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"Sir, if you’re past due with the joint-billing partner, they have the right to turn you off."

Background: I handle repeat callers for a satellite television provider. Recently our customers who have opted to joint-bill with their ISP have been getting a lot of problems having service reinstated after payment to the ISP (which pays us even when the customer goes past due).

Cue the story: I will be me(M), and angry customer will be (AC)

M: standard greeting.

AC: Why is my TV still shut off? I paid my bill on XX/XX/XXXX.

M: Ok, I can look into it for you. Just let me see your billing history and see what happened.

AC: I PAID already, just turn on the service.

M: Sir, you have setup joint-billing with your ISP and they have the final call.

AC: I’ve been calling them since XX/XX/XXXX+1 days ago. They say it’s your fault

M: Well, the way OUR system works is they pay us first, whether or not you pay. So you must square with them for the service to be turned on.

AC: THAT’S BEE ESS. You’re the TV company, you turn it on.

M: (realizing the situation here, I know the background at the time of this call)

M: Sir, I understand your frustration so I’m going to make an exception for you. Let’s call ISP together and make a conference call with them.

AC: ok thank you but don’t hang up on me!

M: I won’t sir, I don’t even have the ability from my computer(white lie).

So I make the call and use the customer’s information to get through the automated prompts. First thing I hear when I get the billing portion of the system, “past due by $XXX.XX”. Oh boy here we go. Finally I get through to an agent who is definitely overseas and they send me to tech support – first transfer. Talk to the second agent – “oh this account type is handled by a different department” – second transfer. Talk to the third agent who actually can see the customer’s account. Agent says exactly what I was expecting, “talk to TV provider to get service back”. I inform the agent that this isn’t possible because of our auto-reinstate system.

AC: STOP LYING YOU NEED TO TURN MY TV ON NOW.

M: Sir, as we heard on the automated answering machine, you are still past due by $XXX.XX and that’s most likely why the TV service is still turned off.

AC: I PAID ON XX/XX/XXXX, TURN IT BACK ON NOOOW.

M:Sir, when is your billing cycle date?

AC: ITS XX/XX/XXXX+5days!!!

M: And today is XX/XX/XXXX+12 days, your first payment was for last LAST month’s bill that was past due. Because we have passed into a new billing cycle, you are still one billing cycle behind.

AC: WELL WHEN THE SERVICE GETS TURNED BACK ON THEN I’LL MAKE THE PAYMENT.

M: Unfortunately, that’s not our policy on reinstating services.

AC: GET ME YOUR SUPERVISOR

M: Gladly….

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