In 1962, the New York Mets baseball team started in business, playing in Major League Baseball’s National League. They were awful.
But the people adored them. They embraced those losers with enthusiasm and even gave their favourites nicknames. For instance, Marvin Throneberry, the first baseman, had a hard time catching the ball. This is true. He was a professional baseball player who couldn’t catch. If he dropped a pop fly, which happened often, the fans cheered him with abandon. They called him “Marvelous,” as in “Marvelous Marv Throneberry.”
The manager was the legendary Casey Stengel, the player who had gone on to manage the dynasty that was the mighty New York Yankees baseball club, a.k.a. the Bronx Bombers, of the 1950s. While managing the Mets in ‘62, he became famous for asking, after a particularly embarrassing loss, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” This became the title of the late Jimmy Breslin’s book about the Mets, who were then known as the worst team in the history of baseball.
“Can’t anybody here play this game?” I think of that and I think, “Can’t anybody here do their job?” This was a question I’ve asked numerous times in the last month. Just about everybody and every company I’ve had reason to contact has turned out to be incompetent. Three in particular left me very angry – Rogers cable TV, Bell telephone and the Bay credit card division which is, apparently, administered by Capital One Canada.
We have been a loyal customer of Rogers since we moved into our present home in 2004. When I say loyal, I also mean beholden because we have paid tens of thousands of dollars for TV (every channel available, almost), high speed Internet and my business cellphone. The only service Rogers provides that we don’t get is a landline phone. I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket.
Of those dozens and dozens of TV channels we get, I have two favourites – Silver Screen Classics and FOX Sports Racing. I have had those two channels for years. It is safe to say that I have watched them right from the time they first went on the air.
So a month or so ago, I turned on the TV and went to Silver Screen Classics (I really like those old movies) and it wasn’t there. In its place was a message that we (and others) get when we come across a channel that’s not part of our package: You Are Not Authorized To View This Channel; Please Contact Your Service Provider, etc.
These things always throw me for a loop. I started to hyperventilate. I called Rogers. It took awhile, and the woman I was talking to had to reboot my system remotely, but she then said to turn off the TV and turn it on again, which I did. Hallelujah! Happy Days are Here Again! Silver Screen Classics was back on my screen. And it’s still there. In fact, I’m watching a film noire, Woman on the Run, as I write this.
Less than a week later, though, FOX Sports Racing disappeared. Exactly the way Silver Screen Classics had. On my TV one day, gone the next. Replaced by that stupid message, the one that says I’m not worthy (I mean, authorized) to watch that channel. This one is serious. While the movie channel is for enjoyment, I need FOX Sports Racing to do my job as an auto racing writer for the Star. I can’t watch NHRA drag racing anywhere else. I can’t watch the NASCAR trucks anywhere else. I need FOX Sports Racing.
This one took hours. I won’t bore you with the details (one time, I talked with a Rogers employee for nearly an hour when the line suddenly went dead and we were cut off. I had to start all over. I was not in a good mood). The bottom line is that everybody I talked to agreed that I should be getting the channel. It’s part of my package. In fact, when I go to the channel, I get that little TV guide at the bottom that tells you what’s on before it is replaced by the You Are Not Authorized one.
They tried a remote reboot. That didn’t work. Nothing worked. Of course, it would never cross anybody’s mind to offer to send somebody over. COVID, you know. The guy would not have to come into the house, though. I’ll bet money the problem is outside. But they don’t want to make the effort. Most fat cats are like that. Until a fatter cat comes along and puts them out of business.
I hope it doesn’t come to that. I like Rogers. But I want that TV channel. There is no reason why I can’t have it. Fix it, I say.
Okay, moving right along. I picked up my home phone one day, the landline I get from Bell telephone, and the phone was dead. I phoned Bell with my cellphone. The woman had me unplug and replug all the extensions and when that didn’t work, she said she’d send a repairman, which she did. He came into the house, looked around, went outside, checked the box, got into his truck and drove off.
Over the next two weeks, this routine was repeated half a dozen times. After the second visit, and because of COVID, I refused to let any more people come into the house. The fifth or sixth guy said the problem was with the neighbourhood box (those grey things you see on the side of the road near your house). I kept getting calls from Bell asking if my phone was working. I would say no. They would say they would fill out a ticket. Finally, someone associated with Bell’s satellite TV system knocked on my door and said, “I can fix this,” and he did.
I want to emphasize that everybody with Bell (and Rogers) was polite and showed genuine concern. But that didn’t solve my problems. I finally got a telephone back from Bell after doing without one for two weeks (I work from home and need that phone). I fail to understand what took so long. Bell has been installing telephones in this country for 140 years. You’d think they’d know what they were doing by now.
Talking about companies with a long history in Canada – hell, North America – this brings me to the Hudson’s Bay Co., a.k.a. The Bay.
This week on Thursday – yesterday, in fact – I went into the company’s store at Square One in Mississauga and bought a pair of shoes. I tried to pay for it with my Bay credit card.
Now, I can’t remember how long I’ve had that card. I’ve shopped at the store forever and so it’s been years since I applied for, and been issued, a Hudson’s Bay credit card. Anyway, it was rejected. I couldn’t believe it. I have a triple A credit rating. I own a truck and a house. I was flabbergasted.
“You’ll have to phone,” the sales clerk said. “How do you want to pay?” And so I used my debit card and went home, ready for an argument.
You know how you always get that warning when you call somebody, or some place, to complain? The one that goes, “This call will be recorded for training purposes?” Well, they are lying. They are recording your call so that if you get angry and swear and threaten somebody, they have the evidence when they call the police. I don’t mind this at all, because whenever I call any of these people, I’m recording them and I think everybody else should do that too.
In any event, I checked my status before I actually made my call and found that I do not owe the Bay any money, they are not expecting a payment because I don’t have anything to clear off and everything is hunky-dory. So when I finally got somebody on the line, I asked them what the problem was. And this is what they told me:
Hudson’s Bay has to verify the information I gave them when I applied for the card. They also want some additional information before they will let me use the card again. This after so many years.
Fat chance of that. They have enough information – my name, address and phone number. I pay my bills, as my credit history shows. Of course, what they want is more information that they can sell. But they’re not getting it.
I finally asked to speak to a supervisor, who said she was with Capital One. After she gave me the same song and dance about verification, and that is it a federal government requirement that they verify the information (Don’t you just love it when they pull that particular fast one – the government is making us do it), I went off on a little rant. Why did they feel it necessary to reject my card, and embarrass me in a lineup of Bay customers, simply to verify information? Why not send me an email? Why not phone me? Why not send me a letter? Why the heavy hand? “What’s with that?” I said.
And right in the middle of my lecture, there was a click on the line and I got a dial tone. I was cut off. I was going to have to start all over again, I thought, but then I remembered: they have my phone number because they were recording our conversation for training purposes, so they’ll phone me right back. Right? Right?
I’m still waiting.
My wife is in customer service. She works her butt off to make sure her clients are happy and content. So when she got home, I was going to tell her that after many years, our relationship with Hudson’s Bay is over and we won’t be shopping there any more but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
“You think you have problems?” she said. “I ordered Swiss Chalet’s Festive Feast to treat my staff today and the food was to be delivered at 12:15 and we finally got it at a quarter to 2. I don’t understand how that can happen.”
And I thought, can’t anybody here play this game? Can’t anybody here do their job?