Song and Dance


August wasn’t about to give up without a fight. 

I woke up promptly at seven in the morning to the sound of earth moving machinery grinding back and forth outside my open window- a caucauphonous symphony of beeps and revs and slams and bangs of a fully realized construction site. At first I thought that it might’ve been the garbage truck on a route down one of the neighboring streets, but after an hour of lying quietly, hoping that it would go away, I finally dragged myself out of bed to discover that the neighbors had decided to install an in ground pool. Because, you know, five year drought and all. 

I went ahead and got up. I hadn’t slept well: all my dreams involved working as an assistant for a boss who not only failed to communicate, but blamed me for the failure to read their mind. That’s all that I remember of the dreams now- that, and the fact that I somehow ended up covered in baking flour. 

If frustrating dreams and unfortunate wake up calls were bad, well, they were just setting the tone for the day. I spent a maddening hour searching job listings- all of which assured me that my experience was insufficient for the lofty post of second assistant or forth secretary. After my dreams, I was not inclined to draw any battle lines over this. I’d make a humdinger of an assistant, but I’m not about to bend over backwards for the privilege.

The plan for the day was to go back to the apartment, clear it out, and finally have a clean break from our old life. But first I had to call Time Warner Cable. We’d had our cable installed on Monday and discovered right away that the premium channels weren’t working. I called in to find out what was wrong and the customer service rep said the package had no premium channels. Did I want to add them? No, they should have been on the order. Well they’re not, did I want to add them? The price she quoted was ten dollars higher than what the order had quoted, but included an additional channel. We decided to go with it. We thought that would be the end of it. 

Yesterday we discovered that we hadn’t received a box with DVR capabilities. I was quite certain that I’d ordered one. Now that I had internet I was able to look up the confirmation email and yes: there should have been DVR and, yes, there should have been a package with three premium channels. 

I called customer support. The customer service representative said that I hadn’t ordered the DVR box. Did I want to add it? It would be another twelve dollars. No, I’d definitely ordered it, I had the confirmation email. No, all I’d ordered was the TV and Internet. It showed that premium channels had been added. Did I want to add the DVR box? No. I wanted to speak to a supervisor. Same song, same dance. I hung up. I posted an irate tweet. The hashtag of the day was #dealbreakerinthreewords. It was looking like Time Warner Cable was going to be my dealbreaker. 

Thinking that I must have gummed up the order somehow, I decided to retrace my steps. I signed out of my account and pretended to start from scratch, using the pool-building neighbors’ address. I chose the same options that I’d chosen before and got the same quote. Premium channels. DVR. 

By now the Curmudgeonly Lion was involved and was talking with a tech over chat ( same song, same dance, utter denial that the order included the things that we said it included.) Finally the tech gave up and asked if we wanted a callback to figure out what was wrong. This was going on two hours of chasing our own trails down bureaucratic rabbit holes. Fine. We would take a callback. 

We did our song and dance and spent fifteen minutes explaining that we’d retraced our steps and were getting the same quote for the same order items and why weren’t we getting what we’d ordered? And on that note, what were we getting charged? And why did we keep having to call and add things we should’ve already had? After a while he finally admitted that the premium channel package that we’d been offered at the time of ordering was only available to “triple play” customers who bundled phone with their TV and Internet. No where was this mentioned in the ordering process- not even in the fine print. We checked and double checked. Well, we couldn’t get it unless we added a phone line. Did we want to add a phone line? It couldn’t be added any other way. 

This is bait and switch, right? It’s not just me? That  is still fraudulent, right? 

Anyway, we stuck with the channels we’d added. We got the DVR box (or we will once we go to the store to exchange our standard box) and our total was ten dollars more than the original order quote. We decided to save ourselves ten dollars by using our own modem to finally get what we’d ordered in the first place ( mostly) for the price we’d been quoted ( mostly). No explanations were given. The only credit we received was on the installation, which so far has been the only part of our Time Warner Cable experience that has been exemplary. 

Le sigh.

But wait, the day’s not over yet!

The tires on the van have been low weeks. I used up all my quarters doing laundry before the move so I was never able to refill them, but now we had our air compressor out of storage so I asked the Curmudgeonly Lion to fill them before we drove across town. The only piece of the compressor that hadn’t made the move yet was the air gauge. Luckily the van had a choice of three. Unluckily, they all gave different readings. So the tires were filled but were either high or low: we couldn’t know for sure. 

We drove down to the apartment. After getting out of the car I lamented that the front driver’s side tire still looked low. We chalked it up to the faulty gauge reading and set about gathering our final possessions. 

An hour or so later, as we were loading the van, I discovered the tire had gone flat. Legit flat. 

Thus ended our plans of finishing our grand exeunt from the apartment, and thus began the Odyssey of the Flat Tire. Our first instinct was to call Allstate for roadside assistance- after all, this seemed like the kind of thing that should be in a roadside assistance wheelhouse. No pun intended. 

The smartphone app denied that Honda made such a thing as an Odyssey, and our data reception was so spotty that I might’ve done better with a semaphore. I gave up and called. The customer service representative said that we did not have roadside assistance and that it had been cancelled in 2012 by our agent… In Chicago. Because, you know, we’d moved to California.Our California coverage should have been the same, but she couldn’t see it on her end, did we want to be transferred to the insurance part of the company? We really didn’t: we just wanted to get the tire fixed. But we said OK because now we also had to get our insurance fixed. The insurance representative asked if she could put us on hold while she looked up our account, then left us there for thirty minutes until her shift ended and transferred us back to an automated queue which have us no option to speak to a representative. 

#dealbreakerinthreewords : Allstate Roadside Assistance

We gave up and decided to fix it ourselves. The van had a mini spare in a hidden floor compartment which could be excavated with only a medium amount of swearing. The Curmudgeonly Lion installed it while I looked up the hours of the local Pep Boys. 

The spare was flat too. 

Pep Boys were open for another hour, according to Google, and were less than a mile away- maybe we could just walk the tire over. I thought I’d better call to be sure. Yes they were open, but no, they wouldn’t look at it tonight- they were booked up. They might get to it in the morning. Or, there was another store farther across town. We explained that we couldn’t get farther across town because we couldn’t get roadside assistance- we’d have to walk the tire over to them. Sorry, try in the morning. 

We considered our dwindling options. We could walk the tire and the mini spare to the corner gas station and fill them at the air pump and see if they would hold enough air to get us across town to the other Pep Boys. So like two, dirty, frustrated turn-of-the-century kids we each rolled a tire up the block to the gas station, arriving to realize that all three tire gauges were back at the house way across the city. In a small tide of good luck we discovered first that the air compressor at the gas station had a built in gauge and second that the air was free with a code from the cashier- which if I’d known this in the first place I would’ve filled the tire ages ago. 

We filled the tire and the spare and rolled them back to the apartment. We decided to risk the regular tire to see if it would hold the air ( nothing appeared to be wrong with it) and have Pep Boys take a look at it since they’d sold it to us in the first place. 

We drove across town to the other Pep Boys and pulled in. The tire seemed to be fine. We went inside and got the same song and dance that the other location had given us on the phone: they couldn’t look at it tonight, try again in the morning. 

#dealbreakerinthreewords Pep Boys Automotive

It was now almost seven. We’d arrived in town at three expecting to leave by five. We we’re filthy, hangry, and ( for myself) so ready to get the hell out of Dodge and never come back- except that all of our moving plans had been preempted by a flat tire and another runaround. 

So we did the obvious thing: we had dinner. After twenty minutes of blissfully not talking to a single customer service representative, we checked the tire and it still seemed to be holding air, so we decided to go home. 

So that was my day.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 31, 2016.

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