Tenacious Me

The cable company, the electric company, the credit card company and the cell phone company all most likely have Caller-ID lists in their offices with my number prominently in bold, flashing, deep purple neon. I might even be used as an example in their new employee orientation program.

I dislike enormously the thought that I am nothing more than a nameless cash cow for anyone. If I see an unknown charge of even $0.25 on a bill, I take it as a personal jab in my gut and physically feel my ire rankle at the thought that someone is believing that I’m not going to even notice the twenty-five cents, or call them on it.

I listen to others bitch about the phone bill for instance. Each and every month – you watch it, your bill goes up ever so slightly. And yet, you pay it. Silently. My stand is this: you gave me a quote for this and that service. You will honor that quote. Or else.

My kids know all too well Dad’s version of ‘or else’ and they could quote it back to you. But for the sake of summary I tell them that every company is in business for one thing and one things only – to make money. Who gives them that money? Why, you do of course! If you are no longer their customer, what do they have left? Less money! And to hurt them even more, you will bring that same money to their competition. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

I’ve had this LG Chocolate phone, minus the slide out keypad, that I received through Verizon for not quite ten months now. I was satisfied with my Motorola flip phone but my contract was up and while I was researching for phones, my daughter became a big influence. Not being the kind of guy who regularly texts, all I really use the phone for is calling and receiving calls. I do text on occasion and find it convenient sometimes and it was because of my daughter that I chose the LG based partly on the easy texting feature. I found it a bit odd to not protect the phone by flipping it shut, but I have been liking the touch-finger method of using the phone and text.

However, I don’t go to the Internet through the phone, nor do I tweet, or use GPS or have any applications – I find that even if I wanted to use those features, they all cost extra money. And I can’t justify to myself paying extra to get on the internet when I have a computer at home, using a mobile GPS when I also have access to that on the computer and what other applications could I possibly need (at this moment anyhow) that would convince me to pay more money each month to a phone company?

Let me tell you that I take VERY good care of my phone. I do not have a land line and it is the major method of communication with my children, so do NOT mess with my method of communication that is for my kids! I do not drop it, I do not leave it in the heat or cold, I do not accidentally splash it with liquid and I do not sit on it. Weird? Sure, but I need my phone.

Last week, my phone started to get thin, vertical, colored lines on the right hand side of the screen. I thought nothing of it and matter of fact, I shut off the phone, restarted and *poof* they were gone. Only, they come back. I began to receive those lines more frequently. Last Sunday, I had the addition of a black thick, vertical line appear smack dab in the middle of the screen making it very difficult (I’m being polite) to read or see the display. Tuesday night I saw that a thin ‘lightning bolt’ looking white line appeared originating from the upper left corner to the middle of the right side, causing everything on the screen to look slightly out of alignment as if the screen were puzzle pieces slightly out of alignment. It was the last straw – I could hardly read anything at all, rebooting wasn’t doing a thing and it began to get so bad that I couldn’t see messages or phone calls or the number/type pad. I needed a replacement.

Here’s where I lost patience.

I went to the Verizon store ten miles from where I am.

  • I am one of only three people in the store, the only one at the Service desk, and yet they (the four employees that are doing nothing at all) make me turn away from the desk, go back to the front of the store and use the Verizon kiosk to enter my name and phone number. The heat was turned on under the kettle.
  • After a few moments (what were they waiting for?) a woman called my name and I approached the bench. I had hardly finished explaining what the issue was (as the other employees leaned in to lend their ear also. Slow day, huh?) when she cut me off and told me that the screen was cracked. OK, fine. It’s cracked. She asked me if I had insurance on the phone. Of course I didn’t, the phone is less than a year old! She told me that there was nothing she could do. The water began to bubble slightly.
  • I told her just how tenderly I treated my phone and again, it was barely ten months into using it and I expected a replacement. She smiled at me. Yea, actually smiled at me. She told me that there was nothing more she could do. I held my breath for a moment, knowing that any burst from my mouth would ruin any hope for a transaction of any sort, and felt that my face was a little red. The other employees behind the desk, dropping any pretense of doing any idle work, were all looking at me as if they were a united front. I politely, but very firmly, thanked her for helping me, but I now wanted to speak to her direct supervisor. She said she would get the supervisor. Steam vapor is appearing from the kettle’s nozzle.
  • Five minutes go by without seeing the employee who was helping me, or the supervisor. And I walk back and forth in front of the counter. The water is beginning to reach a full boil.
  • Almost ten minutes go by before the supervisor comes out (remember, the employees outnumber the customers by 4.5 to 1), quickly telling me that she has been updated on the issue and the only thing she can do for me is to offer me a replacement phone that I would need to purchase. The whistle blows and the steam shoots out in a vaporous straight line.
  • I explain again how tender I am with the phone and that unless I get a free replacement phone I will buy out the rest of my contract, which is $130, and go to T Mobile or Metro phone. She smiles and hands me a slip of paper with the Customer Service number and the amount ($130) it will cost me to buy out my contract. The harsh whistle is demanding attention and drowns out all ancillary attempts at congenial conversation.

I take the slip of paper from her hand, go out to my car and press the numbers for Customer Service (that I can barely make out on the broken screen).

(To Be Continued)

  1. 02/04/2011 at 2:02 AM

    Okay, my blood was boiling just READING this!! I HATE HATE HATE sneaky bills, stupid contracts that have weird rules and stuff exactly like this!

    • 02/04/2011 at 5:18 AM

      And I’m just giving the short version! But, I’ll be damned if I let someone that I’m already paying for a service pull a ‘fast one’ on me. It just ain’t gonna happen!

      But, there is a lesson in all this that will come out.

  2. 02/04/2011 at 3:13 PM

    Reading this makes me anxious. I am one of those people who barely looks at bills and just trusts that they are correct. Thankfully, I have a husband who is a bit more scrutinizing when it comes to these things!

    • 02/04/2011 at 5:57 PM

      Good for him to watch those line items and your backs! It can be a maze and so confusing at times, but well worth it in terms of savings and being your own watchdog!

  3. 02/05/2011 at 9:20 PM

    I’m hoping this story turns out in your favour! I’m going through a similar thing right now with my cable & internet provider. The worst thing about it all is that you’re dealing with young front end staff who don’t really care about the customers, it’s just a paycheck to them. Very frustrating!

    • 02/06/2011 at 12:35 PM

      That we are all treated as simply a number on a queue that has to be dealt with before they can go on a break is a huge reason why so many give up.

      I choose not to give up and keep kicking it up a notch until I get what I believe is fair. Takes time, but I always have time for me to save money.

      Good luck to you – keep at it!

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