Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Attitude Adjustment Story #152

AT&T U-verse for Mom
One thing I had to help my Mother handle was her AT&T U-verse bill. She had purchased a bundled package of Internet, Digital Phone & TV, but my brother Grant, who is suffering severely from advanced MS, could not get used to the new television remote and screen navigation so Mom called to cancel the U-verse TV package and have Direct TV re-installed. However, when she received her first U-verse bill, it was dated for services starting three days after she had cancelled the service and included charges for the TV package. She had thought that since the TV part had been cancelled, she should not be charged for it at all. Additionally, she wanted to know why the $180.044 bill was so much more than the $108.00 she had been quoted.

I knew part of the problem was the fact that billing is charged in advance of using the service, so even though this bill included charges for the Television package, she should receive a credit for it in the next bill. However that $108.00 quote had included the TV and it was to be a “Free” installation. The bill also included a $32 Pro-rated charge and a $29 “One Time Charge” so I called the billing inquiry phone number. I recognized the voice at the other end as having the same accent as all the other New Delhi help agents I have ever spoken to…I hoped communications would be easier to establish with this individual…Sad to report that my hopes were soon dashed.

The first thing I tried to get fixed was my mother’s name on the bill. You see she always went by the English translation of her Armenian name, Helen. However, after 9/11, she had to be identified by her birth certificate name, Areknas (AH´-rec-naz) and that is what she had provided to AT&T. I think I told you the story before, but it is worth repeating here again. My Grandmother did not speak very good or clear English when she had her first child, my Uncle Van, so his name on the birth certificate was Vahan (Va´-han) which means Van. She was still not too sure of her English when my mother was born and wanted to name her Helen, so that is why she got the name Areknas. When she had her third and last child, my Aunt Alice, she thought she would give her an American name...thus Alice. When my mother would complain about being named Areknas my aunt would just tell her “At least you have a real name that means something on your birth certificate; mine reads Hal´-liz”, but I digress. On the AT&T bill they had spelled Areknas as Arenkas. So I said “I’m calling for my mother Areknas Garber and my name is Paul Garber. After he asked what he could do for me I said “Well first her name is spelled wrong on the bill and you can fix it.” There was a long, pregnant pause on the other end of the line so I said it should be (spelling it out) A-R-E-K-N-A-S. He asked “what?” so I spelled it again; A as in Apple; R as in Rat (that got him thinking about lunch because I could hear his lips smacking) ; E as in Ever; K as in Knife…no I jest. Anyway we finally got the name fixed and I felt like I had just completed the 50 mile hike that JFK wanted everyone to perform.

After the name was spelled correctly (I hope; must wait until the next bill to find out for sure), he asked me how that was pronounced and I replied, “AH´-rec-naz” and he echoed “ah-Reck´-naz”. I said (hold on kiddies because here we go again) “no it’s AH´---rec---naz” and he dutifully repeated “ah-Reck´-naz”. I won’t give you all the gruesome details that followed just suffice it to say that I finally gave up and did not try to correct him anymore. This way I thought we get continue with the real concerns I had about my mother’s bill, but (and now I am really shielding your delicate sensibilities here; thank you) sighing, he questioned me with the satisfaction of a sexually gratified partner (I think he trapped the rat that was loose in his “office”) “Okay now what can I do for you Mr. ah-Reck´-naz?”

Next week's 08-09-2010 (#153) title: TBD

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