A 911 for 411!

I had been a long time Cingular subscriber for my cell phone service at the time of the acquisition by AT&T.; Having been around many acquisitions, I expected to feel some merger pains as a customer. This, however, was one of those funny bone pains that made me laugh through my grimace.

On my cell, I called directory assistance, which I learned later through an unrelated business encounter is outsourced to a third party company I believe called KGB – a contact center outsourcer. Through the automated IVR, I requested the number for Joseph A. Bank, a men’s clothing store. The IVR didn’t recognize my request, so I was transfered to an agent. The agent asked for the business name again. I repeated. Because the company name is spelled “Jos A. Bank”, the agent had to ask for the name several more times….the handle time clock was ticking. She told me she had one listing, nowhere near the town where I had requested; in a different state, for that matter. Meanwhile, I knew there was a store in the location I had requested. I asked her if there were more listings. She said yes and gave me another location.

Again, not the one I needed. I asked “is that all fo them?”. She proclaimed, “Oh no. I have a whole list here but I’m only allowed to give you two listings.” Huh? As perplexed as I was, having knowledge of call center customer service operations, I could only imagin how the average joe would react to this comment. Either the agent was on the phone too long and threatening to surpass the call handle time target. Or, as an outsourcer, perhaps they get paid by Cingular per call. So, the policy is to offer limited information. Any further requests need to be made via a newly placed call.


  1. Why use 411 services from any of the carriers? They are rio off any way. Use 1-800-411-GOOG by google. Free and even connects your call to stores. I use it all the time and works perfectly all the time.


  2. Hey Harshal! Thx. My 77 year old father in law is a big fan of google 411. Go figure. Young dog learning from old(er) dog. Thanks again for the tip

  3. great post i learned a lot, i know its an old post but its still interesting

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