I am using this blog post to explain a workplace incident, for which I take full responsibility. If you don’t care to read about a workplace-specific rambling, then I completely understand. However, even if you don’t get the specifics because you don’t work in the non-profit, victim services arena, I believe there are universal lessons contained in the following account. Any of us could fall prey to a corporate cyclopean that sucks large chunks of time from your life for no reason at all. Hopefully you will also be able to identify some mega mogul seduction tactics, before it’s too late, as was the case for me.
I must convey my deepest apologies to Help, Inc.’s Deputy Director Julie Gentry and Treasurer Amy Collins. With highly sophisticated tactical maneuvers, I easily became a pawn in the hands of the commercial cellular giant, Verizon. It stings to type the word. I put up a good fight, Anitra as my witness, to no avail.
Chapter 1: The Wearing Down
It all began at 12:45 pm on a chilly Friday in December, when I learned that our crisis line cell phone had died. After multiple battery changes, alas, it could not hold a charge.
I called Julie, who had the day off until my intrusion, and she instructed me where to get our Verizon account information, and also told me I would need the tax ID number. As my coworkers had done in the past, I had every intention of switching out said dead phone with another phone that was donated to the agency.
Our Shelter Manager Anitra collected several of the best donated cells and met me at the Verizon store. We were pounced upon by sales people. Our first encounter was with Ringtone Randy. This was not his name, but I think it's close. (My subconscious is protecting me from the details of the encounter at present. I am sure when my body is ready to absorb the shock, I will remember.) Ringtone said that he could help us. He rushed to his computer and went straight to work, finding the agency's account on line. He said there were no authorized users listed, and that no one could switch phones unless their name was written in blood in Verizon’s Book Of Life. I didn’t believe him; after all, other staff members had switched phones. I insisted on seeing the account screen. He was right, no names were listed. A conversation ensued regarding how odd that no user names were ever collected by Verizon, and if Help, Inc. stopped paying the bill, the Big V would be SOL in collecting the pittance of a monthly payment, which never exceeded $40.00, from NO ONE. Ringtone had no comment. I was accomplishing nothing by continuing to use logic. Obviously, I needed to dance the dance. So, I told him that we needed to add users. He said we had to contact Corporate to add users. He also told us that we could only use a phone that was marked "Verizon." Not even one stamped "Alltel" could be used, even though the V Monster had eaten that company for a snack several years prior.
Anitra and I arrive back at the office, and Lynn and Marlene join the quest to find a decent donated cell phone with appropriate branding. I went to the computer for on line access, but was not able to bring up the account. I then called the Verizon Head, somewhere in a land far, far away, perhaps Oz, perhaps
I also do not remember the Customer Service Rep’s name I finally reached, so I
will just call him Speedy Sam. Speedy knew nothing, and continuous put me on hold
to talk with his supervisor for periods no less than ten minutes. Speedy
reported that I had to add users to the account at the Verizon store. I said I
just returned from the store and Ringtone said he was too lowly a V critter to
add users to the account, that only Corporate could add users. Gotham City
Speedy: Silence. Could you hold for a minute, Ms. Bails?
Me: It's Boles, and of course.
Speedy: Ms. Boots, I have spoken to my supervisor, and he said you cannot add users to your account over the phone. You must go to the Verizon store.
Me: As I said before, I just came from there. Ringtone Randy said he cannot add users. Two other Help employees have switched out the cell phone with no authorization issues.Speedy: Silence. Could you hold for a minute, Ms. Balls?"
Me: “It's Boles, and “yes.”
Speedy: Ms. Botches, my supervisor said you cannot add users to your account over the phone. You must go to the Verizon store.
Me: I grasp what you are saying; however, the store reps are saying the opposite. Given that in 2 hours, the phone in question must be active to take crisis calls from victims of abuse, I need an alternative directive than “Go to the Verizon store.” Do you understand?
Speedy: Silence. Could you hold for a minute, Ms. Book?
Me: A MINUTE, yes. TEN MINUTES, no.
Speedy: Ms. Booth, my supervisor said you must go to the Verizon store, and show proof that you are who you say you are.
Me: OK. You win. I will go BACK to the store with documentation. But, I need for you to call the store and verify that they will add users and switch the phone. And I need a name of a person on site who can help me.
Speedy: Silence. Could you hold for a minute, Ms…..?
Me: Just go ask your supervisor!!!!!
Speedy: Ma’am, could you give me the number to your Verizon store?
Me: Are you serious? You work for a TELEPHONE COMPANY. Never mind, of course, let me look it up in the A, T & T Telephone Book. It’s 336-Ver-izon.
Speedy: I will be right back.
Speedy: Ok, Ms. Boughs, I have verified with Trevor at the Reidsville Verizon store, that he will indeed add you as a user to the Help, Inc. account, and switch phones for you. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: No. Is there anything else I can do for you?
So, I hung up the phone, thinking, “Couldn’t Speedy or his supervisor see WHERE my call originated? Caller ID is a basic service. 336-342-3331? Help, Incorporated?!” Again, logic prevails not. I began frantically looking for documentation, saying aloud, “What can I take to prove I am who I say I am,” over and over again pulling out desk draws and rummaging through filing cabinets. “What about a business card,”
says calmly and sarcastically
from my office door. “Smart ass,” I
said, and grabbed a business card.
Marlene hands me a Verizon cell phone as I rush down the hall. She said, “It’s not charged, and may or may
not hold a charge very long.” Great. Lynn
Chapter 2: The Seduction
Anitra and I arrive simultaneously at the Verizon store, and again were approached by the Mobile Mob. “I need to speak with Trevor,” I said to the throng. “There is no Trevor who works here,” a calm, cooing voice said. “You are kidding me, right?” “No, ma’am. Can I assist you? You are obviously upset,” he crooned. “I am past upset, I am pissed!” I yell. Anitra says, “Is that the new Galaxy over there,” and another salesperson spontaneously appeared at her side. Leading her towards the Galaxy display, he said, “Yes, my pretty, it is.” And she was gone. They had separated us to go in for the kill. “My name is Brian, and I am sure I can make everything okay,” said the soft voice behind me. I turned slowly and saw a man dressed in business causal attire, smiling innocently at me. The following conversation took place:
Me: You don’t know the crap I have been through just to get this phone activated. I held up the pitiful cell phone, and recount the last 3 hours.
Verizon Brian: No worries, I can add you as a user to the Help account
Me: I think your company needs to do more than that. I want a new phone for free, three hours of my life back, and that watch you are wearing.Verizon Brian: I can give you a new phone, Ms. Boles.
Me: What’s the catch?
Verizon Brian: No catch, I just need a dollar.
My defenses were shredded.
Me: That’s not free, I don’t have a dollar, and that watch will make the perfect Christmas gift for my husband Tom.Verizon Brian: You have every right to be upset, but this new phone can be yours for only one dollar.
He produced a the phone smelling so new, and maintenance free. I glance at the clock.
Me: Same plan?Verizon Brian: Yes. You just have to sign a contract for two years. Same plan, and a $29.99 charge on the next bill for the phone. I can activate it now.
Me: I may have four quarters.
Verizon Brian: Sign here.
And that was it. I had been seduced by the Wireless Gigolo.