Saturday, 1 March 2014

On the Phone

Joseph likes the telephone. When we go to playgroup he loves playing with the old fashioned (I say "old fashioned" but they're the push button binatone phones I grew up with) telephones that are sometimes got out. It's a good job they're not connected to anything as an awful lot of people would get random calls along the lines of "Hello... It's Joseph. I'm playing. Yes, yes, uh-huh bye bye." because, according to him, that's what you say on the phone.
If I have to make a telephone call I try and do it when he's out of the way as he sits and yells "I want to talk! I want to listen!" over and over again and that makes it hard for me to talk and listen.

My mobile phone contract expired recently. Somebody, apparently from Carphone Warehouse, phoned up to negotiate a new contract. Now, if I'd only been able to concentrate on what the man was saying I'm sure all the problems would have been avoided as I probably would have realised that he wasn't from the above mentioned retailer but from one of their "subsidiaries". Beware of subsidiaries, all they do is rip you off.
Did I want a smartphone? No because I'm a cheapskate who doesn't want to pay over the odds for a phone with a load of features I'll never use and a contract with a load off stuff I will also never use.
This rather threw him.
Did I want a new handset anyway?
Not if I don't have to. I quite like the one I've got, although it is a little old and the battery life isn't quite what it was. Sometimes I have to charge it up after only seven days! (Another reason I'm still a little bit anti-smartphone).
I had to have a new handset. Ok then, as long as it's decent. Do I get a choice?

All of this was conducted to the background of a TV programme that Joseph wasn't really watching but wouldn't let me pause and a toddler screaming "I WANT TO LISTEN!!!" at the top of his voice over and over and over.
I ascertained that there was a cooling-off period and concluded the call.

The phone arrived a few days later. My suspicions were instantly aroused by the fact that I had been told the phone would be silver, indeed the paperwork said the same, but it was in fact black. Hold up, if they can't even send one the correct colour, what else is wrong?
A screen the size of a postage stamp, that's what and no built in camera. It had the look of something from about fourteen years ago. What, I wondered, were they trying to pull?
I called up the wretched subsidiary and complained a bit and got a postal address to send it back to. Can't I take it to the Carphone warehouse shop that's about a ten minute walk away? No, we're a subsidiary.
Back it went anyway, having had to pay a significant sum in postage as Royal Mail will only carry phones on recorded delivery. Probably a good job though, as I do have a very accurate record of when I posted the darned thing. Joseph spent the whole time in the post office staring up at the very old fashioned built in fan and saying "Look Mummy, a fan!" and generally managing to stand in everyones way.

I then discovered I could get a much cheaper sim-only deal though my internet provider and politely told my mobile phone company that they were no longer wanted, no I didn't want to see if they could do a price match as I already had my new sim good to go and could I have my PAC please to transfer my number?
Call made during a short and sleepless toddler nap time, so whilst I had to listen to a small boy telling his toys off from the comfort of the bed, I could at least talk on the phone without the aural onslaught.

A little while later, having transferred my number and happily using my new sim in my very very old phone I realised that an email had appeared from my old provider. Something about a bill. A bill? I paid the last bill, why are they asking for more.
It read: -
Here is your latest bill for £211. Your money will be collected by direct debit. A little more than expected? Please click here.

It's a good job I had put my cup of tea down to check my email. If I'd been sipping it at the time then I dread to think what would have happened. We'd probably have had to replace the computer keyboard again at least.
Why was my bill so big? No I had not been phoning up Uruguay or Burkina Fasso. It was an "Early termination charge".
You WHAT? I was told I had a 14 day cooling off period and that wretched piece of pathetic technology they had tried to palm me off with had been in my possession for less than 24 hours. I'd never even bothered to charge it up.
I called the company, rather annoyed that now I wasn't a customer any more I'd get charged for the privilege. Eventually after listening to annoying hold music someone spoke to me and did indeed confirm that I'd returned the stupid phone within the time and the charge was unfair. I asked why I'd been given it in the first place.
It's because they'd sent me a bill for the new contract.
Yes, they'd tried to charge me for a months use of a phone that had been out of it's box for less than an hour. I'd never used the phone so I'd never activated the new sim it came with and therefore had not had any use of the new contract but the money grubbing little swine had charged me for it anyway, activating the contract and making me eligible for an early termination charge. I was told this was not a problem, the nice lady needed to get some forms to fill in so she'd ring me back before the end of the day to sort it all out.
She was lying, she never phoned back.
I phoned the following day, well aware that my ire had reached the point that I was close to chewing chunks out of the furniture. No problem, I was again told. No, I didn't need to fill in any forms. The charge could be cancelled then and there and I'd be able to see it credited back to my phone account in three working days. No, they hadn't taken the money already (previous lady said they had), it was due in just over a week so as a precaution I should cancel the direct debit.
We did, but it took some finding as they're a bit sneaky and hide the payment under a less than obvious name.
Four days later I checked my phone account online and noticed the charge was still there listed as outstanding and payment due. Joseph was up from his nap and I didn't fancy dealing with them and an unruly toddler so I postponed my annoyance till the following day and spent quite some time on hold again.
I got through and was told that the charge was indeed cancelled. No, I told them, it's not. Are you sure you're looking at the right account on your end because it's still very much there on mine.
It will look like that, I was told as the cancellation of the charge wont show up until the bill is due.
Why? I asked. Sounds a bit daft to me.
It's just how the computer system works.
Ok, I replied, but please be aware that I have now been told three differing things by three different people and I'm not sure who to believe any more. Either way, my direct debit cancelled and your company is not going to squeeze another penny from me however stupid their computer system might be.
 Very sensible, she told me. By the tone of her voice I guessed she'd had far too many calls from grumpy customers dealing with bill errors due to their error ridden system. I felt sorry for her, thanked her for her time and hung up.

I'll let you all know the final upshot of all of this, but it probably wouldn't have come to this if I'd only been able to hear properly on the original phone call. Thanks Joseph, you little cheeky pain.
Would it be wrong of me to mention that the mobile network in question who have given me all the trouble are 02?
Oh well.