Wednesday 18 November 2020

Me vs The Cell Phone Company

 I'm going to depart for a minute from the sailing, because I just can't let this particular story go. It's still unfolding, but the summary version is that just when you think it can't get any more stupid, it will. 

So our story begins with a telephone offer to switch phone companies. I'd been with the original company for 20 years (and sweet mother of all that is good, does that ever make me sound ancient). The name of the original company is irrelevant for now...we will see how the transition goes, but so far so good. The new company, however, we will call Toolus. I wouldn't want to accidentally identify anybody, so Toolus. 

The Toolus rep called and made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Discounts, waived activation fee (which by the way, is the singly bullshittiest of all fees), and a new phone. Cool. I wanted a day to think about it, so she would call me back the next evening? Call one complete, and it was mostly painless.  I was nervous to switch, but as my husband pointed out, brand loyalty was getting me nowhere, so I took the plunge and agreed to move my services over. 

When she called back the following night, we again went over all the details. Discounts on each monthly bill, waived activation fee, new phone. Cool. Let's do it. And then, at the very end of the call, she quickly reiterated what I would see on the first bill which would begin when I received the phone and ported my number over: discount, new phone cost, and the $40 activation fee. The phone would arrive in 4-5 days.

Wait, what?

I *should* have backed out right there. I didn't. Because I was dumb. Instead what I said was "Activation fee??? I could have sworn this was specifically discussed in both this call and the last one as something that would be waived." She backed right up and stumbled over a few calming phrases, clicked away on her keyboard, and then told me that it was taken care of, no activation fee would be applied. Cool. 

And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, on day 9 I got my first bill! I still didn't have a phone, but that hadn't stopped them from charging me on a phone plan that I couldn't use. And once I opened up that bill, I noticed a few key things. One, not only had they charged me the activation fee, but it wasn't $40, it was $45; not objectively a huge difference, but given that it wasn't supposed to be there at all, I was...annoyed. They also hadn't applied the discount I was promised, and maybe more concerning was that I'd been billed since Nov 8, and by the 16th I still didn't have the phone, so I shouldn't have been charged at all according to the agreement that I'd made. To say that I was unhappy, wouldn't quite capture the severity of my feelings that day. 

So I looked up the help desk number, which took some time because the website is like a fucking rabbit hole, and in some cases, actually has pictures of rabbits on it. And if you've ever had the chance to experience the absolute joy of calling a Toolus help desk, you'll understand this next part. If not, may you never have to.  

Once I made it through the flurry of voice activated menus, I was kindly informed that the wait time would be upwards of an hour. Did I want them to hold my place in line and call me back at this number? Yes, yes I did! This has to be one of the best/most actually helpful help desk options, and so far, I didn't feel like gnawing off my leg to get out of an ever tightening trap. I was an idiot. 

Two hours later, still no call back. So I used a different phone to call back and leave a different call back number to increase my chances, because why not? Another hour and a half later I finally got a call back on the second number. (I never did get a call back on my original number). Let the games begin. 

The rep, to his credit, was very good, and got the bill sorted out. My phone was probably just stuck in the mail, and it would arrive soon, and all would be well. He even sent me everything in writing, so next time I wouldn't be relying on my quickly fading hope that someone on the other end of the phone had actually written down call notes that supported what I was saying. I was still not happy with Toolus, and it definitely felt like most of what I'd been originally told was utter shit, and the only reason things were still on track was because I'd spent half my day navigating their punishing phone system, but I was cautiously optimistic that maybe the worst was over.

It was not. Not even close. 

The next day my phone finally arrived. Day 10. But that was ok, the stars were aligned and everything was good. I had taken the plunge and upgraded to a nice, purple, iphone 11, because this year has been stupid, and why not. I put in the sim chip, turned it on, and started the process to set up the phone. 

It is at this point, dear readers, that this story falls of a fucking cliff.  Instead of letting me run through all the set up features, the phone popped up and asked me to put in the password for apple id for (obviously it wasn't actually, but in order to protect the innocent, we will leave it at that).

What kind of breathtaking new stupidity was this?

The brand new phone was inexplicably asking me to put in someone else's apple id? Now, I'm not what I would call technologically inclined, but I'm also not a fucking spoon. This was obviously not a new phone, and I was furious. 

Another hour and a half later (and this time it didn't offer to call me back) I made it through the sadistic telephone tree to a real person. Allow me to paraphrase our convo:

Me: Hi, you took my money and said you would send me a new phone. Turns out your company was full of shit and sent me a refurbished phone. Turns out your company is also unfathomably stupid and sent me a poorly refurbished phone.  

Toolus: Oh. Wow. Yeah, that's not ok. 

Me: Thank you. I also know you personally didn't do this, and I do appreciate your help (all things being fair, this guy was awesome)

Toolus: Do you mind holding a moment? (read: I'm going to put you on hold again for 30 mins)

Me: Sure, why not. 

30 mins later

Toolus: Ok, you can return the phone to the nearest store and they can give you a new one!

Me: I promise I don't live anywhere near a store. You mailed me the phone, I feel like it's fair play to let me mail it back.

Toolus: Yeah, we can't do that. *insert here a bizarre and incoherent explanation as to why, that isn't worth the time it would take to write it down*

Me: *taking a deep, tortured breath*  Ok, so let's just lay this out so we're all on the same sent me a phone, took my money, told me it was brand new, and it was not. Not only was it not new, but it's locked to the point that it is the equivalent of a very expensive paper weight. And now, if I would like this situation remedied, I have to drive 400 kms to the nearest store, over the snowy winter roads, to a city where covid is currently taking over, because your company fucked up? Am I close? 

Toolus: Um, yes?

Me: No. No,

Then he said he would go find a manager, and could I hold again.  I feel like at this point I'd listened to the entire loop of awful hold music. Twice. 

Anyway, long story short-ish, he worked it out that I could mail it back and they would send me a new one, you know, so I could try all this again. 

There was one more call after this, just so I could, you know, reiterate the entire saga to another manager who as far as I could tell was an absolute trench goblin, with no personality whatsoever. His only moment of bland failure was when he tried to make small talk for a moment and crashed miserably, accidentally implying to me that patience was a virtue, so maybe I just needed to wait the situation out. And please keep in mind that we were well over 5 hours of help desk time over the span of  a few days, so making light of this complete waste of my time was a teensy bit tone deaf. *sigh*

And after all of the back and forth with reps and management, there was one string that still needed to be pulled. One ray of light in this whole debacle. After all, I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't also email my mystery gmail/apple id contact and let him or her know what a magical voyage the phone had made. I laid out the story for them, probably sounds like a bit of a lunatic, but so be it. It brought me some joy. I'm still waiting to hear back, but I truly hope I get a new pen pal out of the whole thing. 

And so now I'm back to square one, waiting for a new phone, and hoping that the bill will be fixed as promised, so that this rocky start to a new telecommunications adventure can finally become a little more calm. 

Maybe I just need a little more patience?


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