I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: Long hold times during which you’re forced to listen to messages about how much the company values your business. Service and tech representatives who are unable to help you because they have no idea what has been done already or simply don’t have the necessary training to help. Bizarre phone loops that take you back to where you started.
I’m generally pretty good at moving up to a higher level of customer support. For example by calling the company’s corporate headquarters where there is usually an office to deal with persistent people like me.
But nothing seemed to work this time.
In both cases I needed to have a quick resolution of the problem and I found myself getting more and more frustrated, inpatient and angry. I could feel the toll this negative energy was having on my body but it still took awhile for me to realize that I had a tool that could help – the Alexander Technique – if I chose to use it.
Kind of embarrassing, since I’ve been an Alexander teacher for over 35 years!
One of the companies* was Windstream, a regional provider of phone and internet service. My modem had been randomly losing connection to the internet and the company agreed it was a problem caused by an error on their part. I could have lived with that for a few days if I didn’t have several Skype teaching calls coming up, calls which would be almost impossible to do well with interruptions.
I was told the earliest a visit from a technician could be scheduled was the following week and that they couldn’t tell me if it would be morning or evening! And that it was absolutely impossible (their words) to do it any sooner.
I cancelled a Skype session scheduled for early the next morning and went to bed feeling trapped between an incompetent corporation and my teaching obligations. As I usually do before falling asleep I did a bit of Alexander Technique self directing – “I’m free”, “My breathing is free”, “I’m free to receive the support of the bed” – that sort of thing.
Just before dozing off, I thought I might as well throw in a freedom direction about my predicament – “I’m free to find a solution to my connectivity problem.”
In the middle of the night I woke up with the thought “Time Warner”. Yes, Time Warner, the giant cable company regularly voted the most hated company in America! And for good reason: it’s customer service is as awful as Windstream’s and it’s much, much bigger.
Still, it did offer cable internet service that I’d used for years and that was quite reliable. It would cost significantly more than I was currently paying but when I called them the next morning, I was offered a guaranteed 1 hour window for installation that very afternoon at 4 PM. That would be after my 2 in-person students, and well before my scheduled Skype sessions starting the next day.
This was an obvious way around the problem, but in my frustrated state I had overlooked it.
Put another way, the solution had been there all along, but I hadn’t be “free” to recognize and choose it.
My situation was not that different that of my Alexander Technique students. Once they’ve experimented a bit with using Alexander directions to change their posture and movement patterns I remind them that they now know there is a “free” state always available within them. Moving from their default state to the free state requires nothing more than a simple mental choice – for example thinking softly to themselves, “I’m free.”
But I had forgotten to remind myself!
Once I saw there was a choice, I was no longer focused on getting Windstream to do the right thing quickly. I assumed they probably would not, but thought I’d make just one more call – this time not as someone pleading with them to do something for me, but as a lost customer they might be able entice back.
It was with in great sense of calm then called Windstream’s “Executive Customer Service” and outlined the problem I had been having. I then told the agent I was leaving them for an equivalent service I had arranged for later that day that would cost almost twice what I was paying them – precisely $24.52 a month more, I added. Including taxes.
Unless they could fix my service that morning.
There was a long period of silence at the other end. The agent then said she would see what she could do. I thanked her and wished her a good day.
Forty-five minutes later, I got a call from the local office saying a tech would be at my house within 30 minutes. He came, installed a new modem, re-set my connections with their central system, and made sure I was able to connect all the devices in my house to the new modem’s wi-fi. He then, on his own, decided to check some wiring in an alleyway behind my house to make sure it was up to standard. It wasn’t, and he replaced a considerable amount of wiring.
Altogether he spent almost 2 hours making sure everything was working at optimal efficiency.
I then called Time Warner to cancel my appointment.
Thank you F. Matthias Alexander! And thank you Jennifer Roig-Francoli, Mother of Freedom Directions! You can listen to several podcasts about Freedom Directions, and other Alexander Technique directions here: bodylearningcast.com/teachers/directions
*The other case involved Tracphone, a cell phone company. It was resolved in much the same way as my Windstream problem.