Write me:
skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com

Monday, 20 March
How Can I Put Off Helping You Today?

This is a David Versus Goliath story.

Exceot Goliath is a large telecommunications company, and David is a skinny dipshit with a broken phone. Oh, and also it's not very interesting, but at least it's short. Well, okay, it's not very short. Anyway, enjoy!

Goliath, here, is a well-known cellular provider. Now, I don't want to name names or anything, so let's just call them . . . Meat-Obile. No . . . no, that's stupid. How about T-Blomie? Yeah! That'll work.

Some backstory: I had spent a good year pretty happy with T-Blomie. Unfortunately, that year was also spent with a truly ghastly, not-worky phone from yet another large corporation that I shall call . . . oh . . . Toomalor. Toomalor--which I'm pretty sure is one of the planets that gets wiped out by the Oans in Infinite Crisis, or so I hope--provided me with everything I could want in a cell phone: 1. It was a flip-phone, and therefore cool; and 2. It was blue. Unfortunately, Toomalor also provided me with everything I did not want in a phone, namely: it did not work very well. Or, to be more specific, at all. I sent this phone back to Toomalor for its quantum mechanics to take a look at it. They sent it back to me, fully repaired, with the helpful note, "Reflash corrupted. Replaced. Memory upgrade. Do not dip in peanut butter. X'hal s'in'dor lentel'ar!" Then a week later, the phone died again. Clearly, I could not rely on Toomalor's shoddy products, and I wasn't crazy to hear that Red Tornado had stripped off their home planet's crust, either.

Plus, it was time for the wife and I to upgrade a bit. We had, for a year or so, been sharing the Toomalor phone between us, and we decided it was time for us to each get our own cell phone. This decision was mostly because, well, if one totally silent cell phone was good, then two utterly silent, not-ringing cell phones would be GREAT! Plus, we could also now have the opportunity to not call each other, which nicely complements our habit of not talking to each other in person. We looked forward to not calling each other frequently, and on the special occasions when we did call each other, we dreamed of being able to exchange stony silences. On very special occasions, we could also not call friends and relatives and not talk to them, on separate lines. It was time.

So I called up T-Blomie. I got a helpful customer service representative after only hitting nine separate buttons. "Hi," I said. "I have an existing line with you guys. I'd like to upgrade my phone and to add a line and get my wife her own phone." The rep didn't miss a beat. "You can do that on our website!" she chirped. Swell! That's much more convenient than, I don't know, having you, the customer service rep, take care of this right now, on the phone! Did they not want my money?

They clearly did not, since I already knew that what I wanted to do was in no way possible to accomplish on their website at all. Sure, I could upgrade my phone. But add another line and order a new phone and set it up in my wife's name? Forget it. I explained this to the nice lady. "Are you sure you tried the website?" she asked, in tones similar to someone asking if I also needed help wiping. "There's some nice photos of Catherine Zeta-Jones you can jack it to while you shop. You sound like you're majorly fertile." Which is true, of course, but I was onto this minx. "I can't do what I'm trying to do online," I said flatly. "Can you guys help me or not?" "Of course!" she cried. "Hold on a sec," I heard as she clacked at keys, or perhaps she was just idly rattling Chiclets in her hands, Queegily. Then she hung up on me.

I called back, and once again got the irritating voice-bot asking me why I was bothering these good people whom I only wanted to give my money to. "Tell me what I can help you with!" she-it gamely said. Fuck the bot. "I can't seem to lay down a bunt," I replied. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that!" she-it said. The whole "let's pretend I'm really being helped" conceit grated on me further. "Streaming Christy Canyon videos," I said evenly. "Okay! I'll connect you right away." Hmmm.

I got another drone, male this time, and explained again what I wanted. He seemed to actually understand. First, he upgraded my phone, noting with some enthusiasm, "Yeah . . . that's the one I got." I resisted the urge to ask him how the Christy Canyon videos were on such a small screen. Then I explained about wanted to add service to my account and get the wife her own phone. "Oh . . . " he said in a small voice. "I'll have to connect you with billing for that. They're in Chicken, Alaska, so it might be ninety minutes or so to connect. Hang on!"

Look, I could go on for pages with this. Leave it to say that after a few more phone calls, I finally got a rep who understood what I wanted. She even managed to get me steered onto a "family" plan and a free phone for the wife to boot, although it would require a separate phone call later to merge the accounts. I thanked her profusely, and waited anxiously for the new toys.

In short order, they arrived. I was pretty happy with my new phone--it was still a cool-ass flip phone, and happily, it actually worked, which was novel--and the wife was happy with her new phone, which has awesomely terrible ringtone options as well as incredibly annoying colored flashing lights on the sides, which I like to think of as magical in origin, as in like, Warding of Epileptics, or something. Later, I was even more pleased to note that this free phone had only cost me $130.52, which T-Blomie had charged to my debit card.

WHAT THE FUCK? I called up T-Blomie again, and once again found myself chatting with Our Disembodied Lady of the Algorithm, who wanted me to tell her, lover, what can I do for you today? "I hate backgammon," I said in a clear cadence. "Okay, I'm connecting you now." Soon I was talking to an alleged human, this gal probably situated in, say, Glump, Missouri. "You charged my card a hundred and thirty bucks for a free phone!" I yelled. She clattered at her keyboard, or Chiclets. I swear to God, in less than five seconds, she said to me, "Oh boy. I see your order. You're right; this was a mistake." I clawed at my ears to clear what must have been a blockage. "What?" I croaked. This was the last thing I expected: agreement and capitulation. "I'm so sorry. I'm sending this to our credit department now. It should be off your account in 72 hours." I was dazed, and couldn't think of anything to say. She then offered, "And if you suffer any bank charges because of this, please let us know. We'll take care of those too."

I hung up utterly floored. Did that really happen? I sat back in my chair and chewed pensively on my feet. I wasn't sure about the world I seemed to occupy, and it felt like invisible things were occupying the space around me.

96 hours later, no such credit had been applied to my account. The wife was still merrily incapacitating mental patients with her new zowie-wowie Pink Floydophone, and I was still out a hundred and thirty bucks and change. Wearily, I steeled myself for another round with T-Blomie and dialed up again. "I'm interested in learning about Star-Bellied Sneetches," I told the autoseductress before she could get much of a bot-word out. "Okay, I'll connect you now!"

I explained my deal to the guy (this time), and secretly pined away for the incredibly helpful (and yet I guess not, since no credit had manifested) gal. After much Chicleting, he coldly informed me that the phone I had ordered for the wife was "not supposed to be free on that date." Uh. I started to decompensate a bit. "Look. The free phone was the whole point of ordering that new service. I was going to get her a phone just like mine, but it would have cost another hundred dollars. That's why I ordered this phone." There was a wintry pause, and then he said, incredibly, "The thing is, they don't even make that phone any more. I mean, it's discontinued. You can still get it on the site, but it's out of date."

RIght here is where I entered a fugue state. Okay, first of all, HEY, NEWS TO ME! Not that I particularly give a fuck, since as long as it works, I'm happy, but STILL. Second of all, WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? I was told it was free. And third of all . . . so the implication is that it's a crappy, unsupported phone now. So why would that equate to "Naturally, you'll want to pay a premium for this terrible phone that was so unpopular that it got discontinued"?

I immediately began babbling confused, terrible things, such as "Why I!" and "But you!" and "Wooden leg!" and such confused gabbling until I happily hit on an effective phrase, which is forever burned on my brain: "I have no intention of paying . . . " and then I was smoothly cut off. "Whoa, whoa!" Followed by assurances of my impending credit, FER SURE. But I wasn't done. Emboldened, I tried another in-my-mind lethal grammatical construction: "Charge reversal." "Sir!" (Confession: I pretended at this stage that he was saying "Sire!") "There's no need for any of that. I'm going to get this off to our credit department right now. These things get handled within . . . " Here was a fateful pause. ". . . ten to fourteen days."

His electro-balls were in my inter-hands. I squeezed. "It better be," I hissed. Then I strategically relented, to give hims some room for dignity. "I realize that you're just doing your job," I said, modulating my tone. "I just need this resolved." He agreed enthusiastically.

And after only three follow-up phone calls, ("I'm interested in how ties are made." "Okay; I'll connect you now!") I have received my credit.

The system works.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


... this gal probably situated in, say, Glump, Missouri.

Tampa, Florida. That's where their customer service is located. In case you, you know, feel like bombing something.

You can blow up the Bucs, too, while you're at it.

And the Siemens CF62T is one of the worst phones in existence. Your wife will enjoy it for no more than three months before the phone will start randomly shutting down on her. After six months it will be practically unusable as it will turn itself off every five minutes...guaranteed.

"Streaming Christy Canyon videos," = Brilliance.

Comment number: 006766   Posted by: rob on March 21, 2006 10:12 AM from IP:

well done skot :D

Comment number: 006770   Posted by: chris on March 21, 2006 04:46 PM from IP:

i too am interested in ties. we should start a club.

Comment number: 006771   Posted by: chuck on March 22, 2006 02:58 AM from IP:

I love the automated customer service programs.

""blow me"."


Comment number: 006772   Posted by: galetea on March 22, 2006 05:23 AM from IP:


Man, Skot, your coinages burn the Bounty to the waterline.

Comment number: 006774   Posted by: sgazzetti on March 22, 2006 08:56 AM from IP:

I had this same g-d experience with Comcast, like twice. Except it wasn't phones it was cable and/or cable modem services. It is not Comcastic, you f-ing tools, it is EatMe-tastic.

Come to think of it, I had this same experience with T-Mobile, too, when trying to deal with why my phone would not work where I lived. Suckball asshats.

Now I am thoroughly enraged by remembering these expereinces. Thank you, my friend.

Comment number: 006775   Posted by: Peggy on March 22, 2006 02:51 PM from IP:

Eerily reminiscent of trying to quit AOL years and years ago!

Comment number: 006777   Posted by: Trance on March 22, 2006 04:39 PM from IP:

I had the same thing happen to me with Sprint. I received $40 worth of roaming charges on a bill one month. That might be conceivable had I not disabled roaming on my phone to avoid such charges.

I didn't have quite the adventure with the bot, but after telling the nice rep that I had no intention of paying he talked with his manager and returned with a solution: "Ok, here's what we can do. I can take half the charge off your bill. But only if you upgrade your plan to include roaming." Ok, so you are saying that you will only mischarge me half the amount if I agree to pay you more each month.

I kindly told him that was a very bad idea and he agreed. Everything was resolved.

Yes, the system works.

Comment number: 006780   Posted by: Jamie Stephens on March 23, 2006 06:24 AM from IP:

This is why whenever I buy a phone I buy unlocked ones off eBay. There's often some pretty good deals on older mint-condition-but-we-can't-sell-this-to-trendwhore phones. My current phone is a made-in-2001 Ericsson T39m which is my favorite one by far. Ever. It was really high-end when it came out but now it goes for a song, and yet it's still more compact and functional than any of the newer ones I've tried.

Comment number: 006782   Posted by: fluffy on March 23, 2006 11:14 AM from IP:

Oh yes, this is the same company that when I called them and said "I don't have service in my neighborhood" (which I didn't, for the entire year) said "yes you do, I see it on my coverage map".

Never again. I HATE them.

Comment number: 006783   Posted by: amy on March 23, 2006 12:13 PM from IP:

Oh, how I feel your pain. I recently had a similar experience with Verizon, except it wasn't about cell phone service. It was about a mysterious phone book ad. I pulled my hair out for weeks trying to cut through the endless bureaucracy and department-swapping before I finally was able to google up the e-mail address of the company president. (I shit you not.) Amazing how a quick e-mail to somebody in power got the situation resolved in no time flat.

Phone companies (and other large corporations) are so frustrating to deal with. Customer service is a misnomer.

Comment number: 006784   Posted by: J.D. on March 23, 2006 12:28 PM from IP:

Oh yes, this is the same company that when I called them and said "I don't have service in my neighborhood" (which I didn't, for the entire year) said "yes you do, I see it on my coverage map".

Never again. I HATE them.

Comment number: 006785   Posted by: amy on March 23, 2006 12:33 PM from IP:

Is there a phone company somewhere that knows how to use the phone?

Comment number: 006786   Posted by: Tillerman on March 23, 2006 02:26 PM from IP:

Huh. Usually when I say "I'd like to fucking kill you" the bot says, "I'm sorry! I didn't understand your response." Maybe that's because it wasn't alive to begin with.

Comment number: 006787   Posted by: Exasperatrix on March 23, 2006 06:28 PM from IP:

Oh, Peggy. Don't even get me started about Comcast.

Wife and I pick up a brand new set. HD! Only we need an HD box. So I call Comcast. "It's included in your plan! Go to your local office and pick one up."

Local office: "Sorry. We're out." "When are you getting them back in?" "Dunno. But we'll call you when we do." I leave my name & number.

Weeks later, I call. "Oh - yeah. They're not gonna call you." "Right. Thanks for that. Do they have them?" "Yes!" "Great. Thanks."

I show up. "No we don't." I get the evil look. "But, um, look, we'll give you this all in one box! It has HD, plus it's a DVR! And we won't charge you for 3 months!" Excellent. That's more like it. I take the box home.

It's broken.

Guy comes out. "Yup. Broken. I have a spare. One sec." Shortly thereafter, it's running. And it continues to run, in beautiful HD DVRing bliss.

For 24 hours. Then it breaks.

The only thing that has prevented me from killing all of them is the knowledge that they haven't billed me for any of this crap. YET.

Comment number: 006792   Posted by: sammy baby on March 24, 2006 02:09 PM from IP:

Never had a problem with this provider (they are by far my best experience with the megacellfu's we so enjoy here), but had the same experiences with Singular, AT&FU, Slowjog, & Vextel.

Comment number: 006795   Posted by: Doubtering on March 25, 2006 07:35 AM from IP:

Never had a problem with this provider (they are by far my best experience with the megacellfu's we so enjoy here), but had the same experiences with Singular, AT&FU, Slowjog, & Vextel.

Comment number: 006796   Posted by: Doubtering on March 25, 2006 07:35 AM from IP:


Comment number: 006798   Posted by: Jon on March 25, 2006 01:17 PM from IP:

Post a comment