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Crabby Old Lady: Dead or Alive?

Posted Jan 07 2013 8:30am

This has been a disastrous holiday season for Crabby Old Lady. Not the holidays themselves; just everything else. To give you an idea, the least of it is that her heating has not worked since Christmas.

It is finally being repaired today but the other problems, involving a handful of the largest corporations in the U.S., may put Crabby in her grave.

Let's start in November with Amazon and The New York Times. The Times has a painfully perverse set of subscription choices. Aside from dead tree delivery, the newspaper can be displayed on the computer and smartphone. Or on the computer and tablet. Or you can pay way too much for access on all three.

Even though it costs $60 more per year, Crabby wanted to change her subscription from computer/smartphone to computer/tablet due to her new Kindle HD that is so much easier on her old eyes than the tiny phone screen. Hear Crabby's warning: don't.

The change involved getting her Times password to work for both devices but when she tried – again and again – the website tossed her into a loop that repeatedly requested the password.

Crabby will spare you further details except to say that more than two hours of wait and discussion time on the telephone (all coming off her cell minutes) with the two companies' representatives resulted in the same contradictory information from each: “I can't help you; it's Amazon's problem.” Or, when talking to Amazon – well, Crabby's has no doubt you can figure out on your own what that representative said.

Don't forget that this is a service for which Crabby pays money but neither company was willing to make the product available. How is this different, Crabby wonders, from the supermarket snatching the carrots out of her bag after she's been through the checkout counter.

A couple of days later the password process – as computer things sometimes do - miraculously succeeded through no help from either company.

Moving right along, Crabby's December internet/cable television bill arrived from Comcast in mid-December with a jump in price of 21.5 percent. This signals a Kabuki dance the company and Crabby do every six months: they raise the price, Crabby calls to cancel everything except internet and basic TV and they lower the price.

Now, Crabby Old Lady likes television. She follows the political scene on it, she watches some fine dramas (there is good stuff being produced these days) and along with some comedy, movies, Netflix, etc. to choose from, it is particularly enjoyable on evenings after she has fried her brain during eight or 10 hours working on this blog.

So all you sanctimonious abstainers who don't sully your pristine minds with grubby television, Crabby grants you your intellectual superiority but keep it to yourself today.

Crabby called her Comcast representative. He's a nice guy and she likes her twice-a-year chats with him. In the end, she gets to keep the television package she likes at an amount that (within the ruinous confines of monopoly pricing) is tolerable for another six months.

She made her first call on December 14th and left the requested information for her service representative. The recording states that a 24-hour turnaround is expected.

Since this is a Crabby Old Lady bitch session, you already know that didn't happen. Not the next day nor the next nor the next. Given Crabby's normally short temper in such circumstances, she has been remarkably polite in the nine or ten subsequent messages she has left.

Oh, wait. She did get one return call but it arrived while she was being examined by her eye doctor and in no position to chat about television and internet prices.

The terrible part of this is with the cable TV/internet access monopoly in almost every city in the U.S. including Crabby's, there is no comparable competitor and this is deeply wrong in what is supposed to be a free market economy.

Crabby continues to call Comcast, so far to no avail.

You might think this covers Crabby's electronic travails and she is done bitching now. Oh no, not yet.

Thanks to all of the above, Crabby Old Lady has gone way over her cell phone voice limit and at 45 cents per extra minute, her monthly charge doubled.

She may have talked more than usual during the holidays but not enough to put her over the top without the two to three hours of extremely unsatisfactory wait and talk times with Amazon, The Times and Comcast's voicemail system.

However, even without these corporate/customer failures, Crabby was thinking she needs more voice and less data time to avoid crushing overage charges in the future.

Because it is another year until her contract is up and there is a $350 penalty to cancel before then, Crabby checked what else was available at Verizon.

It was useless. There is no choice but to pay a lot more for more minutes or, in subscribing to a different kind of less expensive plan, to purchase a new phone not nearly as spiffy or useful as the one she has and which, finally, Crabby has learned to navigate with relative ease.

Crabby took a crack at negotiating with a Verizon representative via live chat one day. The asinine conversation is too stupid to recount – the text equivalent of those verbal scripts read by customer reps for whom English is a third or fourth language.

As you can see, nothing has been resolved not to mention that Crabby doesn't like The Times tablet app and wants to return to using the smartphone option for The Times but is exhausted already thinking about what else will go wrong.

There is also the day or two during this period when suddenly, without warning or explanation, Crabby could no longer access her online bank account. An hour-long, in-person visit with the bank on Christmas Eve morning produced no solution but on the day after Christmas, one of those computer miracles occurred and she could again do her banking from home.

So. Let's add this up. Heating: may return today if nothing goes wrong. Banking: working, for now. Comcast: unresolved. Verizon: unresolved. Times/Amazon: does Crabby have the stamina to take them on again?

Up at the top of this lengthy complaint, Crabby mentioned her grave.

From time to time, through many years of her life, when all Crabby's efforts to have an affect her personal world repeatedly fail, she fancifully(?) posits that she is dead and doesn't know it yet.

Could that be so this time? she wonders.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: A Good Woman

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