Fun in Japan (Sort-of): Yahoo!Japan BB vs Comcast

So, today I had the fun-filled job of trying to find a new cable package.  Right now, we only have Comcast, at its most basic functionality.  And even then it barely functions.  Centurylink came around and made an offer, so we started looking into it.  Comcast called me twice last week to try and sell me some promotion, but the phone connection was so poor I couldn’t understand them.  So, tonight, I get online to ask Comcast what that promotion might have been, in the hopes of getting either faster internet or channels other than Spanish and home shopping.  (Really, all I want is AMC and FX, but they’re hard to come by)  Anyway, I have this conversation:

Me: So, Comcast has called me multiple times trying to offer a promotion, but the calls don’t connect well, so I don’t know what the promotion was. Can you tell me?

CC: No…there aren’t any promotions.

Me: So what were the phone calls for?  Also, could you tell me what just internet would cost?

CC: If you want just internet or promotions, you have to call this number…

Me: But the phone calls don’t connect, so that’s why I’m online.

CC: Great! you can call between 9 and 6.

Me:…I don’t think you understand.  Phone calls don’t work.  that’s why I’m online.

CC: If you want more information pricing, call the sales department.  We’re just the sales department.

Me: You’re the sales department, but you want me to call the sales department?

CC: Yes. We’re not connected.

Me: So…you can’t tell me anything, even though you’re the sales department and this is about sales, and the phones don’t work?

CC: Yes, and have a great evening, Kathryn!

(As it turned out, we can’t really do the Centurylink package either, so basically our internet is just going to suck until further notice.)

Now, one might say, “Hey, that guy was probably outsourced.”  But I tell you, in happens in countries that don’t outsource, too, such as Japan.

Now, Japan’s service is legendary, and most of the time, it earns its reputation.  However, it relies on a distinct sequence of events to function.  If the system is working properly, Japan’s service is fast, polite and executed perfectly.  And if you throw a wrench in the gears–like a foreigner–the system goes to hell and grinds to a screaming halt.  Having just talked to Comcast, I am convinced that they are secretly Yahoo!Japan.

Yahoo!Japan Broadband (Yahoo BB) is an internet provider in Japan.  I used their service when I lived in Tokyo, and despite taking two months to install, the service itself was amazing.  (That, and the man that installed it took off his shoes and wore white gloves while installing the cable, and went through a large array of cables until he found one that matched the wall.)  The service was great until I was leaving to move back to the States.

When I left, my company closed my bank account down.  I called Yahoo BB and had this conversation (in Japanese):

Me: So, how do I pay my last bill?

BB: We’ll withdraw it from your bank account.

Me: But my bank account is closed.  Can I mail it to you?

BB: We’ll take it from your bank account.

Me: I don’t have one.

BB: It just withdraws from your bank account.

Me: Please LISTEN.  My bank account is closed.  I can mail it to you, or bring it to an office.

BB: Hmm.  We’ll mail you a bill.  Then, take it to a 7-11 in Colorado and pay it there.   (You pay all bills that don’t auto-withdraw at convenience stores in Japan, with cash)

Me: Uh…stores in Colorado don’t take Japanese bills, or yen.

BB: They don’t?

Me: No…?  Can you pay American phone bills here?

BB: Perhaps not.  We’ll withdraw it from your bank account.

Me: But I don’t have one.  Is there someone else I can talk to?

BB: No.

After banging my head on the wall, I handed the phone to my then-boyfriend.  “Here,” I said.  “You’re a native speaker.  Maybe you can do this.”

He had given me many lectures on how I was in Japan and Japan’s service was the best, etc, so he took the phone.  After a few minutes, I hear, “But she doesn’t have a bank account anymore…no, you can’t withdraw…no, she can’t pay it in America…but she doesn’t have a bank account.  Is there someone else I can talk to?”

Once placed on hold, he laid the phone down, turned to look at me, and cried, “These are the stupidest people in Japan!

“Ha! Welcome to every day of my life!”  (My husband admits now that, while service in Japan is often better, you can at least make some progress in the States.)

We were eventually able to pay the bill, after they tried to withdraw and found it declined.  I took the paper bill and some money to an office, and gave it to them, and they looked at me like I handed them a large insect and said, “Why don’t you just pay this in America, at the 7-11?”

At the sales department that isn’t the sales department, I’m sure.

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