Monday, August 28, 2006

Budget Revision 2.0: Phone bill

This is astonishing. I have been on hold with AT&T three times today. Each time, the length exceeded 30 minutes. And then? They hung up on me.

So now, here I am again. On hold, with AT&T, listening to their bright, jazzy hold music and periodic announcement that they love me and want me to continue to hold, and the occasional enthusiastic assurance that I can make changes to my service (liars!) online (LIARS!!!) by going to {extremely deliberate pronunciation} A. T. T. dot. COM.

Also? Their voice recognition software stinks. No matter what I say to it, it can’t understand me.

“So go ahead,” it encouraged me. “Tell me why you’re calling today.”

“Change. Service.” (Can I just state for the record that I do not have any kind of heavy accent; that I’m not from Brooklyn or Liverpool or Edinburgh or Egypt or anything. San Francisco born and raised. Third generation Welsh. My people are from freakin’ Kansas, at this point.)

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. One more time, please briefly tell me why you’re calling today…”

“Because I want to rip your mechanized head off and spit down your virtual neck, you lying sack of weeds!”

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. One more time, please briefly tell me why you’re calling today…”

I have now been on hold for {checks} 40 minutes, 44 seconds.

Let it never be said that I am not determined.

But I am also irked. I’m smelling a conspiracy here. Because you know how they keep telling me I can handle anything I need to handle online at {extremely deliberate pronunciation} A. T. T. dot. COM?

Well. I can add service, sure. Upgrade myself to Super Nova Long Distance with Self-Dialing for a mere $10 a month and $85 per minute, no problem!

But if, say, I want them to quit freakin’ billing me for long distance, which has been handled for the last four months by another outfit? Or if I want to stop using their message center? Or otherwise reduce my phone bill?

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. One more time, please briefly tell me why you’re calling today…”

Worse! This time, when I called back, the automated system said, “I see you called recently…” [yes, sat on hold for OVER THIRTY MINUTES, twice!, before you hung up on me!] “…are you calling about the same unresolved issue? Please say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

What? What?! WHAAAAAAT?!?!?

OK, let’s review. I have sat on hold twice for over thirty minutes. Each time, you hung up on me. And now, in vaguely accusatory tone, you’re asking if I’m calling about the same unresolved issue?!

Damn straight, you lying sack of weeds! I am calling about the same unresolved issue, the unresolved issue you still know nothing about!, because you will not allow me to talk to a lying sack of human weeds!!!!!!

But this also left me somewhat flustered. How do I answer this? Yes, I am calling about the same issue; but I haven’t told you what the issue is yet, so how can there be an issue you know about it? In other words…if you don’t know why I’m calling, how can you say I’ve got an issue, resolved or otherwise?

Eventually I unlocked my jaw and said, “No.”

{pause} “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that…”


{pause} “Let’s try this a different way. Say ‘Yes’, or press 1; or, say ‘No’, or press 2.”

Damn you. Damn you all!

{punches the 2} (May I also state for the record that I am a proud graduate of kindergarten [three times now, if I count shepherding two of my own children through the process], and I’m fairly well acquainted with the numbers from 0 – 9?

“Thaaaaanks. Hold on just a minute while I transfer you to someone who can help with this unresolved issue…”

What? What?! I pressed 2. That was ‘No.’ How do you know I’ve got an issue?


47:22, and counting…


A human being was reached. She was very nice. She has been yelled at a lot today. She managed a weary chuckle, and was too tired to argue with me (much) about canceling services.

And now, I can say: Budget Item 2 has been accomplished. Message center has been removed, extra long distance coverage likewise has been removed. We are now saving $11.95 a month on our phone bill.

Whew. That was the hardest I’ve worked for a crummy twelve bucks in a long, long time…


21st Century Mom said...

Good news! It wasn't 12 bucks. It was almost $150 a year! Woo hoo! Victory is yours! So with the cable bill that comes to $57/mo for about $700/year and now you're making progress. Good job!

RM Kahn said...

We have run away screaming from AT&T for years and we still cannot get far enough away. Why did PAC Bell have to be sucked up into the AT&T machine? Why?

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes if you just keep pressing "0" and/or saying "customer service" the mechanized voice will give up and put you in the line for talking to a person. Of course, you still have to wait in THAT line.

Anonymous said...