Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You've Been Customer Served

What do you mean you don't want 10 GB of Justin Bieber songs for $29.99 a month?
I hate The Nutcracker.

My little sister took ballet as a kid, and each year they performed The Nutcracker in Spartanburg. I, of course, had to attend. It was usually anywhere from two to thirty-six hours long, depending on how well the girls had their routines down. So I would sit there, dressed in some itchy sweater and clip-on tie, quietly cursing Tchaikovsky as well as any 10-year-old could. And as I waited for my sister to spend her five minutes of stage time as a Gingersnap Sprite or Licorice Lemming or whatever the hell she played that year, I heard that damn song. You know what it is. I don’t know if it has a name. But it’s the Nutcracker song they play every Christmas.

Now, decades later, I still hate that goddamn song. And it takes me back to watching ballet as a kid.

Last week, we ordered my wife a new cell phone. She was eligible for a new one from Verizon with a two new year contract and about $40 worth of accessories you don’t ever need.

“Hey, man, you gotta buy the bug screen for your phone, or those locusts will just slam into that bitch all day long!”

What does that have to do with the Nutcracker? Just wait.

Verizon had a deal online for a new LG G3 phone for only $30. Take my money. As I processed the order, I saw they had an extra treat to dangle in front of us: Get a free LG 8.3 LTE tablet with the purchase. That’s one of those things you Google about seven times just to make sure they’re not bullshitting you.

So we processed the order, got the necessary insurance for when my wife sneezes on the phone and it shatters the screen, and let FedEx take care of the rest.

The phone arrived Monday. I had the moment of clairvoyance when I first placed the order that the tablet would not arrive. It sucks being right all the time.

So I settled in for a nice, long winter phone call to Verizon customer service. After a couple of disconnects and transfers, I finally reached a customer service rep who seemed about as pleased to talk to me as a South Carolina politician taking an ethics exam. He seemed genuinely surprised that I was a due a free tablet. He checked with his manager and had a nice surprise for me: the 8.3 tablet was out of stock with no back order options. Translation: You ain’t gettin’ one, fool!

So he again checked with his manager and offered a “comparable” solution: they would send me a free Verizon Ellipsis 7 tablet. Okay, sure. In Spartanburg, we don’t look a gift goat in the mouth. He signed me up for a two-year plan and we called it a night.

Well, until I got curious and looked up reviews on the Ellipsis 7. Turns out it’s about as popular as George W. Bush at a spelling bee. The average Amazon review boiled down to people saying they would rather catch a wasp in their buttocks than have this tablet for free.

So I called back. Same process, same disconnects, same offers for new plans that promise forest nymphs will climb out of my phone and give me 4 extra gigs of data. When I finally get a person on the phone who has more authority than a slug, I express my desire to drop the Ebola of a tablet that is the Ellipsis 7.

Oh, but this customer service rep has a surprise for me. There’s a magical certified preowned LG 8.3 LTE they’ve been hiding for a special asshole, and I have now won the prize. So I get that.

Which, of course, includes a $35 activation fee. I think that means I pay $35 for them to put a battery in it and turn it on. I could have had the fee waived if I bought $60 worth of tablet cases, stainless steel screen covers, and a pit bull chained to the tablet. Yeah, I didn’t get the math either.

So now I have a free tablet on the way so I can… play Words with Friends on a bigger screen. Oh, what the hell does this have to do with the ballet story?

Because for the approximate 45 minutes I spent on hold, they played the goddamn Nutcracker song.

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