I got home after Christmas to find my home
phone was dead. It took two days to notice the blissful silence. It
took another day to decide to get it fixed.
I called the phone company to report my
non-functional line. "If your phone isn't working, how can you
be talking to me now?" the operator asked, apparently proving I
was an idiot. She seemed to assume I couldn't tell the difference
between a phone that worked and one that didn't. "I'm using my
cell, which works because I get it through another company."
She had after all thrown the first punch.
"Have you added any new equipment to
"Nothing." I've been down this
road before with the phone company. They will do anything to try to
pin the blame on anything else.
"Extensions? Computer? Fax?"
I sighed. "Those would all be covered
when I said 'nothing new'."
"That also comes under the category of
'nothing new'," I pointed out. "Look, it was working when
I left to visit my mother in law, and when I came home it wasn't -
so it couldn't be anything I've done, because I wasn't even
here." She was still unconvinced I wasn't somehow to blame.
"If the problem is inside your house,
we'll have to charge you for fixing it." She had the stern,
lecturing tone of a bitter fourth grade teacher.
So after taking down my details, she did
what always happens when you call any company that provides a
service - she tried to sell me something. "I see you don't have
any additional features on your phone. You should get our call
waiting." I pointed out again that my phone wasn't working at
all at the moment, and I couldn't see the benefit of not getting two
calls at the same time over just not getting one. It's kind of like
trying to sell an extra set of snow tires to someone who has just
had their car stolen.
The phone was fixed in a couple of days. It
was apparently a broken line somewhere down the street. Except now
there was a loud clicking on the line.
I called back to report the clicking. My new
phone company rep was far less accusatory. "So is it a buzzing
noise or more of a hum?"
"Neither - it's a clicking noise."
"I don't have anything I can check off
for clicking," she said. "I'll just call it static. By the
way, I see you don't have call waiting…"
I politely declined and made a bee line for
the liquor cabinet.
The repair guy came by the next day.
"So you have static on the line," he said. "That's
usually because you've added new equipment."
I took a few deep breaths and explained
there was nothing new in the house, except the large throbbing vein
over my right eye, and that it wasn't static, it was a clicking
noise that I've enjoyed ever since they repaired the line two weeks
"Why didn't they say it was clicking?
They should have told me we repaired the line recently. That
He was cheerful and seemed to know what he
was doing, so I wasn't going to suggest the phone company might want
to consider investing in a pad of paper and writing it down whenever
they fix something.
Half an hour later it was fixed.
My first call? The phone company with a
customer satisfaction survey, which ended: "By the way, I see
you don't have call waiting…"