(Posted October 22nd 1998) I was walking home from the bus stop a couple of weeks ago and because I was late I wanted to call my wife. I decided to do this at the last store I came across. Outside I picked up one of the three Pacific Bell (public) phones. After dropping in the requested 35 cents, for some reason I got no connection only silence. To make things worse after putting the phone back down, none of my coins were returned. I jerked the refund lever a few times but it seemed the more I tried, the more obvious it was that this phone was going to have its own way. So picking up the phone next to it I tried my call again. This time the number was busy. Putting that phone down, I couldn't believe how pathetic these things were. Once again my money wasn't returned.
I'd now put in 70 cents in two phones and I still hadn't completed my call. It was then that I dialed zero for the Pacific Bell operator. (For those of you not in California, this is one of the local telephone companies that provides service to California's coast line for over a thousand miles.) A female voice answered and asked how she could help. Patiently and without sarcasm I explained my ordeal and at the end of my speech politely asked if she could kindly connect me to my home. Her response sounded more like she'd been programmed to say the same thing over and over again. "I'm sorry Sir, I can't connect you to the number. I can connect you another way if you'd prefer like a collect call?" I told her that I'd had money to begin with and had no intentions of placing a collect call. I'd had trust in their phones in the first place and if I could have predicted that their chunks of rectangular metal were going to eat up my coins with nothing in return then I'd of used another company's phone elsewhere.
After I'd finished she coldly informed me that there was nothing that she could do and that if I wanted a refund she could put me in touch with the refund center. Before I even had a chance to speak I was listening to some computerized recording which asked me about the phone I was using. Putting the phone down in disgust, I called Pacific Bell again. After telling the second operator what had happened she just gave me the same babble that the first one had. Once again I was about to be put through to the same fucking refund center. Stopping her just in time I asked if I could talk to a supervisor. As if aggravated by this simple request, she asked me to wait.
I must have been standing there for a good three to four minutes. Breaking the silence came the words, "Yes can I help you?" It was another female voice. The tone in it sounded totally disinterested in what I had to say, as if I was just an annoying parasite that she just wanted to be rid of so that she could get on with her life. Calmly I explained what had happened. After I'd finished, all she had to say was; "I'm sorry Sir there's nothing we can do?" So I responded to her uncaring attitude by asking, "What do you mean there's nothing you can do? Two of your co-workers just told me the same thing. You are the local phone-company aren't you? You have got equipment there in front of you to put me in touch with some remote village in the high hills of New Guinea if you wanted to, haven't you? Yet your telling me that you "can't" put me in touch with my home which is a mile down the street? Am I missing the point here? Or is it more of a fact that you 'can't' or that you simply 'don't' want to help me?" "I'm sorry Sir, that's our policy. I can put you in touch with the refund department if you want?" "No I've already been there thank you! And by the way why should I be the one to be made to feel guilty here? Why have I got to go through three operators and be made to feel like I'm the victim here, all because YOUR phones cheated me out of my money?" She still tried to give me the same horse shit story that I'd heard twice before. I concluded that this was just another corporate piss bag who really didn't give two shits about me or any other peasant out there who'd decided to use and trust a Pacific Bell phone to make a local call. I'd had it. I told her what I thought and hung up.
Talk about an uncaring company who in my eyes simply doesn't give a shit about it's customers just as long as they get their all mighty buck. I was absolutely disgusted by Pacific Bells' lack of humanity that evening. I could understand if I was trying to get connected to a call in Australia for half an hour and was giving some operator a hard time about it, but a local call down the fucking street. That's all I've got to say about Pacific Bell. If you've got any stories of your own about this company I'd love to hear about them coz I'm sure there's plenty more where they came from. Thanks for your reading, Johnny Anderson.
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