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Into Scary Territory: A customer service representative will be with you shortly 

This week I did something I'd never done before. Something so frightening that it me took hours to build up the nerve to do it. Something I'd heard could be a life changing experience.

I called a software maker for support on a problem.

I was having a small problem with one of their products. This meant the frightening proposition of having to deal with customer service.

When I finally got up the nerve to make the call, I prepared myself for several hours on the phone by making a Thermos of coffee and toasting an English muffin to enjoy while I waited to get my problem to be solved.

Then I thought, wait, that's not going to be enough. So I made a sandwich, grabbed a bag of potato chips and placed them, along with a beer in a small cooler, by my desk. I was prepared for an epic all-day-on-the-phone experience.

I dialed the software maker's number and after a few "click 1 for support" and similar prompts, was connected to a man with a voice right out of a sci-fi movie about alien life. His intonation was so eerie and mechanical that it made my heart sink at the prospect of hours of dealing with him.

He asked a series of questions stopping for a lengthy pause when he discovered that I used a Mac instead of a PC. Pause over, he pressed on and after five minutes gave me a 12-digit case number to note down. That done, he said he would transfer me to a software specialist.

Within seconds, a women whose voice sounded like Glenda the Good Witch after she sucked on a helium balloon, asked me to give her my case number.

I did and then she asked what program I was having trouble with and what the problem with it was. I gave her the information and she broke into a shrill giggle. "Oh, is that all it is. Boy that's easy," she laughed, "you just go under edit and... .."

I did what she said and my problem was fixed.

I felt a bit embarrassed that the fix was so easy. I thanked the software support woman. She replied: "are you sure there isn't anything else?"

There wasn't.

Twelve minutes and 37 seconds after calling my software problem had been solved.

I drank the rest of my coffee and finally ate the muffin. I wrapped the sandwich in foil and put it along with the beer went into the fridge.

Then I walked outside in my garden and took in the fresh air. I felt like I had just won the lottery or a Nobel Prize. Relief doesn't begin to express how I felt. I'd escaped unharmed from an experience with customer service.

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