Phone Woes

I have been having a rough time with phones. I’m going to write about it so I remember and also to warn other people and also to plaintively ask, how the FUCK exactly did we as a people get to the point where we put up with this kind of treatment from the phone companies? And the cable companies and the health insurance companies and on and on – we are ruled by these horrible capricious evil corporations and they do evil evil shit to us every day. Yet all we do is turn around and take more of it. And complain, but nothing ever happens and they just get worse.

I am going to complain and whine and moan. Fair warning. Tales of phone woe, like tales of operations and dreams, are boring as hell for anyone who isn’t currently in the middle of one. It’s been a HELL month or so in the phone department here and I am a little shell shocked. I am also feeling furious and vindictive and if this post ends up costing Asurion some customers, I’m here for that. They suck. Asurion sucks. Asurion is a vile shitty company and, hey, while we are at it, Sprint also sucks. The thing is, you know, they ALL suck. We all carry supercomputers around in our pockets and we just accept that the carriers whose networks make those supercomputers run are going to suck and suck hard.

It’s almost like deciding that corporations had the same rights as people was a big mistake.

Last month, as recounted on this blog, I broke my phone. I called up Sprint, who I have been with since approximately the dawn of time and they fed me a big fat pile of lies, which amounted to, “you have insurance! Everything is going to be okay!” Whoo hoo! I called Asurion insurance, the company who handles just about everyone’s phone insurance. I looked them up. They are not really an insurance company. They are an electronic waste company who makes money selling electronic junk to developing nations. If I had bothered to look them up years ago, I would have known this and been perhaps a little forewarned. At any rate, I have been paying $15 a month to them since forever, so that if my phone got lost or stolen or damaged, it could be fixed or replaced. It used to be $5. And then it was $10. And now it is $15 and the only way you are ever going to notice this change is if you are paying insanely detailed levels of attention, because somewhere along the way the phone companies stopped notifying you if your bill changed or your plan changed or anything actually changed. This is theoretically illegal! But it is not actually illegal, or something, and pay attention to this derail, oh best beloved, because it’s going to be important later on.

Asurion also fed me a big fat pile of lies, saying, we will send you a loaner phone! And you can send us your phone and we will repair it!

They sent me a mailer for my phone and a loaner phone. It’s a horrible phone – it makes bingy creaking sproing noises when you push the buttons and half the time it just shuts down, plus other issues, but, whatever, it was a loaner. I was only going to have it for a couple weeks, right? Getting it turned on via Sprint took about two hours on the phone with a nice guy who lived in a place where there were roosters crowing in the background. It was evening in Oregon. He tried but it was a total nightmare in which it emerged that nobody in customer service at Sprint had ever been trained or indeed heard of this “loaner phone” program, despite the fact that the whole thing is theoretically under their aegis. But whatever, right? It would all be okay, right?

AH ha ha ha sweet summer child.

About ten days later, Asurion sent my phone back. Unfixed. I had gotten no email, no phone call, no notification of any kind: it just appeared in the mail with a snotty printed card that said “There was an issue with your repair.” So I called the number on the card.

That number takes you to Asurion and after you get through the 15 or 20 minutes of robots trying to route you to the utterly useless website you have to enter your magical 16 digit Sprint PIN. Now I wrote my Sprint PIN down in several places long ago so, great, I smugly entered it. Well. The Asurion robot told me that I didn’t have insurance and so therefore they would not answer the phone. Click.

I called Sprint. That also took a very long time. Eons. Literally hours while I bounced from website chat person probably bot to actual human to other actual human, all of whom were based far away. It was made more difficult because the loaner phone does not really do being a phone well. At some point during those hours (I’m not exaggerating here. Hours.) I finally got transferred to someone who knew what they were doing and reinstated my insurance. Yes, my insurance had been turned off because of the loaner phone. That person, bless them, also got me on the phone to an actual human who worked for Asurion.

The Asurion dude, who I think was actually in Tennessee, told me that the reason they returned my phone was because I had not turned off my Google account on the phone. I had done nothing to the phone because, you know, it DOESN’T FUCKING WORK since it is BROKEN. He gave me steps to follow on the computer, all of this made difficult because loaner phone was blurry and it was really hard to hear him, but eventually we were both satisfied that I had done all the things and he promised me another mailer the next day. This was two solid hours. I timed it. I fedexed my broken phone back to Tennessee and in the box I included a note that said, this is my phone number. This is my email address. This is the PIN for the phone. Please contact me before sending it back unfixed!

For the next ten days, I heard nothing. So I called – I do not even know if it was Sprint or Asurion – and I got a friendly guy on the phone who seemed alarmed when I told him how long it had been since I sent my phone back. Then he told me happily that my phone was fixed! And they would send it soon! But it might take a while but don’t despair!

So I didn’t but in the meantime, about a week later, I logged into my Sprint account. There was my bill, due in early March. It was $160 more than my usual bills. I was not happy. I called customer service. It turned out that my phone call to my dear friend in Canada – who I call regularly – had suddenly cost me $1 A MINUTE. So, $106. Look, it was a long and boozy call. We’ll give you a $20 credit, said the lady on the phone at Sprint. It’s your fault. I hung up.

And then, the next day, my phone came back. Unfixed. With the same snotty note attached.

I called Asurion. I was not happy. They were not helpful. Oh well, they said, nothing we can do. You didn’t glarble the dingjoogle, and there’s a PIN on the phone and well, we can’t fix that. I CAN’T CHANGE THINGS ON THE PHONE, I said, DID YOU NOT NOTICE THAT THE SCREEN IS SMASHED AND IT JUST SHOWS YOU A YELLOW RECTANGLE? No. They did not notice that. DID YOU NOT SEE THE NOTE? What note, they said, ma’am, so sorry that you feel this way. They pretty obviously had not even tried to fix my phone and they certainly did not try to call or email me. I mean, I get phone calls. And emails. All the goddamn time. I am way too reachable, to be honest. So I find it hard to believe that they were unable to reach me. But, they said, they were.

If you want to replace the phone, they said helpfully, we can do that instead. OK, I said, I give up, let’s just replace it. That will be $275, they said, do you have your card ready?

This is my phone. As you can see, the going rate for a refurbished version is about $225 and you can get one for considerably less and you won’t have had to pay $15 a month for several years first.

NO, I said, loudly and with emphasis, NO AND GO FUCK YOURSELF. Well I said it a bit more politely than that. Then I hung up and called Sprint. There was shouting. It got ugly. It continued being ugly for DAYS. That was Monday.

I will spare you the details here but eventually, after Twitter got involved – 12 hours of Twitter DMs, five shifts of customer service Twitter people – after texts, after hmm about 12 FUCKING HOURS OF PHONE CALLS, and after someone finally gave me a top secret phone number to Sprint international operations, I got the goddamn charge taken off my bill. You want to know why I had it in the first place? Because when the loaner phone got turned on, they changed my billing plan without mentioning it to me. My old phone could call Canada and Mexico for free. The loaner phone cannot. This took FOUR FUCKING DAYS AT APPROXIMATELY THREE HOURS PER DAY TO RESOLVE.

I’m leaving, I swore, I’m going to a new company, fuck this, I am done, I am finished, I am leaving. Verizon, I said, let’s talk.

But Mom, said my daughter, who shares my phone account, Sprint is the only carrier who gets service at my boyfriend’s house in the middle of bumfuck egypt north carolina and I am pregnant and out there a lot and if we don’t have sprint I will have to drive 7 miles to get a signal.

There is not much you can say to that. I want my pregnant daughter to be able to make a phone call whenever she needs to make one. And honestly having at least two people on your plan just makes sense, if, of course, they pay their bill regularly.

So I bought a used phone off Amazon on my credit card today. It is purple and that is the only good thing I have to say about this entire goddamn thing. Tomorrow I’m wiping the loaner phone – that will be another phone call to Sprint! Yeah! – and sending it back to the hell from whence it came. Tuesday I will, maybe, get my new to me phone turned on – can’t wait for the phone call to do that! Whoo hoo funzies! – renew my sprint account for another two years of hopefully mostly quiet misery and this will all recede into the distance, just another 21st century story.

Can I just point out that this whole process, this whole long story, is INSANE? And everybody has a story like this one. I am not alone. We are all in this story and this story BITES. When are we going to step up and change this narrative, is what I want to know. When do we say, enough, and stop putting up with this shit?

Let me know. I have a pitchfork and a torch and the cable company just raised my monthly rate by $15 and laughed at me when I called to complain.

PS Do not buy Asurion insurance from your phone carrier unless your phone is very new and worth considerably more than hmmm, $500 I guess. The minute the value drops below that? Cancel. You’re better off.

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5 Responses to Phone Woes

  1. Things can only get better. Can’t they?

  2. Your angstified patience is epic. I would barely have the energy to document it. Love you.

  3. Mother of god, that’s…well, not unbelievable, because it’s completely believable, but definitely infuriating in the extreme. What utter bastards. I’m sorry you had to deal with all that.

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