Two things came in the mail today that represent the poles of joy and despair for me. Although I didn’t open then in this order, let’s start with despair, because I can’t deal with ending on it. I got the AT&T bill today. Insert dramatic music here.
Ever since I got to the one year mark with my package with the company, it has been hell. Even though I was extremely clear when I first signed up that I wanted absolutely positively no special deals that were going to run out, after one year literally every part of the package went up in price. And by literally, I do not mean the newer definition of the word meaning “not literally,” I mean literally “literally.” So I called them up and they lowered a few things, most notably my internet cost. My bill went up but it was manageable. And it was all retroactive. But they told me to pay the whole amount on the bill and they would refund me the over-payment.
The next month I got the bill. It thanked me for my over-payment, which it said was exactly the amount I owed. And it asked for the same high level for the current month. So I called them up again. They told me not to worry, the changes didn’t get made before the bill went out. Everything was fine, though. The changes had been made. They told me to pay the whole amount on the bill and they would refund me the over-payment.
So this month, I’m thinking with all those over-payments, the bill would be low. Some of my friends are fond of pointing out that in many respects, I am a hopeless optimist. Accent on the “hopeless.” I opened the bill and it thanked me very much for my over-payment, which it said was exactly the amount I owed. And it asked for even more money for the current month. Ugh!
I looked through the bill. I saw why it had gone up again. The satellite television bill had “NFL SUNDAY TICKET 2014” added to it for a total extra cost of $42.99. This was especially galling to me because as everyone knows, I think that football is the most boring game ever invented! And I knew that I hadn’t signed up for it. But I at least understood: the bill went up because they were charging me for something I neither wanted nor asked for. But why was I again at the same high level for internet and phone?
So I called them up. At this point, I’m not angry (Not that I ever take it out on the poor souls who man the phones!) so much as exhausted. I think in a matter of just three months, AT&T has managed to reduce me to learned helplessness. I explain the situation to the bright young representative. It got very bad. She was apologizing so much that she was starting to sound like an abused wife. But the bottom line was that the reduced internet cost was just not in the records. After apologizing several more times, she put me through to the specialist. Insert the same dramatic music here.
But before I get back to the story, I’d like to introduce you to a pet peeve of mine that has really done wonders to my attitude. If you’re like me, you’re used to being abused by soulless corporations who you have no choice but to do business with. But why is it when I call any company at all, their computer system asks me to enter my account number? When a “customer service” representative comes on the line, he never knows what my account number is. Are they just messing with me? Just making sure I am serious about my call? I’d really like to know. (For the record, I think I know why. But it still doesn’t explain why they can’t manage to send the account information to the representatives.)
So I get to talk to Linda. In all my hours with AT&T, she is the first person I have talked to who seemed to be my age. This was very good, because I’ll admit it: I’m biased towards older people. I even took one of those “subconscious bias” tests and it found that I had a distinct bias for older people. It speaks very poorly of us that as a society we have a distinct bias for the young. I think it means we value looks over competence and wisdom. Anyway, Linda gave me my old internet discount. Plus she gave me another $5 per month discount for putting up with what is, after all, no worse than what I get from every other soulless corporate giant. And she gave me her phone number and a confirmation code. And she knew better than to tell me to pay the whole amount on the bill because they would refund me the over-payment.
Then I had to deal with the satellite part of it, but I won’t bore you with it. Let’s just say that supposedly that all got straightened out. But even if it did, it won’t surprise me if the next bill is $60 more for the “24 HOUR PARTRIDGE FAMILY NETWORK.” At this point, literally (as in literally “literally”) nothing would surprise me.
The good news is that Andrea spent $2.32 in postage to send me a Googly Eye Ring that she got at the dollar store. They are the perfect googly eye addition to all your sock puppets. Here is Andrea’s hand using it to look very much like Beaker from The Muppets:
So let it not be said that there is no good in life. Even as evil lawyers and executives all over the world are looking for better and better ways to gouge you and waste your time (“Think we could get the idiots to enter their account number five times per call?”) there are other people inventing the Googly Eye Ring. The world is not totally bad.