Just setting foot in a Verizon store makes me feel trepidatious.
Because I know that, whatever transaction I enter the store to undertake, I'll leave staring at my receipt wondering what just went down at the service counter, what exactly I just paid for, and why I had to pay for it in the first place. Sales reps' lingo about plans,contracts, minutes, text allowances, roll-overs, free upgrades that aren't free - I feel always like a stranger in a strange land with a poor grasp of the language and culture who can get snips and snaps of words but who can't put together what I'm being told in any meaningful way. It's scary.
I can barely manage the process of buying a new phone, never mind trying to change a plan or get satisfaction from a problem or have a bill explained. To this day I don't understand my Verizon bill. I look at the bill and if it looks like it's close enough to the previous month's bill I just pay it without question. Even if it's nowhere near to the previous month's bill I pay it. Because trying to get satisfaction in a dispute with Verizon is for me a lost cause. I always end up feeling like I brought a bag of marshmallows to a gun fight. I immediately capitulate. I pull out my credit card and let them do with it what they will. It's easier that way.
Now I know two-thirds, nay, maybe three-fourths of my Verizon problem is me. I'm a total philistine trogdolyte when it comes to technology of any kind. I just don't get it. I don't get the techno-lingo. I have trouble grasping concepts. And yet I know it's not all me. At least I don't think it's all me.
Last Sunday afternoon my daughter Theresa and I went to the Verizon store - reckless fools that we were, venturing into a Verizon store on a Sunday afternoon! - so that she could upgrade to a smart phone, get off my plan and onto a family plan with her husband Phill. Oh, my goodness, you'd think it was the U.N. rocket-science division trying to negotiating a nuclear-fission crisis.
The whole procedure took close to two hours and involved a 6-way phone conference among Theresa, me, Phill, the sales rep at our store, the sales rep at the Verizon store in Cincinnati where Phill had prudently decided to station himself while we did the transaction in the Columbus store, and a representative from the corporate office since this ours was such a complicated case.
By the time the ordeal was over I was exhausted, my feet ached and I seriously had to go to the bathroom. Theresa said she needed a milkshake. We both did.
At one point during the ordeal Theresa asked our beleaguered sales rep, "Ummm, is this the first time you've ever had anybody buy a new phone and switch from one plan to another?"
"Actually I'm kind of new ," our sales rep admitted. "And so's the guy at the Cincinnati store."
A that moment a light bulb flashed on.
Like the two characters in Dr. Suess's story about the pale green pants with nobody inside them, maybe the sales rep was just as confused about the situation as I was. Maybe neither of us knew what was going on. Maybe the Verizon sales reps aren't really out to scare me, but feel just as inept as I do. Maybe none of us really understands mysteries the cell-phone corporate juggernaut.
Or it could just be me.