The Meanderthals

Recreation of a recent “customer service” phone call

Recreation of a recent “customer service” phone call I received on my mobile from Metfone, our internet service provider at home in Phnom Penh.

(This is fairly typical of the process-oriented, chase-your-tail conversations we have nearly every day, many of which end with us doubled in laughter, holding on to one another as we gasp for air once we get away from the protagonist and to a private space where we can recover.)

And as mobile marketing picks up the pace in Cambodia (yesterday I got a fascinating pitch from a furniture store and an offer from my mobile phone provider to take advantage of a top-up sale) this stuff is going to get interestinger and interestinger.

Funny thing is: it rarely annoys, irritates or bothers us!

“Uh…good morning sir. I call from Metfone.”
“Good morning. How can I help you?”
“Uh, sir, may I please have your home address?”
(Looking at the dial for caller ID. Zippo.)

“I’m sorry, but I don’t give out my address over the phone. Can you please tell me what this is about?”
“Oh, sir, if you could please let me talk.”
“Of course. How can I help you?”
“Uh…good morning sir, I call from Metfone.”
“Uh, sir,…may I please have your home address?”
“As I explained, I don’t provide my address over the phone. For security purposes. You understand.”
(Changing tactics.)
“Are you trying to sell me service? If so, I am already a customer.”
“No, sir, I want to send you a bill.”
“A bill? For what? We’ve been Metfone customers for over two years and have never received a bill. We pay each month at your office on Monivong Boulevard, in cash. Can you tell me what this is about, please?”
“Uh, sir, I call from Metfone…”
(Interrupting so I don’t hear the dreaded question I will not answer for the third time…)
“Yes, I understand that you’re calling from Metfone and that you want my home address.”
“Look, if you need my address you can look in your computer system, right? Go ahead. I’ll wait, and once you find it you can read it to me and I’ll verify it if it’s right. OK?”
(Lengthy pause, punctuated by furious typing of computer keys, upon which he clearly reads my home address to me.)
“That’s correct.”
“Thank you sir.”
Since then, every month I have received a hand-delivered invoice with a hand-written notation: “Please pay with me. Just call 088-7714400.”
The invoice spells out the details of our $23.9996 monthly fee, which is carefully spelled out lest we misunderstand:
“Number to words. Twenty three point nine thousand nine hundred and ninety six US dollars only.

See? It’s all clear as mud.

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