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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Being on the national Do Not Call list doesn't do a lot of good if they allow so many exceptions. Any charity I've ever given money to (and all the ones I've never heard of as well) have the right to call me, even if I'm so deep in debt I can't spare a dime. Companies that I have a prior relationship with can call me, too. And they do.

In the past two days I've had two calls from the phone company. At least, the telemarketer pretends he's from the phone company, with the wonderful news that starting next month my bill will go way down. He can't stop there, though, because it's all about the selling. He wants to lock up my local business before one of the long distance carriers swoops in and takes it away from him. How does he plan to keep me as a local customer? By selling me long distance! What a racket.

So there are special offers and new rates, both flat and graduated. There are waivers of fees and promises of refunds. But for some reason he can't just come out and say he wants to sell me his long distance service. He has to make it sound as if he's doing me a big favor. That's where getting the same call (from two different salesmen) two days in a row comes in handy.

The second time I got the call, I knew what was going on. I didn't have to listen to the spiel. I told him the truth. "My boss pays my long distance bill. I'm not making any decisions that might change that situation." Sure, he kept selling, but I quit listening. Eventually he got the hint.

Tomorrow I'm going to be waiting for that call again. I'll pounce on the phone and tell the guy that I'd rather pay double for what I have now than buy something new from a company who interrupts me three days in a row. Go away. Goodbye.

17 January 2004

Clouds, seen through January trees.

And then there's the cable company. I have the most basic of basic services from the Big C, because I get most of my programming from the satellite provider. I don't need any more cable channels, but when the guy offered thirty new ones for practically nothing, I said, "Why not?"

Then he put his "validator" on the line. Or tried to - she took so long that he had to come back on and apologize for the wait. Then when she got to me she didn't know who I was and started talking about time limits, and scheduling an installation.

"Wait a minute!" sez I. Your salesman didn't tell me there was any time limit on the lower rate. And why do I need an installer to bother me if all I'm doing is adding new channels? And, and, and...

She backtracked a bit then. She got off the line for a minute and came back with a half-hearted apology, telling me there wouldn't be any installation charges. I asked about the time limit, and she said the special promotional rate would be for three months. I wanted to know what I'd be paying after the promotion expired, and she wouldn't tell me!

I could call and cancel before the three months were up, she said. I should try it for a while first and see if I liked it, then discuss the rates. I should just shut up and do what I'm told, because we're your Cable Company.

My voice got a little louder and a little sharper when I told her I just wanted to keep the service I had at the current rate. I had to repeat it several times, because she wouldn't stop trying to change my mind. I don't know, maybe the Big C will be calling me again, but I doubt it. And I'll definitely be ready for them next time, so my Raisin Bran Crunch won't get soggy while I'm on hold. Thanks, but no thanks.

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Aw, shucks. I wasn't going to say anything about the baby news we got today until I was sure everyone in the family had been informed. It's good news — too good to keep to myself. So I'll tell you all about it soon, but here's a hint, directly from David (who just happens to be this baby's father). Think Home Improvement. (Yep. The sonogram said it was Tool Time.)

If this doesn't make sense to you, write to me and I'll give you the English version.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Monster
"What if he lost my phone number or went to the wrong house? Should I have tipped him when he dropped me off this morning? How much?"

Two years ago: Rededicated
"Not only do I get to work on lovely spreadsheets all day, but I get to do it at home, and I get to do whatever I want with the computer after working hours."

Three years ago: Treading Quicksand
"I know he thinks women should let the Supreme Court, fortified by two or three new appointees, decide what they can do with their bodies. I know Charlton Heston no longer has to worry about anyone prying his guns from his cold, dead hands."

Four years ago: Typing Pule
"Fortunately, the subtitles were helpful when dialog was drowned out by the full-blast droning of the faulty machinery, not to mention the lip-smacking mouth breathers that chose to sit behind me in a nearly empty theater."

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