woke up this morning to continued lack of cell phone service. alas, poor phone sitting at the bottom of niqui’s laptop bag, passing time thinking forlornly on its late, lamented network authorization. niqui is, naturally, sitting on hold with cingular. again. b., the agent at the cingular store who offered to call me friday, never did, so i am trying to ascertain my migration eligibility on my own. i tell you, explaining the whole situation just never gets old.

currently, i am on hold listening to the obligatory awful hold music while a recording of a too-perky woman alternates every thirty seconds or so between asking me to use good judgment while phoning and driving, or to switch to online automatic bill payments. whoever manages this call center clearly has never been forced to spend significant amounts of time listening to their hold music/reminders because if they had, they would realize why i really could not give a shit about their automatic 411 service offering to text-message me numbers so i can have them later, especially after being told about the service approximately 300 times.

* niqui sings a little song. “on the phone again, i just can’t wait to get on the phone again, the life i love is using a cellular phone, and i can’t wait to get on the phone again!”
<niqui> obviously /me is full of lies, but…
<niqui> nonetheless i’ve begun today’s exercise in frustration trying to get my cingular issue resolved
<wasy> niqui is remarkably persistent
* niqui is painfully stupid.

in response to folks asking why i don’t just change providers: i would, except i’m pretty sure you can’t transfer a cancelled number to another provider — you’d have to have an active phone to transfer it. in order to get uncancelled, i’m going to have to get a new phone. in order to get a new phone, i’m going to be forced to get a new two-year contract, because i can’t afford the inflated prices of a contract-free phone, even if i did get the awful $30-with-contract low-end model. quel scam!

woo! only 45 minutes on the phone today. the nice Customer Service Agent Number Six found out that no, i was still not eligible for migration — thanks, Customer Service Agent Number Five from Thursday, not that i really expected anything different — so she called over to billing and collections and got them to push it through. (or so she said. who knows if they actually did. remember, they don’t love me anymore because i didn’t give them the $169 i didn’t owe them.) then i threw caution to the winds and pleaded with the agent to see if maybe, by any chance, perhaps, somehow, some way they still had a stash of old ATTWS sim cards that would work in my phone, so i wouldn’t have to upgrade, since i love my old phone (i do! the t68i is the best phone i’ve ever had. besides, i have a bunch of accessories for it. and, okay, yeah, i’ve been planning to replace it because the ‘Yes’ button’s broken, but i would really appreciate the opportunity to upgrade on my own terms, when i am not faced between buying it and, say, paying my renter’s insurance premium. but i digress.). she put me on hold and went off to find out. … and it turns out that yes!, they can replace my sim card, despite being told no, no, no, a thousand times no by every previous customer service agent. well, what the hell. if they send me a cingular SIM card that won’t work in my ATTWS phone, at least i’m no worse off than i am now. so, i spring the extra five bucks for expedited shipping (which probably won’t really matter since i won’t be home for fedex/ups/whoever to deliver to, but … what the hell, it’s worth a shot), and she didn’t even mention until much later that there was a replacement card fee at all (because she waived it for me without even having to ask). anything else she can do for me today? nope; thank you for calling, have a nice day. so, five minutes after i get off the phone, i try to turn on my phone, just out of “what the hell.” guess what? despite the hardcore cinnamon fragrance now permanently imbued in the plastic from sitting for so long in the laptop bag pocket where i keep gum, …

picture of phone

IT WORKS! i can call people! they can call me! i can even receive text messages! OH FRABJOUS DAY! and, no, cingular, don’t worry, i won’t let my phone distract me from driving safely. so, just to recap this for my own entertainment:

  • i had no phone service for two and a half weeks. still have no idea why (my personal assumption is that when ATT consolidated the bill into my home phone bill, they “discovered” the “delinquent” account-that-never-was, which prompted them to cut off my real phone — but no one has been able to actually tell me what happened.);
  • i probably have a complaint on my credit rating now (oh goodie!) for the account they sent to collections after they failed to realize that i had cancelled it;
  • i was told repeatedly that i had no, no, absolutely no choice but to purchase new equipment;
  • i actually did purchase a replacement sim card, which it turns out i don’t appear to need;
  • i was sent off to cingular stores twice because everything was straightened out, when it wasn’t, and so got to enjoy north side rush hour driving i would normally have stayed far, far away from;
  • i wasted 90 minutes standing around in stores while store sales agents sat on hold with Cingular Ground Command trying to figure out if they could sell me a phone or not;
  • i invested three and three-quarters hours on the phone; and
  • i talked directly to six ATT and cingular customer service agents in my various phone stints, and they interacted with several others during the course of researching my problem.

… and in the end, all they had to do was to cancel the bogus account and push the approval to reinstate service through their systems and my phone just started working fine again.

(in defense of the customer service agents, despite their cluelessness on the “you must upgrade phones!” issues, each one of them was very friendly and genuinely seemed invested in getting me working again, and it was easy to work with all of them without even getting grumpy despite the complete ridiculousness of the situation. i actually blame ATT-the-entity, as a corporate amorphous bureaucratic blob which can’t get its act together from acquiring ten billion business units and squashing them together, for not giving them adequate training or the resources to actually get my problem figured out in a timely manner. in short, ATT *deserves* the phone bill they’re gonna get from paying for me to sit on their 800 number for hours! …oh, wait. damn.) (and, i wonder what i should do with my spare sim card once it arrives?)