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Today in My History

2000:  A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine and Thou
Sensitivity Training
Confession is Good for the Soul
Easy Come, Easy Go
The Settling of Eddie
To Work or Not to Work
Gimme a Hug
2008:   Cutting the Budget

2009:   Return to Memes

Same Job, New Stage
(feature story)
Crazy for You

Books Read in 2010
Updated: 7/7
Madonnas of Leningrad"
"7th Heaven"

Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10)

And Then I Ate


Uspinsky Cathedral from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.

On You Tube

Look at these Videos

Mitzi Gaynor said WHAT?

Spirit of '43
Ned's Video for Bri's 2nd birthday
No You Can't (John Boehner)
Jim Brochu closes NASDAQ
Stupid, Callous, Homophobic, Hateful Legislation

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Tallinn, Estonia

The Hermitage
The Catherine Palace (Pushkin)

Mirror Site for RSS Feed
Airy Persiflage

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10 July 2010

I know that in this day and age it's probably not possible for large corporations to exist without all those irritating voice mail menus that we have come, like sheep, to accept as part of everyday life.

I suppose I am fortunate that I live a relatively simple life that doesn't require me to spend a lot of time doing business on the telephone.   The very minimal amount of business that I do can be done on line and it is rare when I have to get into voice mail hell.

After my experience today, I think that's a good thing because I suspect that a lot cases of people going postal, or jumping out of windows may be caused by one too many voice mail menu.  Fortunately I live on the ground floor and there is too much junk between me and the window anyway.

It seemed a simple task.  My mother has decided, after 15 years of almost never using Web-TV except maybe once or twice a month, that she no longer needs it.  This is a great thing for me because I means that I can stop paying $20+ a month for a black box that she never turns on.  So all I had to do was call Web-TV and cancel, right?


The first time I called I only had to wait a short amount of time before I got a real person who asked me a question I hadn't expected:  what color is the box?  Well...black.  Oh.  That's the old box.  You'll have to call back in half an hour.  (There are specific hours for different colored boxes?)  Apparently there was problem with the equipment of the people who answer the black box questions. 

Like a good little sheep, I called back in half an hour and got put on hold with hold music.

Will someone please tell me (a) why we have to have hold music and (b) who makes the decisions about what kind of music you get?  Actually, Web-TV's was kind of nice, almost an updated 40s style instrumental that wasn't grating on the ears.  But later when I was on hold (more on that to come) I had some skreetchy rock band that made me was to shoot myself.  The problem is that you can't turn the music off or opt out of it because if you do that, you won't hear when the real person comes on line.  So I sat there with my head throbbing for about 15 minutes wanting to kill whoever decided that everyone wanted to listen to that crap.  Even elevator music would have been a relief.

When I finally connected with the person, she demanded to know who Beverly Sykes is.  This because I couldn't remember if the account name was my mother's or mine.  She kept asking over and over again "who is Beverly Sykes" as I explained that the bill was paid by me.  She would just ask again "Who is Beverly Sykes" until I finally screamed "I'M BEVERLY SYKES!!!"   That seemed to satisfy her.  Then she wanted to know the last four digits of my credit account, which I gave her.  She told me it was the wrong number.  I told her it was the only number I had.  She said that she couldn't help me because I didn't have the right number.  I mentioned that my card had been replaced recently and she said that she couldn't help me unless I called my bank and got my OLD number.

This seems very strange since they have been billing SOMEBODY and the old number supposedly has been canceled and I've had the new number for at least three months.  But I also couldn't find a bill from Microsoft (who now owns Web TV) on my last three statements.  Have I been paying for the service?

But I couldn't cancel it, apparently, without knowing my old billing number so that meant I had to call the bank.  And that's where hell really began.  Before that I was only in Purgatory.

As I said, I lead a simple life.  I am blissfully unaware of the myriad choices when it comes to banking.  I get a small check from The Davis Enterprise and deposit it.  Social Security deposits money into my credit union account and it magically appears in that little ATM machine in the supermarket when I need to get money.  Once a month I tell the credit union to pay the bank for the handful of charges I made during the month and that's about it.  Walt handles all the big stuff, but we have no large outstanding bills and pay everything off each month, so even that isn't all that complicated.

Just trying to find the path to a real person was a nightmare.  I was trying to find someone who could help me by letting me know what my last credit card number was, and since that isn't an option, I had to wade through menu after menu after menu after menu, each time choosing the option that I thought would take me to a real person, and each time being thrown into yet another set of menus.

I finally got to where it looked promising.  They told me my call would be monitored for training purposes.  That's a good sign, yes?   And asked me to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  While I waited (20 minutes) I got a lecture on how much easier it would be to do this on line.  (No, actually it would not.  This was not an on-line option! ) Then I got the awful music and then a honey-sweet voice telling me how I could get the car of my dreams with a special bank loan they could give me today.  Then the awful music.  It went on and and on and on.  When I finally got a voice who was (a) pleasant, (b) American, and (c) apologetic for my long wait I started to feel less like jumping out of the window.  I explained my situation and he said he would have to check my account and asked if he could put me on hold.  I laughed.  He did too.  But he came back quickly with the information and told me he could not give it to me over the phone, which seemed reasonable.  But he would mail it to me and I should have it in five days. 

Then all I have to do is jump back into Web-TV's voice mail hell and hope that I get the right hour for canceling black boxes.


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