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.