I open my cell phone bill last week, and after I sift through all of the unrelated junk mail in the envelope, I see that they have "upgraded" me to a new more expensive plan.
They are always upgrading the plans, never upgrading the service.
And this is when my nightmare begins, because now I have to call my cell phone carrier.
They have one of those annoying voice-recognition systems, where you talk to an overly agreeable automated voice. Like the soothing tones could even begin
to compensate for the agony of navigating their customer service "network." So polite. Like the voice of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I enter the phone tree, knowing full well that they have designed it at least in part with the intention of causing their customers to become discouraged and give up. But see, I know this, so I am mentally prepared. I will see this thing through. I will not let them beat me! Okay, cell phone carrier: it's go time.
They always tell you that your call is important. Uh-huh. It's just not important enough to
like, answer it
. "You're call is important." Is it? IS IT? Because it doesn't seem like it after I've been on hold for oh, six hours
. I'm beginning to think you don't really mean
that. I'd have so much more respect for you if you just told me the truth. "Look your call is important to us, yes, but not enough to hire someone to answer it." At least then I'd have closure and I could move on.
So HAL says, "please enter your 10-digit cell phone number, area code first." Area code first, huh? Is there another way to do it? Maybe just throw it on at the end? Maybe I want to scatter it throughout, is that okay? So I say, "415-555-1234*." And HAL says, "let me make sure I heard that correctly: did you say 4...1...5..."
"Yes," I say. Urge to kill...rising.
Now I get to move on to level two. "Sure, I can help you with that. But first, please enter your 10-digit cell phone number, area code first." Uff, okay. "415-555-1234," I say, rapid-fire. "Let me make sure," HAL says agreeably. Always agreeably. "Did you say, "4...1...5..."
(Pause. Oh sweet Jesus.)
"--Yes," I say. Yes, I fucking well did say that.
Now I move on to yet another menu, and the vicious cycle starts again. Starting to get more than just a little pissed off. This time when it asks for my phone number, I say, "415-fuck you."
"I'm sorry, I don't think I got that. Please say it again."
"I'm sorry, I don't think..."
I feel somewhat relieved by going all Dick Cheney on HAL, yet it hasn't really gotten me anywhere. (Sigh.) I give HAL my phone number yet again.
Then finally-- miraculously!-- I get to the menu that says, "if you wish to speak to a customer service associate, please press or say zero." So I finally speak to a real live human being. And what is the first thing this guy wants to know?
"I can help you with that sir, I just need to verify your 10-digit cell phone number." I decide to mix it up a bit. I say, "sure, it's 415-555-2341."
"Hmm, okay that isn't the number you entered before--" "
"A-HA! I KNEW it! You guys don't need to get my phone number 4 different times, you're just trying to wear me out. You're probably all sitting around the computer saying, 'ooh, make him do it again! See if he'll do it again!'"
Anyway, I calm down to explain my situation. "Oh yeah, we made that upgrade to your service about 3 weeks ago."
"Oh...but I didn't order that."
"Well, we changed our packages. When you signed up, you had three hundred fifty minutes, with unlimited nights and weekends. Now we only offer two hundred fifty or five hundred minute plans. When we changed the packages, everyone who had the three-fifty was bumped up to the five hundred automatically. And now you automatically get free roaming in Hawaii and the Northern Marianas Islands."
Oh, sweet corn! Because those roaming charges on my visits to Saipan and Tinian were killing
"Well, I don't want to be bumped up. I want to be bumped down."
Then he tells me: "Well, I don't know if I can process that, but I can put in a request for it."
Look, I'm paying for something I didn't order and don't want, and you're saying you can put in a request for it
? Like you're doing me a favor?
Say, I have an idea! You know how you did this in the first place? Without my permission? Yeah. Now do the opposite of that.
"Well, is there a supervisor I could speak to? Would that help?"
"I don't think so. But I can have someone call you back about this, definitely."
"Okay thanks, I'd appreciate that."
"No problem. Now, what's your phone number?"*415-555-1234 is not my real phone number.