Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To Make A Fair Point

So here's the deal:

I recently took up a second job for some extra cash. Fuel costs are going to be a bear this winter, and I need to be prepared. This second job is close to my house, accommodates my available hours, and gets me free coffee all over the state. The pay isn't terrific, but it's good enough.

Having this extra cash on hand, I decided to break down and get a phone landline connected to the house. We've been there for two years now, and while our cell phones don't get the best coverage and we sometimes have to wander around looking for a signal, we've managed to get by until now. But being able to have a house phone just seemed like a good idea.

Seemed. At the time.

Past tense.

Which is what I am. Waaaaay past tense.

I called Fairpoint Communications last week to order the connection and service. The very polite young lady in the business office who helped me set up the account told me that all was well with the world, the sun was shining, and my phone would be activated on Monday--yesterday--by 10:30 am at the latest. Simple enough.

Accordingly, when, as of noon yesterday, when the house phone still didn't seem to be activated, I called Norm on his cell phone.

"Yeah, the guy was here and he couldn't find the box outside."

Since I know exactly where the box is, I told Norm, and he said the phone guy was supposed to come back in a while, so I took half a day off from my primary place of employment to make sure this was all taken care of. Yes, I'm a bit of a control freak at times. Surprise, surprise.

After an hour's travel time, I make it home and the phone guy pulls in almost immediately after me. I show him where the box is (it's behind our tomato plants, so a bit difficult to locate even when tracing the phone lines outside), and it turns out that there's a problem; there's no dial tone coming from the box. They're going to have to come back with "the truck" and delve into the woods by our house that the phone line runs through, and see what the problem is. So he leaves, and we expect someone is coming "right back."

HA! HA, I say!

After waiting an hour for "the truck," I decide to call Fairpoint and see what's going on. Let me say that the voice recognition system sucks ass, sent me to Spanish twice, doesn't recognize the word "NO," sent me to "Bios TV" (whatever the hell that is) a couple of times, and lent me some insight into how the chinese might torture people--with an interminable HOLD listening to wind chimes and oboes. Or, as I like to call them now, the Oboes of Death. I don't care if you were born in a monastary (don't go there), there is a limit to the amount of time the human mind can listen to oboes and wind chimes without going a little batty.

Frankly, I don't really want to reiterate my entire 3 hours of ON HOLD and shunting through every single department Fairpoint has, including 3 different people telling me they were going to hold "with me" while they transferred me to the "appropriate department." Let me just say that the "customer service" number I called got me directly to collections 4 times yesterday, from which I had them transfer me to "customer service" and ended up in "limbo." And when the next to last person told me that I needed to call "the right number," and then proceeded to give me the number that I'd been waiting on for the last 3 hours, I snapped.

"You're shitting me, right?" I said. "That's the number I called and am talking to YOU on! I know it for a fact because I can read it on my phone right now!"

"Well, I don't know how you got transferred over here sir, we're in a different building, but let me transfer you over to customer service, and I'll hold with you, and we'll see what I can find out."

Seething now, I continued to hold on my cell phone. I put it on speaker, and, using Norm's cell phone, dialed the same 1-866 number I'd been on for 3 hours now. As soon as I got a human, it was on.

"Complaint department. Now."

This stern request sent me to Andrew, an obvious queer by the cheerful, melodious lilting of his voice. While I'm sure this young man's gentle, effeminate voice has a soothing effect on some customers, no amount of empathy was generated by the pinging of my gaydar this day.

Jamie's inner bitch had come out to play for the day, and Andrew was about to hear one pissed off Queen.

"Hi Andrew. Let me start off by saying that I've been on hold now through several departments for the past three hours. Your IVR system sucks the devil's ass, has sent me to Spanish two or three times when I don't even speak much spanish, doesn't understand the word NO and has sent me to the TV department a few times, and every time someone puts me on hold I end up hearing your Oboes of Death soundtrack which, frankly, has the exact opposite effect it's intended to have. And if you tell me that my call is valuable to you I'm going to puke. Do you realize how many times today I've heard that recording say "transferring to someone that can help you?" Well, it's a damned lie. I've been waiting here all day for someone to turn on my phone line, and not only has no one been able to help me, not one of you fools seems to know what department to send me to! So forgive me if I don't want to go one more round of "what's your account number" with you while my other phone is still playing those damned Oboes--hear them? (I held the other phone up closer for louder emphasis)--and all you people should have to do is push a damned button!"

Pretty much all in one breath, folks.

And the reply came: demure, less melodious, and two octaves lower than when Andrew first came on the line:

"Let me transfer you to that department, sir."

"What, you have a department specifically for pissed-off frenchmen? How convenient!"

Interestingly enough, this exchange got me connected to Chris in Installation, the one employee at Fairpoint who seems to know what the hell he's doing. He ought to, he says, he's worked there for 21 years.

Long story short (I know, too late): "the truck" will be over today or tomorrow to clear branches and find the problem. I'll have my phone by Wednesday.

And memories to last a lifetime.

UPDATE: Phone was hooked up by noon the next day. So, did the bitching pay off?

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