Wrong number

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on June 01, 2018 Published on June 01, 2018

Ever since I moved to Elsewhere eight years ago, I’ve had an account with a telephone company I’m going to call “Totally & Exceptionally Lousy”, TEL for short. I paid what I considered a reasonable sum for the service, which was a so-called bundle. That is, it included a landline, the internet and TV.

I knew at the outset that the monthly fee was an introductory offer and that it would double after three months. What I didn’t think about at the time, because my mind is wired for short-term planning, is that (a) I didn’t expect to have a TV and (b) the moment the introductory time period was over, I would feel I was being ripped off. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice, at the time I moved here, because there was only one company offering those services at the time.

So I did what I am extremely good at doing, which is, refuse to fret about it. Aside from short-term planning my mind is also wired for remaining in a good mood no matter what. This may seem like an attractive quality, but it has a downside. The downside is that if I’m being threatened by floods, fire or terrible phone service, my typical response is to just drown or be burnt to a crisp or to pay an enormous phone bill for terrible service. Anything to avoid getting upset.

Bins is not the same. He first noticed there was a problem with the phone service when we began Skyping. The connection would fail every 10 minutes or so. “You need to complain,” he said. “Ooh, yuck,” I said. “That would mean getting upset. You know I don’t like that. Let’s talk about something else.” This, more or less, remained the situation for the next eight years. The service did not improve, the monthly fee steadily increased and I continued to have no TV while paying for the bundle.

Some years ago an alternative phone company I’m going to call Very Zippy, VZ for short, moved into the area. Bins said, “Come on! Switch over to VZ!” “Eek, no!” I said. “It’ll be a struggle! Who knows if they will be any better! I’m extremely dependent on the internet! I don’t want to take the risk of being cut off for a couple of days!” Two years ago, I returned to Elsewhere to discover that my service had been abruptly cut off in my absence. I called at once, using my cell phone. I was reconnected instantly with profuse apologies, one year’s fee reduction and no explanation.

Bins said, “TEL is a hopeless company!! Switch to VZ!!” “I’ll pay half-price for a year,” I said, “THEN I’ll switch.” I was dreading the confrontation though. Last week, after delaying as long as I possibly could, we called VZ and made the switch. And it was done. In one day. No confrontation. “You could have done this six years ago!” says Bins. “Yup,” I say, smiling happily. “My bad.”

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Published on June 01, 2018
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