Monday, January 26, 2015

Your Call Isn't Really That Important To Us, Now That You Mention It

So apparently my cell phone is really more of an anchor for miniature boats.

I hate having a cell phone.  I’ve never found one that actually gets a signal and the fact that I am constantly reachable sort of grates on me.  If it weren’t for the fact that I have kids and you never know when you will need to call someone in an emergency I’d probably have abandoned the whole cell phone idea as a bad move long ago.

But I have one nonetheless, and I pay money for the service.  Therefore I expect it to work.

My cell phone provider – who, for the sake of not being sued, I will refer to as Sexually Inexperienced Mobile Company USA – does not share this expectation.

Now, it could be that they are just trying to get rid of me.  I can understand this, actually.  I have one of those grandfathered plans where you pay so much up front and they charge you as you go to whittle that pile of money down.  And if you don’t whittle it down in a certain period, you still have to re-up every so often or they just declare the account dead.

I get charged 20 cents/minute for all calls, incoming and outgoing, and last year I think I managed to spend almost $30 total.  They can’t be making any money off of me.  I just don’t make that many calls, and I find texting to be an unmitigated nuisance with no redeeming value whatsoever.  I will actively avoid sending or reading texts if there is any possible way to do so, and there almost always is.  Most people I know are aware of this, which means that the only texts I get are ones I have no need to look at anyway, such as notifications from SIMCUSA about the wonderful things that they would be doing for me if only their service worked.

I’ve been trying to use the cell phone more this year, though, since the simple fact is that you have to put in so much money every time you re-up and it’s been piling up a bit.  This means having to find somewhere with a half-decent signal and someone to call and time to call them, three things that rarely line up.  Sometimes they do.  I still have a lot of money in the account left to go even so, though.

Which brings me to my current situation.

On Friday I attempted to make a local call.  SIMCUSA refused to allow this, informing me by recorded message that I did not have enough money in my account to make this call.  I checked my account.  There was $52.99 in there.

Query: is there anywhere on earth I cannot call from Wisconsin for less than $52.99?

Answer: no.

So I spent an unhelpful quarter hour on the phone with a SIMCUSA operator who, ironically enough, was clearly not anywhere in the USA, though I have no information on their sexual status nor do I really want any.  I have no idea where their call center is located but my guess is they have far more interesting food than we do.  What they don’t have is any actual clue what is going on, as we all agreed that I had plenty of money to make any call I wanted and yet no calls could be made.  The best this person could come up with was that I should always dial the area code even for local numbers.

That was about as effective as you’d imagine.

So two days later I was back on the phone with another SIMCUSA operator whose basic argument was that there was tower maintenance in my area and therefore I was being unreasonable expecting my phone to actually make phone calls.  The fact that I had tried to make phone calls from places beyond my home tower did not seem to move him.  That was his story and he was sticking to it.

Let me tell you what an entertaining half hour that was.  You can take the boy out of Philadelphia but you cannot take the Philadelphia out of the boy, and it is my fond hope that his ears are still ringing from the rather pointed denunciations of his company and the general nonsensical nature of his advice that he was favored with during that call.

I did get some financial recompense for the fact that I cannot use a service for which I am paying, and my plan is to burn through that within a week or two once I can make calls again, which the last SIMCUSA operator assured me would be no later than February 6, probably, if all went well and the telecom gods were properly propitiated with sacrifices of Sexually Inexperienced Actual Humans or, failing that, lemon meringue pies or other sweet pastries.  And once my balance is whittled down to something I feel I can afford to lose, well, there are other cell phone providers who would no doubt be willing to provide an actual service for the money I feel constrained to give them for a device I'd rather not have in the first place.

So if I have your phone number, perhaps we'll be talking soon.


Gristle McThornbody said...

I'm with you all the way on this one. I still have... wait for it... a basic flip phone. You know, the kind where if you want to text an "e" you need to press the number 2 three times, or something like that. Needless to say, I don't text.

I've been happy with Tracfone's service, believe it or not, but have also read horror stories about people with really bad reception through them. I think it depends on who they have as a carrier wherever you live, or something like that. Can you tell I'm really not smitten with the whole cell phone thing either?

David said...

Yeah, I still have a flip phone too. It cost me all of $10 when I signed up with SIMCUSA. At some point they will stop making them and then I'll have to upgrade to one of those tablet computers that also makes calls as an afterthought.

My family finds it irritating that I don't text, and at some point the aggravation that causes will outweigh the aggravation of not texting and I will have to learn. That day is not today.

I live in electromagnetic dead zone, where there is little service for radio or cell phones. We're lucky to get cable. Why this is so in the geographical center of one of the largest towns in Wisconsin I don't know, but there you have it. I've tried four different cell companies with no real success so far.

We can sit on the porch with our land lines and complain together about those damned kids surfing the web on their smartphones on the lawn.

Random Michelle K said...

Shockingly, as a geek, I adore my cell phone.

However, the one thing I rarely do with my phone is (wait for it) make phone calls.

I have a land line, however, we don't ever actually answer it--it's just there for an emergency.

The cell phone means that--aside from work--I don't ever actually have to TALK to anyone. I can text (which I adore) and that failing, I can email.

The point of those being that although theoretically people can reach me at any time, everyone knows I hate to talk on the phone (ie, if I make a phone call, the person who answers responds "what's wrong?") so they text or email me instead. And I try to respond promptly to their texts and emails, so that they aren't forced to call me.

This means that although people can interrupt me anywhere and anytime, in most cases I can respond at my leisure.

It works very well for me.

Plus,texting with our friend Tania has saved me multiple times during family gatherings, where I might have be tempted to commit grievous bodily harm against a family member. That's certainly not a conversation I could openly have. :D

David said...

Well, I'm glad it works for you. I find it a nuisance, but then I am well aware that I am not the standard for anything.

I like to talk to people if I can do so one-on-one. This is pretty much what phones are designed to do, and I appreciate that.