Friday, May 25, 2018

Mrs. Smucker Deals With the Large Corporation

I really hate dealing with huge, soul-less entities such as government agencies, airlines, medical establishments, the great Amazon, and cell phone companies. I hate hunting for the number, making the call, and picking through endless options that never lead you to a real person, only to more recorded options.

And all the while I have this Big Problem that I need a Solution for, and they are the only ones who can provide it.

Feeling like a tiny and desperate bit of voiceless nothingness dealing with a large and impersonal machine, I have shed tears of frustration over replacing lost drivers' licenses, applying for passports, selling books on Amazon, and changing tickets.

[Amazon is The Worst.]

Always, I felt like there was no actual person anywhere in that vast corporate entity that would speak to me, person to person. Or, if a real person finally answered, it was always someone from India with such a pronounced accent that I couldn't understand half of what they said.

Recently, to the great sadness of many of us, the newspaper that carries my column, the Eugene Register-Guard, was bought out by a large corporation called GateHouse Media. They own a gazillion newspapers and are based somewhere far away like New York.

The first sign of change for me came in the form of two identical letters containing two identical forms telling me that I must fill out these forms before I can be paid. They were the most obtuse forms you ever saw, with many blanks to fill in, conflicting directions and stern warnings.

I did my best but was utterly lost.

However, writing letters has always been my way of dealing with life.  I sat down and wrote out my many feelings and frustrations in an email, knowing that if it ever reached its destination, it would be scanned by robots and I would never receive an adequate answer.

 But it felt good to write it out, so I typed and sent the following email:

Dear GateHouse Media--

This is adding insult to injury. Not only did you buy out our beloved Register-Guard, but now I have forms to fill out before I can be paid for my column. Forms that make no sense, forms that were surely invented at Guantanamo as a supplement to waterboarding.

I suppose I am a vendor, since I received these ghastly forms in the mail. What is my vendor #? How is it obtained?

And "requested by"??? What does that even mean? I think you guys are requesting that I do this, but I have a feeling that's not what goes on that line.

And why am I receiving a paper form if I am supposed to send it to an email address?

And what on earth is with that 10-digit reference number, in bold type no less? I have no idea what this is all about.

Seriously, for a media company, your communication skills do not portend well for the Register-Guard's future.

With sincere confusion,

Dorcas Smucker

I felt better then. And of course they didn't email back.

Today, a bit desperate to get payment for my May column, I found a number and called them. Of course no one answered, and I left a message.

But not long after that my phone rang! It was a real person, named Sandy! With an American accent! 

She told me, with just a bit of amusement in her voice, that she personally got my email the other day and she'd like to be of help to me.

Then she explained everything, in detail and with great kindness.  

I am serious.

I am feeling just a bit silly but still happy to be wrong about that particular corporation.

Quote of the Day:
"You have to have that 10-digit number on your invoice, because we have thousands of people we pay every day, and if there are duplicate names your payment could go to someone else!. . . Although I guess there's not much chance there's another Dorcas Smucker in our system."


  1. I love you and think you are hysterical. That is all. :-)

  2. What a awesome story! Never wonder why people love you. �� And yes, I have an Amazon credit card, and they are the worst company ever for making it well nigh impossible to penetrate robotic walks and reach an actual person. I accomplished it the other day, somehow. Not sure I could repeat the feat.

  3. Well God bless Sandy! What a sweet tender mercy for you to have a sympathetic woman help you in your time of need. One of our church leaders said, God does look out for us, but it is usually through another person that he blesses us. So happy for you!

  4. I love your letter to the Big Corporation! It was perfect!

  5. Dorcas, I'm glad you were able to work that out. I've had to deal with terrible customer service too. Our cell phone company Tracfone is about as bad as Amazon if not worse.

  6. Something about this made me giggle like I haven't giggled for quite some time. Perhaps I, too, have a history of disdain for automated voices and government agencies. Perhaps I, too, have found the glory of discovering a Real Person in the abyss of impersonalization within our culture. Thanks for writing!

  7. I sense a syndicated column across 100 newspapers coming up. ;-)

  8. Oh Dorcus, thanks for making me smile this morning! We've been dealing with a huge impersonal health insurance company for the entire month and are beyond frustrated! It's nice to hear that there are real people out there who are if we could only find someone like that at AMBetter!

  9. Citibank owes me $15.00. They deducted it because a vendor "said" they were going to credit me that amount, but they never did. So Citibank charged it to me. It's very confusing and not worth the telling and I already went round and round with some poor, underpaid woman at Citibank and I don't have it in me to do it again. Usually I fight to my dying breath over money owed me. But since I'm now more prosperous I'm going to donate that $15.00 to the universe.

  10. Verna Stoltzfus5/29/2018 4:56 AM

    Your communication skills portend well for your column in the Register-Guard. Nothing wrong with expressing your frustration clearly and concisely.

  11. I use Amazon frequently and so far have not needed to call in. I guess I will hope I never have to. However, AT&T. Ach,now that's another whole ball of wax.