Hidden Aggravation Inflation

We used to love our cell phone company.  Love is not too strong
a word, considering the emotional attachment we developed to the concept
of 24-7 connectivity. We read with an uneasy mix of jealousy and superiority
the whines of the hot, wired and in-demand, who complain that they can’t
find a moment’s peace between the pages, cell phone calls and wireless
emails.

The Dowbrigade, decidedly less (or is it more?) socially-challenged,
has never seen his phone as an intrusion. It is always a joy to hear
another live human voice. We never found the "dead spots" others
complained of. And the robot voices of the telemarketers seemed to be
the exclusive
province
of our
land
line.

We also took a certain pride in our ability to live within our time-plan
means, evidence of foresight, self-restraint and fiscal discipline.

However, as so often happens, our pride preceded a precipice. With
the twin motives of securing a SECOND cell phone for Mrs. Dowbrigade
and hopefully do away with the costly and telemarketing clogged (despite
the no-call list) land line.  In addition we hoped to get two new
flip-top hand sets to replace the previous clunkier all-in-one model
which #2 son had borrowed, lost under a pile of dirty clothes, stepped
on while it was ringing in an attempt to locate it, and returned with
a cracked and dysfunctional screen.  The phone still worked fine,
but without a visual interface to access the menus we were reduced to
receiving calls and dialing from memory.

Once in the phone store, we were immediately inundated in cellular
hard-sell. We were tempted by the Sidekick, but are holding out for our
ideal handheld universal gizmo, and ended up going with the smallest,
second-cheapest phones in the store. 

Perhaps over-influenced by Channel 7 Consumer Advocate Hank
Fillippi Ryan’
s advice about negotiating the best deal, the Dowbrigade
sat down to deal as if the phone kiosk were in a Souk rather than on
Commonwealth
Avenue. Aware of the intense competition between providers in anticipation
of the the now-in-effect portable number law, we were determined to
get our two new phones for free.

After much hard bargaining, coy allusions to competitors offerings,
and several aborted walk-outs we were able to work out a combination
of credits and mail-in rebates which made the phones, in effect, free. 

The only problem was that my existing contract was not due to expire
until December 20, which was almost 7 weeks in the future at that point,
and that we wanted to keep that number on our new contract (getting two
new contracts allowed us to get the new phones for free, which we wouldn’t
have been able to do had we just renewed the old one).

So for 7 weeks we would have THREE lines, although only using two.  The
extra $75 for the unused line would be balanced by a $50 mail-in rebate
and a $25 credit. And we were able to extract a promise that we could
keep our long-time cell number, transferring it to the new contract.
Just come in a week or two before the old contract expires and they would
cancel the old contract and transfer the number.

Well, today we dropped in. Now that we were locked in to our contracted
the reception was decidedly more frigid.  It was absolutely impossible
to transfer a number from one account to another, we would have to start
using the new number on the 20th.  There was no record of the promised
credits on the computer or in our contracts, and they had no idea what
our sales representative was talking about.  Said sales representative
was not working today, and the office manager had left at noon.

The bottom line is that we can now legally take our number with us to
another company, but not with a new account at the same carrier.  Now
that we have signed a contract, taking our number to another carrier
would involve a $200 early-termination fee for EACH LINE.

Tomorrow we have to go back, because the guy who actually made the promises
and the manager will both be there. We will muster our logic and somewhat
worn righteousness, and try to act reasonable and civilized in the face
of gross corporate obstinacy and consumer fraud.

At times like this we would love to be the kind of person who looks
forward to confrontations. On the contrary, its usually stress
and obsess
before
the fact and a
poor performance and pathetic loss of logic and persuasiveness in the
actual
encounter. Righteous Indignation is harder and harder to come by.

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One Response to Hidden Aggravation Inflation

  1. Dennis Moser says:

    Lousy fu**ers! It’s back to the old days of telephone monopoly attitude, except that now you have a plethora of providers who don’t give a shit, so it doesn’t matter with which one you’re forced to do business.

    Once you’ve signed, customer service is lip service…they’ve basically got what they wanted, cause if you back out you pay big time and if you don’t, you’re a revenue stream. They’ll promise just about anything to get that contract signed…after that, who cares?

    Grrrrrrr! So sayeth the First Bishop of the High Church of The Dowbrigade…

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