A few nights ago I was hit with the terrible sight of my cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter in a pool of water that had escaped from a nearby leaky glass. Amazingly, my phone didn't die right away, leaving me with a false sense of relief until the following morning by which time my phone had given up the ghost. As I frantically pressed this button and that trying to resuscitate my drowned phone, the awful sense of dread I was seized with did not come from the knowledge that I'd have to live a few hours without a phone or that I'd have to somehow squeeze another errand into an already too-busy day before a trip to Los Angeles, nor was I upset over the thought of having to shell out for a new phone, as I'd been paying a $5 dollar monthly insurance fee to cover just such an eventuality as this one.
What I filled me with fear and loathing was the realization that now I was going to have to go to the Verizon store.
There are few are few prospects that fill me with such a mix of anxiety and resentment as a trip to the Verizon store.
... and efficient system of friendly greeters and speedy customer assistance personnel, and where every time upon entering the facility it's all I can do to keep from throwing myself at the first staff member who approaches me and crying out, "Sell me whatever you want! Charge me whatever you want! Just let this ordeal be over!" Because inside a Verizon store I invariably feel like a naif in a familiar yet strange land where I don't understand the customs, lingo, or anything else I'm supposed to know before setting foot across the border. I don't understand what the people are telling me, nor do I fully trust that the people who are telling me things know what they're talking about, either.
Thus I have a severe case of Verizon store phobia.
And yet this time I felt a little less anxious, a little more composed than usual. After all, this time my situation was clear and straight forward: My phone was dead, but I had insurance. I wanted a replacement, same item, period. If all my phone numbers were lost along with my deceased battery, well, so be it. I'd dealt with that possibility and moved past it. Just give me my new phone and let me go home. I even rehearsed in my lines as I drove to the Verizon store.
In fact, by the time I entered the store and faced the pleasant young greeter I was feeling fairly sanguine. Or at least I was until I met my assigned customer assistance rep, a youngster of medium enthusiasm dressed head to toe in the black Verizon uniform - are they required to dress all in black to scare us? - with a couple of piercings.
I told him my sad story and he took apart my phone to check out its still-soggy insides and offered that my phone was in fact probably fried but that I could try putting the phone pieces into a bag of rice for a few days and seeing if that might dry them out and bring them back to life. In retrospect I kind of wish I'd taken his advice, whisked my phone out of the store, bought a bag of rice, gone phoneless for a few days and taken my chances. However I shared with him that I needed a working phone that day as I was going out of town the following day and that, as I had phone insurance, I just wanted to exchange this one for the same model.
My service rep kid then consulted his tablet and informed me that my $5-a-month extended warranty did not cover damage to or loss of the phone even though I swore I was told otherwise when I was sold the phone.
"Nope," my rep kid replied, "it only covers replacement if the phone dies for no reason. But," he added in a tone that suggested he might be trying to cheer me up or maybe shut me down, "I see here that you're eligible for a really good upgrade."
"Like what?" I asked, already having given up the fight over my useless phone insurance.
"Like a $600 smart phone for $199."
"No thank you," I said curtly. "Please just give me a phone like this one."
My rep kid left briefly then returned with a post-it note on which were written some figures which, of course, made no sense to me as he attempted to explain them. Something about $129.99 for the phone plus a $40 dollar upgrade fee which would only come to $109 if I opted to pay $27.99 today followed by a monthly installment plan of $4.58 a month for 24 months.
It made no sense to me. So little sense that I had not the wherewithall to argue.
"But I don't want an upgrade," I did correctthe youngster, I just want the same phone as I had before.
"The upgrade fee is to transfer your old phone number to your new phone."
"I have to pay $40 for you to transfer my old number to my new phone?" That's an upgrade? I wanted to shout, Shouldn't that be, like, free?
But I didn't. "Fine," I sighed, knowing better than to start any battles in the Verizon store that I couldn't win, knowing there were no battles that I could win, "I'll just take the phone. And the installment plan."
"Well, here's the thing," he said, "we don't carry this phone anymore."
"Fine. Just give me the closest phone you have in the same price range."
"Well, here's the thing, the only phone we carry in that price range is a flip phone."
Now, I certainly had no desire for a flip phone, and if I'd been in the mood to behave like an adult I'd have accepted the situation and asked to see what was available in touch-screen phones.
But my inner adult had by now been replaced by my inner child and all I wanted to do was throw a tantrum.
"Fine," I snapped, "I'll take the flip phone!" In truth I think that on some subconscious but close-to-the surface level I believed that by buying the cheapest possible phone I was punishing - who? - the Verizon corporate robber-baron behemoth? The poor rep kid who was just trying to give me what I wanted within his power and to make a living ?
"Okay," my rep kid replied as he handed me the phone, "then you'll only have to pay $2.58 a month for this phone." I felt a brief moment of victory in my cheapness.
So I walked out of the Verizon store in my usual post-Verizon store huff with my new flip phone,
Now I feel like a fool who purposely gave up a comfortable home for a wretched hovel with no water or electricity and which won't even be paid off until 24 monthly payments of $2.58 each.
Is it a sin to harbor a death wish for a flip phone?
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
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"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.