Friday, April 15, 2005

A Colorful New Phone Company

By Eli Harvey (click "comments" below for the article).


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

A Colorful New Phone Company
by Eli Harvey

Americans have become used to colored telephones. The old black one used to be the only ones.
Oh, there were white phone in movies –that is, in the penthouse suites of the very, very elite. But,
for years now, we’ve had phones in just about any color (or non-color) you could imagine. It was inevitable, I suppose that telephone companies themselves would become colored.

I had an experience with one recently. Arkansas based. Internet savvy. “Cool,” I thought. My phone company was faultless, except for raising the rate. “I’ll give this Arkie Phone a try,” I said.

The color of the company’s website would make any viewer green with envy. Why, at only $39.99 per month, they offered all the options including unlimited long-distance. “How could I
lose?” I asked myself. It looked like a great deal.

I phoned the company. The order-taker was pleasant and well-spoken. We went over the costs
carefully. (I had walked in woods like these before.) It was all very clear: $39.99 covered everything, just like the website said. She asked how I learned of their company and why I wished to change companies. (Does “why” make a difference if you’re getting the business?) Times have changed. Still, I ordered.

The company phone service was blue with delight. Why, I didn’t even have to dial more than seven numbers within my own area code. “Wow! Why don’t other phone companies act like this?” I said to myself.

But, when my first phone bill arrived, I lost track of color. (You do that, you know, when you pass out.) Then I turned from pale to red –the color of anger! The statement was not for the $39.99 advertized and confirmed by the pleasant, young order-taker. It was a whoppin’ $92.03!!

I hated to use their system for the call, but I phoned immediately. “There’s been a mistake,” I
said. (There had been, but it was mine for changing phone systems in the first place.) The lady (I’ll be kind) with whom I spoke tried desperately to defend the difference between $39.99 and $92.03. But, I learned to subtract in second grade! Moreover, she walked all over my sentences,
hearing very little of what I endeavored to explain. Furthermore, she argued with me! After telling me it was not her department, she was fixated upon defending the company as if she were the president. We got nowhere except for purple faces.

I immediately faxed the company, saying that the service was not as advertized and that I was
moving on. I did move on, but not without emailing the company’s Customer Service. My newer service was delightfully bluer than the former. I forgot all about it. In any event, the newer company was Arkansas-based as well.

If it’s possible for a “straw to break a camel’s back,” the arrival of a second statement from
–uh oh, I almost named the company– really did it. This statement read:

Amount of Last Statement $ 92.03
Payments Received 00/00/00 $ .00
Late Payment Penalty $ 1.38

Balance Forward $ 93.41
Current Charges $ 52.68

Total Due by 04/20/05 $146.09
Total Due After 04/21/05 $ 148.28

Can you believe it? There’s not a $39.99 on the whole page. This company is “yellow.” And
that’s not a good color for any business, especially one that has such a pleasant order-taker.

NOTE: Before changing phone companies, get them to give you IN WRITING the FULL COSTS for ALL of their services. The company I left continues to advertise a monthly charge that never appeared on the bill.

9:00 PM, April 15, 2005  
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