Can You Hear Me Now?

As a matter of fact, I can’t.

At least from the phone at my 91 year old mother in law’s farm next to us. She’s been having intermittent issues with her home phone for several months now especially when we have rain and now with the snow.  Can’t call in, can’t call out…just a horrible, loud buzzing noise is heard.  After many, many attempts to contact the phone company for service, my hub turned this job over to me to get settled.

He did this knowing how it would end. Squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that jazz.

The main problem with getting the attention of the phone company was that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is now done online.  Gone are the days of going into the local phone company to pay your home phone bill or report a problem.

It’s a situation where technology has come back to bite us.

Any request for change in service, repairs, billing questions…all of it, is handled exclusively online. Which means you have to get through all the detailed automated “help” portion (crap) before reaching a real live human.  (Press 1 for if you know your party’s extention, press 2 for billing, press 3-you know the drill)  I kept saying “representative” to every prompt hoping to bypass the annoying options and get to a real live human, because this was a complicated situation and, well, I’m an old soul and I just plain like talking to people about my problems with them.

The complicated part of the deal was the fact that for several years now the service arm of this company has a completely different name and address associated with my mother in laws home telephone number. A recipe for disaster. Any time my mother in law would call for a repair, the phone company guy goes to a house far away from her farm. He reports the phone line there to be without problem and around and around we go.

Yet somehow the bill arrives to the correct address without delay.

The phone company (which is probably the largest network in the country) outsources all their residential service calls overseas. “Zoe” did not fool me one nanosecond. Neither did “David”. I know this because as we were all was getting frustrated when they did not understand this complicated situation, they kept repeating the same canned questions over and over.

Then I started using my “outside voice”.

Which I think is a cultural no-no to them, but a perfectly legitimate tactic where I come from. You want to get a southern woman riled up, just start messing with her babies, her mama (or mama-in-law) or her SEC football team (GO VOLS!)

I just wanted the name of the local folks and a local number at the local phone company where I could get a straight answer, preferably in English. And most of all get to the bottom of how to end the confusion and get the phone fixed. My MIL is alone a good part of the day, has had no way to call out and we have had temps for the last 2 weeks that haven’t gotten out to the teens.

At the end of the phone ordeal, I made them swear on their outsourced lives that someone would be there today to the correct address and that they would call me when the technician was coming so that I could be there when he arrived, lest my MIL be scared.

A very nice, normal, helpful technician arrived this morning, after calling me en route and got the phone fixed. The local manager called to let me know that while they have the correct address matched to the phone number, a different name is still there but he’s working to correct it.

I told him that if that person would pay the phone bill we’d call it even.

I wish dealing with the phone company was like dealing with my dishwasher repair guy. I know where his office is. I can go there to complain if I needed to (but I never need to). When I call, they know me by purchase and service records. The repair guys are county folks who don’t balk at my hyperactive territorial boxer when she acts like she’s going to rip them apart. They quietly hold one hand out till she’s calm and talk to her to soothe her. They come in, we talk about life, they fix the appliance, I write them a check and give them a bottle of water and off they go. We are both civilized and got what we wanted.

If only the big guys would learn from the small ones.

If only.



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