Apr 22, 2009

200th post: The End of Sprint.

So, I met this girl recently. We’ve gone on a few dates, etc. Seems lovely, in many ways. We were supposed to meet tonight for a drink and some music at my apartment. Standard faire. Then, the trouble began.

Let me back up three months. My phone company sent me a text message about an error on my account. They said to call immediately. I called the next morning on my day off and got a gregarious young man named “Mark.” “Mark” told me that I had been charged for over 1,000 text messages that much-- an aberration compared to my normal text output. I normally use around 200 in a banner month. I don’t use my phone all that much. I really don’t. So, this ensues:

“What do we need to do about this ‘Mark?’”
“Well, sir, we can activate the 1,000 texts a month plan. It’s only 10 dollars a month. That’s a 5 dollar a month difference. Not much compared to the 75 dollar charge you seem to have run up.”
“Well, I didn’t do that. If you review--”
“Sir, that is going to be hard to prove. I mean, the computer charged you with 1,000, so we’re in a bind here. It’s either you pay the 75 dollars on your next bill or you can take the 5 dollars a month. It seems easier just to run with the monthly charge you know?”
“Sure, ‘Mark.’ That seems fine, except that this is an obvious tactic.”
“I don’t understand, sir.”
“I’m not here to make you understand, Mark. Let’s go with the extra five bucks.”
“Great, let me talk to my supervisor and see if he can get this charge taken off your account. He’ll be more lenient now that you are willing to help yourself.”
“It’s called being proactive, ‘Mark.’ You do that.”

So, I got charged 10 dollars instead of 5 a month for texts I don’t use. Such is life. I decided then and there, that I was done with Sprint when my contract came up in June.

Flash forward to today. I receive a text from the aforementioned girl, and she wants to hang out and listen to records. Yes. Yes yes yes. Only thing is, my phone was dying. That’s cool. I thought ahead and brought my charger to work for just such an emergency. Around 5:00 PM, I plug the ole girl in and hear a strange buzzing sound. The phone wont charge. I jiggle and jiggle-- nothing. I try blowing on things, hitting things and jostling things to no avail. I go through cheap phones like it is nothing, so I don’t panic. I simply walk over to the Sprint store and ask the kind, portly gentleman if I can see what’s wrong with the ole girl. This ensues:

“Won’t charge, eh?”
“I can check it out on a charger and see if it’s the charger or the devide itself.”
“Sounds perfect.”
(Helper bounds off, returns a moment later.)
“Looks like it’s the phone. The charger does nothing for it.”
“Do you have insurance?”
“Sure do.”
Then, strangeness. He looks at me as if he asked if my father was alive and I said “Sadly, no. Passed away recently.” The “Sorry to hear that” look-- for me HAVING insurance.
“Well, OK. It’ll be an hour before anyone can look at your phone to fix it.”
“OK. How late are you open?”
“Actually, you may as well get a new phone.”
“Well, if I can get this one fixed, that is fine. I have insurance, so it is fine. I just need it tonight, you know? I’m supposed to meet up with someone.”
Again, the “sorry ‘bout your dad” look. “Insurance doesn’t cover physical damage. Only theft.”
“I pay 7 dollars a month for insurance and have had physically damaged phones replaced before. In the store. And while I wait.”
“Yeah. We have a number you can call. It’ll be 50 bucks to replace the phone. It will be delivered in 5 to 7 business days.”
Same look. I saw, immediately, that pressing the aforementioned “I pay 7 bucks, yada yada yada…” This man was a chasm-- an endless foray of needless information and callow reassurances that he was doing his best. At my fiercest, the best thing I would get was a business card and a 50 dollar bill for the same shitty phone I had now.
“What are my options, then? I don‘t really have fifty bucks for a new phone right now.”
He smiled and said, “Broke, eh? You can get that phone replaced for fifty. Or we can have you sign a new contract. Seems like you are due for a new one in June anyway. With that and 20 bucks, you can get our cheapest phone.” He showed me a phone nearly spot-on like the broken one I was holding. I mean, if my phone was the old model, then the new one was born four minutes later from the same damned vagina.
“Well, I want to avoid this contract idea. I won’t lie to you, Ive been thinking of switching companies.”
“Ah, I see. Well, the phone, brand new/no contract is 117 dollars.”
“Uh, not happening, brother.”
“Right, right. Lemme see if I can give you the discount anyway. You’ve been with us for awhile.” This was what I expected to hear when I threatened to leave the company. “Yep, it looks like we can get you a discount. Just talk to my cashier over there.”

He pointed to an insouciant and quite tired-looking young lady on the other side of the store. He handed her my new, terrible phone and told her to take care of me. And boy did she. After ringing me up, she told me my total was 130 dollars. This ensued:
“130?! He just told me it was 30.”
“Who did?”
“The gentleman who handed me off to you.”
“Ah, he did? I don’t think so. We can’t just discount phones, sir.”
“I assure you he did.”
“Hold on a second.”
“Sure thing. Take your time.”
I said this with the confidence of a lion running alongside the sickly of the herd. I was ready to get my phone and figure a way to get my numbers onto a new phone. I was nodding to music that wasn’t playing; alone in a world of plans and smiles.
“We can take care of the situation. Let me just get the system up and running. It seems to have frozen on me.”
“Sure thing. I work retail as well. I know how it is.”
“Oh yeah, where do you work?”
“Strand Books.”
“I know there.”
Minutes later, she gets my information again and gets my phone rung up and ready to go.
“Sir, just so you know, you’ll be renewing your contract when you sign the slip for your phone.”
“He didn’t tell you all that, did he?”
“No, no he didn’t.”
“Well, that’s the only way you can get this phone for 20 dollars. You have to sign a new contract.”
“To be honest, I just don’t want to. I’m not really a big fan of this company right now.” I was furious. My cheeks were full of boiling-hot blood. I felt like I could crush my own testicles and feel no pain.
“I’m sorry to hear all that. However, there is simply no way we can sell you a phone at that price without a contract. The system won’t even let us.”
“I see.”
“Do you want the phone? I will be here tomorrow as well and can get you to the beginning of the line as a preferred customer. You want to take a day to decide?”
“Yeah, I suppose I do.”
“OK then, sir. We’ll see you tomorrow. Just so you know, I know you are unhappy with the company, but you might be getting a phone call asking you to rate my service today. 1 is poor, 5 is excellent, so--”
I stared at her as though she had just told my child there was no Santa. No Easter Bunny. No God. “I don’t think that will be a problem.”
“Oh, right.”
“Right.” She turned toward her computer screen. The store was basically empty. I was the only customer in a sea of emptiness. I turned and exited.

Now, I have no way of contacting this lady. None. All I know is her favorite bar and her name. That’s it. Since the store, I have tried everything-- including social networking sites and freezing the battery itself. All for naught. Tomorrow, I will call and pay 50 dollars I don’t have just for the chance to explain myself in a week’s time. What a fun explanation that shall be. Until then, I have Do Make Say Think on my stereo and the reminder that life is a series of minor disappoints and charismatic assholes careening into you from angles you dare not dream to exist.

NOTE: Anyone with an old Sprint phone OR an LG LX-160 I can use for two months until I quit this craphole company would be awesome. Or just the LX-160 battery, so I can get a couple of number off of my phone? Preferably in NYC. Holler.


Michael5000 said...

This post is kind of like The Trial. Except better.

Business or Leisure? said...

Kafka would be proud of my hatred of newfangled machines, to be sure.