MCI: What Year Is It?

My MCI saga continues: I haven't had a phone since November and MCI customer service has proved to be a nightmare.

In yesterday's comments (re: "MCI: Nightmare"), I received a tip about an old episode of NPR's "This American Life" with Ira Glass that dealt with the chaos of MCI customer support.

A segment of Ira's show on December 5th, 2003, was called "On Hold, No One Can Hear You Scream." MCI owed Julie Snyder (his show's senior producer) nearly a thousand dollars in billing errors, and, after months of getting the runaround from MCI, Ira stepped in to help.

Interesting that only AFTER the host of a national radio program contacted MCI and stated that he was doing a feature on Julie's plight did MCI take care of the situation. They went overboard in fact, sending the assistant a marvelous gift basket of chocolates and such.

Equally interesting that someone can call MCI and get the bottom of the barrel of customer service for months - but the moment you say you're a journalist and that you're recording the phone call for broadcast... well... you're ushered straight to the top (albeit, not happily)

...and me? I'm just Joe Customer out here in Oregon - thus, I'm getting nowhere with my attempts to get MCI to finish moving my service from a previous address to a new one. I haven't had a phone since November, and MCI isn't concerned in the least.


Let's back up a moment... back to late 2003 in fact.

During the "On Hold" piece, Ira Glass was contacted by (as he put it on his show) Jim Myers, the senior vice president who runs customer service for MCI.

Jim Myers confirmed that customer care representatives don't have their own extensions. This means that if you have a problem and contact customer service more than once, you're going to have to deal with a different person each time. A very inefficient system for MCI, and a nightmare for their customers.

Jim Myers also agreed it was true that there have been "weaknesses" (as he put it) in MCI's customer care. He said they've invested millions of dollars in new training, as well as increasing the number of customer care reps by a third to over 5300 people. I can vouch for that staff increase... I think I've spoken to nearly all of them as my calls were bounced across the country and the globe.


I'm just a typical customer with a simple problem. I moved to a new address and called MCI in November to have my service moved as well - which never happened.

Just like Julie Snyder when she was going through MCI customer service madness in 2002 and 2003, I have to re-explain my problem from the beginning each and every time I call. The average call lasts close to an hour, with transfer after transfer to person after person.

Yet, Jim Myers was pleased to announce on the nationally syndicated This American Life program in 2003 that MCI had a system that would solve this problem. He said to Julie - and I quote:

"It will remember who you spoke to the last time and it will offer that up to you as a customer or a consumer calling in. So... what would happen is, Julie, the next time you call customer service it would say 'the last time you called MCI you spoke to Ira Glass. Ira will be available in five minutes. If you'd like to speak to Ira, press or speak ONE, or otherwise, press two and you can speak to the next representative..."

Webster would refer to that as being 'FRAUDULENT':

     not honest, true, or fair,
     and intended to deceive people

It's awfully easy to tout changes for the sake of looking like a good corporate citizen during a nationally syndicated interview, knowing that, when the show is over, those changes will probably never be realized.

Here we are in 2005, and MCI's customer service appears to have not changed in the least.


During the This American Life segment, Julie said "I feel like - if we hadn't called as the radio show I think I would still be fighting this. I don't think it would be resolved. I think the only way it got resolved was because we're a national radio show and we're sort of threatening embarrassment."

Jim Myers replied: "Wow, that's uh, that's actually somewhat disappointing. At some point, I hope you come back and do business with us and I think you will see that the tone and the spirit and the delivery of our service is significantly better."




Dialtone... that's what I'm asking for here... dial TONE. I am paying for phone service. MCI is happy to take my money, but they're not interested in getting my problem fixed.

Maybe my real problem is that I am not a journalist.


At the end of the episode of This American Life with Ira Glass, Jim Myers gave his actual email address at MCI over the air. It's also now listed on Ira's website. It is: jim.myers@mci.com

So... I contacted Jim Myers at his email address, and I received a reply today. Here it is:

Good morning, Rob.

Please accept my apology for the delay in establishing your service and for the concerns you have outlined below.

I have already been in contact with our consumer affairs team and they will be contacting shortly with an update and with specific actions.

Again, I am very sorry about this poor service, we'll get this solved as soon as possible.


Jim Myers

It feels as though the buck has been passed yet again... This will mark at least the fourth department to get involved with my problem, and still not one person as a point of contact who will be accountable and reachable. We'll see where this goes.

Meanwhile, technician number three from MCI is supposed to arrive today, expecting to leave with a check for $180 for performing something called a phone line "tie down". I'm told this is needed to establish phone service at an address that has never had service yet... but the previous tenant in this loft had phone service.

I feel I am being lied to, and am obviously - and rightly - upset about it.

I'm still waiting for phone service I requested in November 2004 and am getting the runaround in a way that MCI said they had a plan to put a stop to years ago.


::::: | Thursday, Jan 06 2005 at 11:28 AM
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Chris Porter said:

I found your webpage after listening to the This American Life segment you mention, wondering if anyone had taken up Jim Myers on his offer, and what kind of response they got. I've never had any problems with MCI myself, but have had similar kinds of problems with other companies. One of the most frustrating and somewhat amusing parts of this is that Customer Service Reps treat you like you're a litigant in a court case. You have to gather, and provide evidence for everyting you state (people you spoke to, copies of bills, etc.), as if people would try to run a scam to rip off their phone company. It's so frustrating how many times, I've been faced with someone who doesn't believe me - doesn't believe that the last rep I spoke to made a promise, or a claim; doesn't believe that I really followed their rules, and am in a situation because of a mistake the company made. I think that the reps like it this way, it makes it easier for them to throw away an issue on a technicality, so that they won't really have to do their job like they're supposed to.

Anyway, I hope that you got your problem resolved!

::::: | June 15, 2009 9:51 AM

Rob said:

I left MCI in 2006 and never looked back. MCI was just a reseller of Qwest's local phone service, so I switched over to Qwest for two years before finally ditching my landline entirely.

::::: | June 15, 2009 12:02 PM

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