It’s that time of year again. That time of the year when Rogers rolls out their Rogers Customer Appreciation contest, it’s inaccessible, I get mad, and blog what happens when phone and email reps hear about it. Bla bla bla.
So yesterday I get the email saying that Rogers would like to thank me for being a valued customer and give me a gift. Why sure, I’ll take something for free from a company that likes to raise rates all the time and bug me to get Rogers Home Phone. So I go to the site. First, I’m all excited. I’m so excited I could dance! All the flash buttons are labeled, and it’s not just a big fat title and nothing else. I think maybe this year I’ll have good news.
I click the english button. Woo! It moves! I get really, really excited. I click the button that says open your gift…and…nothing happens. Drat! Foiled again. I try pressing enter, space, simulating a mouse click, sweet dick all occurs. So hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the phone we go.
And this is when things get real interesting. I asked the dude if he could help me enter into the Rogers Customer Appreciation contest since the site was inaccessible to me. I sloooowed down and told him about blindness, and screenreaders, and how we don’t use a mouse, and how I can’t click the magic button, bla bla bla. This was too much information for the poor fellow. First off, he wasn’t even aware of the contest! He was convinced I was being scammed…until I gave him the link. Finally, he came around to the fact that there was a contest. Then he said no, I can’t do this, because I’m not allowed to enter contests. I told him I’m not asking *him* to enter the contest, I’m asking him to help *me* enter the contest. He could not understand. He kept telling me I should go to a rogers store and maybe they’d do it, or…
maybe I could ask someone to come do it for me.
Cue that cartoon noise where they light a fuse near dynamite. Hiss-bang!
To anyone who is a customer service representative, let me save you from experienceing some serious wrath. Don’t whip that one out, ok? If I’m calling you, I obviously don’t have someone handy who could do what I’m asking you to do. Not all blind people live with sighted folk, or sometimes the sighted folk aren’t around when they need something. I understand tech support reps saying it in the case of “Is there someone around who can tell me what lights are on on the modem?” I get that. But if I’m calling in to say that I can’t interact with your website, I obviously don’t have ready eyeballs who can come interact with it for me. If I did, I wouldn’t be calling, now would I? I’d just say “Hey Bob, click this here button, would ya?”
Poor customer service Brian. In one second, all the rage of fighting about the inaccessibility of the Rogers’s site came out as if fired from a cannon. I ended up saying that if I had eyeballs on demand, would I be calling him? I would have to wait for someone to come over and do it for me, and most people have better things to do than help me click a button on a website that should be accessible because they’re a business and they have several blind customers with talking phones…and….oh poor Brian. Poor poor Brian. He still wouldn’t even think of talking to a supervisor to get approval to help a customer, ya know, because that would be customer *service*. He even whipped out the “I could get fired. I have kids at home…” as if I was asking him to sell heroin for me. Give me a damn break. If you get approval, you won’t get fired. Use some brain cells and think outside the box…oh yeah, they train that out of you.
After I told him I’m sorry for getting mad, just I’ve been bringing these access issues up for years, and I always get the same “we’ll escalate that” line but things are never made good, I got a little upset when I was told that I would have to wait for someone to help me, like my money wasn’t good enough to get service. I whipped out some logic. I asked him why he couldn’t do this for me if our call was being recorded. If it was being recorded, there would be a copy of me saying “help me enter this contest” which would coincide with your computer entering the contest. It would be all good. He said not all calls are recorded. I said fine then. How can a store employee do it? They will have even less proof than you that I asked them to, and I’m sure their machine is just as tightly monitored. Then he started to stammer. I don’t know if they’d do it. I just thought they could. I said so I could go all the way down there, just to enter in a contest I might add, only to be turned away? I asked him why he couldn’t just ask his boss, get approval, click my button, and resolve the reason for my call today? Damn! I didn’t say those words, but I should have, since they liked to whip that one out at the end of the call.
I told him that I find it high irony that the site designed to appreciate customers isn’t designed so all customers can interact with it and be appreciated. Then poor little Brian made another mistake that he shouldn’t have. He said, “Well, we can’t taylor the site for everyone.” This is what I should have said, and I kick myself for not saying it. If you were working in a store, and a person in a wheelchair came to the door and couldn’t get in the store, would you actually look them in the face and say “Sorry about your luck, but we can’t make the entrance work for everyone?” No. You would help them get what they needed. But I didn’t. I just explained that I wasn’t wanting the site to look nice for me, I was wanting to have the ability to actually interact with it. I also said that I can interact with most of the internet, which I am sure is set up for the majority of users, so Rogers wouldn’t have to break their site to make it work. All they would have to do is consult a few people who know about web accessibility, and all would live in harmony.
Then I may have taught him a little something, but I’m not sure. I told him to place his computer’s focus on the “open your gift” button and press enter and see what happens. Nothing did. I told him that’s what I’m dealing with. It’s not that it looks ugly. It’s that I can’t use it. He got all sad and said “Oh. Hmmm. I never knew you could press enter on things on the computer.” Then he transferred me to tech support and said maybe they’d know what to do. I told him likely not, but maybe we could work something out.
I got a very nice woman, whose name eludes me, on tech support. I explained it again, and of course the poor woman couldn’t offer any more insight. But what she did do was speak to her supervisor and get approval to help me fill out the contest. I ended up donating my gift to the United Way because I won either a new release movie or game rental, a magazine subscription, or a skin for my cell phone. The magazine or the skin were out, and I just couldn’t see myself renting a movie just because most new releases suck these days. But damn it, I participated in the contest, which was what I wanted. Thank you, nice tech support lady.
I told both she and Brian about the site. I said I commend them for actually labeling the Flash this year. But I asked if she could pass on that it still doesn’t work with screenreaders. I said I have told them for years, and it’s gotten me nowhere, so maybe if the message came from inside, it would be received better. I didn’t know.
I know most people think I’m crazy for going this far to enter in a contest. But it’s not the contest, it’s the fact that the site doesn’t work, and this design could potentially spread to the main site. And it’s the fact that they don’t care enough to fix it even though I’m sure they could, and I’m paying them good money, just like the rest of the world. It’s not like I pay them in blindy bucks that aren’t worth as much as ordinary bucks.
Here’s a note to Rogers and every other company. If you really value my feedback, show it. Do something about the accessibility of your services in whatever form they take, especially when someone brings up a problem. Don’t tell me that you value my feedback and then do nothing. It’s like the old saying. Actions speak louder than words. It’s easy to tell me that you value my feedback. If you showed me, I would actually believe it.