AT&T’S “WHY DID YOU CANCEL” SURVEY – Marilyn Armstrong

They all do it. They sent me a survey to find out “why I had canceled my AT&T subscription.”

Lists of reason, 1 to 10 … and a LOT of them. Usually, I don’t bother to do these surveys, but I was seriously pissed with them, so this gave me one more chance to tell them how pissed I really am.

The sent me a new bill for $71. For leaving. I upgraded my package by resigning. Canceling.

She said it was for the month of January. I asked why it was $20 higher than my standard bill. Because I upgraded my package.

By canceling.

So the survey asked what (precisely) I hated the MOST about AT&T. Hard call.


I had 100 points to use for up to five selections, of which four were strongly in the running:

a — Bad customer service

b — Too expensive

c — Failure to have a plan that I need

d — Limited ability to actually get their signal. 


It was a difficult choice on every level. I really wanted to give whole hundred points (each) to a & b and another 200 points to “too expensive.” Maybe 75 for “lousy connection.” It would be more, but we so rarely used the telephone, the crappy signal hardly mattered.

That was too many points. Painful. I needed many, many more points.  And no matter how I did it, I would need a few extra points for barely usable service and an old phone that we couldn’t afford to upgrade. And a simple, elderly plan because we barely use the phone. We have 5 computers (maybe 6 or possibly 7 if you count a Kindle as a computer) and a landline. We virtually never go anywhere, so for what do I need cell phone except for the occasional emergency in the car or our more typically “We are completely lost. How do we find you”?

I got it down to three: bad customer service, too expensive, and lousy signal. I put 50-points on “Too expensive,” 40-points on “Bad customer service,” and 10-points on “Lousy signal strength.”

I would never use a mobile telephone for any financial purpose, so all the phone needed to do was make an occasional phone call or receive a text. In theory, I can also send texts but I don’t know how.

Personally, I think people who live on their phones are being awfully casual about security. With all the hacking and thieving via cell phones, people just keep adding more and more apps. How many of those apps are really worms? You folks who use phones for everything could be in for a rude surprise.

Meanwhile, one of the final question they asked if I would ever recommend the services of AT&T to a friend.  So let me be clear about this:

THERE’S NO GOOD TIME TO CALL AT&T – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Affable

Affable. I was in a pretty good mood when we got home from shopping, or at least as good as I feel after shopping when I have a cold and forgot to buy eggs. That was probably why I thought it was a good time to call AT&T and get my rates dropped. I’ve been overpaying for my phone for more than a decade and I was determined to GET the lower rates this time.

First, there is NO good time to call AT&T. No one knows anything. They transfer you back and forth and half the numbers they give you don’t work. Even when you get the right person, they don’t know anything. No one takes notes so you have to explain the problem over and over and over and by the fourth time I was repeating the same story, I was just plain pissed.

What I had done — THOUGHT I had done — was to transfer from my $53/month plan to the $29.99 plan which is part of the “Senior Nation” set of benefits for we old folks.

This required that I have an un-smart phone.

I wanted an un-smart phone in the first place because I don’t use the internet on the phone. If I want the internet, for this I have multiple computers. But our telephone distributor (they are morons there, too) said they didn’t have any, couldn’t get any — so you had a choice of a smartphone or? A smartphone.

We ended up with this Galaxy Samsung Google phone which does whatever it does pretty well, far as I can tell — but they only thing I do with it is to make an occasional phone call … like when we are on the road and lost (always lost, always and forever), or if the power is out and we have to call the electric company.

I don’t use it on the internet. I don’t use it to update banking or to text. I actually don’t know how to text. That’s embarrassing, I realize, but I simply haven’t done it … so I don’t know how. Garry doesn’t know how either. But Garry is anti-technical and I’m supposed to know all this stuff. I do know a lot of stuff, but texting isn’t one of them. Shoot me, but there it is. I also cannot change the ink in my printer. I hate printers and I refuse to even try.

After making this arrangement to get on the low-cost plan and get a free flip phone (yes, they still make them), I got a bill from AT&T informing me that I’d changed my plan and would now be paying them $90 next month and $60 for each month after that — which is significantly more than I’m currently playing. For having done absolutely nothing except try to lower my bill.

No mention of the senior plan. No mention of the free phone. No mention of nothing.

I called back. No one knew what I was talking about, but they kept transferring me from one department (who knew nothing) to another department (which knew nothing). Finally, I called back and said: “I’ve had it. Either you fix this right now or I’m leaving AT&T. You people are driving me CRAZY.” I have been an AT&T customer for about 15 years and there was a time when they actually had really good customer service.

Ah, those were the days. We were so young, so optimistic.

Phones

So eventually, I got the $29.99 (+ taxes, et al) and can use the phone I’ve got OR the one they are actually sending me. I don’t think you can transfer a smartphone SIM card to a flip phone. I’ll deal with that IF I ever get another phone. My current phone is five years old, but it looks brand new, probably because effectively, it IS brand new. I don’t use it. It lives in my bag and is usually off.

So much for affable.

At this point, I’m plain pissed off, even though I think (I hope, I believe) I have the issue dealt with. But who knows? I may get another bill any minute. Nothing like a long afternoon on the phone with customer service to finish off your good mood of the day.

Now I’m watching the news. The final crunch. I have such a nasty headache, too.

SALVATION AND THE ELECTRONIC SHEAVES … – Marilyn Armstrong

What is Salvation But the Salvage of Your Soul?


Someone asked a pastor with whom I am acquainted (online) if he had any proof that praying on the Internet accomplished anything. He said “No. The prayer is really for you!”

Still and all, the last time we went to church — a pretty long time ago, I admit — this is pretty much how it went.

 


SALVATION ON THE INTERNET

PASTOR: “Praise the Lord!”

CONGREGATION: “Hallelujah!”

PASTOR: “Will everyone please turn on their tablet, PC, iPad, smartphone, and Kindle Bibles to 1 Corinthians, 13:13. Also, please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon.”

(P-a-u-s-e … )

PASTOR: “Now, Let us pray to commit this week into God’s hands. Open your Apps, Twitter and Facebook, and chat with God”

(S-i-l-e-n-c-e … )

PASTOR: “As we take our Sunday tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready. You can log on to the church wi-fi using the password Lord-131. The ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the worshipers. Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church. If you want to use your iPad, please open them. Those of you who use telephone banking, you can take out your cell phones to transfer contributions to the church account.”

(The holy atmosphere of the Church becomes electrified as smartphones, iPads, PCs, and laptops beep and flicker.)

AND IN CLOSING …

DEACON: Thank you all for being here today. Remember this week’s ministry meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and don’t miss out! Thursday’s Bible study will be held live on Skype at 19:00 GMT. Let’s see your face too! You can follow Pastor on Twitter this week #PastorCounsel for counseling and prayer.

God bless and have a great day.

I don’t know why, but we felt so out-of-place. We didn’t know whether to gasp, laugh, or cry … or maybe, all three.

WorseI forgot my smartphone!

CAN YOU HEAR ME? HELLO? – Marilyn Armstrong

Someone’s left you a voicemail message, but all you can make out are the last words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.”

Who was it, and what was it about? It’s a mystery to me.

We used to leave messages on our answering machines telling folks to speak slowly and clearly, but too many people thought we were being funny, that leaving a coherent message was a joke. So we get lots of incoherent messages. Usually, with caller ID, we know who called and can retrieve the number, but the contents of the message is gobbledy-gook.

“Garry, your brother called. No idea what he said. Call him, okay?”

“Hey, Jim called about something. Call him when you have a moment.”

“One of your cousins called. They left a message but I don’t know what it was.”

My favorite: “Someone called. Maybe it was important. They left a number but I can’t understand it.  Guess it wasn’t important enough.” If it really is important and we don’t call you back? Pick up the phone and call again. If it’s that important, make sure we got the message.

If you choose to leave a message, speak up. Clearly. Repeat the phone number at least twice. Don’t forget to include your name — in case we don’t actually recognize your voice because, you know, the phone isn’t very clear.

Don’t mumble.

While we’re on the subject, how about those cell phones, eh? On which you can’t hear anything? From either end? I miss telephones on which you knew you had a connection that wouldn’t drop and on which you could hear what someone said to you — and know they could hear you.


“Can you hear me? Hello? Are you still there?”

It’s 1904 all over again. Without wires or operators.

The other night, my husband and I watched — for the umpteenth time — Meet Me In St. Louis. It’s the old Judy Garland musical. Vincent Minnelli directed it. Great movie, one of our favorites. Terrific songs, Margaret O’Brien about as cute as a kid can be. Nostalgia on the hoof.

The story is set in 1904 when the World’s Fair was coming to St. Louis. Telephones in private homes were the hot new technology. A call from a distant city was a big deal. Early in the story, the oldest sister, Rose, receives a long-distance call from New York.

dining-room-21-512x384

FROM “Meet Me In St. Louis” — SCENE: The phone rings.

Rose Smith: Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?
Warren Sheffield: Yes, I can hear you. (Pause)
Rose Smith: What did you say, Warren?
Warren Sheffield: Nothing. I was waiting for you to talk.
Rose Smith: Oh. Well, did you want to discuss anything in particular?
Warren Sheffield: What?
Rose Smith: I said, was there anything special you wanted to ask me?
Warren Sheffield: I can’t hear you, Rose …
Rose Smith: That’s funny. I can hear you plainly.
Warren Sheffield: Isn’t this great? Here I am in New York and there you are in St. Louis and it’s just like you’re in the next room.
Rose Smith: What was that?


ANOTHER SCENE: TODAY, MASSACHUSETTS

Me: Hello? Hello? Cherrie?
Cherrie: (Faintly) Hello? I’m in New York … (something I can’t understand) … signal.
Me: Bad signal?
Cherrie: No signal.
Me: How are you?
Cherrie: Tired. Running around.
Me: Miss you.
Cherrie: Miss you too. Having trouble getting a signal here.
Me: Cherrie? Hello? Are you there? (Long pause.) No, you aren’t there.

(Click. Sigh. Pause. Ring. Ring.)

Me: Cherrie?
Cherrie: Can you hear me?
Me: I can hear you, can you hear ME?
Cherrie: Hello? Hello? (Pause, faint sounds.) Is this better?|
Me: Yes. A bit.
Cherrie: I turned my head and lost the signal.
Me: We couldn’t have done it better if it was scripted.
Cherrie: I’ll call you when I get back. I think I’m  losing … (Silence.)

Progress and technology. Which way are we going? 

TECHNOLOGY AND CIVILITY

“Holy shit,” I said to no one at all. “That really HURTS.”

I was referring to my back and left hip (aka “the good one”). It was early. Although morning often is accompanied by stiffness and pain, I don’t normally wake up with quite such a jolt.

Rolling slowly out of bed, I tried to remember what I’d been dreaming about. Something about cats made of smoke and a clothesline that was part of a computer game. And a shrink who offered to scratch my back, but couldn’t find the right spot.

I took a couple of Excedrin and a muscle relaxant, rearranged the bed and tucked myself in for a few more hours of sleep. The phone rang. Of course.

I looked at the caller ID. It showed a local number. This in no way meant it was an actual local call. Scamming technology often shows local numbers on my Caller ID. Yesterday, it showed that Garry was calling me, except he was sitting next to me on the love-seat.

I answered the phone in what has become my typical surly morning greeting: “Who are you and what do you want?” There was no response. A bit of crackle on the line, but no voice. Not even a recording. I hung up. More accurately, pressed the OFF key.

I get a lot of these “nobody there” calls and I wonder what they are trying to find out. What could they possibly want to know? No hidden treasure in this house. That was my second epiphany of the morning.

I don’t expect a ringing  telephone to herald a call from a friend. I don’t even expect it to be a return call from someone with whom I do business. I expect all calls to be a scams, survey, sales pitches, or an attempt to collect money from someone who doesn’t live here and probably never lived here.

Almost all of the calls I get are recorded messages. I can’t even insult the caller or his company. That used to be the only positive side to these endless, meaningless calls from semi-anonymous people. Even that small pleasure is gone.

I have utterly abandoned good telephone manners. Telephones are not a way to communicate unless I’m making the call. Otherwise, it’s annoying and intrusive — another attempt to steal our personal data so someone can hack our accounts, steal our identity, or scam us in some other yet to be defined way.

Too skeptical?

I can’t make them stop calling because they never call from the same number twice and the number that shows on the Caller ID is fake. There’s nothing to report. NOMOROBO dot com has considerably limited the volume of calls, but nothing entirely eliminates them. Somehow, they get your number. When I ask how they got it — assuming there’s someone to ask — inevitably they tell me they got my telephone number from a form I filled out “online.”

Except, I never do that. I rarely fill in forms of any kind — and never ones which require a phone number. I also tell everyone I don’t have a mobile phone.

I actually do have a smart phone. I just don’t use it.

As part of the day’s epiphanies, I realized how technology steals pieces of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with the technology. It is neither good nor bad; it is what it is. It’s what people do with it that’s can be life-stealing. Those People have ruined telephones for me, probably forever.

Unwanted telephone calls may seem a minor detail in view of the many awful things going on in our world these days, but I can remember waiting with pleasant anticipation for the phone to ring. It wasn’t that long ago.

Or was it?

WHIPPING OFF A POST FROM YOUR PHONE

This year, I’m resolving to update my blog from the WordPress mobile app. My phone is always nearby, which allows me to blog from wherever I am, and there’s something about the smaller screen that seems to take the pressure off for me. I can whip up a post draft on the spot or publish a photo immediately.” — Sarah Blackstock


This explains the low quality of so many posts I try to read … and give up on before I finish the first paragraph. It’s the complete absence of thought and a sense that this is merely a text made public — a sure-fire way to not have well-thought-out stories or ideas. Or high quality photographs. Or high quality anything. It guarantees that people lured in by promises they can do it all on their mobile phone will be in and gone in less than a quarter of a year. A few weeks, a long silence, and then the posts linger forever in virtual space and no one goes there anymore.

I have long known this is what WordPress has been pushing. I guess they have not noticed the kids who start out on their phones come, send a few messages and when they don’t get followers, they quit. Those of us who write seriously and pursue photography as something other than snapshots … are ignored by their “happiness engineers” because we don’t need to be happy.

Too bad. With nearly 6,000 posts “in the can” and I don’t even know how many photographs, I am reminded how WordPress doesn’t care about me. They are expending all their efforts to lure aboard people who are not serious and will never be worth reading. They made a decision long ago to ignore “these boring people” who’ve been blogging for years, have substantial followings, and care about what they say and to whom they say it.

Every once in a while, I wonder how come someone in their administration or planning departments might at least consider the possibility that they are missing the point, but I have noticed that WordPress — like every big corporation — will stick to foolish decisions, even when they fail. Bad decisions inevitably get pushed ever harder because no corporate manager will admit to being wrong. Even when the ship is sinking.

I’m not suggesting that me and those like me should be the only focus of the organization … but ought we not be included? Respected? Not treated like the least important part of the WordPress group?

Ought not the editing and photography functions be useful to people who write in complete sentences? A text editor with a find/replace function like every other text editor in the known universe, for example? Proper spacing between paragraphs? Fonts that use points, not “small-medium-large-huge” as if we are buying cheap, unisex clothing?

I’m still using the old, old, old interface because the new one is awkward and poorly designed. Maybe that’s because it’s designed for a telephone — and I use a computer. I’ve been working on word processing tools since they were invented, applauding with each advance in the art. WordPress does not advance. They go backwards, stripping out the stuff that might be useful and leaving us with glitches and a baffling inability to recognize what writers and artists need.

Dashing off something on your phone sets up blogging as a kind of advanced texting. A diary of your life? Is that what blogging is? At the risk of asking a dumb question, unless you are a brilliant writer (on your phone?), who cares? Are you writing it for yourself so you can remember every place you’ve been and every cup of coffee you drank? It doesn’t encourage thought, intelligence, or craft.

I suppose I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing as long as they don’t make it any harder than they have. Call me crazy, but I believe in thinking before doing a brain dump through my phone.

SHARING MY WORLD – SUM SUM SUMMERTIME!

Share Your World – June 19, 2017


Today is the first full day of summer and from this point on, days begin to get shorter. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Especially since I still don’t have a blooming rose or a flowering lily! But at least I can see buds so maybe it’s coming. This is the first year without flowers.

What is something that people are obsessed with but you just don’t get the point of?

Mobile phones. I can see the point in having a mobile from which to make calls, but people are on them so much. I totally don’t get it. These phones are tiny — even the bigger ones are not big enough for me. The pictures on them are squinty. The keys are tiny. The sound is pathetic. I  don’t get it.

The final thing that I find puzzling is why so many people want to be permanently connected  to everyone and anyone? To be forever tied by phone to bosses, parents, kids, and everyone else? Don’t they want a little quiet? How about a few hours without beeping or ringing or dinging or jangling? Wouldn’t that be lovely?

What quirky things do people do where you are from?

I come from New York. What don’t they do?

What are some things you wish you could unlearn? 

I can’t answer that. I have no idea. All the things I’ve learned have found a place in my world. Everything means something, so if I were to unlearn something, a skill or piece of knowledge would vanish.

It has taken a lifetime to get to this point. I treasure the little steps, the falls, the collisions, the crises … they are all part of the trek. The only things I wish I could leave behind? A bad heart, two cancerous breasts, and a collapsing spine. Unfortunately, no one wants that stuff … and no one is taking it back. You get what you get and are stuck with it.

Who is someone who you miss having in your life?

At my age, the list of those who have died exceeds the number of those who remain living. I miss them all, individually and collectively. My mother, my brother. My first husband. So many friends. There are too many to count. So. Let’s not go there.