Something has gone terribly wrong.  And no one is to blame.  Everyone is doing everything they can.  But their hands are tied.  Welcome to my world.

These are among the platitudes, excuses, customer-service-speak apologies, and ramblings that have filled our emails and ears this past week, as our office phone lines have not worked since July 14.  Some would call this entire telephonic finger pointing “spin” – and that is the most polite of words.

Here’s the short story.  Arment Dietrich, Inc. moved.  Mind you, we didn’t move very far.  In fact, our new offices are so close to the former ones that we’re in the same zip code and will keep the same fax and phone numbers – which will be great for us if they ever work again.

Ours was not a difficult service request.  We requested our IT company manage the relocation more than two months before the move.  After much back and forth with our telecom company, the process was put in motion.  A smart jack had to be installed.  Easy enough except AT&T put it in the wrong building.  It took from July 16 – 20 for AT&T and GlobalCom to agree that it needed to be reinstalled.  Two “expedited” installation requests later, service may be working again on July 25.  We’re not sure because the people to whom our requests could be escalated left before 3:00 on Friday. 

Ironically, just like the phone companies, talking is our business.  Sure, we communicate with emails, text messages, and can accomplish a lot through good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations – but a lot of what we do as a public relations agency requires 24/7 phone access. 

Not since the tragedy of 9/11 have I been more convinced of the value of a reliable cell phone than this past week.  Along with my colleagues we have gone about our business of calling reporters and clients using personal cell phones in new and creative ways.  No one knows how many calls to our “hard line” have gone unanswered, how much business we have lost, or opportunities vanished due to the “fast busy.”

We have collectively moved from infuriated to that same feeling of hopelessness you feel when the door slams closed as you bolt down the jet way.  Our disappointment levels with our trusted telecom business partners have sunk below zero on the satisfaction scale.

Every day there is a new excuse.  And companies wonder why infuriated consumers and small business owners turn to television and newspaper “help lines” just to get a fair hearing?  We are avoiding that temptation but it is among our arsenals of desperation.

Is wireless the wave of the future?  No doubt. — Shawn Kahle