Archive for Sunday, May 13, 2007

It might be time to pull plug on phone

May 13, 2007


I once read about a woman who became so angry at her rural electric company that each night she would unscrew every lightbulb in her house and let the company's electricity run out all over the floor.

Well, I'm as angry as she was and - if I thought it would be effective - I'd take my phones off their hooks and deplete the telephone company's dial tone. I've never had trouble with any utility except the phone company, but everything that could go wrong in our long business relationship HAS gone wrong.

At our home in the country, husband Ray and I suffered years of phone outages, causing me frequently to drive to our neighbors' working phone to report the problem. Once connected, I'd enter the phone company's dreaded automatic reporting system, dutifully pressing the number signifying I had no dial tone ... at which time the recorded voice would tell me helpfully I could report the problem online. Uh-huh, like they didn't know they had a boatload of frustrated customers who, because DSL wasn't available in their areas, were forced to connect to the Internet via modems which can't get a dial tone if the phone is dead.

It wasn't the many outages, however, that eventually got us a new phone line. It was an intermittent loud buzz on the line that made conversation impossible. Yet each time the repairman showed up, the phone was either behaving properly or the buzz - according to the repairman's measuring device - wasn't loud enough to warrant fixing.

I'm pretty sure the phone company powers-that-be thought I was making up a problem just to be visited by a studly repairman (sadly, if they have one, they never sent him to my house). At last I had an inspiration: When the noise was at its worst, I'd call time and temperature and record the message which could barely be heard above the buzz. After I collected a dozen such recordings in a three-day period, a repairman visited, checked the line and told me the buzz wasn't a problem. But after he listened to the recordings, he changed his mind. We got a new line and haven't - knock on wood - had an outage or a loud buzz since.

Best of all, I have recently chucked my slow Internet dial-up for a wireless Internet service that allows me to connect at seemingly blazing speeds. And as soon as broadband phone service becomes available to us, I'll happily cut the cord and tell the phone company to take a flying leap.

My present anger is because - while running a new phone line to a neighbor - flowers on both sides of our drive were crushed, a hump was left in the driveway, and a private street sign I gave Ray a couple of years ago was pulled up. The sign's 12-foot pole was buried 5 feet deep, which was as deep as Ray's post-hole digger would allow. Although there was ample space to bypass it, the agent working for the phone company dug up the sign and reburied it only a few inches deep, allowing it to wobble and rotate in the wind.

After I requested that the phone company replant the pole to its original depth, its agent phoned and grudgingly said that they would do that even though it was our responsibility (say WHAT?) and that some people want something for nothing (adding too late, "but I'm not saying that's you"). Then he informed me that his employee said the pole initially was buried only 3 or 4 inches deep. When I told Ray what he'd said, Ray exclaimed ... ooops, I can't tell you what he said. My normally slow-to-anger husband usually reserves that particular language for referees who make bad calls in KU basketball games.

I have always been grateful that I neither cry nor curse when I am angry, but I told the man that his employee wasn't being truthful if he said the pole was buried that shallow and invited him to personally inspect the pole which showed clear indication of how deeply it had been planted. I also shared with him that Ray once posted a notice on his office wall at work that posed the question: If you don't have time to do it right, when do you think you'll have time to do it over?

I'm guessing these agents of the telephone company have a lot of do-overs in their work. But they won't do over this one because Ray, thoroughly disgusted, reburied the sign himself ... saying that if he did it, he knew it would be right.

That's more than we've come to expect from you-know-who!

- Marsha Henry Goff is a freelance writer in Lawrence. Information about purchasing her book, "Life Is More Fun When You Live It Jest for Grins," is available by calling 843-2577 or e-mailing


lmpaul 11 years ago

You go, gal! I too am sick of automated systems: push this button for this, push that button for that, push another button for something else. Even if you get the correct department and leave a message, no one calls back. Just a "politically correct" way to tell us customers that they don't want to hear complains, they don't care. Especially frustrating for older folks who just want a real, live breathing person. If my employment didn't necessitate a phone, I'm yank the Da-- thing out of the wall.

prioress 11 years ago

Phones are easy to ignore; just don't call anyone and don't answer the darned thing with it rings. Always ask yourself, "Is there anyone in the world I really want to talk to now?" If the answer is no, just sit there and it will quit ringing.

jonas 11 years ago

Phone companies are evil, that's fact, but this:

"After I requested that the phone company replant the pole to its original depth, its agent phoned and grudgingly said that they would do that even though it was our responsibility (say WHAT?) and that some people want something for nothing (adding too late, "but I'm not saying that's you")."

I'm going to have to call shenanigans.

Katie Van Blaricum 11 years ago

I hate them too. They make me pay for a phone line I dont use, just so I can have DSL. Is that worth $60 a month?

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