After the second time the phone company’s repair “service” hung up on me today, I was literally (and I know what the word means) shaking. My whole body. It was like being connected to an electroshock machine. Not one run by the phone company, of course, because then it wouldn’t work.
When you call the phone company, even if you know exactly what you want and need, you first have to convince the recorded electronic voice that (a) you are who you say you are, and (2) you haven’t created the problem yourself and have done everything you’re supposed to do to try to fix it on your own. Have I already disconnected the modem and plugged it back in? Only about a hundred times.
Then you have to be sure to speak clearly enough that the voice recognition technology (also apparently programmed by the phone company) sends you in the right direction. “I think you said you wanted to know your account balance,” the voice said, so very sure of itself.
“Nooooo!” I said, with a little less serenity.
But before I knew what was going on, I was being given my account balance and the due date. “Would you like to make a payment?”
The voice then asked me how it could further help me. “Repair!” I shouted distinctly at the phone. “I think you said ‘repair,’” the voice said calmly. After a few more exchanges in this vein, it asked me to hold on while it connected me to an agent. Then I heard the click. Then the voice of the operator came on the line: “If you would like to make a call, please hang up and try again.”
That was the first time. I called back immediately, went through all the rigmarole again, and this time got connected to Alex, whose thick Indian accent was barely penetrable. But at least he was human. I’m fairly convinced of that.
I was allowed to explain to him exactly what my problem was. I was calm and deliberate and very, very clear. “I think you said your fax and modem won’t work at the same time,” he said. Well, yes. It took me a few more words, but that’s pretty much what I said. “I can help you,” he promised. I almost started to relax.
“Can I sit on your mole for a few minutes?” he asked.
Huh? I though possibly I’d misheard, so I asked him to repeat what he’d said. “Can I put you on hold for a few minutes?” He wanted to check the line, but before he left me, he took down my contact number, so that he could call me back in the unlikely event we were disconnected. Which we were, about two minutes later.
That’s when I started shaking. And that’s where the story ends, at least for today. Alex didn’t call me back, and having gone through the ordeal twice already, I wasn’t up for trying again. I started dreaming of cable modems, but I know from experience that dealing with the cable company is no more satisfying than dealing with the phone company. If I don’t hear something by Monday, I’ll try again.