By James Breckenridge. From “Who’s on First” to the Twilight Zone.
Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Mission, Chilliwack, once in a while Vancouver, being on call, shifts that end at 1 AM.
A car is a necessity to meet my commitments; a point driven home to me during the 6 days it took to get the water pump of the Cougar fixed.
Brakes, tires, shocks, driver side door hinges, electrical system [to get windows and turn signals working dependably] and a transmission that increasingly rattled and shook the Cougar.
The Cougar needed replacing or $2,000 to $3,000 worth of work and I really wanted to replace it before it became kaput; stranding me and putting pressure on me to go with ‘good enough’.
So when a smaller, newer vehicle was available I seized the day and bought the new-to-me vehicle.
One of the long enduring hangovers from having been homeless is that all your income goes to pay your bills leaving no cushion, no ability to accumulate savings, to handle unexpected expenses; an income that if not for meals provided free of charge one would not eat even semi-healthy.
So the acquisition of the needed replacement transportation temporarily pushed my finances and cash flow into the red zone. Temporarily because budgeting, careful cash flow management, discipline and self-denial will allow me to bring bills current and pay off the car by late spring……….maybe early summer if any other unexpected and more than minor expenses occur.
I was raised to be responsible; so when all the costs associated with switching to a new-to-me vehicle were in and I knew how my cash flow shaped up I contacted my service providers to explain what had happened and lay out my payment plans.
I contacted Shaw, the larger of my two service providers, and there was no problem. They understood the situation and were interested only in how I proposed to deal with paying my account.
But Virgin Mobile?
The fact that the person I first spoke to when, having dealt with Shaw, I contacted Virgin seemed to understand the situation and see no problem with my payment plans, set me up for a nasty shock when I was transferred to the accounts people.
I explained about the effect replacing my automobile had had on my cash flow and that I would be making a $75 payment when I was paid on October 11, 2013.
At which point I was told I must make a payment by October 8, 2013 or they would discontinue my phone service. And informed that because I was going to pay it by transfer from my bank account it would take an additional 5 days(?) to process the payment.
I again explained to this individual that I was calling because the costs associated with replacing my automobile had left me with under $2 in the bank and I would have no money until I was paid October 11th; at which time I would make a $75 payment.
Whereupon I was told I had to make a payment by October 8th or my phone service would be cut off.
I explained once more that I was calling because the costs associated with replacing my automobile meant I was penniless and would have no money until I was paid October 11th; at which time I would make a $75 payment.
Whereupon – you guessed it – payment by October 8th or my phone service would be terminated was demanded.
No matter how I tried to explain I had no money and could not make a payment until I was paid on October 11th, this individual seemed unable to grasp the reality that I could not pay money I did not have and would not have until October 11th, at which point Virgin would receive $75,.
He just kept demanding payment by October 8th or my phone would be turned off.
After another attempt to explain that I had no money, would have no money until October 11 and therefore could not make a payment before October 11, I was once again informed that I must make a payment by October 8 or have no phone service.
Although this time several suggestions were made as to how Virgin could be paid and someone else left holding my empty wallet and bank account. I stated that I was not about to attempt to pay Virgin with money obtained elsewhere when I had no money until October 11th at which time Virgin would be paid $75.
Where upon I was again informed payment must be made by October 8th or no phone service.
Having come to accept that no amount of explaining would resolve this ‘who’s on first’ routine I stated that until I was paid on October 11th I had no money to make a payment and that on October 11th I would make a payment of $75.
When the reply was once more October 8th or else I stated that if they wished to terminate our service provider – customer relationship there was nothing I could do about it because I could not make a payment with money I did not have.
At which point I ended the call.
And Virgin, on the deadline day, ended my phone service.
Although I was extremely ticked off I made the $75 payment on October 11 as I stated I would. And my phone service………..remained off with.
Then we moved from ‘who’s on first’ into the Twilight Zone with the arrival of a bill from Virgin for the next month of services they were not going to provide. I expect the next communication from Virgin will be the bill for the next month of services they are not providing.
When I signed with Virgin Mobile as my wireless provider it was email that drove my choice of phone and service. Being a Shaw customer I have access to the internet through any of the Shaw WiFi hot spots and thus access to email.
$76.53 outstanding balance
$47.70 for services from September 13, 2013 until terminated
($75.00) payment made
$49.23 Balance owing
There isn’t much to encourage me to want a phone, while there are things I really like about not having a phone.
Sigh. The same responsibility that had me contact Virgin Mobile, the responsible action that resulted in my phone service being terminated, says I need some kind of voice communication.
The irony is that if I had NOT acted responsibly and had ignored the monies I owed Virgin, by the time they got through contacting me and threatening me about my account balance October 11th would have passed, the $75 payment made and my cell service not interrupted.
I suppose the responsible thing to do, although I have strong reservations about acting responsibly with Virgin Mobile, is to send Virgin Mobile a copy of this, thus giving notice of my acceptance of their decision to terminate our service provider/customer relationship; and even though they terminated the relationship see how they want the phone returned as they ended our business relationship before the three year period had passed for ownership of the phone to pass to me.
I also need to assert ownership of my phone number and assess my options. Including, in light of how little I actually use a phone, pay as you go.
And so intrepid readers, in a classic stay ‘tooned endeavour, I sally forth onto the field to once more joust with a monopolistic, reaving wireless company.
James W Breckenridge
dedicated to nonconformity and creative maladjustment