earthendenim (earthendenim) wrote in bad_service,

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Warning: A Saga of Dealing with the Cable Company and the Drive Home, Concurrently (that is to say, it's a long story...)

(...but I'll try to keep it amusing)

This ain't exactly a saga of villany and woe, and it did get kind of long, but read on if you want, because it's both funny and horrifying. It did also cause me to curse at a collections agent and nearly drive off the road. The short version is that the cable company, rather than sending me a final bill, sent my "debt" to collections a bare 30 days after the equipment was returned and the disconnect completed, and despite two requests for a final bill. Let me recap the events:

June 24 (ish): I call cable company to request they disconnect my service (cable, internet, and phone) on our lease end date, the last of that month. I am told that there are no "service appointments" until July 2. I ask if we need to be at the apartment, since obviously we have to move out before then; after consulting the Magic Manual of All Things Customer Service, the phone monkey tells me we can just drop the equipment (modem and digital/DVR box) at the local office to disconnect service. I give a final billing address and hang up.

June 30: My roommate completes all the last-minute moving-out chores, including (so I think) returning the equipment, because my sister is getting married this day and she didn't want to do without internet/cable in the meantime, but quite obviously I can't return it myself.

July 10: Call from apartment complex. The new tenants cannot hook up cable because we still have active service there. Call goes to parents' home, which number I never gave the complex (buh?) but they're out of town for the week.

July 14: Parents return home and pass on message. Panic. Call roommate. Voicemail full. Panic harder. Text roommate. Roommate calls back and tells me she turned in equipment on July 12 (oops). Call cable company to check status; account is closed with balance of around $46. Request final bill be sent to new billing address. Hang up. (As an aside, isn't 2 weeks *really* damned fast to move a new tenant in? Isn't it?)

July 30: Wonder where bill is, and how long it will take.

August 8: Wonder, briefly and among other things, where bill is, and why Blizzard is doing a new expansion already. Ooh, cookies!

August 12: Wonder more thoroughly about bill. It's been a month; resolve to call the next day after work.

August 13, 2:30 p.m.: Message left on my cell phone from unidentified 1-800 number.

5:06 p.m.: Retrieve cut-off robot message requesting I call 1-800 number. Exit parking garage.

5:07 p.m.: Dial 1-800 number. Am informed by collections agent that cable company has sold them the "debt". Nearly hit car in front of me, which has slowed suddenly to make an un-signaled left turn. Curse a short but blue streak at agent; apologize to agent. Merge onto I-75. Agent laughs; I tell him I'll call the cable company, and apologize again. He wishes me a pleasant day. I hang up.

5:09 p.m.: Call cable company. Menus. Take exit for I-96.

5:10 p.m.: Hold music and advertisements. Yes, I'm sure your company's services can heal cancer, warp space and time, and win the Nobel Peace Prize, even if the DVR did go out on occasion and could only be reset by killing all power to it for 30 seconds. Glare at SUVs swishing by in the left lane at 87 miles per hour.

5:15 p.m.: Have they all gone home? Pass M-8 exit; snicker at those caught by gawker delay on eastbound side due to someone's flat tire. Remind self this generates bad karma for tomorrow's drive. Snicker anyhow.

5:17 p.m.: I am connected to Dominique. She asks "How may I help you today?" I brake hard, mentally curse all Hummer owners, take a deep, deep breath, and explain to Dominique that I'm a little upset, really, and here's why...

5:19 p.m.: Dominique puts me on hold. I watch in awe and consternation as a haggard, bleached-blonde woman in a beat-up red Saturn chomps on gum, sucks on her cigarette, and gabs on the phone while steadily maintaining a distance of mere microns from my back bumper. I brake-check her. She doesn't seem to notice or care. She blows a bubble.

5:23 p.m.: Dominique has returned. She tells me that the bill was probably generated the day after service was disconnected and sent to address on file. Um, it's like, probably still being forwarded. Pass M-39 interchange.

5:23 p.m.: After a few second of dead silence while I marshal those brain cells which haven't melted from sheer frustration, I gently point out to Dominique that her analysis of the situation is interesting, really--possibly even accurate--but it doesn't help me very much. I'm happy to pay my balance, as I quite obviously owe the money, but we need to do something about the collection agency and, you know, my credit, because this is not reasonable. Finally get free of Red Saturn. Dominique puts me back on hold.

5:27 p.m.: Dominique has consulted with yet another manager. Apparently they will withdraw the debt from collections. I have no idea what this actually means. I ask Dominique, who likewise has no idea what it actually means, but helpfully offers to take my credit card number. I rattle off my card number, expo date and security code, speed up to pass a slow-moving soccer mom and pass Telegraph.

5:30 p.m.: I thank Dominique and squeeze between two cars to exit at Merriman. Thank goodness I'm on my way to a massage appointment; unfortunately, poor George is going to have to spend so long working on the knots produced by the encounter with the cable company that he won't even get to the buried stress.

5:31 p.m.: I let three cars from the service drive turn-around in to traffic (my good driving deed for the day) while I speed-dial my mother. She is properly horrified but slightly disproving; after all, I "let" it go to a collection agency.

5:36 p.m.: Hello, George!

August 14: Stuck in traffic jam on way home for 15 extra minutes. Damned karma.

Sorry that got so long. It was kind of fun to write, even if it wasn't anything but stressful while it was happening. I am still flabbergasted that they sent my debt to collections so quickly. I'm no stranger to collections; I did many, many stupid things when I was a bit younger, but the past 3-4 years I've been working really hard to rebuild and keep all black marks off my record, so this was rather shocking, and I felt it was quite undeserved. Obviously the call I made to the company straightened it out (or so I fervently hope), but I think bad/unfair policy = bad service, especially in a case like this where it can have a ripple effect.

Does anyone know what this "withdrawing" actually does? Does it erase the incident completely, or do I need to do something more to keep it from appearing on my credit report? Do companies have a time frame they must allow before reporting or selling a debt? So many questions, the drive home isn't long enough. Any input y'all have for me is greatly appreciated. Thanks for letting me vent :)!
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