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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Memo to Verizon: Cell phones make it far less necessary to maintain an expensive landline in your home. So don't offer incentives to people to drop the service.

Case in point -- voice mail hell to report a lack of dial tone. Voice mail hell that doesn't include the single best option for restoring a dial tone -- unplugging the phone and then trying again.

And when you do eventually get a human being, I would suggest a rewritten script so they don't ask "are you calling from that number?" Duh! If it worked it wouldn't be calling in the first place.

I'm obviously old enough to remember the old 611 repair number (Why obviously? I still have a landline.) But try finding the all inclusive 800-number in the Verizon Yellow Pages (not to be confused with the Yellow Book or the Verizon White Pages among the various tree killers still be dumped on doorsteps for people to use as doorstops).

Once you eventually find it, you are run through a voice recognition software prompt system asking (endlessly) for the number you are calling about. The system is sensitive enough to pick up the sighs of exasperation you exhale while repeating the number it can't seem to recognize.

Once it finally figures that out, the "helpful" voice suggests you fix it yourself -- by schlepping down into the basement or outside to find the Network Interface Device. The helpful voice suggests you don't touch the device if it's raining. That's encouraging.

When you pass on that one, it offers a second do-it-yourself option, which I admit I didn't even bother to listen to. It then immediately wants to set up a repair appointment and wants to know if someone over the age of 18 will be home.

To which I ask the obvious question -- when? Helpful voice mail system can't cope with that question and asks for my number again. Another sigh and finally a human being.

After we get past the question of whether I'm calling from the number I'm reporting, we get the first glimmer of help -- a question that somehow included the words "unplug the phone."

Eureka! A light goes off (no, I didn't need to call NStar.) Running around to all the phones (this time remembering the antiquated fax machine) I find -- and fix -- the problem.

Glad I rejected the voice mail offer to get text message updates of the progress on my repair project (usual charges apply).

I have stayed with AT&T as my cell phone carrier through its various blips in quality and changes in name. Why? I didn't want all my phone service dependent on Verizon. Smart move

Hey guys, can YOU hear ME now?

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