know: I had fallen in love with my car and wanted to keep it!
My Volkswagen GTI (2014 Wolfsburg edition) was the last of the GTIs to be built in Germany. The car is so smart that it knows when to turn before I know I’m turning. On the open highway the car hits 80 miles per hour in a nanosecond, stops on a dime, and has powered me out of desperately bad situations in the snow, wind, ice and rain.
I stayed on the VW lease payout line, thinking I would only be on hold for a minute or two. All I wanted was a human touch, a nice well-modulated voice from a call center in India telling me whether the payout amount for my leased vehicle was negotiable. Instead I got a robot. An amazingly obnoxious and unhelpful robot sang off-key in my ear.
Volkswagen Credit kept me on hold for 27 minutes. Each time, the automated message recurred, I felt like I was losing my mind. After being victimized and to preserve some semblance dignity, I thought of all the things in the world I could have done in 27 minutes.
Make four business calls.
Buy three pairs of new shoes.
Completely vacuum my home.
Reorganize my bedroom closet.
Read the entire New York Times.
Visit a sick or convalescing friend.
Walk a mile (going up a steep hill).
Volunteer for a fun run or a food drive.
Have coffee with a business colleague.
Eat dinner and drink two glasses of wine.
Send out sixteen emails to drive new business.
Write the first draft of a complex press release.
Do a modified upper body workout at the gym.
Shower, style my hair, put on makeup, and dress.
Dance to Lynard Skynard’s Free Bird three times!
Go to the Library and scan books on the What’s New Shelf.
Read Two chapters of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
Describe in detail why I will never finish reading Infinite Jest.
Properly welcome my husband home after a long hard day at work. ;)
Write this article, have it copy edited, and published online by the end of the day.
Message to Volkswagen: Instead of trying to cut costs by pushing customers to your website, treat your customers like human beings, and answer the freakin’ phone. You can give me a coupon to get my car washed or the oil changed, but you can’t give back the 27 minutes that you stole from me!
Caveat: You don’t know which robot will put you on hold and for how long. So you need to plan ahead. I will gladly loan you my copy of Infinite Jest.
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