Posts Tagged ‘Muzak’

A Little Benighted Music

Posted in General on May 27th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – 6 Comments

Dear Comcast Customer:
ACTION REQUIRED: Comcast has determined that your computer(s) have been used to send unsolicited email (“spam”)

That message from Comcast certainly came as a surprise. Perhaps my idea of satire is Comcast’s idea of spam. Now that I am being monitored as a miscreant, I’d better forgo my next get-rich-quick scheme:


I spent the better part of yesterday morning attempting to persuade Comcast that I was more pedantic than criminal. I doubt any of you has been spared the agonies of customer service.  (You Catholic readers can count it as time off in Purgatory.) You start by performing a Rachmaninoff concerto on your phone key pad.

English-press one. Home phone–starting with area code. Year of statehood–first three digits. Internet Service press four. Internet service in English–press 8. Email problem–press three, zero, and star. Tech support–press six, star, and ampersand. Instructions for ampersand–press first four Fibonacci numbers. Tutorial on Fibonacci–press last four digits on your Visa. Repeat options–press r-e-p-e-a-t-o-p-t-i-o-n-s on your keypad.

The Comcast system has acoustic sensitivity and when it finally hears you weeping, it will transfer you to a human. Your relief will be short-lived because your tech support will immediately put you on hold and you will then be subjected to Muzak. While listening to an accordion rendition of Rhinestone Cowboy or some other musical monstrosity, keep in mind that the particular selection was not random or haphazard. That music has a diabolical intent. If you cannot be induced into hanging up, at least the fourteen loopings of Rhinestone Cowboy will leave your mind a passive pulp willing to accept any indignity or incompetence from Comcast. I was ready to confess to any crime including the assassination of William McKinley.

However Muzak can also be diabolically sublime. I once had a complaint with Charles Schwab, and–standard operating procedure–its customer service immediately put me on hold. Instead of a tinny cacophony, however, the Muzak was Mozart. Those clever fiends at Schwab were telling me, “Here is the work of a genius, the musical apotheosis of the Enlightenment, who died at 35–and you want to quibble about money.” Schwab had made a $1800 mistake but now I was the one ashamed.

But how was my problem with Comcast finally resolved? I really do not know. Are you reading this?