Everyone hates bureaucracy. Everyone except for The Phone Company. By “The Phone Company” I mean the people who provide you land line, cell, cable and are your internet service provider. Those people. Oh, and I guess there could be a few people who like bureaucracy- I don’t mean to appropriate the voice of a group of paperwork fetishists who love to be on hold while they make love to a stamp pad, or some such. The point is that most people hate bureaucracy, except weirdos, and The Phone Company. By the way, The Correctness recommends you wait for the ink to dry so you don’t leave ball-marks on your underwear.
Worldwide, TPC is legendary for their inefficiency. More people are required to do fewer things than any other type of business or government agency, even the much maligned Postal Service, or Chicago circa Peter Cetera. TPC’s illogical business practice goes right back to the beginning of the invention of the phone.
Alexander Graham Bell, upon the first successful test of the telephone started the trend. The story goes that Bell spoke into his transmitter and said “Watson, come here, I want to see you.” . Keep in mind that Bell was testing a telephone, a device used to make 2 way communication possible over great distances. An alternative conversation might have gone something like this:
Bell: Watson, can you hear me?
Watson: Yes I can! This thing works!
Bell: Oh, good, well, I was going to ask you to come here, but there is no reason to do that, because we could talk all day like this, efficiently.
Watson: Yes, it would be weird if you said “I want you” anyhow.
Bell: I was going to say that, but this call is being recorded.
Watson: Astonishing! How?
Bell: I don’t know. In any case, you go ahead and stay there instead of making a purposeless trip over here. Let’s head over the patent office, ensuring some controversy about who invented this thing.
Watson: Agreed. Do you have time to take a brief survey about the quality of your service?
Bell: Strangely enough, I do. I was just masturbating furiosly here alone, and it amuses me to continue this conversation while I am jackin’ it on a stamp pad.
Watson: Wonderful. When would you say you make most of your calls?
Bell: I’d say right around now.
Watson: And to which locations do you make most of your calls?
Bell: Primarily next door in the lab
And so on.
So, from the very first phrase ever uttered on a telephone was born a tradition of purposelessness. Of course, as the technology has improved, the bureaucracy has also improved. In any industrialized culture, winning a fight with The Phone Company, in which you are right and they are wrong, is one of the last rites of passage. Where once there were ritual hunts and sundance circles, now we have explaining that you are being incorrectly billed to 4 levels of managers. Once you hold aloft the sullied stamp pad of a regional customer ombudsman, your Jedi training is complete.
(Keep in mind, the reason British Telecom specifically are such scrotumstamps is because a bunch of filthy lower class colonists invented a moneymaking technology, and the jealous bourgeois saw a chance to really make a bunch of underpaid proles stick it to a bunch of other underpaid proles, just to show ‘em for trying to be something better than stable hands.)
If you have a sympathetic soul, you could feel a bit sorry for the drones that occupy the chairs at TPC. Their primary task is to say “no” to you. It’s not their fault. They are trained to deal with people who haven’t paid their bills, and nobody got a BA in medieval poetry to be a corporately sanctioned collections agent. The people who got their BFA are expecting to do such work, and they see it as an acting exercise. You can spot the BFA ones because they buckle under pressure and hand you off to a manager first, due to their constant theatre-school existential crisis. When the next revolution comes, The Correctness is staring the firing squad at drama schools.
TPC is going to be defensive with you when you call. The aren’t angry, they are defensive. First, everyone hates them, and they don’t understand why. They don’t understand why everyone hates them because they are retarded. Second, they have had literally weeks of training in the art of the closed ended rhetorical paradigm. Not only are they entirely untrained in the unimaginable possibility that you may have a point, but they are also exclusively trained to respond to questions for which they receive only yes or no answers. Consequently, they have absolutely not the first nutstamp of a clue as to what to do if you ask them questions off the approved list. If you thought the Pope was slow on the progress, the Catholic church looks comparatively responsive (and non-rapey) next to TPC.
So, when you have finally managed to convince someone that you have a problem which can’t be answered by changing your long distance plan, you will be transferred. Be patient, write down everyone’s names as you hear them. This will not be useful, it is only more hilarious to speak derisively about what “Barry said”. Plus, if you catch anyone bullshitting you, which I assure you, they sometimes do to get rid of you, they look much worse.
Don’t get transferred to technical support. technical support is an entire service area that was created to distract you from you actual problem. Technical service will be able to tell you what your ping time is, but they can not tell you why you have paid for 3 months of service without so much a s a dial tone.
At some point, you are going to have to withhold payment from TPC. This is not as bad as you think. This is actually good. This is good because The Phone Company will start calling you. Then, a series of low level functionaries will politely remind you that you owe them money, and you can remind them that you are contractually paying for a service, and if the service is not provided, TPC is in default of the contract in a legally binding way. This usually gets the gears turning.
One more thing you might be interested in knowing. Those of you on cell phone contracts might observe that TPC never seems to admit to network problems. They would rather give you a new phone than admit to network problems. This is that nasty contractual obligation thing again. The network is their end of the bargain, so if they admit that is the issue, they are admitting they owe you a cheque. That is the kind of thing that gets people out of ink pads to dangle their testicles on.
We hope that clarifies a few things about The Phone Company. Soon to follow are some specific tips for making those phone calls to them more productive for you, more expensive for them, and more hilarious to your family.