This is the saga of the cell phone replacement.
This letter will be sent to Asurion.
Dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is not Billy Perkins. Nor is it Haley, Kali or Harry. I am not the child of Jimmy Perkins, nor am I the child of Jim Richardson. My name is Bailey M. Shoemaker Richards, and I am the daughter of James Richards.
All of the above incorrect names are names your employees have called me on numerous occasions between September 7 and September 11, 2009 as I attempted to get my phone replaced.
Some background on my situation: in January of 2009, my Verizon Wireless-provided Blackberry Curve 8330 stopped functioning. To be precise, the trackball and all attendant tiny electronic parts exploded out of the front of the phone for no apparent reason. After a panicky day of attempting to continue using said exploded phone, you, Asurion Insurance Service Inc., kindly replaced it with an identical (but unbroken) model for a modest $50.
Fast forward to September 7 of this same year. I attempted to place a call to my boyfriend, who lives approximately 180 miles away from me, back in my hometown. I am attending college; he is building a house. And all I could hear was static. Not the friendly, “hang on a second I’ve hit a bad spot” static, but the insane roar of a dragon roasting our conversation dead in midair. We could no longer hear one another.
I called him back from another location…same deal. I sent him a text message, assuring him that I’d call him when my phone was working. I attempted to call my mother. Same exact deal, except the conversation was somewhat more strained (she has food poisoning and hates that I’m approximately 168 miles from home).
At this point, it’s clear that something is wrong with my cell phone. This static cling that’s taken over my calls is obviously not me hitting a bad spot in the connection (although Athens, Ohio is admittedly full of them). There is a technical difficulty, Houston. What’s a girl to do but head up to the local Verizon store and see what they can do?
Apparently, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., what they can do is nothing. The man behind the counter, with his loose-fitting polo shirt and distinct odor of Subway sandwiches, informed me that I needed a software update, which could only be done from a computer. I have a Mac. I explained this to the man in the loose-fitting polo shirt, and he informed me that the software should be available for a Mac.
Guess what? It’s not.
I had made the trek of several hot, steaming, college-smelling blocks to Verizon and back to my dorm (which smells of hazelnut coffee, in case you are curious), only to be disappointed by the necessity of another trek of those selfsame blocks. I returned to the Verizon store, distinctly less pleased than I had been, and the man in the loose-fitting polo seemed less excited to see me. He plugged my phone into the store’s computer and informed that I had at least a 40-minute wait on my hands.
Indeed I did. Fortunately, as a writer, I am never without occupation. I set about working on some things and discussed the current cell phone conundrum with my mother via the Internet, blessed thing that it is.
Phone updated, I left, with the intention of visiting a local bookstore-cum-coffee-shop in the hopes of obtaining a job. I called my mother on the way over, rejoicing at the crystal clear tones of our conversation until –oh, tragedy! –but a moment into our speech, the static returned. And so I did not go to the bookstore-cum-coffee-shop, but instead spun on my heel and went back to Verizon.
Are you keeping a score, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.? That is the third time I had gone to Verizon that day, within the space of a few hours. Upon my entrance –this time with all the fire of righteous indignation in my eyes and in my step –the hapless counter jockey merely handed me the number of Verizon’s warranty replacement service.
At last! Perhaps Verizon’s warranty replacement service could get me somewhere. I met a friend of mine at another local coffee-shop (I live on a college campus; there are nearly as many coffee-shops as there are restaurants) to call the number I was given. After being disconnected from seven different calls, one finally stuck, and the woman on the line told me that the phone you sent me, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., was a refurbished phone, and under your warranty until January of 2010. She connected me to a representative on your end, and hung up.
Within twenty seconds of my conversation with the gentleman, he hung up on me. I’m not sure if it was intentional or accidental, but as I had no phone number at which to reach you then, I had to start all over. These several conversations with Verizon each took a different tack, all irrelevant now, but no two methods of dealing with my phone were the same. I could not get a Verizon representative to give me your number for ages.
It would not be until September 8 of this year that I would have a number for you, yourself, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc. But I would only have that number after a total of nine hours on the phone with Verizon’s warranty replacement service. Did you read that right, my friend? Nine hours on the phone and three visits to a local Verizon store with absolutely no resolution –not even an explanation as to what could be causing the problem.
Cue the beginning of my interactions with your staff, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc. Allow me to remind you that on the survey card sent with my (eventual) replacement phone, your slogan says, “Our passion is your peace of mind.” Ostensibly, this is a goal to which your employees would strive. Clearly, someone has missed some memos.
My first conversation lasted for over an hour as a man had me answer my phone when he called it, call him back immediately and repeat this song and dance routine somewhere in the neighborhood of seven times. Despite the fact that I could not hear a single word he said, nor he understand what I said, he resolutely denied being able to detect the static that riddled the airwaves between our ears and mouths.
According to him, nothing could be done, since there seemed to be nothing wrong with the phone. We hung up, after he instructed me to do a soft reset and assuring me that the problem would be fixed. It wasn’t. I called back and a very strange, very incompetent woman answered the phone.
Generally, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., I am a patient customer. My tolerance for poor customer service is very high when dealing with representatives. I am not a mean person. I am a 20-year-old creative writing major who loves books as much as I love some people, but I am not mean. However. However. After almost two full days without my cell phone working, without being able to converse with my mother or my boyfriend (to both of whom I am very close) and without any resolution on the issue, my patience was at its limit.
This woman, whoever she was, was an idiot. I will not sugar coat that fact for you. How she has retained any sort of employment with you or anyone is a mystery. After calling me Billy Perkins, and seeming to willfully ignore my protestations that my name is Bailey Richards, she proceeded to tell me that my phone number ended with 5163 and she could not find it in the system.
“Ma’am,” I insisted. “Ma’am, my name is Bailey Richards and my phone number ends in 5133.” Eventually I got through to her –only to be told that I would need to run some tests on my phone. I refused, albeit politely. I told her I was reaching my tenth hour of dealing with the issue and would simply like to have my obviously defective phone replaced, if that wouldn’t be too much trouble.
She informed me that she’d have to transfer me to technical support, as only they had the power to replace my phone. Personally, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., I don’t believe that. I think she was simply lazy and stupid. I accepted the transfer and was informed in no uncertain terms that replacing my phone was not an option.
I hung up in frustration, after ascertaining that no one on your staff was going to be of any help to me, before again communicating with my mother via the Internet. She called, and was put on hold for no reason, before being informed that to get a replacement, she had to have the phone in front of her.
Imagine my renewed frustration, if you would, when hearing by proxy that although my mother had found someone who would replace the phone, because I am approximately 168 miles away with said phone, nothing would be done. My mother, less patient than I with poor customer service, requested a supervisor.
I will not swear, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., because I don’t wish to taint this letter with curses and unnecessary bile, but the woman with whom my mother spoke next would be best described using the most vile, foul words I can think of. She not only refused to offer my mother a solution, she also refused to find anyone else with whom my mother could speak –she claimed that there was no one higher in authority than herself. When my mother asked if she owned the company, predictably, the woman had no answer except an excuse to hang up.
I had no recourse but to return to Verizon and call your company again from their phone, my access to any phone but my own having been temporarily removed by the fact that I didn’t have classed to attend (due to clever scheduling on my part) and my friends all did. Are you keeping track of the time frame? It is now at this point in the narrative September 9, 2009. I have spent at this point spent approximately 13 hours of my life attempting to replace a phone that quite obviously does not work.
Let me tell you something. I’m a freelance writer. This means that all of my unoccupied time is devoted to writing. I write profitably for four different websites and manage a blog –this in addition to an annual novel-writing competition, 17 hours of advanced classes and cooking all of my own meals due to severe food allergies. I’m a busy young woman. I lost what amounts to $100 over the first three days of attempting to replace my quite obviously broken phone. I do not appreciate this, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc. I do not appreciate it at all.
Additionally, I attempted half-heartedly to do another soft reset of my phone. After this attempt, the phone would no longer even turn on. I took the battery out again –nothing. In desperation, I plugged the phone in –nothing. Enraged, I went to sleep and planned to resolve the issue.
So when I went back into Verizon on Wednesday, I went full force. People were propelled from my path by the sheer force of my anger, and when I flung open the door to the Verizon store, the same man from two days prior, this time in a different loose-fitting polo shirt (but still smelling of Subway), did not look at all pleased to see me. In fact, when I smiled, he looked downright frightened.
“I need your phone,” I told him, and I had seven hundred years of Scottish temper behind the words. Incidentally, should you be interested, I am a descendant of William Wallace’s mother. You know the movie Braveheart? That sort of temper is the temper I have. I was given a phone.
The woman who answered was the first of your representatives who was kind to me. She, unlike those who came before her, apologized for my misfortunes and assured me that she would do everything in her power to help me –except she did not have that power which is necessary to replace a phone. A phone, I feel compelled to add, that you had sent me initially, and which was not new.
She transferred me to a man named Harold. He, like the woman before him, was incredibly nice. Such a change from your other employees, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.! He was curious, friendly and willing to help me, where the others were incompetent, combative and seemed only to want to pass the buck to someone else.
Despite my explanations of my (at that point) 15 hours on phones and in stores, he still insisted that we run through all of the tests through which I had already run. My hackles went up, but I complied. My phone is important to me. Not only do I conduct my personal affairs on it, it’s invaluable for my multiple writing jobs. After forty-five minutes, he finally came to the conclusion that I had reached nearly two full days before him: the phone was shot. Nothing left to do but replace it.
He offered me the same model, kindly pointing out that it was also available in pink. I laughed for the first time in two days: I am not a pink sort of a person. My sheets are blue. My backpack is black and grey. I have posters of Audrey Hepburn and Casablanca on my walls. I requested that the phone I received be identical to the one I had, in simple black and silver.
I gave Harold my address. He read it back to me, incorrectly; I corrected him. He’d had my room number wrong. He read it back to me again, and, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., had I had a gold star to give him, it would have been his. The address was correct, and he assured me that my phone would be delivered sometime on Thursday, September 10, 2009.
I left the Verizon store feeling almost like a new woman! Imagine –a new, working phone. I would be able to hear the voices of my boyfriend and my mother again. I would be able to call my friends on campus to make plans (which is more efficient than text messaging). The joy! The rapture!
But wait, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc.! Our story has not yet ended. Thursday came, and Thursday darkened. Evening arrived. The time for UPS deliveries was long since past and my mother and I commiserated irritably on the Internet about my absent phone. Hoarse of voice and emotionally drained, I conferred onto my mother the dubious joy of calling you yet again to ascertain the whereabouts of my truant phone.
The address, she was told, was wrong. I stared, aghast, at that proclamation. How could the address have been wrong? Harold, my savior and champion, had written it down correctly! Where in the process did my information get skewed or lost?
And then, then came the proclamation that spawned a rage that shook the foundations of my earth. The woman with whom my mother spoke informed her, after placing her on an unnecessary hold for over fifteen minutes, that you had already shipped out your quota of replacement phones. Impotent with anger, I could not even type a response to my mother, who appeared to be in a similar state. She vanished for a long, long time while I looked in vain at the screen, hoping for an answer.
Eventually she returned, telling me only, cryptically, that it was taken care of. To what gods did she sacrifice in order to make your pugnacious employees tractable, I wonder? No matter, it seemed, for the phone had been halted in its return delivery to you and was on its way back to me.
Today is Friday, September 11, 2009. I received my phone shortly before noon, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., and for that I thank you. Although the UPS man startled me by knocking on my door as though he had a grudge against it, he nevertheless delivered my phone (and a textbook), and my day was made incomparably better.
Let us take stock, however, of my trials in getting this phone. I spent, and my mother spent, over 16 hours on the phone over the course of four days. 99% of those calls involved accusations of foul play on my end, a distinct unwillingness to help resolve my problem, the brutal butchery of my name and the name of my father, argumentation, unnecessary amounts of time spent on hold or re-explaining my situation to each and every person with whom I spoke and finally, on the cusp of victory, I found that my address had been tampered with in some way. The phone had been within my very building, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., and yet could not make its humble way to me because someone in your system could not write a simple address correctly (and let it be known that I do not believe Harold is at fault for this egregious error).
So, explain it to me, if you wouldn’t mind. How is it that a company whose motto proclaims that my peace of mind is its passion can ridicule, harass, ignore and refuse to aid me in reaching said peace of mind? Indeed, how is it that an insurance company for which my parents pay an absurd amount of money refuse to provide the only service for which they exist –namely, getting me a new phone when my own had failed? And, I might add, a failed “new” phone that was not even new to begin with.
I am very curious, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., as to how such a situation as I have been placed this week was even allowed to exist, given your claims, given the payment my family makes to you so that you will render services unto us when the need arises, given the number of times I explained –patiently –the circumstances under which I was calling.
I suspect you have no answer.
It would not surprise me. In fact, had you an answer, I might not, at this point, even care to hear or acknowledge it. I have taken what amounts to an entire twenty-four hour period out of my life, my writing, my studies, my socialization, in order to replace a piece of electronic equipment that you were contractually bound to replace should it malfunction, which it did. I have lost money. I have lost time. I have lost some measure of my very sanity and faith in the power of human beings as a result of our exchange, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., and this does not please me.
I am asking for no reparations. I don’t expect to be reimbursed for the $100-150 I lost as a result of spending my days on the phones of other people (although I wouldn’t mind getting reimbursed). I don’t even expect a reply.
All I hope is that your company “claws/the red clay walls of hell for what [it] did” –to quote one of my favorite poets, Steve Scafidi.
I hope that when someone calls in with a phone that no longer works, your employees will feel my hot breath on their necks and feel terror.
I hope you have nightmares of me, dear Asurion Insurance Service Inc., me: a five-foot-four-inch, one hundred and eleven pound woman, clothed only with true Scottish woad (and indignation), pushing you inexorably towards a horrible cliff’s edge, for the rest of your natural lives.
I hope you read this letter and are ashamed of the vile, puling monstrosity you call an insurance company.
And I really hope you do not think you will continue to have my business, or the business of my family.
Bailey M. Shoemaker Richards
The Reading Corner is a place where books of all genres are examined and reviewed. Comments, questions and disagreement are welcomed. Grab some coffee and a comfy chair and make yourself at home.