How not to help a stutterer, the National Grid Way

For those who know me, know I stutter. It comes and goes, not really any one situation or context where I am more fluent than others. But one situation has always given me problems, the phone. I don’t know what it is, whether I can’t see the person’s face on the other end to help me along, or just the fact that I feel rushed, and don’t want them to wait, the words are just more difficult to formulate and get out.

Over the weekend my fiance and I moved into our new condo, which brought all the necessary steps of transferring utility services from one location to another. Most of them I handled online, with a couple emails here and there, but when it came to National Grid, they failed to help out this stutterer. I initiated the electric service transfer, but through the online process, it asked me for my account number (being that I was a previous National Grid customer in NY, five years ago, I did not have that previous account number handy anymore. Seriously?), so I was forced to get on the phone. My fiance helped me out by taking most of the call, after giving her my SSN and other relevant information.

As we’re getting through the sharing of information, the gentlemen on the other end of the phone at National Grid asks to speak to me, to verify that the information I’ve given my fiance is valid and that she is allowed to open the account in my name. Now while most people might find this preposterous, stutterers have trouble saying their name at times. The most common phrase I might ever have to say in my entire life, and it’s not an unconcious motion. So I struggled to get it out, and answer his few questions. Feeling kind of pissed off after my fiance had told the gentleman flat out “My fiance stutters, but I have his personal information and he’s sitting next to me to answer any questions I might not know.”

I can understand the security implications of not verifying that she in fact is authorized to open the account in my name, but cut me some slack. Talking is difficult for me at times, and you just gave me one more hoop I have to jump through to keep my lights on. I’m the biggest fan when it comes to online account management,I can’t imagine what it’s like to be unable to speak at all and have to go through these situations.

Jeffrey Forman
Jeffrey Forman

I do things that make the Internet work at work, and I play around with things that make the Internet work at home.