Information and services should be equal

Today while checking the messages for the reference desk, I thought it was going to be like any other as I wrote down the requests left by patrons. Sadly,  I was wrong.

A patron that calls the desk often asked me to get the number for  Magic Jack, the internet-based telephone service. This patron is visually impaired and is  very active through our CLASS outreach service.  I began looking over the Magic Jack site for a number that she could call and talk to someone about starting this service. I couldn’t find a number for customer service anywhere on their website. I then thought I would use the links to chat with a live service representative in hopes that they could give me a number for our patron to use.

This function requires you to type out your question and a service rep. will answer it for you. I stated ” I work in library and am trying to get a telephone number for a visually impaired patron to call you about the services you offer.” After a few seconds the following conversation occurred.

Hala: Hello, how may I help you?

Brian hulsey : Hello Hala, I work for a library and I’m trying to get a phone number for a blind patron so that she can call and set up service with you all. I’m hoping you can help me with this.

Hala: Sure Brian. Is the device currently plugged in?

Brian hulsey : She needs to call you all about starting the service. She isn’t physically here in the library and I would like a number so that she could call someone directly.

Hala: Unfortunately, we only do support over this chat Brian. Sorry

Brian hulsey : So, you’re not in ADA compliance?

Brian hulsey : That is the Americans With Disabilities Act

Hala: I am not able to answer that, but we only do support over this chat.

Brian hulsey : Well, how can you help me with this?

Brian hulsey : I would like to chat with some one over your department please

Hala: Is it possible for him to chat us with your assistance?

Brian hulsey : She would like to speak with someone personally, if she can’t we could try that. but know that you telling me that you all don’t have a way for a visual impaired individual to communicate directly with you makes you non ADA compliant.

Hala: Thank you for your patience. I will transfer you to a higher level of support. Please hold while I transfer you.

At this point I was hoping that her supervisor would be able to help me give the circumstances. I found conversing with him even more frustrating in th fact that he wasn’t listening and didn’t seem to care about still refused to give me a number for the patron.

Benjamin: Hello Brian My name is Benjamin. To better assist you, let me put you on hold while I read your previous chat. Thank you.

Brian hulsey : Hello Benjamin

Brian hulsey : That’s fine

Benjamin: I do really apologize but we only offer chat support.

Benjamin: Is the magicjack with you now?

Brian hulsey : Firstly, She wants to start a magic jack service. I stated that in the original chat. She doesn’t have the device but would like to speak with someone about starting a service. She is visually impaired and cannot use this chat function. That is why I am hoping you can help me.

Benjamin: You can help her in the registration process.

Benjamin: Just simply plug the magicjack into the usb port of the computer and the registration page will automatically pop up on your screen.

Benjamin: Then all she have to do is to fill it out.

Brian hulsey : This is why I am telling you that it is your responsibility to help her with this service, it is your job and your service is supposed to be compliant with the ADA.

Brian hulsey : My job is to help find the information for her that will allow her to communicate with you all which isn’t happening.

Benjamin: You can tell her to chat with us if she will be encountering problems in the registration process.

Brian hulsey : by helping her but not doing it for her.

Benjamin: The registration process is very simple.

Brian hulsey : She is blind and can’t use this chat since you don’t offer any other function.

Benjamin: She will only enter her personal info then choose the area code and prefix she want for her number and that’s it

Brian hulsey : This is why I am chatting with you instead of her. It is not a level of technical facility but an impairment.

Benjamin: Please tell her to plug the magicjack into her usb port.

Benjamin: Did she tried to plugged the magicjack into her usb port?

Brian hulsey : My I speak with your supervisor, because you are not understanding what I am saying.

Benjamin: I am the Supervisor

Benjamin: Please tell her to be the one to chat on us so that we  can walk her through to the registration process using the computer she want for her magicjack.

Brian hulsey : For the last time, she is blind

Brian hulsey : she can’t use this service because she can’t see it

Brian hulsey : and you all have no service for her to communicate with you.

Brian hulsey : If you can’t help I will report this to the Federal Communications  Commission and the better business bureau.

Benjamin: Then we can’t do anything about that.

Benjamin: She really need to fill out the form for the registration on her end.

Benjamin: We cannot fill out the form for her

Brian hulsey : You can give me a landline for her to contact you so she can speak with you

Benjamin: She have to register on her end

Benjamin: As we have said that we don’t offer phone support as of the moment.

Brian hulsey : Well, you are in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and I will be reporting your service on the state and national level. I will also contact the better business bureau. I have also copied the chat from beginning to end.

Brian hulsey : OK, I will file a report and tell the consumer to file a report. Thank you, Benjamin.

Benjamin: You know if you are telling me that she is blind then even a phone support won’t able to help since she really need to fill out the form in the registration when she first plug in the device.

After ending the chat session, I called the patron to let her know about all that transpired. I urged her to file a 255 consumer inquiry or complaint with the FCC and one through the BBB. In addition to this I plan on speaking the the head of our CLASS outreach and the Georgia Library for Accessible Services in the hope that they can help do more to make Magic Jack see how they are in the wrong.

Information and services should be equal for all of us! That is why the Americans with Disabilities Act was created, so that no one would or could be discriminated against based upon their impairment.  I hope that when you read this you feel the same way.  If you are a library worker, family member, co-worker, or friend to someone with a disability stand up for their rights! Please let people like the Magic Jack service know that this kind of treatment is inexcusable and will not be tolerated!


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One comment

  1. Bravo to you, Brian, for being an advocate for this patron and for fighting against such horrific service from this company. I realize I probably should not be, but I am just astonished at how completely insensitive each person from the company was—it was as though you were talking to a brick wall! Please keep us updated.

    Buffy Hamilton


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