February 1998

Sorry, Wrong Number?

We have discovered why you have so much trouble trying to reach the customer service departments of major computer companies and internet services. They’re too busy giving lessons to the customer service departments of firearms manufacturers.

Does this sound familiar? Recorded Voice: Hello, thank you for calling (name of company goes here). This is our new menu. If you know the extension of the person you are calling, press number one. For customer service, press two. If you want a catalog, press three. For parts information, press four. For additional choices, press five. If you would like to hear this menu again, press six.

You press two. Recorded Voice: We’re sorry, all our customer service representatives are busy speaking with other customers. Please hold. (Music) Thank you for holding. All our representatives are still busy. Your call is important to us. Please hold. (Music) Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call will be answered by the first available representative. (Music). Click. Buzz. You’ve been disconnected.

If you’re calling from a rotary phone or just ignore the recorded menu, you have a chance of speaking with a real, live human being. Suppose that happens and you ask for the customer service department. Recorded Voice: We’re sorry, all our customer service representatives are busy speaking with other customers. Please hold. (Music) Thank you for holding. All our representatives are still busy. Your call is important to us.... etcetera.

Suddenly, you remember the extension of an actual customer service representative you spoke with on another occasion. Dial again. Wait for the menu spiel. Press number one, then the extension. Recorded Voice: Hello, I’m either away from my desk or on another phone. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible. (Beep) We’re sorry, this voice mail box is full. Please call back later. Goodbye. Click. Buzz.

You decide to try an end run. Dial again and press number five for additional choices. Pick one. Any one. If you don’t get another recording, you apologize to the person who answers for pushing the wrong button and ask to be transferred to the customer service department. One of two things happen. (1) An instant replay of your first phone call. (2) A disconnect in the attempt to transfer your current call.

The way Gun Tests sees it, outfits with dead-end recorded menus aren’t really interested in serving their customers and are spending too much money on fancy phone systems rather than people to answer the phones. Among the most notable recording artists are importers. Among the exceptions are Ruger, Remington, Marlin, Mossberg and a large parcel of lesser manufacturers who still believe people receive more satisfaction from speaking with other people. They staff their departments and program their menus accordingly. Some even shun the menus. You go one on one right from the top. And that’s the way it ought to be.

As for the rest, the next time you have a problem with one of their products, box it up and ship it off to their CEO along with a nasty letter that begins: I’m writing this while waiting for your customer service department to answer their damn phone.