Taking responsibility

Dear Editor,
It’s another nickel and dime thing but it’s the kind of thing that happens here every day to everybody all the time and it makes people crazy. A year ago in December I needed to renew my Internet service. I was using the cable company because they had a great deal. Pay a year in advance and get 12 months for the price of 11. And when Internet is costing you 90 bucks a month, getting a month free is worth the price of admission. So, I hump my way over to TelEm who took over the cable company and runs their operations now to take care of it. When I get there I notice that the speeds they are offering for 90 bucks aren’t a lot different than the speeds they are offering for 60 bucks and considering the reliability of the service is somewhere just barely north of two tin cans with string between them, I figure I’ll downgrade and see how bad it really is.
So, I sit with the customer service guy and we go through everything. I was paying something like 990 per year before, now I’m paying 660 or thereabout. At home the service is a bit slower but nothing meaningful so the 330 savings is looking good.
Fast forward to a month ago. One day at noon my service goes off. I call up and get no help whatsoever from the alleged help desk so the next day I hump back down to TelEm to find out what’s going on. The explanation is simple. They shut me off on purpose so they could get me down there to sell me a new service – fiber optic. I am annoyed that they cost me a day of screwing around and service but in the end they say “look the cable is getting turned off and you need to migrate. Better price, better speed and in the end you have no choice.” So, I sign the paper, they turn my cable Internet back on and we sit back to wait for the fiber to show up.
But, it turns out, fiber is never going to show up. At least that’s what the techs say. And then they shut me off again. Mind you, I am bought and paid for until January. So, I hump down to TelEm for the third time.
You know you’re in trouble when the CS women start calling you by your first name. This time the woman says, “I don’t know what’s wrong with these people. They should have just put you on wireless.” That’s certainly okay with me if it works as well and is the same price. She says it is, so away we go. It takes an hour and some screwing around and another $108. When we are all said and done, I say, “You know I’m paid up until January, right? Are you going to refund me or simply credit the new account?” There is a flurry of keyboard work and she finally says, “No problem. We’ll move your credit balance over to the new account as soon as you bring the cable modem back.”
So, with everything done and dusted I walk out with a wireless modem that, surprisingly, works really well. Two days later I bring the cable modem back and turn it in. A lot more keyboard work and everything gets settled. Right up until I ask, “What are my remaining credits?” “$13,” she says.
“Impossible,” I say. “I’m paid in full until January.”
And so it begins. I explain that I am paid in full until January plus they charged me a month in advance for the new system so they actually owe me 4 months . More like $240. The short version from here is that after extensive discussions, and being told more than once what I was claiming was impossible, it seems that the CS guy a year ago entered some wrong data somehow and my records in their system were incorrect. Even though the math adds up perfectly 660ish/11 is the 60/M rate which is exactly what their records show that I paid, their system was incorrectly billing me 70/month or thereabouts for whatever reason.
Now, this is the kind of argument you are never going to win with these guys. They have your money and they are going to keep it no matter how badly they screw up or it being their fault. But in this case I may get really lucky. When I got home I asked my rational and intelligent wife if, by any chance, she still had the scrap of paper receipt from TelEm that I left on the kitchen table last December. For me this would be a zero percent chance, but for her it was a matter of 3 minutes. And there it all is in black and white. Fully documented and stamped “PAID IN FULL FOR 12 MONTHS”. All dated and official. QED
They have a copy of that at TelEm as we speak. Let’s see if they are honest and straightforward enough to just say, “Yup, we screwed up, you’re paid until January plus one more month.” And do it before the next solar eclipse. Bets anyone?

Steven Johnson

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