Don’t be alarmed!
This is neither a re-write of the famous CS Lewis novel about our eternal relationship with God, or news of tragic events in my 27 year marriage.
This divorce has to do with my home service providers – phone, internet, and television. Although our relationship started out as a passionate affair, it ended, as many unions do, in bitter resentment, expensive bills, and angry words.
Like most failed relationships, mine started out with an indiscretion. A curious glance in a store. Eyes slowly move down to the curvacious sign, ‘Unlimited Internet’. A flirtatious smile turns into a conversation, and things just happen.
It’s not like I went out looking, and I wasn’t entirely unhappy with my previous provider, but you know, sometimes the internet was a bit slow, or I couldn’t get the hockey game because of local blackouts. Unexpected charges showing up on my monthly bills that weren’t easily explained, and being denied ‘services’ on my e-mail account all began to cause a rift. You get the picture.
Nothing to throw it all away over, but there were definitely some problems at home.
I got contact information at the store to ‘give them a call’ or check their website for details. I was flushed. My heart was beating a little faster with the idea of what might happen.
Back at home, I quickly engaged in a ‘chat’ online. It was salacious;
“Hi, this is Patrick. How can I help you today?”
“Hi Patrick. I think I want to talk to you about switching over my home services.”
“Sure – I can definitely help you with that”.
From there, I was past the point of no return. Patrick’s slick pitch, his nearly perfect typing, and his promises of a lifetime of crystal clear TV reception had me hooked.
But now came the awkward conversation with my current company:
“Hello. I’m calling to cancel my subscription with you”
“Why? What did we do wrong? We can change….please don’t leave”…or something like that. Once they know it’s over, though, the tone changes in a hurry. Hell hath no fury like a service provider scorned.
“There will be a 30 day cancellation fee charged to your bill”. Ouch!
“This will commence when you have returned the equipment, in good working order, along with all power connections to one of our local offices”.
“Aw, don’t be like that. I’m just not happy any more. I’m sure you understand, right?”
“You should have read the fine print on the contract, Sir!”
“Fine! Charge me whatever. I just want you guys out of my house”.
And with that, we separated.
Now I could look forward to my shiny new relationship, along with all it’s promises of quiet nights on the couch, channel surfing in High Definition, phone calls with call display, and oodles of limit-free You Tube videos. Beautiful!
Things began to unravel quickly once they moved in, though.
The first sign that it wasn’t going to go well, was when the installation guy showed up at the door, unannounced, in a competitors uniform.
“Hi, can I help you?”
“Yeah, I’m here to set up you phone.”
“But we signed up with someone else”.
“Oh, don’t let the uniform confuse you – your new company uses everyone to install their service”.
“Really? They don’t do it themselves?” I felt a little unclean, knowing that my new service provider would use just ‘anyone’ to send to my house.
“How come they didn’t call first?”
“I don’t know, sir. Do you want me to install it or not?”
“Sure! Come on in”. I mean, what else am I going to say? It’s not like the old company would take me back after all the bad blood, and I’m not one to grovel. Besides, I was still excited about our new relationship and couldn’t wait for them to ‘move in’.
After the service guy hooked up the new phone line, I asked about the internet.
“Where’s your new modem?” he asked, in a rather unfriendly manner.
“They never sent me one. I thought you’d bring it with you”.
“Figures!” The guy says. “They’re always screwing up like this. Nothing on my work order about setting up internet”.
Oh, boy. After the guy left, I called my new service provider for some sort of explanation. Had to be a one-off oversight. They’d never do this to someone after such a great first encounter.
I sat on hold for over an hour. Finally, I got someone on the phone, but the phone line was so crackly, that I could only make out part of what they were saying.
Somewhere in the conversation, they apologized for messing up, and assured me it would never happen again. We’d soon get over this little spat and live happily for years to come.
A new modem would be rushed out right away.
Days go by, and I noticed that not only does the phone not work properly, I don’t have call display.
If you’re like me, call display is the only defense against telemarketers. Without it, you are doomed to listen to 5 minute pitches on why you need more life insurance, or that your ducts need cleaning and they have someone working in your neighbourhood already. They can come by for a quote.
This is bad! I called them back:
“Hello – I’m getting a bit frustrated with you. First, you forgot to set up my internet, then your new phone line is so bad, I have to use my cell phone to talk to anyone, and now, I’m stuck having to fend off every telemarketer who calls because I can’t screen them. Do you know how many telemarketers there are out there?”
“Yes, I see you are having some problems. Unfortunately, we cannot fix your line until tomorrow”.
“I see. Well, this isn’t a good way to start a relationship, but I’ll give you one more chance. Please have this fixed tomorrow. And while you’re at it, I still don’t have my modem”.
Fast forward 3 days…
On hold again – this time, I was on hold so long, that my cordless phone actually ran out of juice, and I was forced to hang up.
At this point, the honeymoon was officially over!
Another attempt. By the way, if you ever get caught in one of those voice-mail loops, just keep hitting ‘0’ until someone picks up. Doesn’t always work, but sometimes you get lucky.
“Hello, this is Sylvie. How can I help you?”
“Hello, Sylvie – I want Patrick. We had a thing, and he’s the only one who I can talk to. Where’s Patrick? He knows my needs”.
“I’m very sorry, but Patrick is not available today. Can I help you?”
“Sylvie, you’re not going to like this very much, but I’ve had it with you”.
I went on to unload all my frustration on poor Sylvie. She was a professional, and maintained her composure. I wish I could have said the same about me.
By that afternoon, I decided to end it. This one was just not going to work out. Too many lies, too many broken promises. I was scarred too deeply.
I wanted so badly for this to work, but I just couldn’t do it. It was tough on the family, of course, and the kids take it the worst. In the end, though, I had to get out of this relationship before any more damage was done.
After hours of on-line searching, I found my new companion. Bright, shiny, tons of HD.
I clicked on the ‘chat’ button:
“Hello, this is Daniel. How can I help you today?”
“Hi, Daniel. I think I want to talk to you about switching over my home services”.
“Sure – I can definitely help you with that”….