I’m an idiot.
As soon as Cingular told me that, no, I couldn’t add my daughter to my cell phone plan without switching to Cingular, I should have bolted. But, as I said, I’m an idiot.
Service Weasel: You’ll need to get a new contract with Cingular and get new phones.
Me: Huh? So, you’re telling me that I have to choose a new cell phone carrier.
SW1: Well, no, sir, you just have to switch the account to Cingular.
Me: And choose a new plan and get new phones.
SW1: Yes, sir.
Me: How, and maybe I’m a little confused about this, is this different from choosing a new cell phone carrier.
SW1: Well, you’re just switching your account to Cingular.
Me: But if I went to Verizon, wouldn’t I have to choose a new plan and get new phones?
SW1: But you’re switching to Cingular.
That should have been the tip off. But, again, I’m an idiot.
A full and true accounting of this abortion of what should have been a simple transaction falls somewhere between In A Goddadivida and War and Peace. You don’t have time to read that and I don’t have time to write it. I’ll try to stick to the high points
Me: I run my business from my phone. I’ve got a fair amount of money tied up in it. You’re telling me that I have to just throw it away?
SW2: Sir, that phone will not work on the Cingular system.
Me: So I lose because Cingular bought AT&T.
SW2: The phone you have is not compat-
Me: Because usually when companies merge, you want to take care of the existing customers. That’s not the case in this one, I guess.
SW2: The Cingular network does not support that phone.
Me: So I eat a couple hundred bucks for choosing poorly.
We went on like this for awhile with the continued descant of “You’re switching to Cingular“.
I called back a few days later after talking it over with my wife. Verdict – Stay with the evil you know. I hate Verizon. I considered switching earlier in the year and they couldn’t have cared less. “The benefit you get,” the Service Weasel told me verbatim, “is that you’ll be on Verizon.” Nope. That’s how the auto industry failed in the ’60s. My wife hates Sprint for some reason that I honestly don’t understand.
Me: (after a highly-biased recap of the story)…so I have to switch to Cingular.
SW3: Really? I’m pretty sure that you can add on to your existing plan with AT&T.
SW3: Yeah. I think that’s the case. Just a minute, sir. Let me transfer you over to the AT&T side.
If you know anything about dramatic structure, then you know what happened. My only regret is that written English can’t properly simulate the sound of a dial tone.
Back on the phone.
Me:(Agitated) …and apparently I CAN add on to my AT&T plan so put me over to wherever I was going when I got hung up on!
SW4: I don’t know why he told you that, sir. That’s just simply not the case. You’ll need to upgrade to AT&T.
At this point, I began to channel Col. Klink doing a Sam Kinison impression.
Me: …I LIKE MY CURRENT CELLPHONE! I DON’T WANT TO BE FORCED TO BUY A NEW ONE SIMPLY BECAUSE –
SW4: Which phone do you have, sir?
Me: SONY ERICSSON T616!
SW4: Just a second, sir….Sir, apparently you can use that phone on our system.
Me: I AM SO FURIOUS THAT – huh?
SW4: Sir, it looks like you can use the Sony Ericsson T616 on the Cingular network.
SW4: Yes, sir.
Me: Well…ok, then.
So they shipped the two free phones for my wife and daughter and a piece of shit phone for me. The plan – take the chip out of the piece of shit phone, put it into my old phone and put all this behind me.
If you know anything about dramatic structure, then you know what happened. My only regret is that written English can’t properly simulate the sound of the primal scream that shook the horsehair plaster off the ceiling of our house when “the plan” fell though.
Me: I was TOLD that ALL I had to DO was REPLACE the CHIP and it would WORK!
SW5: Sir, I’m not sure why you were told that but –
Me: CANCEL THE GODDAMN ACCOUNT! I’ve been lied to twice. I’m done. Over. Finished!
SW5: Sir, I’m very sorry this has been so frustrating for you.
Shit. That’s the last thing I wanted to hear because it was the only thing I wanted to hear. Throughout the entire ordeal none of the Service Weasels said the magic words “I’m sorry” and “frustration”. She listened. She sympathized. I (stupidly) calmed down.
We worked out a deal where I would choose the phone I wanted and they’d rebate me $200, effectively paying for the phone and a little extra to keep me happy. However, this was on a Saturday. Add in the whole phone-sales-doesn’t-talk-to-web-sales-who-doesn’t-talk-to-whoever and it became obvious this wouldn’t end today.
SW6: Sir, if you can give me until Monday, then I can get this whole thing taken care of.
Me: Monday by 1pm. I want the phone on my doorstep by Tuesday.
SW6: Sir…ummmm…I’ve got training from 10-2 on Monday.
Me: You know what? I’ve got customers today through Tuesday that can’t get a hold of me because I have no phone!
SW6: Sir, I understand that. Let me check with my supervisor and –
Me: I’ll give you until 2pm. Just get it done.
SW6: I just need to let you know it’ll take a few days for the phone to get to you. It comes from another warehouse and…
Me: Whatever. Just get it done.
SW6: So we’re talking about the Treo650, the Audiovox 5600 and a Blackberry 7100g, right?
SW6: I’ll just put a note in the log that these are the phonese we discussed. 2pm, sir.
I gave her my wife’s cell phone number and stuff the phone in my jeans. After doing the research, the Audiovox looked like the best bet. Was all this worth a new toy for free? I wasn’t sure.
2pm came and went. I chalked it up to time zone. Shortly after three, my wife’s phone chimed that a voice mail arrived. How in the hell did that happen? It was right next to me! Yes, it was her telling me to call and finish things off. She didn’t leave a direct line, though.
Me: …and so I need to end this nightmare.
SW7: All right, sir, let me just look this up…it shows that you want a Treo650 and that –
Me: No. We talked about a couple of different phones and I want to go with the Audiovox 5600.
SW7: Well, the only this that I have, sir, is the Treo 650.
Me: That’s not what I want.
SW7: Sir, it’s what in the log.
Me: Look, (long angry diatribe recapping the entire abortion in sharp, unvarnished detail).
SW7: Sir, but –
Me: I DON’T CARE WHAT THE GODDAMN LOG SAYS. FIND THE PERSON THAT SAYS YES OR TRANSFER ME TO WHOEVER CANCELS ACCOUNTS.
SW7: Could you hold for a moment, sir.
Three days later, my new phone showed up. If you know anything about dramatic structure, then you’d be surprised because it actually worked…after quality time with tech support.
And I was happy. I had a new phone, a $214 credit on my Cingular account and life started getting back to normal.
Voicemail: Please call Cingular about some important information regarding your account.
This came about ten days after my phone arrived.
SW8: It shows you have an outstanding balance on your AT&T account that you terminated.
Me: I switched to Cingular.
SW8: Sir, there’s a balance that has to be paid on the AT&T account.
Me: Good lord! Are you guys loan sharks or something?
Me: I switched to Cingular ten days ago and you’re already concerned that I’m going to duck out on my bill?
SW8: Sir, there’s a balance on –
Me: Whatever. My wife’s paid it and it’ll be there soon. I hope you guys don’t go broke in the meantime.
Two weeks ago, I went to pick up my daughter at school and was told that she had Brownies, which I didn’t know. I called my wife to confirm.
Message: Your Cingular Wireless account has been disconnected due to non-payment of your bill. Please call (whatever) from a landline to resolve this matter.
Me: Hi. What the hell is going on?! I have a credit of $214 on my account and you’ve cut off my cell phone service?!!
SW9: Wow. That doesn’t seem right, sir.
Me: No. It doesn’t, does it?
In the end, she told me that the credit would pay off the AT&T bill and would not charge us the reconnection fee.
Well. Perhaps I have written War In A Goddadivida. Sorry about that. I got going and –
Huh? Oh, yeah. Last Wednesday.
Voicemail: Please call Cingular about some important information regarding your account.
SW10: It says that you have an outstanding balance –
Me: I am going to kill someone. GODDAMN IT! All I FUCKING wanted to do was get my kid a cell phone for Christmas! I am so GODDAMN tired of dealing with you people! Fuck it! I’m cancelling the account. I’m ready to kill Christmas for my kid rather than get another FUCKING phone call from you people about some problem that’s not my fault!
SW10: Sir, if you could just hang on for a moment….What we can do is write you a check for the credit amount and give you half off your current bill. Just pay the balance on line. The check will make up for it.
What’s going to happen next? Who knows. Perhaps I will never have to pay for cell phone service again. The question is – is the trade off worth it?
Oh, and Merry Christmas