I woke up this morning too cold to get out of bed and wake up my roommate. I knew I had to do it. I had promised to drive him to the store so we could enjoy a "welfare breakfast." The bitter cold and my unending laziness were deterrent enough. Yelling loudly I am sure I could have roused him. Of course I would not want to risk injury to my vocal chords simply to fulfil a promise. So, being resourceful, I reached for my Droid phone and called him. The first call ended in a sharp beep. So I called him again. All this without stirring from my boudoir. The second call ended with a female voice telling me that my call had been redirected to a Verizon Wireless payment department. I quickly hung up before they could trace my call! I have been meaning to write a scathing report about Verizon for many moons, and now seemed like a perfect opportunity.
There are many reasons why I should write this report. It seems like I have had problems with Verizon since day 1. Fortunately my sister and I are no longer in a family plan together. I fear she would have disowned me by now. In the "good old days" I mostly had problems with my phones. Technical sophistication is not something I am often accused of. That said you might find it odd that I have a Bachelor's Degree in "Applied Arts & Technology" which is essentially a BA in BS.
My real troubles with Verizon began in June 2010. I was working on my album, playing gigs, welding a deck railing, and planning out how to start a business. There was also the whole "going to California to attend major movie premiere" thing as well. During this time I lost my cell phone charger. During this time I was in serious need of a phone and I made a quick decision to upgrade to a "smart" phone.
Foolishly assuming I could do it easily I went to the Verizon store in Northgate mall and tried to upgrade. The man who "helped" me was simply flabbergasted. He could find no way for me to upgrade my phone without paying full price for the "smart" phone. This doubled or tripled the already steep cost of entry. I wheedled with him and even gave him puppy dog eyes. Still the blond buffoon could find no way to help me. If he would have been able to help me find a charger it would have been one thing, but he simply could not do anything I actually needed. So I left him, and as I did my already low opinion of Verizon sank.
The next stop on my odyssey was one of the only highlights of my adventures. Knowing that there was a Verizon store in Southcenter mall in Renton WA, I headed there. In a few short minutes my sales associate was able to get me a refurbished Droid and direct me to a battery shop where I could charge my old phone. Amazed my belief in Verizon and mankind skyrocketed!
When the phone arrived the next day I went back to pick it up. The sales associate offered to import my contact information so I could actually get in touch with my friends, but as she said it was easy I left. This is one of the gravest errors I have ever committed. It would haunt me for months.
I made a lame attempt at inputting my contact info, but the Verizon web page was highly confusing and most unmanageable. In order to even look at a phone number you had to wheel through the alphabet in your phone and it was seemingly impossible to create the "list" that I needed to copy into my gmail account. Due to the convenient location of the neighborhood bar, I gave up and went out for a drink. A toast to the journey. The phone could wait.
The next evening I left for Forks WA. We had a lot of gear that we needed to place in our shop and I did not want to do it on the way home. I arrived at midnight and loaded in. That night I slept in the shop. My business partner Lando arrived the next day and we got the keys to the trailer we regrettably rented. that evening we were on the road to California.
I knew that I could wait for my contacts to be entered, but I fully intended to go to the Verizon store in San Louis Obispo CA to have someone do it. Already having failed once, I had little interest in continuing to navigate the Verizon webpage. At a rate of $100 per month I felt strongly that it was not my job to do this mundane chore. In fact I have no interest in ever visiting the webpage of my cell provider, let alone "mastering" it!
We had driven through the night from Forks. Somewhere near Weed CA we rested a little bit. Being a road machine I forced the journey onward. In Redding we decided to take a short coffee break. While exiting I nearly entered back on to the freeway offramp at a blind turn. if I would have kept to my course we would have been involved in a head on collision about 7 seconds later. This near death experience awoke me sufficiently and we got back on the road after a short stop at a famous footbridge and archway. Lando was certainly not happy with me, but that is why I was the boss. Down came the whip and the soldiers marched on.
We made it to the bay area with little trouble traffic wise. This in itself is a feat. The miles down US 101 (yes I know I should have stayed on I-5, we were using a GPS though!) were hot and boring. Having lived in Steinbeck country in the lat 90's and early 2000's it will always be nostalgic. Nostalgia usually lasts around 20 minutes in a drive like this. This drive would end up lasting us another 6 hours in the hot central California sun.
Past the industrial areas of the east bay, down through silicone valley, into the farmlands near Gilroy, still we rolled along. Past the ghosts of cattle stations and lonely oil pumps. Through the desolate rolling hills we journeyed. Little did I care about my phone, if it rang I would not pick up. Still, it irked me, and I knew I must attempt some sort of solution that evening.
Outside San Louis I perked up. The ocean was near. The cooler breeze and bigger hills indicated an ending. I easily made my way to my uncles house and we parked Vino (we took Lando's burgundy Chevy Tahoe) and went in.
My uncle was working to get ready for the music festival we were all going to attend so after a couple hours of rest Lando and I headed to San Louis to get my phone set up and attend the farmers market. As Lando had no idea how to drive in California (he was driving 55 in a 70 mph zone) I took the wheel. From this point on I did most of the California driving.
The Verizon store was fairly easy to find. I jumped out and told Lando to find some parking and meet me inside. Prepared for the fact that I might need a computer to complete the update I brought our brand new MacBook. Little did I know that there was NO INTERNET!
The store was partially full of customers, and it was surprisingly noisy with the sound of hammers and saws. I was given a number, and due to my incredible fatigue I sat at a desk. The first associate who was to "help" me was a tall young man from what I guessed to be east Africa. He blandly asked for my problem, than quickly ascertaining that he had no idea what to do, instructed me to call the customer service line! I was too tired to scream obscenities so I sat and took the phone. He, sensing an escape route quickly found another customer. I sat listening to the smooth jazz blaring from the receiver with one ear. With the other I listened to this man TAKING CARE OF A CUSTOMER! The sound of hammers and saws marked the time.
By this point I was so tired that my skin was sensitive to touch. The kind of feeling where if something touches you it is actually a dull tingling sensation which is transmitted to the "fury neurons" of the brain, resulting in wrath which makes The Incredible Hulk seem harmless as a baby kitten. I was muttering obscenities by this point. My sales associate was on his second customer since pawning me off on the "help" line. Incensed, I set the phone down and walked boldly to the desk.
When asked how I could be helped I explained my situation, glossing over the "helpline" and telling the man I needed my contacts list updated. I was so tired and hungry that I have a hard time recollecting what this man told me. Meanwhile Verizon workers were carrying boards and saws through the salesroom. We tried to offer use of our laptop so he could get on the website, but unfortunately he said that there WAS NO INTERNET! I asked about the many computers that Verizon sells, but for some reason his hands were tied. Frustrated I gave up and we headed out into the California sun to enjoy the evening.
The San Louis farmers market takes place each week of the summer and fall. It is a gathering of food and music. We were also impressed by the college coeds who festooned the street. I felt I could last without a phone. If need be I could just start all over and go with new numbers. Life was OK, I had tried to accomplish something. Then we saw a sight which made us both stop in our tracks!
Ahead of us walked a pretty blond. She was holding a sign which said "Watch The NBA Playoffs at San Louis Verizon 7 PM." Dumbfounded we checked our watches. It was 7:15! This meant that whomever was unfortunate to follow these directions must indeed be in the room with all the hammering. Possibly, that is why the staff was so unhelpful. Or perhaps Verizon is run by idiots! You decided....
Note: This was written in the Bellevue Square Nordstroms while I was waiting for my phone service to be turned back on. It is shockingly loud and expensive. Unlike Starbucks however, the internet is free! I may in fact start making this my new hangout. The chairs are most comfortable!