At Your Service, Madam!

Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet! You’ve reached repair services. For English, please stay on the line—para Espanol oprima nueve.

Tap. Tap. Tap.


I have your phone number as 988-042-1414. If you’re calling about the account for that number, say yes, or press one. Otherwise, say no, or press two.


Sorry. I didn’t hear that. I have your phone number as 988-042-1414. If you’re—

Yes. YES. YEEEESSSS!!! *1*

–Otherwise, say no, or press two.

*1*   *1*   *1*   *1111111*

If you’re uncertain as to the telephone number for that account, you’ll find it on the top right hand corner of your In A Jiffy Internet bill. Just say or type in the ten-digit number now.

Nine, eight, eight. Zero, four, two. One, four, one, four.

Sorry. I didn’t hear that. Let’s try that again.

*9 8 8 0 4 2 1 4 1 4*

I have your phone number as 988-042-1414. If you’re calling about the account for that number, say yes—


 –or press one. Otherwise, say no, or press—


Sorry. I didn’t hear—


Let me get an agent to assist you. Please be in front of your computer when the agent becomes available.

I’m here. I’m waiting. In front of my computer.

All of our agents are assisting other customers at this time. Your approximate wait time is … TWELVE MINUTES.

Twelve minutes??


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Hi, this is Harmita. Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet. Can I have the phone number you’re calling about? Area code first please?



Yes. I heard you. I just can’t believe you. Fine. 988-042-1414.

And the last name on the account, please?


And who am I speaking to?

Shelley. Shelley Sackier.

Hi, Shelley. Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet. What can I do for you today?

Well, Harmita. For starters, internet service would be awesome.

Are you saying you don’t have any?

I am.

Oh dear. That is a dilemma. Well, we’ll try to sort you out in a jiffy, okay?

You betcha, Harmita. Thanks.

*tap tap tappity tap* Hmm … I can’t see why you’d be having a problem. Everything’s running beautifully from our end.

Not so pretty from my side, Harmita. Can you check again?

*tap tap tappity tap* Yep. We’re good.

We are NOT good, Harmita.

Well that’s strange. Hold on … Here it is. It says you’ve requested to disconnect your service.

I assure you I did not.

Oh really? I’ve got the order right here.

Well, it’s one I did not give. Can you please turn it back on?

*haha hahaha haha* Wait—are you serious?

Yep. Turn it on please?

Oh, well, you’ll have to speak to our service department for that becau—

Harmita? Can you please get me a supervisor to speak with?

Hold please.

121014operator (800x581)

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Hi, this is Jarime. Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet. Can I have the phone number you’re calling about? Area code first please?

You’re kidding.


Yes. I’m here, but good grief already. 988-042-1414.

And the last name on the account, please?


And the billing address on the account?

Umm … wait … I think it’s PO Box 8213

And the zipcode?

Oh, good heavens, I’m not sure. I’ve got the actual account number if that’s helpful.

Sorry, I need the billing zipcode.

That’s funny. So do I. What does your paperwork say?


Hold on, let me grab my phone book. It’s 48321.

Sorry, no.


Not that either.

Does it really have to be exact? I’ve got the account number right here. Can’t we work from that?



There we go. And who am I speaking to?

Did Harmita not leave you a note? Nothing? This is Shelley Sackier.

Hi, Shelley. Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet. What can I do for you today?

Really, Jarime? Harmita just handed you the phone and said, “It’s for you”?

I have a notation that you’re having a problem with your service. Is that true?

Yes. I have no internet service, Jarime. I’ve paid for it, but it is absent.

*tap tap tappity tap* Yes, it says here that you’ve asked to be disconnected.

That is wholly inaccurate. Can you please switch it to the on position?

*haha hahahaha haha* … Oh, you’re serious?

Yes, Jarime. I am serious. I want my internet. I’ve paid for the internet. I’d like to have what I’ve paid for.

Oh, well, you’ll have to speak to the new services department. Let me switch you ov—

No! Jarime. No, don’t do that. Let me speak to the supervisor above you, please.

I’ll see what I can do, Shelley. Sit tight, ok?

Great. Yes. Thanks.


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Hi, this is Leonard. Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet. Can I have the phone number you’re calling about? Area code first please?

You’ve got it. In fact, most of the folks in your department have got it.


Oh, my godfathers. It’s 988-042-1414.

And the last name on the account, please?


And the billing address on the account?

It’s PO Box 8213

And the zipcode?


And what was the total you paid on your last billing statement?

This I don’t know, as I don’t have the statement in front of me. And it doesn’t come to this address.

You might want to call back when you do. We can’t go any further without that information.

Yes we can. Harmita and Jarime didn’t need it!

Do you have the physical address of the where the service is?

Well it ain’t at THIS address—which is where it’s supposed to be. That’s why I’m calling. You’re pumping it elsewhere.

And whom am I speaking to?

Do you people really call yourselves a communication company? This is Shelley Sackier.

Hi, Shelley. Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet. What can I do for you today?

Well, for starters maybe have a quick chin wag with Harmita and Jarime. They’re up to speed. I’ll wait.

I have a notation that you’re having a problem with your service. Is that true?

Yes. I have no internet service.

*tap tap tappity tap* We’ve got a request that you be disconnected. Yes?

121014exclaim (800x732)

No. Not a request. There was no request. I vehemently request you unrequest that request.

*haha hahahaha haha* … Seriously?

Leonard, please don’t toy with me.

Yes, this appears to be a mistake on our part. Looks like we’ll have to get you set up with new service—as if you were a brand new customer.

Fine. Okay. Fine. How long till we can fill the line with juice?

Oh, probably no more than, let me see … *tap tap tappity tap* … seven to nine … maybe ten days.

NOOOO! Leonard! No! That can’t be right. Please, Leonard!

Yeah, that does seem rather long. Hold on. I’ll see what I can do, Shelley. Sit tight, ok?

Please! Yes. Thanks. I’ll wait.


Welcome to In A Jiffy Internet! You’ve reached repair services. For English, please stay on the line—para Espanol oprima nueve.


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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83 thoughts on “At Your Service, Madam!

    • Ha! You’ve nailed it, Cheergerm. I’m pretty sure that I could have written this post in about three sentences for all of us to nod in agreement with: person calls internet service. Internet service answers. Person leaps off cliff.
      There should be an international treaty to ban Muzak for the good of humankind. I would rather listen to someone reciting maths times tables, or a recording of an elementary school spelling bee, or late night vespers chanted in Latvian while I’m on hold rather than Muzak.

      • I felt every bit of your torturous pain Mrs P, you needed the length to really describe every painful moment. I will be the first to sign that ‘anti-Muzak treaty’. I would rather listen to a kazoo recital or 20 kindergarten children on recorders. (Well, almost…)

  1. itz gawtten too the point (if yer azz old azz i, you mite think about “i’m no fun anymore” — no, not that!)
    uh, itz gawteen too the point where if i have a speedy uninvolved un-re-iterative experience, i am pleasantly surprized. we (not our choice!) had our HDTV and internet provider switched EVERYTHING yet again, and Betty spent over an hour sorting out our TV service, while i only had to waste 30 min. getting the internet back to… if not snuff, then something not quite so sniffly.
    exxxxxcellent comedy sketch (can we get ourselves and some of your other rabid fans) onto TEEVEE to act thru’ some of your essays? rockenroll stardumb, hear we come!

    • And you say some might classify you as no fun? Wanting to appear on a local community cable channel around 3 in the morning to divvy up the players in my life and reenact them for the two mothers who are up watching while trying to get a finicky baby to fall asleep, and some dude who just got off his shift as security cop at the mall? Surely you jest, Betunada. You are exactly who SNL is trolling unwatched and underappreciated hidden gem t.v. shows for. Yes, stardom is right around the corner for you, buddy. Pack your bags, Betty! 😀
      (And a seriously big thank you for the compliment. I love that you’re getting a giggle out of my tales.)

    • Thanks, Rajiv. Much humor is what I’m after. I find if I write with little humor, it’s nearly as gripping as reading the text on a ‘ready to assemble furniture’ manual. I’m shootin’ a little higher. But just a smidge.

  2. I would be completely bald after a conversation like that and currently wearing a long black wig to hide the fixed grin on my face. Sometimes the procedures set up by these companies are idiotic and totally frustrating.
    I hope your head is not too sore.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • I’m kinda smitten with the way you’ve got your hair styling configured currently, David. I suggest you pawn off any phone conversations like this one to Reuben. Surely he’d be able to have a little fun with these folks–give em a run for their money.
      And my forehead has been etched with the permanent lines of the inside of my palm. I need to grow my fringe out now.
      xoxo 😛

  3. OMG! Shelley i feel your frustration. We changed our internet provider and it was all supposed to be straight forward, switched over while we were away. Fortunately for me the other half had to deal with the seemingly hundreds of phone calls saying they couldn’t gain access to our property. Hours of muzak and loads of various words for vacation later we returned home to find it switched to our new provider!! I could see his little bald patch getting larger by the minute!! :((

    • Yeah, I’m with you there, Janice. Best to delegate. And then later ply them with apologies in the form of a tall, beachy alcoholic drink. Nothing says, ‘thanks for dealing with all the wretchedness’ like a tiny umbrella. 😛

  4. You nailed it. I reflexively cringe whenever I hear “press 1” . And it is always even more precious when your “representative” has a minimal commend of English. However you appear to have fared the ordeal with some of your faculties intact. At least your are able to write about it in a humorous way. Lesser mortals would be sitting in a corner muttering to themselves and tearing their hair out in small handfuls. Or sitting in jail awaiting trial. Thanks for the laughs.
    So what is a “quarter cask expression”?

    • Ah! Quarter cask! Okay, well firstly, many distilleries make more than just one regular “batch” per year. They may make their 2014 whisky, barrel it for ten years, but before bottling it all as simply “Glengivemesomemore 2014,” they’ll pour some of the whisky aging in ex bourbon casks into port or sherry or Madeira casks (I could go on and on) and finish them off so that they’ll taste a little different from the main batch. These are what are referred to as different expressions.
      SO … Laphroaig’s quarter cask expression is one where instead of pouring the new make spirit (that’s the clear liquid that comes directly from the stills) into a regular sized ex bourbon barrel (the traditional method of aging scotch and holds about 195-200 liters), they pour it into a cask that’s a quarter of the regular size. This provides the spirit more contact with the wood. And wood has a profound influence on taste. As does whether or not the whisky is aging in something that previously held bourbon, or wine, or paint thinner. Okay, that last one I’m just joking about. But I hope this might have explained things just a tiny bit. 😀

      • Why yes it does. I have read about such shenanigans before I just have not experienced. I think the same thing is done with Irish. I am glad I bought the Laphroaig, I have never tasted anything as curious as that. I am not necessarily a true believer, as I still enjoy Irish. I could have bought a bottle of Jameson and Tullamore Dew for the same price. And had enough left over for a 6 pack. And for a frugal sort that is nothing to ignore. My next bottle will be something with glen in the name. I want to taste more of the integral flavors without the peat getting in the way. Well thanks for all the info. Are you sure you aren’t Irish?

        • Absolutely, yes, find a glen or a ben – no smoke, no peat, and I’ll bet you’ll fall in love. You’ll likely adore the flavors–biscuits and butterscotch, floral and grassy notes, toffee, citrus and spices. Yes, please!
          And oh, no, the Irish wouldn’t want me. I reek of scotch. 😛

  5. My love,

    I feel your pain, truly. As you know, we live in the north woods, and to give a brief discription of just how curved or fractured the earth is at our end, we live further north than Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our internet is sooooo outdated that, and the fact that our connectivity bounces off the waves of the Great Lakes and and every boulder which protrudes itself above ground from the Niagara Escarpment… ugg! We’ve changed our internet service four times over the past ten years and our home rooftop looks as if we are attempting to contact Hal or send a message to NGC 3603, the very young star cluster located about 22,000 light-years away in the Milky Way’s Carina spiral arm. So many freek’n satellites dishes. We might as well just build our own Arecibo Observatory in our back yard. (Sorry, I digress… that was for Cleo).

    Seriously, Carrier Pigeons would be faster.

    Customer service is not what it use to be Shelley, I know, I do it for a living and strive to bring it back and above the level it once was when you went to a gas station to fill your car. Remember the man that would not only run out to fill your tank but would wash your windows, clean the windshield and let you pay from your seat? (Ok, that was a throw back for Mom and Dad, sorry).

    Next time your service goes out, climb those spiraling stairs, tote along your journal, ink pad and a good cup of tea and sit atop the lighthouse and pen your thoughts. Connectivity is not always as important as one thinks it is. Think Thoreau, “simplify, simplify, simplify.”

    Miss you terribly much,

    Stoshu 😉

    • Oh, you poor fella. I know there’s an awful lot you have to give up for your nippy nirvana up there, and somebody really should do a sitcom show for everyday life up in your little hamlet. That would be a total hoot.
      And, yes, I will channel the great lakeside navel gazer and find some benefit from the occasional severing off from the rest of the world. Silence and serenity and stillness … ommm. 😛

  6. Almost forgot, lunch today will be local Goose Bourguignon with beet gnocchi, peral onions and cherry wood smoked root vegetables. I made a roasted parsnip and apple goose demi to boot. A twist of one of Escoffier’s recipes. Perhaps one to add to your collection of recipes from your kitchen.

    You’re blog is hillarious! Never stop writing Shelley, you have such a gift and it makes my Sunday!


    • You do this to torture me, right? My lunch is an apple slathered with some almond butter. And half of that has to go to the hound.
      Not fair.
      But I’m glad you’re still reading, buddy. Thanks for that. xxo

    • Aw, thanks, Jen. That’s life, right? There’s always another show tomorrow. Sometimes you win ’em and sometimes you lose ’em. Shoulders back, smile with your upper teeth, take a bow. Exit stage left.

      • Oh the truth in that comment Shelley, I’ve seen you do that so many times. You, Andy, Brian and all the others… yet, with a gleem from your cheek even after someone fell off the stage. You never missed a que.

        Off to pick apples and pumpkins and crawl through a haystack maze with Thing 1, 2 and 3. The autumn colours are fantastic and it is to snow tomorrow.

        Stoshu 🙂

  7. Oh yes, I have been there Shelley! Although there is something worse than Muzak…and that’s recorded messages telling you how they are a world-class company with the best service or how you need to buy a package upgrade. And you hear the same message approximately 26 times before you get a human being on the phone. I cannot be held responsible for my actions at that point. 😉 I used to work in Customer Relations, and one of the things clients appreciated the most is that I was the “one-stop” person – once they got to me, I would coordinate with everyone else and call them back. No being put on hold or shuffled around. I miss those days…

    • Oh, Sue, that is so brilliant–and why don’t more companies do that?? That is true customer service. I’d buy your upgrade package, and I’d likely buy you flowers as well for treating me so kindly (and efficiently). So although the writing world is benefiting greatly from the service you’re providing on your blog, I think the world at large has lost out on having you at the helm of Customer Relations. Split yourself in two? Pretty please? 😛

  8. Writing this from the hospital after the attack I suffered reading your post for the first time, just like the last time I had to call for internet or any other kind of service. High blood pressure, heart palpitations, cursing, violence, passing out….I’m just as consistent as my internet service. Sorry for your pain!

    • I really, really hope you’re not serious, my little mindful magpie mate. I would feel absolutely horrible if I discovered I was the cause of a near fatal attack on your well being! But then again, recovery from such an attack would require a lot of quiet and settling activities–like knitting! Maybe it’s time for another retreat down by the lake? Isn’t knitting supposed to lower one’s blood pressure? Someone should do a study on that. It’s got to be on par with meditation.
      And there’s the answer. I should knit when calling for customer support from now on. Bingo.

  9. I can’t tell you how much I feel your pain here. I was on hold with humana insurance, there was no muzak, however the message of “please continue to hold” would pop on occasionally but started breaking up after awhile like an old tape recording. Horrible!

    • I wonder if companies understand the potential they have with ‘on hold’ options. Why does no one fill it in with something like stand up comedy? Put an hour loop of Ellen Degeneres on instead of Muzak and you’ll have a few folks requesting to be put back on hold instead of doing business.
      I hope someone in customer relations is reading this right now. I’m offering that idea up for free.

  10. Oh, I don’t think anyone who has an ISP can fail to relate to this. Dear God, I could feel that frustration with every line I just read like it was happening to me! Glad you managed to get it sorted (assumption since you have made this post)……

    • I did manage, Torrie, thank you. And I’m so grateful that time has the ability to help me reflect on life’s absurdities through the lens of laughter, or likely I’d find I’d be posing for one mug shot after another. And those tend to be pics one shies away from sharing with friends and family on Facebook. o_O

    • Thankfully, Linda, this nightmare is over. For now. And in the meantime, I shall tackle other nightmares. This is strictly to spearhead the trials we all share in common for the sole purpose of putting an absurd face on them and allowing us to have a good giggle about them later. And then maybe so that later we can all sign a petition which I shall entitle: Dear Life, Give us a break.
      Hope you’ll sign it.

  11. Oh my goodness, yes! And you know what the strange thing is? I’m writing a short story about a disgruntled call to customer services right NOW. I’ve also become convinced that that annoying automated voice asks for all your information and security verification to take up 20 minutes of the wait time it’ll take to get you to an operator, because by the time you’re talking to a reall person, they have to ask you all that stuff all over again. Listen, human, I just told a robot all these things you’re asking me, so if you really need to know, go ask him!

    • Kinda makes you want to dedicate your book to all the folks in customer service who have succeeded in going that extra mile. Which thus far makes it a long list of one: Sue Archer (she’s up a few comments and I think we need to put her in charge from now on).
      I want to read that story, NJ! Misery loves company.

    • Humor harboring barely disguised distemper. Of course when I’m on one of those phone calls announcing, “this call may be monitored for quality assurance,” I make the most of assuredly reporting my many grievances during my wait time. I’ve never gotten any ‘thanks for the feedback’ kind of letter tho …
      How’s the book coming, Abby? I’m dying to read what comes next!

    • A big thumbs up to that. I get aggravated as soon as I hear ‘the machine’ giving instructions. The scenario I love most is when ‘they call you’, then ask you to hold for a representative. LOL. It makes me wonder how ‘they’ stay in business.

  12. Shelley, another gem. I know EXACTLY how you feel. Sometimes the bing bong greensleeves music is so much better than the numeric options! I once counted the number of people I was put through to, and told the final guy he was number 12 in a long list . Surprisingly he was most helpful!

    • If there was anyone who could probably problem solve a customer relations snafu, I’d bet it’d be you. With your efficiency and critical thinking skills, I bet you could whip the folks on the other end of the line into shape in two shakes of a lambs tail.
      Or maybe even one, because you really are EFFICIENT.

      • thank you so much!
        One of the things I always prided myself on when working was my ‘turnaround’ for enquiries. I would respond the same day, most times with a result but if I couldn’t resolve the problem immediately, at least my customer knew I’d received their enquiry and I was dealing with it. I trained my staff likewise and my section never had anything outstanding fo longer than a few days.

  13. Another classic Shelley! 🙂 I always thought it was just France that was bad at customer communication but I guess not! I find the best thing to do is to press nothing and say nothing, they get very confused and occasionally a real human turns up to help. Hope your internet problems are well and truly resolved ?! Well unitl next time anyway 😀

    • Ooh, that’s a good idea too, Jane. Say nothing. I’ve now got three brilliant ideas to try out next time I’m in this deplorable spot. And I think we all know there’s going to be a next time. But maybe next time I’ll be much more prepared. I’ll have all the usual info, plus things like my blood type, my GPA from high school graduation, and maybe even my great grandfather’s inseam leg measurement. One never knows what the next “security” question is going to be. 😛

  14. This is excellent Shelley… The other day phoned Visa because I wanted to know which was the payment I was supposed to do by the end of this month…
    The instructions were clearly similar to the ones you mentioned above.. The funniest thing is that each option have other options on it … So it is a sort of messy intertwined message… And you are not allowed to complain or object anything… 🙂
    Thanks for the smiles!. best wishes Aquileana 😀

    • We’ve obviously been in the same boat and shared the same wretched ride, Aquileana. Makes you want to reach through the phone and grab hold of someone’s ear, doesn’t it?
      I actually heard today from someone that with many of these automated phone systems, if you simply press 0, it’ll connect you straight through to an agent or operator. I’m dying to try it out. Well okay, maybe not super excited to try it out, but I’m sure I won’t have to wait long.
      Fingers crossed, and thanks for sharing!

  15. I bet everyone who read this felt their blood pressure rise in sympathy with you, Shelley! You have perfectly captured the experience of automated phone line purgatory, followed by the descent into incompetent customer service agent hell. I hope by this point you have internet access and aren’t having to make the trek to your parents’ house just to communicate with us. Is the air working, at least? (Not that you need it right now with these chillier temperatures.) Hang in there, my friend. Throughout it all, you still haven’t lost that awesome sense of humor. 😀

    • Yes, Miranda, how lucky I am that the air conditioning has finally been fixed in time for these frosty mountain nights that dip into the 40s. I love the timing. But seriously, if it didn’t happen this way, I’d have precious little to write about. Okay, that’s not at all true. Life is never without a million things in line to write about–it’s just a toss of the dice as far as what is most snort-worthy.
      And if I’m ever running low on material, that is precisely the time to head over hill and dale to my folk’s house. Twenty four hours with them and I am brimming with material. 😉
      (and I totally mean that in a good way M & D) (okay, maybe mostly)

    • Thanks, Sasha. I suppose when you’re on hold for twelve or thirteen minutes at a time you’ve got yourself a bucketload of time to think up snarky dialogue for the next poor sap who picks up the line. 🙄

  16. Oh please let there be a special place in the afterlife for call center workers who put us through this. Perhaps an endless queue there they are asked for their account #, address, mother’s maiden name…. 🙂

  17. Oh dear – nothing like being on the phone for hours trying to fix a problem which shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place! So frustrating – I think you showed remarkable patience, considering! Jan

    • That, Jan, is the beauty of editing, right? I am able to show the remarkable patience I displayed on the phone, and censor the unremarkable indignation I sort of also displayed on the phone. I love being a writer. 😛

  18. Oh my goodness, that would have driven me INSANE! I would have had a permanent residence in a padded room alternately sobbing and laughing and repeating the phone number over and over again.

  19. When we’ve destroyed our planet, one way or another, and this transcript is discovered hundreds of years from now by a new race, it will tell them everything they need to know about life in the early 21st century!

  20. Oh dear lord that sounds so familiar. Why do they make these things so difficult? It’s almost as if they don’t actually want to give us what we’ve paid for, right?

    Rob’s cartoon of you calling for the operator….priceless!

    Interestingly from a UK viewpoint the US is usually held up as being the land of excellent customer service, they do these things so well there, the customer is king/queen, we should be more like them etc etc.

    I shall point people to this blog next time anyone dares say that to me. :/

    • Yes, the grass is always greener on somebody else’s side of the pond. I’d hazard a guess that we’re all in this giant boat together, and that there’s truly a very small pool of people who give a hoot about customers, service, and the products they represent. And if they’d only understand that this is key to brand loyalty and word of mouth. Such easy steps to take to have success, but I think the bottom line is those at the top need more help with management skills and permission to create an atmosphere of ‘vested interest’ for employees. So many work-a-day Joe’s just in it for the paycheck.

      • Absolutely agree with you. The top level of management have to at least not get in the way of good customer service. I think everything is just too big. Economies of scale may help the bottom line but they really don’t aid the personal touch. 😦

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