Monday, June 30, 2008

show me where it says that

I've had my current Samsung cell phone for nearly 6 months, so naturally, it's broken. Or nearly, anyway. Actually, it's in great shape if I don't want whoever's on the other end to hear what I'm saying. So I did what I always do when one of my family plan cell phones break. I played upgrade leapfrog on my $225 a month AT&T plan which includes my phone number as well as Sam's and Maggie's.

I wanted a BlackBerry. That was my first mistake. Well, no, actually, going to Radio Shack would have been mistake numero uno. "I want to upgrade to a BlackBerry Pearl," I told the customer service man at the RadioShack. Chelsea Cain has a BlackBerry Pearl, and she'd shown me the features and explained how easy the user interface is, and because I have a bit of the dreaded late adopter stupidness going on, easy user interfaces are crucial.

The customer service man was friendly enough. Especially while engrossed in a nonstop conversation with his colleagues who all seemed to be experiencing a lull in their need to provide service. Halfway through his servicing of me, he slid out the most noxious SBD ever. That really grossed me out, especially because at the time I was leaning over the counter to correct the zipcode error he'd affixed to my address.

After 45 minutes or so, my free BlackBerry was ordered, and supposedly I would receive it in one business day. All I had to do was pay a $25 activation fee and sign up for another 2 years with AT&T. I mean Cingular. No, wait, make that AT&T.

A queue of emails awaited me once back at my computer:

  1. Congratulations, your new BlackBerry is on its way!
  2. Here's the tracking info on where information on your BlackBerry awaits!
  3. Aw, too bad, your phone number is not eligible for an upgrade. You get shit.

So I studied the paperwork with the guy's sign-in information and noticed that the young man with the horrible gas had pushed the wrong button at the end of our time together and disallowed my eligibility. Perhaps due to my carbon monoxide/methane poisoned state, I hadn't noticed. My next mistake was to try and fix this myself, online. Which I thought I did, because the Congratulations! emails began anew and two days later a FedEx truck pulled up with my brand new BlackBerry inside.

I unpacked the phone, I put in my chip, and, voila, everything worked. I was quite happy. Until I got the $170 bill for my NEW phone service from AT&T. So I called AT&T and asked them who authorized this new service with a 333 prefix sitting benext to the part that said I needed to pay 170 extra dollars, above and beyond my usual family plan of $225. A clusterfuck ensued. It involved a long conversation and a subsequent phone call to the third party "equipment" people at That didn't go well either. I felt a tad racist asking the offshore Customer Service guy to repeat his name and the name of his company five times. And even more racist when I asked him to slow down and enunciate.

My friend Laura coined these halls-and-mirrors phone calls "Show me where it says that" calls, after one particular testy bill dispute call with AT&T in which she was asking them to reveal where in the contract it says "only to other AT&T" customers after the "unlimited texting" option she checked off when adding her teenaged son to the plan.

The upshot is this: I have a BlackBerry phone. I have the chip from my regular plan's phone number. I have a plan--my original plan, not stretched into another two years of crappy service. But AT&T is now telling me that I must somehow return the BlackBerry in its original packaging to the third party vendor who was unable, when I called him, to reveal the address to which I was to send said "equipment." I must return the 3rd party BlackBerry so I can then buy a new BlackBerry from AT&T for $25 (which, they tell me, is a special deal), re-sign up for an extended term on my plan, and then they can set me up with the inflated BlackBerry service on my original plan.

I don't think so. I think I'll keep the phone, and the chip, and the regular already inflated service I have with them. Who needs a phone that issues email, anyway. I really just wanted the cool little tracking ball and a better phone camera. Which I now have. Let them call me if they want something. I'll leave a greeting that says, "If you want to speak to Suzy, please press…" and then not give them the call to action number. Maybe I'll even ask them to take part in a customer service survey after they speak with me, for quality assurance purposes.


  1. Poor Suzy! That is such a nightmare, but REALLY fun to read about. : ) You will be released from this customer service hell someday (when you die, that is...). Until then, deep breathing and lots of wine. ox Cheryl

  2. Thanks for the sympathy, Cheryl. It's true, the only things that are certain are death, taxes and rip off cell phone companies.


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