All I wanted was the Disney Channel.
We're not a big TV family. We have basic cable for $12 a month and the only thing I ever watch is LOST - and even that taxes my attention span, which is about equal to that of a housefly.
But the kids. They've waged a passive vigil for years. Ahhh..to be able to watch Zac and Cody or Hannah Montana when it's NOT Saturday morning. Periodically they muster the will to petition me again and I explain to them in great detail the amortized cost per hour of TV that I'll even allow them to watch and this seems to either crush their will or bore them to tears because their eyes gloss over and they walk away mumbling.
But then last week on our Summer vacation, the condo had cable and the kids watched "The Wizards of Waverly Place", a beyond-cheesy sitcom which deals with the age old question of what would happen if a family of vampires and a family of wizards (none of whom can act) opened competing restaurants and then their offspring wanted to date each other.
My initial reaction was, "Good Lord! Walt's frozen head must be rolling over in its cryogenic preservation tank!"
But apparently, there's no accounting for taste, because my two girls and their two cousins (and by extension the rest of us unwitting adults) watched the same episode at least 5 times that week!
I'm thinking Disney might have, in fact, placed some magic spell on that sitcom (or perfected subliminal advertising) because my kids revisited their request for the Disney Channel with an eery fervor and refused to be disuaded by my usual pontificating regarding microeconomics, the national debt, starving children in China, brain rot...not a glossy eye in the joint....hmmm.
And so I gave up. Fine, we'll get the Disney Channel already! Who knows, maybe I'll even get sucked into one of those shows on cable that everyone talks about but I'm oblivious to like ...okay, I'm at a loss, but I'm sure there are a lot of them. Or at least I can watch rhinos having sex on one of the many nature channels.
Okay - time to ringy-ding Comcast, pop some popcorn and bring on Wizards of Waverly Place, right?
Uh, well, no, because since I already have FiOS internet from Verizon it just SEEMED like it would be easier to get an internet/TV/phone "bundle" from Verizon instead, since they send me 100 mailings a week BEGGING me to do just that.
And so I called Verizon, unaware of the evil I was unleashing. First the annoying menu and then hold music for several minutes and then a rep who takes FOR...EVER... to figure out which offer applies to me. It's probably not her fault, considering the sheer number of different offers I get from them in the mail.
So I just shut up and wait because if there's one thing I've learned about dealing with customer service people on the phone, it's that you DON'T FUCK WITH THE PROCESS! No good can come of it and whatever you're trying to achieve will only take longer if you cause them to deviate from the byzanntine series of scripts and procedures they seem to be following. (Note that this phenomina is just one of many that cause me to suspect that we don't really exist but instead are probably a computer simulation created by a really demented kid in the future who is too lazy to pull the legs off spiders).
She finally asks, "So, do you want to add this service to your account?" "YES", I respond (it's all I EVER wanted), being careful not to sound either happy or exasperated.
and then..... dial tone. I've been disconnected.
45 minutes of my life, gone,Gone, GONE!
I call back and work my way through the ANNOYING voice prompt menu. I mean seriously, it demeans me to participate in this charade, pretending as if I'm actually TALKING to someone. I HAVE FINGERS!!! They are a freaking MIRACLE of evolution so let me use them by just telling me which button to push!!!
After the hold music another rep comes on and repeatedly says, "Are you there? I can't hear you." Either she really can't hear me or this is her last day and she's amusing herself at their callers' expense. If it's the latter, I applaud her. I hang up.
5 minutes wasted, minutes of my life I'll never get back = 50
Call #3. Annoying voice menu. Hold music. New rep. It takes her 20 minutes to conclude that the offer I was on the verge of accepting on the first call doesn't actually exist. But she offers me something else that is MORE expensive and doesn't include internet phone service! Whatever. At this point I'm not going to quibble - my kids NEED the dang Disney Channel, and they need it NOW!
Oh oh. She wants my Social Security number. Darn! I hate, Hate, HATE giving it out! And why should I HAVE to? They're already charging $65 per month to my credit card for my FiOS internet access. I say I'd rather not give it to her and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach because I realize that I am now FUCKING WITH THE PROCESS and bad things will ensue.
She says in that case I'll have to put down a $400 deposit.
She knows nothing except that the computer says I must do it. I ask if she can bring on her manager. She does and he quells my fears about my Social Security Number being compromised - really I'm just worn down and realize I'm not going to make it to the gym if the call lasts much longer.
So I fork over my SSN. "Oops, it still says you have to give us a $400 deposit."
Even the manager doesn't know why. He says it could be 1 of 3 things: bad credit, past payment history with Verizon, or "lack of information".
I don't have bad credit, they charge my credit card faithfully every month, and the manager doesn't even know what "lack of information" means. But he does reassure me that I can "earn the $400 deposit back" over the course of a year.
I am suddenly struck with the idea to patent a new product that allows one to deliver an electric shock through a telephone line.
It appears we are at an impasse because they won't proceed without my $400, and frankly...
He tells me to call Verizon at such-and-such number during normal business hours and ask for the "Orders" department. I hang up on him mid-sentence, but it's strangely unsatisfying. Well, at least I can make it to the gym.
45 minutes elapsed, minutes of my life I'll never get back = 95
The next day at work I call the number he gave me. It sounds like the SAME number and I work my way through the SAME annoying voice menu. Another rep comes on and in 20 minutes is able to locate the SAME bundle of services that I was offered the night before - but quotes me an even HIGHER price!!! Whatever. JUST DO IT, BITCH! That's what I think, but who am I kidding - I'm the bitch in this scenario.
I think of the electrical shock device again.
Ok, it's clutch time...let's just get this thing done so my kids can watch the Wizards of Wavery Place, for the Love-O-Pete! Why must they toy with me this way!?
Oh...wait... there seems to be a problem...something about a $400 deposit. My heart sinks and I am a little more sure about my theory of non-existence. She also doesn't know what the $400 is all about, BUT WAIT - she thinks she can get it waived!!! Hooray!!!
She puts me on hold FOR...A...REALLY...LONG...TIME... before coming back to tell me that she's still waiting to talk to her customer service overlords.
She puts me on hold again FOR...EVEN...LONGER... before coming back and suggesting that I give her a phone number where she can call me. Fine.
45 minutes, minutes of my life I'll never get back = 140
Half an hour later my phone rings. It's her!!! No love. Her peeps apparently don't have time for me, but can I give her a bunch more contact numbers and they'll get ahold of me, probably on Monday. Whatever.
2 minutes, minutes of my life I'll never get back = 142
Almost immediately after hanging up my 10-year-old calls me at work to excitedly ask if I've ordered the Disney Channel yet. I want to explain to her about my theory of non-existence, but begin laughing maniacally and only manage to get across that getting the Disney Channel is more complicated than I originally thought.
When I do get home I call Comcast and in 6 measily minutes I'm on the "Wizards of Waverly Place" Express!!!
It's Sunday now, and I'm writing this blog entry so that I can refer Verizon to it when (or if) they call me tomorrow.
And when I finish I'm going to look into filing that patent. Ka-ching!
Monday update: and to top it all off, now they LIED to me! (No phone call yet).
Tuesday update: losing interest fast, but I went to their website and emailed their customer service folks with a link to this blog. I'd feel weak, emasculated, powerless and completely marginalized ... IF I didn't already go with Comcast. But I did so I don't really give a rat's patootie - but I would still like to hear a little corporate grovelling and perhaps a thank you for my bringing to their attention how convoluted and evil their process is...but not holding my breath.