Friday 2 October 2009

Seeing through disconnection

I had two main tasks to complete today as part of my leaving preparations. First, arrange to terminate my telephone and broadband, and second, visit the opticians.

(1) Why is is so expensive to disconnect one's telephonic equipment?

In today's modern world we have landlines, broadband, mobile phones, set top boxes etc etc. I've just been arranging disconnection of my broadband. Aaargghh, I hate packages! In order to get broadband I have to have a landline. This is because mobile broadband doesn't quite reach here as mobile reception is poor. As part of my broadband package I get a set top box, which I only use in place of a video recorder, and a mobile, which I use only when I am away from home. It is one of those 18 month contract things - there never seems to be a real alternative to contractual periods, why?. At least with just mobile telephones you can pay as you go. My standby mobile is just that - an old phone, that no one else wants, even those services which advertise big bucks for your old mobile will only give me £1 for this one. The up side is that no one will want to steal it as it has no resale value.

Anyway one of my jobs today was to organise my disconnection for the grand telephonic network. So here I am on the phone trying to arrange to stop my service. I first speak to one lady who quotes me an utterly exorbitant £44 to disconnect my mobile, and another £119 to disconnect my broadband, plus any exchange engineers fees. Someone else will be living in this house when I am away and I'll be reestablishing a service for me when I return, so there doesn't need to be any exchange work surely, I ask. Yes there does, it is just the way it works. That's an awful lot of money for nothing, can she reduce this somehow I am going to do charity work after all. No she can't give any discount. Then she tells me I have to talk with another team to get a cost for disconnection of the set top box service. By this time I am not in the best of moods about this.

So I'm transferred onto someone else, well when I say transferred that's not entirely correct, dumped is the more appropriate term. No, she didn't tell the second lady what my call was about, I just get dumped there. After minor initial confusion, this new woman is really great, she looks at my set top box account and advises me that as of course I can't use this without the broadband connection, the best thing for me to do, as I don't have any Tv packages running on the account, is to let the account run on empty so to speak until the end the contract in mid January and I'd not incur any charges at all. No unfortunately she cannot log a terminatation request now for January - who builds these computer systems - clearly someone who mum and dad pays the bills and has no real life experience to call on!

Anyway she does get me the relevant number to call from overseas. Felling better about at least not having to pay anything after this call, I am even more pleased when she politely transfers, yes transfers, me to someone who can help me disconnect my landline and broadband. This lady calculates that my departure date will leave me only 1 month running on the landline contract and that is only a £7 cancellation fees (in total that's more reasonable but I wonder how much it would cost them to raise the invoice for this! - probably about £20! - to my mind that doesn't compute). Then she calculates £94 for the broadband package, as I have 8 months left to run, and £45 for exchange equipment engineer fees. I sound aghast, I am flabbergasted at this exorbitant amount and I ask for a reduction, pleading volunteer poverty, and get a waiver of £45 pounds. I confirm this means that broadband, telephone and mobile will all cease. Correct she says, there will be written confirmation in the post.

Part of me is happy in that it is finalised and I have come out with a cancellation charge which is much less than it was at the start, part of me fuming that there should even be one at all, and part of me is amazed that there are so many people dealing with one customer within one company, for what I see as one service. Also I can imagine that quite often one person cancels their account and the telephone company charges, and then lo and behold someone else moves into the same property only a few days later and they get charged to be connected. There's a nice little double earner going on here if the company delays their disconnection activity even by a few days! While I am quite willing to except that I took out a contract for 18 months and that there could be a cancellation charge, the levels of money are way disproportionate to the amount of work involved in disconnection in today’s digital exchanges.

(2) The Eyes have it

My second task for the day is to attend for an eye examination. It has only been less than a year since my last one but I know my vision has changed - my near vision is improving - I no longer need my glasses to do very near work such as threading a needle, filing my nails or focusing a screwdriver into the screw head. But my mid vision for computing has also changed and I end up having to look out a different part of my varifocals to see text on the screen, this results in tipping my head back and associated neck aches. Time to get to the opticians. I certainly don't want to be disconnected optically!

The most difficult part is always choosing new frames. I decided to get new frames because the ones I have took quite a bit of wear and tear whilst on the boat. I am also trying a different optician in town. This one is part of a large chain of opticians throughout the UK. Again I can never understand the sales patter which tells me how much money I have saved by taking their special offer of one pair of sunglass at a free or reduced cost depending on which frames I choose. I haven't saved anything because that what it costs me. And it was going to cost me what their supposed non sale price was then I may only have bought one pair anyway!

After much trying on of new frames, having digital photos taken or a short list of 6, I've chosen my new spectacles. I must admit the idea of the digi-photos appealed in going to this optician and it does definitely help. Otherwise, you are so dependent upon the person fitting you for their comment on what the frames look like, whether their shape suits your face shape, whether the color is good on you etc.

So my new look will be a light brown legged pair with gold rims for my ordinary specs

andfor my sunglasses, a rich red pair, with black and grey legs, going by the brand name of Monroe. Whereas it took me ages to pick the ordinary glasses, it was love at first sight with the sun glasses. I am feeling absolutely great already about those. They made up for the telephone disconnection hassles that made me feel like one of the Grumpy Old Women brigade! Now all I need is the proverbial gust of wind and I shall be feeling good, looking good!


  1. How exactly did you get your vision to improve?! That's I trick I'd love to learn. I've never heard the sides of glasses referred to as legs - that's cute!

    I do think that all communications companies are horrendous. I've used many different ones along the way and have never been convinced that what I am told is actually the way it works. You get a different answer from each person you talk to. And they do "dump" you - or bump you - rather than transfer. A large portion of my job is customer service. I know how important it is. If I could just run one of the cable/tv/phone companies for a year and re-vamp their customer service I guarantee I'd make them millions.

  2. Molly, I haven't the faintest idea! It would be jolly nice to have it improve so as not to have to wear glasses at all. But as I have worn them all my adult life they are very much a part of me.
    Re the customer service aspect, I agree they are amongst the worse. You should offer the equivalent of the lawyer's no win no fee option and take them to the cleaners!

  3. Sheila, cute glasses! I don't wear prescription glasses but sometimes I wish I did because there are so many cute frames.

    I swear, over here in the USA you are lucky to even talk to a real human being. I usually get shuffled from recorded message to recorded message. Or I get those interactive thingys where you press 1 for one thing, 2 for another, and on and on until you dont remember what any of them mean and you end up having to push the number that requests thay all be repeated.
    What a world...