Reach Out and Frustrate Someone
by Jeff Carmack
I hate my phone.
Actually, that’s not true: I love my phone and I’m one of those people who other people love to mock because it’s seldom out of reach. I use it to surf the Web, take photos and videos, and text my friends. Sometimes I even use it to call people (Ha! Just kidding—I mean, seriously, who the hell does that?)
But honestly—I take my phone everywhere but the shower. I used to do that, too, until a couple of crybabies got their panties in a knot and complained to the management at the gym.
So yeah, I guess I really like my phone; it’s my phone company I hate.
Here’s why. My phone company is also my Internet service provider. A few months ago they convinced me to “upgrade” from DSL service (which worked fine) to a faster connection that would give “more reliable service and faster downloads” (their words, not mine). They even promised me better sex (courtesy of faster streaming porn, maybe?)
It will probably come as no surprise to you to learn that none of this came to pass. What actually happened was that the flawless wireless connection that we had enjoyed all around our modest home—and even in some parts of the yard—pretty much went away. Use my laptop in the living room? Not gonna happen. Surf the Internet on my phone? Sure, if I’m back in the laundry room sitting on the modem. And stream music anywhere at all? All I can say is that I’m glad I have an iPod.
After several weeks of cursing to myself failed to remedy the problem I stooped to calling the phone company’s help line. That’s when the real fun began.
Of course, when you call for help you never get a real person: you get an answering system. They’re all pretty much the same, and they all suck. My company’s greeting goes like this: “Press one if you are a residential customer; press two if you are a business customer; press three to order chicken tikka masala.”
I have found that in instances like this punching “0” repeatedly will get me out of answer-system purgatory and connected to an actual person. That’s great if the person you connect with either a) speaks English or b) has even the most rudimentary understanding of the company’s services. Sadly, either of those eventualities is about as likely as winning at Power Ball at the exact same moment you get struck by lightning.
When I finally connected with a real person I spent several minutes explaining my problem. She listened patiently and then told me she could not help me—she was not a service rep. She had come in merely to stock the vending machines and was covering the phones while the real reps all stepped out for a smoke and another round of Jäger shots.
I hung up and immediately called back.
This time I got an actual rep who listened to my take of woe only to inform me that I had selected the wrong number. She asked me to hold while she transferred me to the right number. I held and she transferred me to another wrong number—this time to an auto upholstery shop in El Segundo. And although they couldn’t fix my wireless problem, they did offer me a righteous deal on a custom tuck-and-roll interior (I’m saving that on the off chance I ever build a low rider).
Long story short—I never did get my wireless issues resolved.
However, the phone company is going to send someone to the house this week (or maybe next week—at the very latest—as they assure me I am a Valued Customer) to do what they call a “line check.” This involves either the tin cans or the string—I’m not exactly clear which.
I just hope they call first—it’s hard for me to hear the doorbell from my laundry room perched on the modem.