My wife got a new cell phone the other day.
Now, she already has an iPhone that she likes and uses, but she has a new client that needs to give out her number, and Lena didn’t want everyone in the world having her real cell phone number, so the client got her a new one just for them to use. I think it was a good and clever compromise.
The client already had a “Family” style AT&T plan, so they got Lena a relatively inexpensive phone and added her to it. They sent the office boy out to our house and he dropped it off.
As per the phone’s written instructions Lena allowed the charge on the battery to run all the way down before plugging it in, (known as “cycling” the battery) and charging it all the way back up. The literature on the phone said that the charge should last for 15 days on standby… that is, with the phone on but no one talking. The next day the phone was completely dead.
Lena recharged it and tried again… but six hours later the phone was a doorstop once more… for a very tiny door. She had to leave the phone plugged in just to keep from losing calls, which pretty much completely negates the benefits of having a cell phone in the first place. So, Lena decided to take it upon herself to get the battery replaced, and thus not bother the nice people who had given her the phone to begin with.
After a frustrating and unhelpful conversation with the corporate office (Lena was trying to call a store, but they don’t answer their phones, so eventually all calls get rerouted to corporate) we ended up at an actual AT&T store. Now you can’t just go to any damn store, ’cause some are corporate and some aren’t, and if you have a problem with one kind the other is going to wash their hands of it and tell you to fuck off. So we skipped past the nicer, closer AT&T retail location to go to the tinier, shittier one wedged in between the produce and the dairy departments at the Winn-Dixie. The woman there was friendly and tried to be helpful, though apparently they don’t stock anything of use in the grocery store. Instead, she called a couple other stores to find the battery, and eventually directed us to one across town. She said we’d need a copy of the original receipt, so she stood and typed (actively typed) at her computer terminal for the next twenty minutes in order to find and reprint it.
We left, drove thirty minutes across town, entered a much nicer store, (wealthier neighborhood) and exchanged the battery. It took about fifteen minutes for us to give him our old one, and for him to give us our new one.
Now I thought I’d go back over a few of the more salient points here.
- To begin with, when you call the AT&T store, they do not answer their phones.
- There is no way to tell from the outside whether you are looking at a corporate or franchise store, but it sure as hell makes a big difference to them.
- Every single person we talked to first suggested that we exchange phones instead of batteries. The battery exchange was free, the phone exchange cost $35.00. This was the restocking fee for the old phone with the bad battery, and was apparently how much it costs AT&T to have an employee put it back on the shelf to be sold to the next sap.
- It takes AT&T twenty minutes of typing to reprint an existing receipt from a file on their servers. I feel confident I could have written it by hand in three.
- We were told by three separate reps that we should expect a 15 day charge to last 48 hours at most.
- If you are carrying an AT&T phone with the phone number they gave you, if they can find you and your name on the account for that phone, and if you have photo ID verifying you are in fact the correct person, you will still need a receipt for the original purchase in order to exchange the battery without and additional fee which they will print for you while you wait, and which contains no information they don’t already have.
I used to worry what would happen if corporations truly took over the country. I figured when that day finally came, it would be illegal to save your money, we’d start calling the President the CEO of America, and the whole sixth grade would be replaced with a year’s worth of sensitivity training. Now my fear is that our corporate overlords will simply be too stupid to keep anything running once they buy the country, and “corporate efficiencies” will mean that Lena and I will have nothing to eat but a two-year supply of Tampax.
I’ve started stocking up on cans of turkey chili, Fritos, and beer, just in case.