I was doing my usual day off shenanigans. You know; laundry, washing the floor, replacing the substrate papers in the Greys’ cages, messing around with throwing out paperwork and trying to make sense of what was under the kitchen sink when the phone rang.
Always eager for a chance to sit down, (although when I talk on the phone I usually pace…) I picked it up.
“Hi. This is Mike from AT&T. I have an interesting and exciting promotion that could possibly save you money.” (Or something like that…)
Now, I normally don’t get upset at solicitors when they call. They are just doing their job. This was no exception. I was polite and thought, “Okay, let’s see what this sucker has to offer. I wouldn’t mind dropping my connection bills by doing a little ‘bundling.'”
“Okay, Mike. Hit me.” All I could think of was this song:
So Mike went into his spiel. He and I talked things through and he asked about the internet speed I was getting at Comcast. I told him, “Honey, don’t ask me how fast my internet speed is. I have no idea and I’ll bet you already know, don’t you?”
“Well, actually I do.”
“You’re sticking to the script aren’t you?”
“Well, kind of.” And he laughed. So did I. We were at least on the right track. This guy had a sense of humor and he was honest.
So we worked out what I was shelling out on my internet and cable TV bills. He told me what he could do. I told him if it was only a year contract at that price what would happen in a year? Were they going to jack up the prices again and I’d be in worse shape than I already was? I then went into this long meandering rant about how the corporations of the world never keep their promises. I subjected Mike to my position of puzzlement at my car insurance rates that seem to go up even though the value of my vehicle depreciates. Why is that? I’m always stumped by that one. I am paying more for insurance now than I did in 2002 when I bought my car. This makes absolutely no sense at all to me. He agreed with me.
I then explained how I worked for a major airline and the promises they’ve made to me that seem to be flying away and disappearing. How we got onto to airplane lavatories is beyond my memory at this point but we did and I then explained the mysteriousness of airplane lavatories to customers on my flights to Haiti and how they simply couldn’t figure out how to work them, from opening the door, to flushing the toilet and exiting again. I then tied this into Corporate America and told him that Ryan Air, an Inter-European Airline at one time considered making their toilets into a pay-per-use type deal.
Mike couldn’t quite wrap his head around that one.
“You mean, they want to charge the passengers to use the john?”
“Yeah! Hey, How old are you? Because I remember pay toilets when I was a kid.”
“Naww! I’m serious. They had pay toilets in airports, bus stations; I think it cost a dime. They have them in Paris near the Eiffel Tower.”
“I’m thirty. Are you serious?”
“Oh yeah! The little mechanism worked like a gum ball machine. You stuck your dime in, turned the little knob, pushed the door and the door would open. And I know about the Ryan Air deal because I’m a Flight Attendant. Oh, and I’m a writer. So this internet deal is really important.”
“You’re a writer?”
And we got off into another string of thoughts which revealed that he served quite a bit of time in Iraq and he began discussing the johns in Iraq and how the people there have a different way of getting business done in the restroom. When he told me, I nearly heaved. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t involve toilet paper.
And it’s essentially disgusting…not sure they are too familiar with the concept of E. coli over there.
At this point, the birds started up a ruckus.
“What do you write about? And are those birds I hear?”
“Yup. And that’s what I write about.”
Turns out his Grandfather has a B&G Macaw and a Grey. So while he was selling me stuff, I sold him the idea of getting his Grandfather a subscription to BIRD TALK for Christmas.
“Just think Mike. You can tell your Grandad that you sold the columnist on page 7 a package at AT&T.”
And so we finally got back to business again, comparing plans and figuring out how much I would save by bundling my internet and cable with my home phone. Turns out it was a pretty good savings and included 3 gift cards worth 75 bucks and he waived the installation fee. He promised that they were sending professional AT&T installers. I responded, with something snarky like,
“As opposed to what? Volunteers?”
He laughed and said, “No, I mean they actually work for us. We don’t job it out.”
“So they don’t go to work in a small bus. And they aren’t wearing impact helmets and toddler tethers?”
We were both laughing now. I mean we were having a great time!
So I asked him, “Do you like your job?”
“Beats gettin’ shot at.”
He had me there. But I have to tell you I haven’t had a conversation with a guy over the phone that I had never met, never was going to meet and probably would never speak to again that was as much fun. After talking to him, I really felt that there was no way I could pass up on the offer from a guy like that.
Did he work me? Sure he did. That was his job. But I set the rules ahead of time. He had to be honest with me, he had to compare apples to apples and he had to bring it down as low as it could go. No hidden fees, no up-charges and no backstage philandering in the contract. I told him what MCI did to me and I said to Mike, “That is never going to happen again. Odd Todd referred to MCI as “Filthy scum liars” in this video by Todd Rosenberg; aka “Odd Todd”: Laid Off:A Day in the Life
I think he knew at that point I wasn’t playing. Mike managed to get me a great deal and it was one of the most pleasant and fun solicitation calls I’ve ever received. So sometimes, getting a sales call isn’t a complete drag. And as Mike said, “It beats getting shot at.”
And I’d like to say hello to Mike and his wife because he promised me they would both visit my blog. So “Hello” to both of you and thanks so much Mike, for not only saving me money, but for hanging around in Iraq when you were in the service.
December 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm
loved it !!!! what a great guy to engage in the whole conversation…his supervisor should be told what an asset he is. Bet you make his day with this blog ! Hey there Mike..i am so happy you came home safe! Merry Christmas.
December 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm
Another wonderful post Patricia, and you probably made Mike’s day! Mike, thanks so much for your service! Now, I have a friend… she will not travel in a plane longer than a 3 hour flight because she refuses to use the airplane lavatories. Think of the money she will save!!!!!!
December 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm
I think it’s great that your birds never get their feather tips in the pix they take of you. Do they take turns? Or does one push the shutter while the other dangles a toy go get you to look in the right direction?
December 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm
Bwaaahhhhh! Now THAT is funny Su! I never thought of that!
December 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm
oh my, so many thoughts racing through my brain! I actually crawled under one of those pay toilet stalls when I was very young, I thought “what the hell do they have in there that’s so special”……….I know………gross! My mother would have killed me for doing that lol. Great article, I was going to ask if Mike asked you out (cuz you do have sexy phone voice going on there) but since you said he is married…………so MIKE, THANKS for you service!!! Hope you meet Mike on one of your flights someday P!
December 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm
Thanks for your service Mike. I would be honored to be “solicited” by you. (VBG). Great post Patricia.
December 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm
At the risk of picking one of your children as my favorite; a metaphor for your blog posts NOT your actual human children; I really loved this post. For the past 3 or 4 years I am finding myself becoming more of a curmudgeon. I’m not that old! I suppose it is the post election euphoric optimism that fell into the dog-eat-dog reality of our current dysfunctional government and economic situation. Pain is now trying to get through 30 minutes of local and then national news. Truly the lowest point in my almost 60 years as an American.
So leave it to Mike an Iraq veteran, the best 1% America has to offer, working for a mega-corporation to bring some optimism back to the greyness of last few years! Yes he was selling something but attitude is 150% of everything! Kudos Mike….
I have been bundled with AT&T for almost 2 years now and we love the U-verse 350 TV service, fiber optic internet service, and wireless phone service. Pay too much for home phone service but….
Patricia, you were right to press Mike on your concerns about changes in billing. Seems that almost every month I am calling AT&T to correct my bundle price. Hoping that you wrote down the rates that Mike agreed too for your bundle and got his direct phone number….
BTW ….. using http://www.speedtest.net my connection is 11.54 Mbps down load and 1.45 Mbps UP load. AT&T promises a max of 12 Mbps download for U-verse internet Max. Not bad IMHO…..
December 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm
As usual, another interesting blog post……I actually had a wonderful conversation with a computer tech in India for a couple hours as she fixed my computer after getting a very bad virus. It was so informative, as I’ve always wondered how their working conditions are, how many workers, etc, They had hundreds of techs working 24 hours a day and it was not unusual for some techs to work on more than one computer at a time, She worked 10 hour days, We discussed food and how they do not have international restaurants, like Italian, Chinese, Mexican……but then she asked if I had ever had Indian food, Which I have never had!So, even though sometimes, telemarketers sometimes seem to be bothersome, sorry Mike, Now whenever I am on the phone with a phone Tech, telemarketer or just placing an order, I ask where are you and how is the weather there?I think it makes the caller feel better and you never know you may make a connection , like you did,Patrica. By the way, I almost always get asked about my birds in the background, too.
I would also like to thank Mike for his service to our country and I want to wish you and Mike a very Merry Christmas
December 24, 2011 at 9:47 am
I love my att u-verse plan. Glad you took the leap. Don’t try to explain it to the birds. I’m sure their daily phone call activities will not suffer any disruption. God knows, mine don’t. Roxy is all about making phone calls. Thank the gods I don’t have to pay for her extra minutes!