Between the thawing of a frozen bagel and reheating a cup of coffee – my thirteen month old microwave stopped doing what it is supposed to do.
It didn’t quit completely. The platter still squeaked, the timer still glowed phosphorescent-blue and the fan continued to rattle. But whatever I put in – came out cold.
Being a technical kind of guy, I knew what to do when things go on the fritz. I pushed random buttons in the futile hope that a random setting caused the problem in the first place. When that failed, I induced electronic amnesia by pulling the plug.
That didn’t work either.
So I dialed the manufacturer’s 1-800 number.
Here is how that went.
Machine: “Thank you for calling the Whirlpool Experience Center.”
What kind of jargon-filled mind dreams up something as inane as an Experience Center?
No wonder their micro-waves don’t work. If I wanted a phone experience, I’d call one of the thousands of 1-900 numbers dedicated to that purpose. Besides, I have already had one Whirlpool experience today, why would I want another?
Machine: “Before we get started I’ll need a little information from you. Are you calling from your home phone?”
Me: “I’m calling from my cell.”
Machine: “Say yes or no.”
Gosh, I guess we just established who is in charge here.
Machine: “Are you the owner of the product or are you calling on another’s behalf? Say owner or other.”
Me: (proudly) “Owner”.
Machine: “Would you like to hear a list of Frequently Asked Questions?”
Machine: “Say yes or no.”
Machine: “We are experiencing a higher than normal call volume. Do you want to stay on the line?”
Me: “How long do I have to wait?”
Me: “C’mon. Be nice. Give me a clue. How long do I have to wait?”
Again I gave it what it wanted.
At first I thought I had been transferred to the Whirlpool daycare facility because it sounded like children shrieking and banging frantically on empty coffee cans, but I was wrong.
My call had been routed to the Experience Center on-hold music system whose audio quality occupied territory well beyond dreadful. Why was I not surprised? Their micro-wave quality was just as dreadful.
The cacophony forced me to hold the receiver a foot from my head, until after ten excruciating minutes, a voice broke through the racket.
Machine: “Please stay on the line. Your call is important.”
If my call was important why was it not being answered or at least why was I not experiencing blissful silence rather than being tortured by poorly produced garage bands?
Many miserable moments later.
A Guy Named Hugh came on the line: “Hi, I’m Hugh. How can I help you today?”
Me: “Hi Hugh, I’m Greg. Before we get started, can I ask if anyone at Whirlpool has actually experienced the Whirlpool Experience Center?”
A Guy Named Hugh: “Huh?”
Me: “Say yes or no.”