The Crazy Suburban Mom: Can you hear me now upadate and another painting

Monday, September 28, 2009

Can you hear me now upadate and another painting

blue copy

The post about "How my week-end at the cell phone stores went" got long. I think there is a point passed where people are interested in reading what you wrote. A point passed where the investment in time is...Well, people just go, Whoa! And click the 'X' because they think you've over-estimated your own self-importance.

So here is the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of this post.


For anyone who wants to read the long version...

I visited Verizon and AT&T and was going to visit Sprint until I remembered an incident I had with them years ago.

To summarize:

I paid a bill twice and had a credit. I asked them to send the overage to me and they said 'Prove it'. I couldn't prove it because I had moved and didn't have said proof. But the damn credit is listed on your bill, phone dudes, I said, to which they replied, Sorry, you simpleton, our own bill saying we owe you isn't proof we owe you, Prove it.

This joyful Fa-La-La went on for a fun-filled, action-packed, roller-coaster of a year, Oh! What a time we had!...Until I tired of it and reported them to the FCC.

I had my check in less than a week.

And with that memory, Sprint was out of the cell-phone race...

I visited the Verizon store and they have several suitable plans. The 10 friends and family aspect helps to keep the amount of needed minutes down. They were also willing to cut prices on several phones to help with having to buy three at once although they didn't mention the $35 charge per line to - What, to activate them? Which involves, I don't know what that even means in a computerized world.

I hate that you can't pick the minimum plan to get the 10 friends and family - Do these companies know how much economic pain people are in? We're bleeding guys? Hemorrhaging.

Losing limbs.

That said, besides the $35 fee on each line (which they all have) I found the choice of plans expansive and I did find one that I thought would work for us. In a perfect world, I would love a PDA / Blackberry phone but do you know that's even more money? I sure didn't.

Than I went downstairs to vent in the AT&T store... But also to find out about their plans and to find out about canceling my contract. What I found out made me ill. If you can imagine sick like eating bad shellfish on top of colitis superimposed on the Noro virus you can imagine how sick I was at that moment. While I can upgrade two of the phones in November, the contracts aren't over until June. I calculated the dates wrong. I'm glad I hadn't gone to the food court first or I would have been spewing Panda Express all over the sparkling Blackberrys and iPhones I covet.

I want to take a moment to pause here and catch my breath. I have a good example of customer service I want to interject into this week-end.

Saturday night, after the cell phone bloodbath, I tried to upgrade my Direct TV package online to add Showtime, so I could watch Dexter, a bloodbath of a more entertaining sort. But my package is so old (This was so ringing a bell) I couldn't do it online because my package - Let's call it the Doddering Diaper & Cane Package - is no longer a valid package.

In order to add Showtime, the Direct TV site was insisting I upgrade and to agree to pay $5 more a month for the current comparable package- Let's call it The 21st Century Glitter & Bling Package. The 21st Century Glitter & Bling Package is identical to the Doddering Diaper & Cane Package it just costs more.

I called Direct TV and asked what to do? And Oh, by the way one of my remotes doesn't work very well anymore, what do I do about that?

Direct TV Lady, a gem among gems, said even though the remotes are normally $15 each she would send me one free, FedEx (FedEx people!) and, Do you only need one?

I don't want to be a remote-pig, I only needed one. But how do I get Showtime, see I saw an ad and it's only $7.99 a month now, Direct TV lady?

Direct TV Lady said, your package is too old to add to online but just call us anytime - We can do whatever you want at customer service WITHOUT UPGRADING YOUR OLD PACKAGE. And I'm going to GIVE YOU THREE MONTHS OF SHOWTIME, FREE! FOR YOUR TROUBLE.

When she said that, People, I felt a sparkly magical wind luxuriously tussle my hair (attractively) and I heard a haunting Beethoven symphony waft in through my windows. From heaven y'all - Straight from heaven. Or Direct TV but at that moment they were the same thing.

And it was lovely.

I didn't have to give something to get something.The Doddering Diaper & Cane Package they were more than happy to sign me up with Lo! Those many four score and a jillion years ago, well, okay, more like five years ago, was good enough for them. Still.

They were treating me like a valued customer.

She said, You don't have to cry, Ms. Reinhardt, that's just how we roll here. Okay, she didn't say it like that. What she said was, I see you're also eligible for a free few months of STARZ, would you like three months of STARZ, too? Yes, oh yes I would, and she said, No problem can I do anything else for you?

Does Direct TV have cell phone plans?

This is customer service. This makes me want to stay with Direct TV forever and ever.

Now back to AT&T.

The guy was very patient during the Cell Phone bitch fest of 2009, responsive and understanding and he gave me all my options. The AT&T stores have upgraded their personal since the last young lady greeted me with, Ugh, she's back. Huge improvement. Thank you, AT&T.

He explained the plans but it was really no help because everything required resigning my contract. He could also not help me with the excess minute charge which is another issue I have with AT&T; the stores, online, and phone division all act like they are separate entities. And perhaps they are but I don't think that's something the customer even knows until you need them to act in tandem.

So as far as what they have? Well they do have something new. Get this:

AT&T now has the same 10 friend and family thing as Verizon.

Did you know that? I didn't. AT&T dude told me it's only been in effect for three days and they haven't had time to advertise it yet. I've noticed that about AT&T, they are the last company to get what the other companies already had. Like unlimited texting. I guess Verizon was killing them with the 10 friends and family thing. This makes AT&T plans very comparable to the Verizon plans. Although as an aside, AT&T had only one free phone available and was not willing to offer any discounts besides anything already listed on the phones. Despite the problems I'm having. Despite having to buy three phones at once and despite being very unhappy.

And despite this being something that Verizon would do.

So here I am, I can't get more minutes without renewing my contract. I can't add 10 friends and family without getting more minutes... and renewing my contract. I can't buy my contract out because it would be $105 per phone to do so.

So yeah...


So here's the score.
  1. No car, Day 8.
  2. 263 days left in cell phone contract w/ AT&T.
  3. Ah! Verizon, I hardly knew ye...
  4. My love for Direct TV has has increased by a Ventifreakingjillion.
  5. 1 more painting finished.


Haven't measured but about
5 feet by 3 feet

I'm certainly managing to finish a lot of art I started despite not being able to do much else.

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Chef Eureka 9/28/09, 11:50 AM  

Hehehe, ok, I read your long version. First of all, who the heck was taht Direct TV lady. The good karma fairies should deliver her some chocolate!

I'm an ATT Wireless customer. I've had ATT when they were att... then they went to what... sprint? and then I think they went to something else... and then they went back to att...

So, basically, I get phone upgrades and contract changes whenever I want. I have like 4,000 rollover minutes. My daughter has a phone on my account as well. We have unlimited evening and weekends. We have unlimited texting... she has unlimited web usage so she can use the web, dowload pictures, etc. and our total bill is just over 100 bucks a month. Course, I think I can get a company discount that might drop that down to 80 bucks a month.

I'm a pretty satisfied customer with them, as they tend to treat me really well.

I suppose a lot of it counts on who the rep is that you are talking with.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 9/28/09, 12:25 PM  

Hiya, Chef :) I have to say I've had AT&T since they were cingualar - and than went to AT&T and the odd thing is I had a gazillion roll-overs, like almost 6000, and to be honest I have no idea where they went. I think it was probably my son's phone usage... but thats old news. I've always re-uped my contract, and upgraded the phones. This is the first time I've held back - this is the first year I've really had issues and it's the first year I've needed them to step up. I've been waiting. Still am.

And yeah! And the direct tv lady! Wasnt she a star!


icedteaforme 9/28/09, 12:32 PM  

love your direct tv lady! love your long version, hey here is another odd thought, do you have a costco membership? in our costco they have a cell phone kiosk and sell/resell at&T, verizon and t-mobile and in our store they have 3 , count them 3 free phones currently! just from at& another aside, is your home phone or internet service with a company that offers cell phones? I have heard you can get a bundled discount that was as well.....sorry your contract is not over yet, but maybe you can work that to your advantage and watch for free phone ads around christmas, i think they try to get you to add a line of service, but maybe that can be cheaper than activation fees! say it is 5 bucks an extra line, just add a line then when the contract is up delete the old #....and beware of those smartphones, they cost more per month..i too covet an iphone, but seriously the fees are not in line with our budget!

Mom Mayhem says: 9/28/09, 1:10 PM  

I didn't mind reading your long version ;) I'm glad you had a good experience w/DTV -I was previously 1 of those DTV CSR ladies. I've heard since I left (to be a SAHM) that it has gotten even better -customer friendly wise. Around these parts there's so many CSR /Call center jobs. I almost hate to tell you that I have a family member who is a CSR for AT&T(since it was Cingular) and I currently get my cell phone thru them cause it's free. I know AT&T is trying to step-up on customer service. A lot of companies supposedly strive to be # 1 in customer satisfaction- But, you know.
Ugh-and Sprint -I have always heard nothing but bad stuff about them!
Anyways hope you get it all figured out -about your car too. And I like the painting-It looks almost like someone/something in the background during a snowstorm or something like that :)

The Crazy Suburban Mom 9/28/09, 1:11 PM  

Icetea - Yes, about costo and I was in there Saturday as well but I didn't even stop at the phone Kiosk because of the contract not being up. I wonder if I should have? And yeah on the smart phones - I found its about $30 on top of the plan to add a smart phone.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 9/28/09, 1:16 PM  

MomMayhem - I can't believe you were a DirectTV lady that is the coolest thing ever! I used to have cablevision but don't even get me started on them. Direct tv is about 1/3 the price of cablevision which is why I switched but not why i stayed...Someone came around and asked me what they could do to get me to come back and I said, nothing. Direct TV has the best customer service. This is only one example. Its always been like this.

And don't feel bad about customer service at AT&T - the truth is its not the individual people. Ive had good experiences. And like I said, the guy at the store was way above how things used to be. I wish I was happier with them at the moment, I sure do.

Katie 9/28/09, 3:04 PM  

For the record, I am no fan of Verizon. LOVED our $260/month bill (they messed up the plans in the begining and refused to fix their mistake). Can you sense my sarcasim? Much happier with our $160/month bill for two brand new iPhones with AT&T. :)

@eloh 9/28/09, 3:51 PM  

South Central Bell customer (no choice) about six or seven years ago I get a letter from AT&T welcoming me to the company as a long distance customer....WHAT?

More calls to South Central Bell than I can count...they can not remove the $49.00 charge off my bill every month and if it doesn't get paid because of some money changing corp agreement between the two companies my phone gets shut off.......a couple years ago...AT&T bought out South Central Bell and I was finally able to have it removed from my bill which now all goes to AT&T anyway.....I dropped the land line completely.

Enter a computer about a year ago....seems AT&T is notorious for "slamming" and adding charges which one part of the same company says they can't do anything about ...and there you are locked in mortal combat with each head professing not to have control over the other head.

THE PAINTING.....I've been there...Blizzard in the Midwest circa 1970...driving down a farm to market road in the dark of night praying not to go in the ditch and being mesmerized by the slow falling huge flakes blur by the speed of the car...lights dim in the heavy snow...yeah, I've been there.

Mary 9/28/09, 9:02 PM  

I really like your paintings. :)

JUST ME, THE MOM 9/29/09, 1:30 AM  

My husband who uses more minutes than anyone flat out refuses to have any dealings with the cell phone companies at all. It makes him absolutely psycho for weeks - true story! I think I'd rather die than attempt to make any changes - ha! ;)


Vonlipi 9/29/09, 9:41 AM  

Hilarious as always! Can you believe i used to work for the phone company in Quebec? It was even worse for employees! 'coz we had to sell the stuff and had nearly no training! ;)

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