Remember the song Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin?
From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun, Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul. Through all kinds of weather, through everything that we done, Hey Bobby baby kept me from the cold.
This blog is called Me and AT&T. The corporation owned my soul for thirty-four years and yes, it did keep me from the cold with a paycheck every two weeks, but I swear, the place has gone to hell in a hand-basket since the day I left. Back in the day, customer satisfaction was the prime objective. Phone out? You could expect a repairman before the sun went down. But that was in days when most folks had a phone that was attached to the wall, had a dial of some sort, push button or rotary, and a tangled cord between the base and handset that began as a six-footer, but stretched to nine and beyond when the teenagers were using it.
It’s a different story today with cell phones and video and texting while driving into other cars. Yes, I have a cell phone. Last month’s bill showed 4 minutes of talk time when I couldn’t find the celery salt in the grocery store and had to call home for guidance. Got to admit, cells do have their benefits. And would you believe it? AT&T actually gives us old folks, their retirees, a concession on their phone bills, landline and cellular. The kind old heart of Ma Bell, my company, continues to beat…until recently.
Word came down the line that concessions would cease and desist for all retirees unless…unless they switched to paperless billing and did so by Aug. 1, 2015. Gotta save a buck where they can, right? That word did not come from the new and cold AT&T, but from an email sent by my old union, the Communications Workers of America. It was a gotcha that failed, the secret was out. All I had to do, the email said, was log onto my account and request the change.
Problem was, I had not logged on my AT&T account for maybe oh, ten years or more. Would you be surprised to learn that my user ID and password were no longer valid? Didn’t think so. But that was just for the landline number, I could still log on to my cell account. I did so and after a couple hundred clicks, found a place to request a new password for the landline. Ever the efficient one, I opted to use the same password for the landline account as I had for the cell account. It went downhill from there, very fast. I was locked out. I swallowed my pride and dialed the help number.
I tried to explain the problem to Ashley, the nice young lady who had the bad luck to take my call. I kept it simple.
“I can’t log on to my account.”
“What is your user ID, sir?
“I could tell you, but it used to be my social security number and I’m guessing that won’t work these days.”
“No sir, is that the only User ID you have?”
I confessed that it was. Oh, the shame of it.
“Not a problem,” Ashley says, “We’ll use your telephone number as your ID.” Good thinking Ashley.
She continued. “Now for your new password, I will send that on the phone you’re talking on now. Do you have call waiting?”
Huh? “Well, yeah, I do, but how…?”
“When you hear the call waiting tone, take the call and get your temporary password, and then reconnect to me.”
I waited. I did not here the call waiting tones. But then I’m mostly deaf. There’s that.
“Did you get the call?”Ashley asked.
“No, no I did not. Do we have another option?’
“All I can do now is send your new password via U. S. mail.”
“What? Send it by email, Ashley. I’m right here in front of the computer, seconds away.”
“I’m sorry, but those are the only two options available to me.”
I swear to you, folks, I am not making this up. I’m talking to one of the largest communication companies in the freakin’ world, and they want to send me time sensitive information by snail mail?
“There’s one other thing I could do,” Ashley says, sensing my growing rage. “I could call in another department and upgrade your request.”
“Fine, just fine, Ashley. Do it!”
“Except this is Friday and I doubt they will be able to act on this until Monday.”
Ah, the old weekend gotcha. In an age where billions of dollars are traded in nanoseconds on the NYSE, the phone company still shuts down for the weekend with two hours to go before quitting time.
See what I mean about the company going to hell? They should hire me back, put me in as CEO, install some common sense in the place. Make a little money too. Won’t need their stinkin’ concessions. Yeah.