Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frustration squared

Today I received my usual email notice that my QWest phone bill for my Phoenix home is due. Glancing at the amount, however, I was disturbed, since I have been "away from the phone" in Phoenix for nearly a month, and the bill was about $30 higher than the previous month's bill. Thus began one of the more frustrating search and discover experiences in my recent history.

As I receive these bills online through my CheckFree bill paying service, I first had to get "authorization" to see the bill. This involved digging through my various records to locate a complicated number known as "Your Security Code". This having been accomplished, I located the bill and began to review the details, discovering tacked on to the end of it a set of charges for $30 for something called ETSB or ESBI or something like that. These charges listed, with no date of billing, some email discount something or other and Orbit online services. For questions, they listed an 888 number, which I called.

I shall spare you the details of this first call. Suffice it to say the contact, after listening to the various automaton instructions, was a person who declared that they were some kind of clearinghouse for these calls, and she had no information nor authority to do anything about them. She claimed I needed to call the various companies making the charges - for which there were no phone numbers, of course.

After "gently" hanging up the phone, I proceeded to dial "Spirit of Service", where, after going through the various automaton instructions, I spoke with Jennifer, who explained that some government regulation or lack thereof allows other companies to put their charges on my phone bill. She kindly contacted the company's representative for the charges on the bill. This person, whose accent made her hard to understand, explained that I had enrolled in whatever these plans are, but that she would credit the charges, which I thought was just fine although I had not enrolled in any such thing.

After saying this, she began an interminable interrogation about my name, phone number, email address, number of children, years since last sexual experience (ok, I'm exaggerating here), etc. I finally said if you don't already have this information how did you put your phony charges on my bill in the first place, and sure enough, she started reading the information to me instead of the other way around. Having thus been assured that I didn't have to pay them or recite them to her, I again hung up the phone.

From there I checked my email notice from the Washington Post and found the following amazing article. I refer you to it, as somehow, in juxtaposition with my morning fun with the phone experience, I found myself laughing out loud at this one. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's the link:

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