Verizon talking points
Wednesday, January 4 2006
setting: rural Hurley, Ulster County, New York
Our phone line remained useless (both for phone and DSL) and so we depended on pirated WiFi for internet throughout the day. (I knew that parabolic 802.11x antenna up above the solar deck would have a practical use some day.) Interestingly, the proximity of a working internet connection indicated that phone line damage was very patchy in our area, with working lines running in the same bundle on the same poles as our dysfunctional one.
When I was on the line with a Verizon woman yesterday, I noticed a few interesting things about her word choice indicating a strict indoctrination regarding talking points, the same kind whose exposure are the hallmark of a good Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Apparently DirecTV has some sort of new and undoubtedly unsavory monopolistic relationship with Verizon, because she asked me if I had Time Warner Cable and whether I wanted to "upgrade" (that was the term she used) to DirecTV. Well, if I could get it I would definitely have Time Warner Cable, and I only have DirecTV because I happen to live out in the boonies, and I'm lucky to even get DSL. But I didn't interupt the woman at Verizon; I wanted to see where she was going with this. Evidently there's some plan that gives you a discount if you're a Verizon customer who switches from Time Warner to DirecTV, and that plan is of no use to existing DirecTV subscribers. Such a discounted plan makes sense for Verizon given that it makes it more difficult to switch your internet provider to Time Warner once your television cable has been replaced with a satellite feed. But to call such a switch an "upgrade" does an injury to our language. These days it's rare for me to hear of an upgrade that doesn't cause the hapless upgrader to lose something, usually a right, but often a couple capabilities as well. This wasn't always the case; Windows 95 to 98 really was an upgrade. But can anyone tell me what the new AOL 10 provides that AOL 8 didn't have, except for the more careful burial of the options allowing a user to quell the marketing onslaught?
Later in the conversation with the Verizon woman, when I finally got to the point where I told her about the absence of a dial tone, she said, "Oh, well I see here that you don't have a contract for repairs. If we come to your house and it isn't our network, then you will be charged." Here she was referring to the expensive surcharge Verizon adds to your bill if you want them to support the telephone wiring inside the walls of your house. In the absence of voracious chipmunks, such wiring is extremely reliable and if you pay this surcharge there is a vanishingly-low probability that it will ever pay for itself. I'm sure her words had been carefully rehearsed so as to scare me into signing up for a repair contract. But I wasn't biting. "I plugged in at the Verizon box and there's still no dial tone," I said matter-of-factly. That shot down her talking point strategy immediately, and she conceded that the technician would be sent to investigate my problem without charge.
I had a conference room meeting in Woodstock early this afternoon, and when it was done I grabbed a little more firewood from the huge pile beside the Bear's dumpster in Bearsville. Unfortunately, though, the accumulation of several inches of snow impeded my harvest.
Throughout the day I noticed that I was gradually becoming sick, something I didn't immediately tell Gretchen because, well, she was sick, and she might think I was just saying I was sick so I could flake out on taking care of her. But my intestines felt terrible and I had a nagging low-level headache, so eventually I just had to tell her. When I did she smiled and said, "You always do that when I'm sick!"
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