Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Recently we got Fiber Optics cable for the landline, the notebook computer and the big screen TV. The cell is also from that provider, which to avoid lawsuits and other such unpleasantnesses, I will call Very-Zoned-Out.

Two days ago, I called them to have the cell phone made capable of making and receiving calls in France. Unwittingly I had embarked down the Rabbit Hole (but I didn't see Alice.) On-screen "help" didn't know what I was talking about. A call to several "help" lines didn't because I was led, deeper and deeper, into "the system" with as many eight choices of menu.

In desperation I looked up the closest store and yesterday afternoon, we paid them a visit. First to greet us was an affable young man, who took our names and put them on the waiting-for-service list (on-screen, of course.) Next he gave us 90 days of free movie channels for the TV, apparently for just coming in.

Finally, our names were called and we met a second (equally affable) young man, who took the back off of the cell phone, pursed his lips and said, "It won't work in France." And then he quickly added, "But use it to call *611" (I made a face) "and right after you type in your cell phone number, hit 0 and you'll get an Operator. They'll send you a disposable phone the next day." I slitted my eyes in polite disbelief; he grinned winningly and we left.

Once home, I dialed *611, typed in the required number and hit 0. No operator came on. So I picked up the second guy's business card and called the store. "That number has been discontinued." I used the number I'd originally called to locate them and called it. All it did was recite the address and store hours.

So, I e'd the guy, using his e-mail address on his business card. There has been no response. The hell with Very-Zoned-Out. I'll buy a phone card at the Paris airport.

Clearly, the only people who actually work for this company are in the stores and on the installation trucks. There are no other human beings -- just a series of automated menus originating from deep in a cave in downtown Calcutta.

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