Monday, February 18, 2008

Cell Phone Follies

I have a cell phone just for emergencies and well, I've had this phone so long that when people see it they call it an antique. Ten years ago it was state of the art and I paid an arm and a leg for it. When finances got tight I decided to cancel my service and the company was nice enough to put me on their "emergency plan." Times got better but I never saw the need to pay more for something I rarely used, especially since it would only work here at the house if I stood out at the end of the driveway, balancing on one leg and facing the setting sun! The joys of living in the middle of nowhere Snowville.

In December I was notified that my analog antique would no longer work in mid February. They'd be happy to sell me a new state of the art phone and only charge the other arm and leg if I'd agree to sign up for a two year plan. The plan would only cost slightly more than three times what I had been paying. I declined their kind offer.

On New Year's Eve I was very impressed with our friend's phone. He was sitting at our kitchen table, all warm and snug inside and his phone rang. He answered and was able to have a conversation without having to run outside. His is one of those prepaid phones that nobody else I know would consider owning (or at least admit to owning.)

I did the research and decided that was the way to go. On their web site I learned that I could get a 1 year plan and a free phone for $100 - less than I had paid for the emergency plan! I could keep my extremities! And I could get extra minutes if I canceled my old service through them and kept my old number! Sign me up!!!!

The web site wasn't quite clear on how all this would work so I called the 800 number. When did 800 numbers become international calls? Despite the fact that I usually zero out my annual hearing test I found myself saying "What?" "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" He would ask a question, I'd answer and then he'd repeat my answer.

"Why are you calling today?"
"I'd like to switch to your service and keep my old number."
"You'd like to switch to our service and keep your old number, is this correct?"
"How can I help you with this?"
"You could tell me what I have to do to make sure I can keep my old number."
"So you want to know what you have to do to keep your old number, correct?"

After awhile we got into a better rhythm and finally he said, "OK, no problem you can do that on the web site or I can do it for you now."

I'm not an idiot really. I was having a bad week and not thinking clearly. I stayed on the phone. I had to spell out my name and he spelled it back to me. Then we got to my address. I told him I lived at 1234 County Route 98. I spelled it out. Then he asked if that was street or road. I told him there was no street or road, just what I had spelled out. He insisted, I repeated. We moved on to my credit card info. I gave it to him, he repeated it. I gave him the security code, he repeated it. Please wait. He came back. Please give security code again. Ok, good, please wait. Give card # again. Please wait while he gets his supervisor. Sorry your card has been denied, I can't help you. Almost an our of my life that I'll never get back.

I waited a couple of days to make sure the charge wasn't on my card and tackled the website again. I managed to set up an account and order a phone. It took about 10 minutes. Three days later I had a phone so back to the web site. I entered about 100,000 numbers and was sent to a screen that told me it might take ten days to switch my number over. I'd know when the switch was complete because my old phone wouldn't work anymore.

This morning John was meeting friends for breakfast and decided to take the phone with him. Yes, we share the phone. Shocking, I know. It had only been a few days but he checked and it was working. Of course the switch over occurred right about the time his friend was looking for him in the wrong place. His friend called here and I was able to tell him where to go, so a breakfast disaster was averted.

I went online this afternoon with the instructions that had been provided close at hand. Did I just say that I'm not an idiot? Well, maybe not an idiot but certainly not as smart as I thought I was. This time I couldn't log into my account. I almost cried when I realized that another international call would be needed. I sucked it up and dialed the number. They had an option for activating the phone by punching your numbers into the phone. All righty! I punched in the 100,000 numbers again but of course that didn't work. I had to call again.

"Why are you calling today."
"I want to activate my phone."
"You want to activate your phone?"

This woman was a bit easier to understand. She didn't even question the road/street thing. She asked me for the pin number for my minutes card, told me I was all set and to wait 5 minutes, turn off the phone, turn it back on, have a good day. Only 20 minutes! And it worked! Yea!

Hold the phone! Only 10 minutes were on the phone and one month of service. !#$!$##*

"Why are you calling today."
"I called a few minutes ago and had my phone activated but my minutes don't show up."
"So, you called a few minutes ago but you need to add minutes?"
"NO!!!! I added minutes, but they don't show up on my screen."
"The minutes aren't on your phone?"

We finally got it straightened out. The minutes I bought, plus the extras for keeping my old number are now there. Hopefully I'll be able to add minutes in the future without any international calls.

I spent a few minutes figuring out how it works and a couple of hours entering my phone book. I have a new respect for my kids that send text messages - both of my thumbs hurt!


  1. Anonymous12:23 AM

    Isn't it amazing how so many of the things we grew up without are now so 'essential'? :)

  2. Awww! Poor Apple!
    I'm sorry you had to go through all that stress. Sometimes technology sucks, eh?
    Things like that make me soooo glad I can't afford a cell.
    lol, you should have had a kid put your info in the phone - probably would have taken them 2 minutes!

  3. Thanks for the humor this morning :)
    Oh you poor thing. I don't think there's anything more frustrating than those 800 number international calls. It's good though that you can see the humor in such an unpleasant experience :)
    You've convinced me that I don't need a cell phone!
    And Ross agrees. He just read your post too. Coincidentally we were reading it together in our separate corners :)

  4. I've got a cell phone that I probably use way too often! But my husband was one that wanted the newest technology all the time...'nough said. I still have my kids program stuff in that I have trouble with though. And even having grown up overseas, I hate those 800# international calls.

  5. Sounds like you have TracFone, lol. At least, I do, and my and my husband's 100 or so experiences have been exactly as you described. We get the questions repeated to us in a thick Indian accent by a guy named "George." rrrright.

    Enjoy your phone!

    P.S. You have it easy. At least you still have your hair! My poor husband nearly tore his out after dealing with "customer service." LOL Why we Americans put up with this amazes me...