Lose a phone lately?

Granny’s home has the usual utilities, electricity, natural gas, water, and some others, satallite radio and TV, land-line phone and DSL. We also have cell phones.

On Saturday, during the amazing presentation of “Go Diego, Go Live”, I lost my cell phone. It was in my pocket early in the show, I used it to check the time. It was not in my pocket when we got home. I suspended the service, searched the van, the diaper bag, and all my clothing ; and called the theater for 2 days.

Yesterday, I realized that the phone wasn’t coming home, so I began the quest for a new one. My first stop was my “online account” I have on my provider’s website. I couldn’t access the account, they wanted to text message me a new password (much more secure than e-mail). Good thing I suspended the service, eh? I phoned. FOUR times. Believe me, the snail mail option suggested for a new password wasn’t my idea of good customer service, either.

These people were so concerned about my security that they wouldn’t let me into my own account. I mentioned that land line service, TV service, and high speed intenet service was available in a package, lots cheaper than their current charges, from several local cable TV companies and that really didn’t impress them either. I googled “I hate put-the-provider-name-here”, and enjoyed other peoples woes for a while. But, I still didn’t have a phone.

On phone call #5, someone suggested that they “reset” my account so I could re-register. But, when I attempted to re-register, they wanted to text me the password. The e-mail they provide was once again “not secure enough” to send the password. For God’s sake, the BANKS e-mail passwords.

On phone call #6 a bright, helpful customer service person said that perhaps they might text the new password to Papa’s phone, which is on the same account. After 4 or 5 e-mails back and forth to Papa, I had the new password. Interestingly enough, the E-MAILED me the password I created when I accessed the account and reset the one they texted to Papa’s phone.

Accessing my on-line account seemed great at the time, but it was a hollow victory. After accessing my account, I found that I couldn’t even BUY a phone. This is probably becasue we recently added Papa’s line, and got a free phone and a cheap one. Well, I think maybe I could have purchased one, for $250 or so. I could cancel my account, and all my other accounts and get the above mentioned package deal cheaper than I could buy ONE PHONE. Or I could visit a shop near here which has refurbished phones and select one for about $100 or so there. And I still didn’t have a phone.

I emptied my desk drawer onto the floor and located the phone that I had been using when I got the new one, and I plugged it in. I check e-bay, there were tons of phones like I needed, refurbished, new, unlocked (?) and so on. And all cheaper than my provider’s pricing. But, I still didn’t have a working phone.

I had forgotten the key to all business models. Do you what to know it? (It’s a secret, don’t tell.) My cell phone company doesn’t service customers, or keep customers happy, or even provide cell phone service, they are in business TO MAKE MONEY. And refusing to send me a password by the unsecure e-mail that their company provides, or selling me a phone for a reasonable price apparently would not make as much money for them as annoying me on the phone, giving me wrong answers, incomplete answers— I could go on and on. But I needed a phone.

I unplugged the old phone, recorded the sim card number, the phone serial number, plugged it back in and made phone call #7 to get it activated. Sorry, but I needed a new sim card which would be given to me FREE at a local store. I loaded up, went to the school to pick up GS2 from weight lifting. He took the wheel and drove me to the store nearest our home. I had checked the website for that. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, I found that I wasn’t in a company store, but an AUTHORIZED DEALER. They don’t give away anything. I didn’t remember seeing anything different in the listings when I looked at the website, all locations were listed in order of distance from my home. But I still didn’t have a working phone.

I told GS2 he’d better let me drive, I’d probably yell at him for something that wasn’t his fault. I drove home, to drop him off, and Papa’s car was in the drive. I asked GS2 to let Papa know I was going to get a sim card for my phone, and ask if he’d like to come. After a time, Papa came out. We drove to an upscale mall near our home, where the keys to my kingdom surely resided, in a company owned cell phone store.

It took the clerk in the store less than 3 minutes to install the card, activate the phone, and send us on our way. So much for speedy, high tech phone and internet customer service.

I’m struggling to figure out a moral for this story, or perhaps a punch line. The sad part, there isn’t a punch line. We’re living in a world where only money talks. Customer service is a thing of the past.

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