Welcome to 2006|
2008-07-30 11:47 p.m.
All Madisonians know that Madison is "thirty square miles surrounded by reality." Yesterday, I learned that my phone company doesn't even believe Madison exists.
The Great Phone Adventure started about a week and a half ago.
Four years ago, my cell phone was the model Alltel was willing to give away for free, because it was so hopelessly out of date. Now that I think about it, that may even be the main reason I chose Alltel as my carrier, instead of a company with physical stores in Madison.
That phone lasted a surprisingly long time. About two months ago, the battery got to the point where I could carry around my phone for about a day without recharging it, if I didn't use it in any way.
I could probably have just gotten a new battery, and gone on with my stone-age phone indefinitely. But, I had some birthday money, so I decided to splurge. For $40, my new phone does ALL the cutting-edge tricks of two years ago. Hey, shut up. For me, this is like a decade of advancement.
So, I chose my phone on the interwebs, just like I did four years ago, and waited patiently for it to arrive.
This was on the 17th. Yesterday, I still had not received anything. I called Alltel. The customer service lady got suddenly hostile, because obviously I was trying to scam her somehow. She read me the official UPS notice, signed by a name I didn't recognise, as proof that my phone had been delivered to someone. It clearly wasn't her problem anymore. I thanked her.
So, I went to my apartment complex offices. Maybe someone there had signed for it, and forgotten to tell me. Yup. Apparently, what UPS does is stick a post-it note on the building door, where it blows away almost immediately.
My phone had been sitting in the office for five days. D'oh! I opened the box, and the very first thing I saw was a notice that said I would be charged $200 if my phone was not connected within five days of receipt. D'OH!!
OK, then. Let's get this party started. Step one: Turn off old phone. Step two: Call this 1-800 number. Huh. Fortunately, Rijid has a phone.
So, I recited all the proper incantations, and lit a few dribbly candles while facing North, and basically did everything the instruction manual said to do. It didn't work. I called Alltel.
A different lady had me adjust all kinds of settings and light a few more candles. It didn't work. She said the phone itself was flawed, and I would have to exchange it. She confessed that as a tech support monkey, she didn't really know the procedure for exchanges, and would transfer me over to another department.
The other department man checked his map, and informed me that the closest Alltel store was about 40 miles away. Oh, come on. Before I did that, though, he wanted to run a few more tests. First, I should--
Rijid's phone went dead. It had been beeping in the background for a few minutes, but I didn't realize that was its "low battery" beep. As I understood cell phone technology, this meant I wouldn't even be able to use his phone until it had recharged for at least an hour. Have I mentioned how quaint my old-timey phone was?
After about 20 minutes of stewing ("OMG time's a wastin must get phone set up TODAY or face penalty charges...") Rijid woke up and informed me that in the 21st century, cell phones are ready to be used again after mere minutes of charging.
Right. Back to Alltel's help desk. This time, the guy was all, "Oh, Madison. Well, no wonder." He explained that I live right in the middle of the one part of the state Alltel doesn't officially cover. They had worked out some sort of deal with another provider, which was why I never saw roaming charges, but basically the issue was that the Verizon towers were completely unable to accept someone trying to use Alltel authorization codes. He suggested I turn the new phone off for at least an hour while Verizon's computers straightened themselves out and fixed things automatically. If that didn't work, the Alltel Zone started in Beaver Dam. If I went there and followed the setup instructions, all would be well.
Three hours later, the "This phone is not authorized please call your provider" message was gone. As soon as I tried to dial, though, I got an entirely different error message, which was probably progress of some sort. I called Alltel again. This time, it was a very simple fix. I did not have to drive to Beaver Dam. This pleased me.