with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Hooking Up to the World

I spent the day on the phone trying to get hooked up to the world again. Beginning early in the morning, I called the telephone company, cable television, and electricity company to get hooked up. They’ll be here next week. But I learned a few things along the way.

First of all, you have to know your address. I thought is was the address on the business card of the owner, but that turns out to be his address. The campground is different. For those of you who want to know, you can visit our contact page to get the address and new phone number. The telephone should be on by the middle of next week, I hope.

Once you know your actual address, you have to know the area code of where you are. Unable to find that readily, I thought about jumping on the Internet to look that up, but since I don’t have Internet yet, a detail since I don’t have a phone or Internet connection, that left me playing a little detective. I finally found it when I went through my cell phone’s call log memory and found the number Brent had called me from work, which had the area code listed. Our number for our temporary cell phones is still registered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so to call me from Mobile is long distance, even though his office is two miles away.

With the area code and the address, you can start.

All three places required my social security number and an alternative person or contact in case of emergency or if someone else would be accessing the account, they needed their name. The electric company handled this question poorly.

“Are you married?”

“That’s rather personal and has nothing to do with setting up my electricity, does it?”

“Well, are you?”

“I’m not going to answer that question.”

“Well, we need to know.”

“Why do you need to know?”

“We need to know if anyone else is going to call on this account. We write down their name so we know it is okay to talk to them about the service.”

“Then why didn’t you ask that in the first place.”

I told them Brent’s name but was rather miffed. I’m sure she was, too, not realizing that she was actually talking to someone who thought through questions before answering them.

The telephone company handled the question well, as did the cable company.

“Will anyone else be contacting us regarding your account?”

That’s the way to handle the question. Very professional and non-assuming of my personal living circumstances.

Of all the folks I talked to, the cable company was the most fun. She answered my questions with laughter in her voice and commiserated with my worries and woes. She was patient and kind throughout the conversation. Comcast, for this much, I thank you. Let’s see how the rest of your service works.

The electric company needed to have a home phone number, but I hadn’t gotten that yet. And they wanted a second emergency number, just in case. In case of what, I’m not sure.

All of them had me wait while they checked my credit. This bothers me. First, I’m glad that it only took a minute or two so I could move on with the process. What bothers me is the speed at which they did it. If our credit report is viewable that fast, who else can get it that quickly? Hmmm. Makes you wonder. We’ve been out of the country for five years, but we still have good enough credit for the telephone, television, and electricity. Hmmm. And the cable company was the only one who asked permission to check my credit report. Hmmm.

The biggest problem I had was with my damn cell phone. After a bunch of research, the ease and convenience of the Tracfone got my attention. A quick purchase at WalMart, and a way too lengthy battle with their horrid web site, we had two working phones. I started out with the cheaper 200 minute prepaid cards until we get a handle on whether these work for us or not, and within the first two weeks I’d used up my 200 minutes. The killer was checking in with my parents upon arrival and then sitting on hold while credit reports and other details were getting checked by the different utilities.

So I decided to buy more minutes. I dialed up the 800 number and started punching away. Didn’t work. Kept telling me something was wrong with the numbers I was dialing. My few remaining minutes were clicking away as I tried over and over again. So I called back and after listening to too many selections that keep me from talking to a human being, I found a human who told me that I can’t add more minutes FROM my Tracfone. I have to add them from a land line. This sucks. Seems you can’t talk on the phone and punch in the code numbers while the phone is engaged. Sucks.

When Brent came home from lunch, he let me use his cell phone and I called and that worked. But still, this sucks. The whole part of having a cell phone is using the cell phone and being released from a land line. Being unable to buy time from the phone I want the time for sucks big time. Terrible design. Really bad.

Oh, and the bizarre thing is that the electrical company wouldn’t take credit cards for automatic withdrawls, only automatic withdrawls from checking accounts. Bell South says they will take credit card withdrawls automatically, but after we are hooked up and have recieved our first bill. Comcast says that they will send me a form. Goodness. This reliance on checks is becoming archaic folks. Dealing with all those pieces of papers is expensive and banks are slowly making it more difficult to use checks, charging clients for using them, and charging them for depositing them. Get with the program, folks. This is the year 2004.

So all in all, it is tough moving and getting set up. We’ve found more leaks and mildew and water damage, and more things needing fixing left and right, overhead and underneath. We’re plugging away at it all but it feels like a never ending job.
Mobile, Alabama

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