Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

Life From the Quarantine Zone – Adventures in Customer Service

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

Quarantine Day 10,678.2. Oye. I’ve spent my entire life protecting our nation from rogue nations, terrorists, and even pandemics. But, it wasn’t until this month that I realized that the free world is not in jeopardy from devious and maniacal enemies. No. We’re in danger from customer service people. Yes. It’s true. Our nation is under siege from stupidity.

A month ago, I ordered some new expensive gym equipment—$1,800 worth. Yes, stop laughing. I do work out, and quite often. How could I keep this svelte physique without it? ANYWAY … I tried to purchase the equipment through their website but could not get the system to take my debit card—yes, of course there’s money in it. I called their customer service. Whaaaahoooo, after only 1 hour and 15 minutes, five cups of coffee, 105 emails, and numerous trips to the bathroom (note coffee consumption), I finally connected.

Johnny (the name he gave me), took my order and asked if I had an account with the company.

Me: I don’t think so. But, I’ve purchased tens of thousands of dollars of your products over the years. Could I get a discount without an account?

Johnny: Hmmm, I don’t see any purchases or history here. If you had records, we might be able to give you the current offer of 25% off and reduced shipping. But, you don’t qualify.

Me: Alright, I never formalized an account. Can you do anything for me?

Johnny: Hmmmm, it says here that last year we replaced your treadmill drive motor and the year before you purchased additional weights for your weight system . . .

Me: Stunned. Silence.

Johnny: Sir?

Me: So, Johnny, if I had a history of purchases or an account, I could qualify for a 25% discount and reduced shipping on my $1800 purchase?

Johnny: Yes sir. But as I’ve said, you don’t qualify.

Me: Then, how—follow me here, Johnny—did you know I purchased a new motor and weights in the past two years?

Johnny: My screen brings up your purchase history.

Me: So why don’t I qualify for the discount? You can see my purchase history, right?

Johnny: Let me call my supervisor.

Ten minutes later.

Johnny: Good news, sir, we’re going to waive the requirement for the purchase history and give you the discount and the reduced delivery. Let me get some information so I can update your account we have on file.

Me: Dead. Silence.

Fast Forward three weeks . . .

After banging my head against the wall from three automated scheduling calls from the gym equipment company delivery company from about fifty miles away, I finally spoke with a person there. Yes, a real, life person. I informed her that I was trying to confirm the delivery of my equipment, but their automated system was broken and kept hanging up on me.

Sarah: I’m sorry for your inconvenience. But we can’t deliver your equipment unless you confirm your delivery.

Me: That’s why I contacted you. I wish to confirm it.

Sarah: But sir, you have to confirm it on the scheduling system.

Me: It’s broken.

Sarah: No worries, sir. I’ll have them call you again.

Me: Fine.

Ten minutes later, the scheduling system did, in fact, call me back. And as soon as I answered my name, it hung up on me again. Again.

Fast forward to last Wednesday—delivery scheduled by noon. They never showed up.

Fast forward to last Thursday—delivery scheduled by noon. They never showed up.

Fast forward to actual Delivery Day . . .

The gym equipment delivery guy fails to call ahead, fails to respond to my emails, and shows up while I’m on an international call protecting the free world. I hang up and meet him at the door.

Johnny, (I kid you not), informed me that although I’d paid for set up, because of COVID-19, he was prohibited from entering my home to do that. He could, however, help ME offload the heavy boxes onto my front porch—in the rain. But, I had to sign a waiver accepting that he wasn’t setting up nor entering my house because of CDC warnings, or, yup, he’d leave with my equipment.

Johnny then took a photograph of my expensive boxes sitting in the rain outside my house to prove to his delivery company that he abided by the “Don’t go in the house” rules.

I relented. I signed. He took his picture.

And then, like the unmitigated geniuses before him, he proved to me the threat against our world.

Johnny-the-Delivery-Guy: Sir, just sign here… and on the waiver … I’ll email my boss the photo proving I didn’t bring the boxes into your house. Oh, can I come in to use your bathroom?

Me: You’re kidding me, right?

Johnny-the-Delivery-Guy: No, I drank a lot of coffee and it’s a long drive back to my warehouse.

Me: Sure, sure, come on in. I’ll just get my camera.


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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