Monday, July 29, 2013

Too Much Technology: Where Has All The Customer Service Gone?

My son is home, so now it's time for me to return to my regular duty of lobbing complaints at society.  I have a feeling that most, if not all, of the people who read this blog already see a lot of the stupidity and ridiculousness that I point out, but sometimes it's good to know that someone is on the same page, so here it comes...

The Sunday before last, I set up videos to post automatically on the days that I normally would put up a blog entry.  In the middle of the week, when I had found a little time to get on the internet, I found that my blog had been suspended due to "suspicious activity".  Several people made the joke that it had something to do with me looking like a member of the Taliban.  For all I know, that could be the reason, since Google (which owns Blogger) didn't bother to actually explain what the problem was.  And of course, if you've ever had the displeasure of trying to get to the bottom of a problem you have with one of Google's services, you know that it's impossible.

Some people complain when they dial a customer service number and somebody in India answers the phone.  But you know what?  I've never held that against any Indians; they're just doing a job that was made available in their area.  It's funny that the people who hate on the Indians and thump their chests in the name of Amurrican Pride don't stop to think about the reason their xenophobic ears are forced to try to understand somebody who speaks differently than us.  The greedy corporations are outsourcing jobs to save a buck.  So blame the corporations, not the people who scoop up the jobs made available to them.  They're just trying to feed their families and improve their living situations.

But today is not the day for a rant about hypocritical Americans forgetting that we're all immigrants, that we played a major hand in creating a globe-wide economic system, or that it's not the terrorists who are destroying our country (that would be our elected officials).  No, this rant will be focused on the supposed 'convenience' found on the world wide web.  Since 98% of people who use the internet only use it to look at porn and post pictures of cats on facebook, I'll mention now that there is other stuff to do on the information superhighway (people still call it that, right?).  The problem I've been running into most frequently is that Google now owns 3/4 of the internet, and Google is apparently a giant, sentient robot that creates websites and doodles.  (I'll admit, I do like the Google doodles.)  I challenge you to try and get in contact with an actual human being through one of Google's "help" pages.

About two years ago I was hosting a podcast called Podcast of the Tough.  It was a lot of fun to do, but nobody listened to it, so the work I was putting into it started to feel like a pointless chore.  At one point I tried to use Adsense (a Google service) to run ads on the podcast page and make a little extra dough.  I received a message from Adsense saying that my podcast contained copyrighted material that I didn't have the rights to use, so I couldn't run ads.  This was bogus, because I only used clips from public domain movies, and the music I used was either my own or from local bands that gave me permission to use their songs.  I tried to contact somebody at Google with this information to no avail.  The Google robot told the Adsense robot I was not allowed to run ads, and that was that.  A Terminator was even sent after me a few times, but a guy with a mullet and a trench coat warded off his attacks for me.  I got lucky there.

Flash forward to the more-recent past.  I'd started this blog and it was starting to get a good amount of hits on the regular.  Once more I tried my luck with Adsense.  This time, the problem I ran into was astounding.  My Adsense account was set up to run ads on the podcast site, which I had deleted months earlier.  I could only put ads on another site (this one) if I was also running them on the site I signed up with.  You know, that site that doesn't exist anymore.  That site that, when it did exist, I was denied permission to run ads on.  I tried in vain to get ahold of a person at Adsense/Google, but I ended up trapped in a frustrating circle of FAQ pages.  Frequently Asked Questions pages are useless if your question isn't frequently asked.  I'd send emails to any email address I could find on their site, only to receive automated replies encouraging me to check out the FAQ pages.  Then another Terminator was sent after me, only this time it could change shape and it resembled Robert Patrick of Future Hunters fame.  Luckily, I was able to escape using a dirt-bike and an awful early 90s haircut.

And that brings me to the very-recent past.  I was a little shocked to find my blog shut down, but I didn't even bother to try and find answers this time.  I do appreciate how easy it was to reactivate the site:  I put in my phone number and was texted a code to enter on the page.  Seconds after entering the code my blog was back in action.  What I don't understand is this:  Google has the amazing capability to fix problems like that in seconds.  It has unlimited money to buy all the YouTubes and Bloggers on the internet.  And yet it doesn't have the decency to employ actual human beings to solve non-cookie-cutter problems.  Getting the runaround from people is bad enough, but at least there's always the hope that one of them will have enough intelligence to actually help.  Getting the runaround from automated non-humans is the worst.  There's no hope.

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