Pip (epiphling) wrote in bad_service,

Ahh, Cable... How I'm Glad I Don't Have You Anymore

This is one of the more amusing creditor calls I've ever had, which is the latest footnote in a very long story of weird and sometimes just downright bad service. 

Due to a (thankfully) short period of heavy financial issues, I was unable to pay my cable bill.  I requested it be disconnected as I couldn't pay it, but it was not.  The service continued for another three months, but no bills arrived in my mailbox and I didn't get any "late payment" notices either.  Finally, the service is disconnected and I'm left with approximately $500 in equipment (and a larger bill, which we'll get to in a bit).   

I get a call a couple of weeks after the service goes off, asking when I'd be personally dropping the equipment off at their store, because otherwise I'd be charged for it.  I was 9 months pregnant at the time, and due to some minor complications I had a lot of trouble getting around. I explained this to the girl who had called, and she told me it wouldn't be a problem, that she'd have a tech scheduled to be in the area on Friday come out and get the equipment.

Friday comes and goes - I had to go to the hospital for an ultrasound given how I was a week past my due date, and was gone for about an hour.  My husband is home looking after our eldest son, so there was someone in the house.  Monday I get a call asking when I'd be personally dropping the equipment off at their store.  I explain again that I'm nine months pregnant and can't easily get to the other side of town, and that a technician was supposed to come by and pick up the box and cables.   The girl checks, but can't find a work order for it, nor can she find a record that we've been called on this issue before.  No sweat, she can definitely send someone out to pick up the box and once it's returned, she'll deduct the charge from our final bill owed. 

I'm still debating at this point on whether or not I should dispute the final bill because I asked for the service to be discontinued, but eventually decide "Whatever.  I used it while it was available, and I try to be honest, so I'll pay for the service I did use."

The box is picked up a little over ten days later, three days after I had my kid.  I give the guy the box and he tells me that I "don't look pregnant".  I just flatly tell him that ten days ago when I made the arrangements, I -was- pregnant.

A month later, I get a final bill from the company with an extra $500 worth of charges in the tally.  I returned the equipment, but they're still charging me for it.  It takes two hours on the phone to straighten out.  Last contact I had with the actual company itself, as it informed me at that time when I was trying to discuss payment options, that they had forwarded my account to collections.

Since that time, my account has been bouncing between one creditor and another, sometimes simultaneously in the same week.  The first time, I told them I had a newborn and my monthly budget hadn't yet evened out because of the extra expenses.  I offered to make small, good-faith payments on how much I owed until I could put a more substantial amount on the bill.  That was rejected outright as "not good enough".   I have countless times since then offered to make monthly payments on the bill so I can finally get it paid off, but no.  They want the entire amount, and dropping that much money on the bill is just not an option for me.

I've been told to borrow the money from someone else, to get a credit card so I can pay it off, to sell whatever I can that I own to get the money together, to ask my bank for a loan to pay the bill, to discontinue any non-essential service (ie: phone, internet, transportation), to cut down on how much I spend on groceries (which prompted me to ask how much they thought I could cut out of my grocery bill with two small kids to provide for), I have been yelled at for being a "leech" and a "thief"(prompting me to hang up on that woman)... And that's just the "advice" I can remember.

Finally, it comes to a head a couple of weeks ago.  I can't even keep track of all the companies calling me on this by now.  I get an automated message, as usual, prompting me to call this number to discuss an "important business matter".  Since this is the only thing that could be both important and business, I call the number. 

I get this woman who's a little hard to understand due to a moderate accent, but I try to be polite and give her the exact same response I've given everyone else I've spoken to on this issue:  I cannot beg, borrow or steal the amount from any other source.  I cannot pay that much in one go.  I cannot cut "luxuries" out of my budget for the duration because I have two small children who make things like the phone and large grocery orders essential. Yes, I have the internet but it's packaged with my phone service, so no, that wouldn't free up some cash to give to you.  I do not have credit cards, so I cannot use them to pay off the bill.  I am not willing to sell all my possessions to pay this bill.  I am and have always been willing to make monthly payments on this bill, but for some reason that is not an option for me.  She is sympathetic, and says that she will put a note into my file to that effect, but explains that it is her company's policy to not accept monthly payments.  She doesn't explain why this is the case, just that them's the rules.

Three days after this conversation, I get yet another call about the same issue, from a guy who says he's calling about the cable bill.  I ready myself to go through the entire rigamarole again.  He then shocks me by saying "It says in your file here that you're willing to make monthly payments".  This surprises me so much that I blurt out "I was told that wasn't an option I could take". 

He then sighs and hangs up on me.  Let me repeat that: He SIGHS and HANGS UP ON ME.

Seriously.  Customer willing to admit she owes company money despite some rather dodgy service on their part.  Customer unable to pay in preferred method of company, but offering alternatives that would enable company to get their money without completely bankrupting customer.   Company refusing to accept compromises of any sort, then doing a 180 and having their CSR terminate a call they initiated for no real reason I can see.

I haven't had a call since then.  I'm almost bemused at the thought of who they'll have call me next and what'll happen when they do.
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