Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chuck the Writer's Not Fond of Holiday Customer Service

So I'm busy working on restoring my home office on what I call "Project Retro Nuevo," in essence, incorporating vintage materials to work with modern technology. With that in mind, I recently acquired on eBay a vintage 1970's Western Electric touch-tone desk phone. It's big, it's bulky, it's green and I could probably knock out Kimbo Slice if I hit him in the head with it. Oh wait, somebody beat me to the punch on that one.

The only problem I had with the phone was that if I wanted to plug it into my home phone system, I had to get the phone cord plug replaced. The previous person did put a modern phone plug on the phone itself, but the little latch that keeps the phone jammed into the jack broke off - meaning all it takes is one little pull and I'd be going "Hello? Hello?" and no one would hear me.

I figured, hey let me go to Radio Shack and let them put a new jack on it.

Yeah right.

What happened was I didn't step two feet into the store before some wet-nosed pimply-faced attendant named Matt walked up to me, and said "Hi welcome to Radio Shack, can I help you find something today?"

I showed him the phone and asked if someone in Radio Shack could just clip a new phone plug on the existing wire and I would pay for the time.

"Oh no sir, we can't do that," but then he dragged me to the back of the store, pulled a $40 wire stripper off the wall, put it in my hand, pulled some phone plugs off another wall, put those in my hand, then herded me to the register where he rang up my purchase (after trying to get me to buy batteries and asked if I wanted a subscription to one of the top magazines out there), and I was out the door and had no idea how to put this thing together.

The back of the wire stripper did have some directions to it, and between them and a link on, I was able to get the clip put on by myself.

Then I had to go to the Apple Store, as I needed a new USB-to-iPod connector for my clear-faceplated iPod. Of course, do I get the cute-as-a-button emo girl who's more than willing to help me find the correct wire? No, I get what looks like someone who just rolled out of bed, strapped on his Apple Store T-Shirt of the day, and when I told him what I wanted, he kept trying to steer me over to the MacBooks and trying to convince me to buy a MacBook!

Ahhh.... no. No offense to Mac users, but I kinda like the idea of being able to use my technology without having to upgrade every six months because Apple's products aren't that forward-compatible (and I speak from experience, you ever try to convert Apple IIe programs into Macintosh software? It didn't work in 1985, and I don't see it working today).

All I needed was a frickin' USB-to-iPod transfer cable, and eventually I found it pinned on a store rack. $19 plus tax later, I'm out the door.

The worst, however, came yesterday when I had to deal with Verizon.

Years ago, my wife (whom I really really love, even if I didn't know that she reads these blogs - hi honey) signed the family up with Verizon for cell phones. It was one of those "buy one, get two phones free" deals. She got the one phone, my daughter Cassaundra got one phone and I got a phone. I got one of those blah Motorola phones that didn't even have the ability to turn on a GPS if you dialed 911. Drove me nuts.

But that's history. In 2007, I got a BlackBerry and I like it. However, when getting the BlackBerry, I was informed that my wife had to sign for it, as she was the "primary" on the account and that I was the "secondary" on the account. So... I had to get Vicki to come down to the mall and sign at the Verizon store to allow me to get the BlackBerry. At that time, I asked if the store could put me on the account as a "primary" as well, so that I wouldn't have to bring my wife down to the store every frickin' time something needed to be changed on my phone.

They said sure, no problem.

So yesterday, I go to the Verizon store because of an issue on my bill (I was paying $40 a month for a data plan that I didn't need), but they wouldn't talk to me about the plan - guess why - wait for it - because my wife is the primary on the account and they don't have any record of me having primary access.

That sound you just heard was my lid popping off.

So once again I had to wait until Vicki got done with her hair appointment (they did a really good job on her hair, btw), have her come back down to the Verizon store, and once again put me back on the account as a primary. We also got the bill knocked down $30 a month by my going to another data plan (apparently the one I had required corporate e-mails, which I really don't use).

Absolutely pitiful all around.

But at least my phone works, I've got the USB-to-iPod transfer cable, and I can talk on my cell phone for $30 less a month. I guess I'll take my small victories where I can find them.

1 comment:

dylan72986 said...

Chuck, I'm sorry to hear about the aggravations with Verizon. I'm no stranger to Verizon's foibles; a recent bill of mine was nearly twice what I was expecting. I saved over $230 per year off my plan, however, by working through a website called (by a company called Validas). I would suggest using the website to you and anyone reading to combat the kinds of unwanted Verizon charges that you wrote of. While you were able to rid your plan of various unnecessary services that racked up fees, Validas can tell you for free if you're still one of the eight in ten wireless subscribers overpaying, and if so, how much extra you're forking over. Savings through Validas are often substantial; the the average Validas customer saves $487 annually. In fact, I was so impressed with these results that I took a job with the company.

Here's a quick breakdown of how it actually works. Validas analyzes your online cell bill for free and calculates how much money you could be saving. Validas then fixes these discrepancies by tailoring a customer's plan to fit their specific needs. If you choose, Validas provides your personalized cell bill adjustment report that is emailed, for five bucks, to your wireless provider in industry specific format so you can actually implement these cash saving changes. If Validas can save you more than $5 on your bill, this obviously provides a very cost effective solution.

Validas is rapidly becoming known as an advocate for the wireless customer. Check out a feature about the company on The Big Idea with CNBC's Donny Deutsch at Any cell subscriber who wants to cut costs should consider Validas. It’s free to consult and you only stand to save.

Happy holidays and good luck in reducing your wireless expenses.