The Union Recorder


February 22, 2014

ROWLAND: Some questions just never meant to be answered

MILLEDGEVILLE — I don’t know if it is that I am getting older or what, but I have started cutting back on the frills in life. Just so you know, I have never been one that believes money is the object. In fact, I don’t object to it at all.

That was supposed to be funny. Object. Get it? Never mind.

In fact money is generally something I believe you spend just before you get it. The reason I feel that way is I’ve never seen an armored car in a funeral procession in my life.

That was supposed to be funny, too, although not as funny as “object.” C’mon guys. Give me a break.

Anyway, about a week ago, I decided that having satellite radio was just one of those frills I could no longer afford. So I cancelled it.

Just so you know, I have been a satellite radio customer for a long time. I’m kind of a gadget guy, anyway. I think that is where my younger son gets it.

I had a car phone before we called them cellphones. We paid for calls by the minute, no time was free, the friends and family plan did not exist, and it came in a bag. I later graduated to having it installed in my car, actually my truck. I think it was the cute antenna that was the attraction.

Something about proudly displaying that car phone antenna…

Now cellphones have largely replaced home phones, especially in areas where cell coverage is good. At my house, we still have POTS. That stands for Plain Old Telephone Service. Don’t ask me how, but my house is situated in such a way as to make a reliable cell signal only available in certain locations in the house while standing on one foot and cocking your head slightly to the left.

So, in the cellphone world, I kind of see myself as a pioneer. Besides, there are some luxuries one should not have to live without.

Now I have been thinking about this satellite radio thing for a while. Just so you know, I have one in my truck. Mama has one in her car, and Boy No. 1 has the vehicle that previously belonged to Mama in which I had a portable satellite radio installed.

In case you are counting, that is three satellite radio charges - to my credit card - which, automatically renews annually. To the radio services credit, they do send me notice each year that reminds me that I pay for three radios.

This year, there must have been something about seeing how much I was paying that rubbed me the wrong way. So I called ‘em up.

Get the picture. It’s about 7 p.m., I have had one of those weeks that would worry the wart off a witch’s nose, and bad winter weather is in the forecast. Maybe all of that contributed to putting me in the cancellation spirit.

I dial what is most assuredly an American phone number. The person on the other end is not from around here; let’s just put it that way. Great. A call center in Bangalore, India. Not that I am opposed to outsourcing, but I just don’t want there to be a communication gap.

After all, I am on a mission.

So, Raj says he will be happy to help me. He pulls up my record, notices that I have been a longtime, bill-paying-on-time customer. He asks me if I am unhappy with my service. I assure him I am not.

I’m just old and frugal.

Apparently, there is a different billing structure for those of us who are longtime customers who pay their bill on time and are old and frugal. Old Raj explains to me that I can get the great customer pay-your-bill-on-time-old-and-frugal discount if I’d like to retain my service.

I politely say no.

He further points out that since I have three accounts I might like to just keep one radio, reduce my bill by two-thirds, and see if I like that better for the next year. I decline.

Of course for this day only, the radio service has a special that will allow me to keep my beloved airwave channels for the next six months for mere pennies. If at that time I am still feeling the pangs of downsizing, then I can cancel.

If I knew how to say “no” in Hindi I would. I do not.

So, in my nearly perfected Southern drawl, I slowly and in a low voice repeat “no.”

This time I add “thank you.” No, thank you.

Apparently those are the magic words. Raj thanks me for my business, credits my account for the unused service, and 20 minutes later I hang up slap worn out.

My experience leaves me with only one question. If I qualified for the good-customer-pay-your-bill-on-time old frugal guy discount, why didn’t they offer it to me before I decided to quit?  

I guess some questions are just never meant to be answered.

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