(as posted at www.meetmeattheintersection.com, October 5, 2008)
Self-control took on new meaning today. For anyone who’s ever spent a good chunk of their day on the phone with the phone company, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Perhaps I should be grateful they are affording me opportunity to hone my self-control skills. However, it was all I could do not to reach through the phone to find a neck around which I could wrap my clawed fingers. It started nearly a month ago, when I dialed the 800 number:
“Hi, thank you for calling. How may I assist you?”
“Our family is in the process of moving and we’d like to transfer our phone and internet to the new address.”
“Okay, no problem.” This was the first in a long line of inaccuracies. After rattling off all pertinent info, I heard the tap-tap-tapping of the keys on the other end of the line.
“Ma’am, I’ve taken care of your phone transfer. Now let’s set up your internet.” Apparently, the internet transfer was more complicated, as I heard, “Uh-oh” and “Hmmmm…” enough times I started to wonder if my dentist intercepted the call.
With a sigh, she launched into grim news about DSL unavailability, higher prices, different technologies, slower speeds and all other sorts of ominous forebodings. I was stuck in the “Uh-oh” and “Hmmmm” vortex of impossible scenarios. I quickly got off the phone, promising to speak with my husband about our options, make a decision and call back.
That was a mistake. I called back a week later:
“Hi, thank you for calling. How may I assist you?”
“Our family is moving, and I already set up our phone transfer. However, I still need to transfer our internet.”
“Okay, what is your phone number?” I slowly listed the 10 digits and waited for the now familiar tap-tap-tapping. What I didn’t expect was:
“I’m sorry, ma’am. We have no record of that number.”
“We’ve had this phone number with you for nearly 17 years. Could you please check again?” I restrained my exasperation.
After another few minutes, she again said the number wasn’t coming up in their system. We went back and forth, me adamantly defending our home telephone number while she refused to acknowledge that we had, indeed, been a customer of theirs for nearly two decades.
“Ma’am, are you sure that is your number?”
Face red and head ready to explode like a burrito in the microwave, I nearly shouted, “Check your caller ID–I’m talking on it RIGHT NOW!”
The phone number fiasco resolved (her life temporarily spared), we moved to the issue of internet.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but there is no internet in your neighborhood.”
“Are you serious?”
“That’s impossible. Just last week one of your co-workers said we had a couple different options. And we’re in the 21st century, for heaven’s sakes–how is it possible there isn’t internet?”
“I don’t know, Ma’am.” She put me on hold, during which time my oldest son left for college and my youngest started driving. Okay, not really, but it was a LONG time. And if she calls me ma’am one more time, I’ll…
“Ma’am, there isn’t internet at that address. What would you like to do?”
We volleyed back and forth for several more minutes, during which it became clear she was utterly and completely confused. Either it was her first day, or she needs to consider a possible change in careers. I asked to speak to a manager or someone else who might be able to determine whether or not internet exists on our planet. She refused to do so, leaving me no other option but to hang up and redial the blessed 800 number, in the hopes I might land with someone able and willing to help.
The unfortunate person who picked up my call (somehow he missed the flames spewing from the receiver) was pleasant, empathetic and completely knowledgeable about both my phone number AND the fact there IS internet in my new neighborhood.
“I have you set up for install the Monday after you move in. However, the technology is different, and so we’ll need to provide you with a new modem. Also, you will need to purchase a new wireless router, since your old one will no longer be compatible.”
Of course. The sting of this didn’t phase me, however, as I was still flying high over the miraculous rediscovery of internet in my neighborhood.
Until today, that is. 9 days after the install, 9 days after purchasing a $69.99 wireless router, 9 days after reconfiguring our home network. As I settled into a hiccup-free work day, I received a phone call with this recording:
“Hi. This is your internet service provider. We are calling to notify you that effective November 3rd your current internet service will no longer be available in your neighborhood. Please call our 800 number as soon as possible to discuss your options.”
Fat chance! I’m going to Starbucks.
Sometimes, circumstances (and customer service representatives) will conspire against you and every last ounce of your self-control will be put to the test. When that happens (and, yes, I mean WHEN), sometimes the best thing you can do is JUST HANG UP.
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14
“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:27-28