I Have A Hang-Up

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by Robert Adcox

Each of us is often tasked with doing business over the phone. Whether enrolling for college courses, enquiring about layaway policies, or dealing with vendors they occasionally lead us to difficult experiences – while others provide opportunities for laughter after all is said and done. Recently, however, paying the phone bill instilled in me a desire to smash my head against a wall.

The whole experience began when I attempted to pay the bill by calling the number listed on page one. Unfortunately, no one in the printing department apparently received instructions regarding business office hours. Imagine my delight when, after having followed five prompts, I was instructed to “please continue to hold.” This was, of course, followed by every Neil Diamond instrumental interpretation ever made. I’ve discovered that I can, in fact, survive “Forever In Blue Jeans” punctuated every fifteen seconds by “your call is important to us.” Considering the ninety-seven or so times they reminded me of that important fact, I cannot help but believe them.

Being placed on hold isn’t without its silver lining, however; once I habituated to the secondary message that “all of our representatives are busy”, it began to sink in that twenty-nine minutes had already slipped by. Becoming concerned that something was amiss, I opted to hang up and call the “zero” operator. A very personable lady, she politely informed me that the business office had closed two hours before I began my now-failed attempt to pay my bill.

Great.

Speaking as politely as a man with boiling blood and clenched teeth possibly can, I thanked her and ended the conversation. At first I decided to go to a certain “social utility network” to pout about the experience. (Amazing how patient my friends are with me. Thanks guys!) What a wonderful venue to rant about such things.

Then an idea walloped me: if the phone company can bill us for services provided, then shouldn’t we be compensated for losing substantial periods of our time due to their misinformation? Not to belabor the point, but I think my time IS valuable. Certainly, it’s as valuable as theirs, as far as I’m concerned. With that in mind, I decided to do what any other fair minded kook in my situation would do.

I billed the phone company for one thousand dollars.

That is, I’m charging the phone company three hundred dollars for a half an hour I’ll never get back, in addition to seven hundred bucks for inconvenience, irritation, frustration, and plain old gas. I contend that “your call is important to us” might make you feel like hot property at first, but after awhile you begin to feel used whenever that recording activates.

Oh, the business office says it doesn’t recognize the bill, but taking into account the fact that I had to relive this ordeal again yesterday morning means that the company now owes me two thousand dollars. I’m not sure how I’m going to spend or invest the windfall. I like to think I’d buy a new chair for my computer table, a low-buck paint job for my car, and a pizza, but I’m afraid that I might do something foolish with that kind of money instead.

Like invest in a phone company.

I’d have a hang-up about that.