Last week I switched back to our old cable provider, because they were offering a great deal. I had originally dropped them because the bills were getting enormous, once the promotions (or whatever they give to suck you in,) were dropped off of the account. The bill was over $200 a month for phone, internet and cable – and that was for “basic” cable stations. No premium channels; not even HBO. I thought to myself, ‘if I’m going to get robbed, it’s going to be with a gun pointing at me.’ So I dumped them.
About one month after we had changed to a new provider, they called us to try to get us to come back. I told them, very nicely, “Look, we gave you guys a chance to come down in price before the account was canceled, but the woman who I spoke to over there was very rude and cocky. She wouldn’t budge AND she actually offered to connect me to the ‘disconnect services department,’ so I’m sorry – but you’re a little too late.” And that was that, but they would periodically stalk us, over the next year, to try and persuade us to switch back. We stayed with the new provider, until I opened the bill recently, and saw that THEIR promotions had dropped off of our account, and our bill had increased an additional $35-$45 per month.
At around the same time, the original company starts advertising all 3 services for $69.99/ month for two years. So I call them, and it turns out that this isn’t for their new customers, but to try and persuade former customers to come back. Yippee! Of course, I do the right thing (as I would with any relationship that I’m involved in,) and I called our current provider to see if they could come close to what we were being offered. The woman was very nice and understanding, but there wasn’t much that she could do. She offered to give us a $15 discount, but that was only if we dropped the free SHOWTIME/STARZ promotion (that was due to expire in 2 months anyway.) Feeling a little bit guilty, I told her, “Nothing personal, it’s not you after all,” but that we were going to be switching back to our old provider. And who knows – maybe that they would get our business back in the future, as I was pretty sure that this other company was going to somehow screw us down the road, (as they’ve done before.)
So we get the old service back. Everything seems to be going okay. I’m not sure if the internet is a tiny bit slower or if it’s in my imagination, but actually I’ll happily deal with that to shave money off of our cable bill. (Maybe the added sluggishness will finally be the thing to break my stupid FARMVILLE addiction.)
Now, I couldn’t get all of the boxes installed on the day of the service, so I had to drive the next day, a couple of towns over, to pick up equipment that the guy wasn’t authorized to leave without installing. Not a big deal.
So I get there and of course there’s this huge line snaking around, all the way up to the front counter. There are only two employees helping about 30 of us, and the line is moving pretty slowly. Now, I’m waiting. I have my smartphone, and I’m keeping myself entertained; plus they have 5-6 flat screen televisions that are hanging around, and I’m watching the Food Channel and learning some new recipes.
After 15 minutes or so, one of the ladies behind the counter shouts out to all of us standing there:
“IS THERE ANYONE ON LINE WHO IS NOT HERE TO PAY A BILL?”
I raise my hand in the air, as do maybe 4-5 other people. Now we all get off of this long line and form a new line in front of this woman, not up at the counter, but standing back with the other people, waiting to be called. She gets an attitude – no, she actually HAD an attitude – and she snarls to the other employee (rather annoyed) “I didn’t tell them to form another line!!”
So here I am, the next one due to be seen by her after she finishes with the customer at the counter. I turn to the people behind me, and they’re all being as quiet as a mouse – but mouthing to me “Yes she did.” So now, I don’t really know why, but I’m getting a little steamed inside. She waits a few minutes and complains again to her fellow employee (loud enough for all of us to hear,) about us getting off of the line and forming a new one, like we’re vermin or something.
I turned to the customer directly behind me, and with my thumb and index finger 1/2″ apart said:
“I’m THIS CLOSE to going back to <insert other cable provider’s name here>”
I didn’t say it that loud, but I guess that she heard me. That four-letter “F-word” (FI_S) must have rattled her. The counter is probably 10′-12′ away from where I’m standing, and she’s still working on that first customer that she’s been with. She mutters something nasty – it was obviously directed at me – and that was it.
I said loudly, “What??” And silence. And then again “Excuse me?? Are you speaking to me??” (Visions of DeNiro in “Taxi Driver” fleeting through my head.) Then again “Are you speaking to ME??” And she says “No!” I reply, “Oh….MY mistake then” and the other customers you couldn’t hear a peep out of, but I think that I was their ‘hero’ in that moment. At the very least, they were grateful for the diversion, as it made the time go by a little quicker.
As I’m standing there for minutes more, waiting to be helped, I started to feel a little bit of remorse. Then I actually began plotting how to smooth things over with her, quietly, when I get up to the counter. I started to feel a little sorry for her, and began to regret that I may have embarrassed her when I stood up for myself (and all of the other ‘vermin’ on the line.)
What made me feel badly, is that my mother works as a cashier at a local supermarket. Now this woman at the cable store was probably not much older than me, but my mom will tell us stories every so often about how customers are rude to her. They snap orders at her to ‘hurry up’ or argue about a 25¢ coupon that expired back when Bush was still president. (I’m talking about Bush Sr.) I always tell her that if I’m ever in there to pick her up, and I hear someone being rude or disrespectful to her, that I’ll quietly wait for them outside in the parking lot (so as not to get her fired from her job.)
In any case….
Back at the cable store, now employee #3 magically appears behind the counter (as did a security guard that I hadn’t noticed before,) and says “NEXT!”
Now I’m disappointed, because I was going to tell the nasty woman that I’m sorry if I overreacted (which all I really did was respond loudly to her, nothing more.) I understand that sometimes people have bad days, and may take it out on other people. But that doesn’t make it right. I’ve worked with the public my entire life. I’m a colourist working at a hair salon in a very snooty area, and I’ve seen a lot of demanding clients at my job.
One time a woman came in for a haircut, and I happened to be standing nearby. I overheard her barking at the girl who was about to shampoo her hair, “Make sure that you don’t let any water get down the back of my shirt – because I won’t be happy!” It took everything in me not to run over there, move the shampoo girl aside and say “Let ME wash her Michelle; you’ve got a phone call.” Of course, I didn’t – but I wanted to. I would have taken the phrase “Wet T-Shirt Contest” to a whole new level.
My sister, on the other hand, is a hothead. Hair-trigger temper. She told us this story about being in a supermarket one time in Plainview, to buy a salad on her lunch break. This woman comes by, and literally pushes my sister to get in front of her as she’s walking to the cashier, so that she could be the first one on line. My sister screams out, at the top of her lungs:
“DON’T PUSH ME!!!!! DON’T PUSH ME!!!!!! WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE PUSHING?!!!!” (Then she looks to see what the woman’s purchasing, and becomes completely unhinged.)
“YOU’RE PUSHING ME FOR A BOTTLE OF WATER!!!! ARE YOU #@!%-ING KIDDING ME!!! FOR A BOTTLE OF #@!%-ING WATER??!!!!”
The woman looked at her, but wisely decided to keep her mouth shut. Probably a good thing too, because one (or possibly the both) of them would have probably wound up in jail. Kudos.
In any case, getting back to the cable woman. I had to get on the other employee’s line and I was forced to miss the opportunity to apologize to the nasty one. Did she even deserve an apology? Probably. Was she wrong? Absolutely. But thinking about how my mother has customers being rude to her at times, I felt that “two ‘rudes’ don’t make a right.”
After I had left, I tried calling the store. I didn’t even know the woman’s name to get her on the phone, but I would have described her to whoever had picked up. As it turned out, after being on perpetual hold for 5-10 minutes, the call was rerouted to one of the call centers, and they told me that the store that I was at doesn’t have a landline phone. That struck me as a little strange. After all, they do provide phone service.
So then I considered mailing an “I’M SORRY” card to the store addressed to “The Heavyset Female Employee at the End of the Counter All The Way on the Right with The Reddish Hair,” but I figured that would completely cement in all of their minds that I’m some kind of a nutcase.
Be that as it may, I still may be getting another chance after all. When I was there that day, I accidentally picked up a regular HD box instead of an HD-DVR box, so now I have to go back. I’ll see how it goes. (Who knows? Maybe we’ll become best friends, and she’ll sneak me the “GOLD PACKAGE??”)