Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Small Victories

I won a battle today. A very small battle, to be sure, but I take my triumphs where I find them. I have related so many of my Quixote-esque tilting against corporate windmills I can't recall whether I specifically told of the one several months ago against So perhaps you might indulge me a brief recap:

I began receiving a number of phone calls which, when I answered, were met with a long silence and then a recorded voice saying: "This is an important message..." at which point I always hang up. It may be an important message to them, but it is an infuriating intrusion on my privacy to me. And the intrusion is compounded by the demand that I call them back! Sorry, Charlie, it ain't gonna happen.

But it does, of course. After endless "This is an important message" calls I inevitably become so furious I call the number on the message....which I know when I do so that I will be spend an hour and a half--time I can use much more productively in any number of other ways--on hold, listening to "All our representatives are currently busy with other customers. Your call is very important to us..." recordings every fifteen seconds. And so it was with this one. I was finally able to determine that wanted the $15.73 I owed them. I not only did not know what I owed them for, but they were unwilling/unable to tell me. No matter, just give them the money!

Finally got it resolved.

And last week the calls started again. "This is an important message..." (Click!) And this morning (Sunday as I write) at 7:15, after ten or so calls/hangups, I again gave up and called the number. "All our representatives are busy...." At 7:15 on a Sunday morning??

Sure enough, This time they wanted $17.59. I knew damned well after my last experience that I had not purchased anything from and the cold day in hell before I ordered anything from them again had not yet arrived.

The first thing I did, when a real human voice came on the phone and I had given the usual name, address, social security number, mother's maiden name, name of my first pet, my favorite food, etc. was to request that he make a note that under no circumstances was I to be contacted by phone. I explained that I am almost totally deaf (not true, but he didn't know that, and I always do have a problem with my cell phone's volume), and if they should ever have need to contact me again to do so either by email or regular letter. He agreed. ("Agreed" is of course an operative word, and I have no way of knowing whether he bothered to make a note or not.)

I then asked the always-pleasant rep to whom I spoke, keeping my voice calm and my temper at bay, to please, please see if he might be able to give me some idea of what I was being charged for this time. He went away for a minute, and finally returned to tell me that the $17.59 was...please pay attention, now...a late fee for my not having paid my previous bill (the $15.73) on time!

I did not weep. I did not scream...though a long line of obscenities were eagerly awaiting use. I merely pointed out to him that considering the circumstances of my policy of not responding to recorded-message phone calls, I had not even been aware that I was considered "late" in the previous payment, and said that if ever expected to get another nickel out of me or anyone who would listen to my experience with them, I would very much appreciate their revoking the $17.59. And he agreed!

I really hope he doesn't lose his job by not demanding the $17.59. I'm sure it is all that stands between and Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Victory is sweet.

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