Thursday, September 16, 2010

Episode VI: Return of the Bill

There are things I no longer expect to hear. Stuff like, "Nice head of hair, Don" and "Are those size 34 jeans?" But of all the things I did not expect to hear today, up there among the leaders would be LK - once again - telling someone from Optus what had happened to her account when they screwed up the billing address. Yet this is exactly what happened this afternoon.

It all started when I practiced that most sacred ritual for retirees - I went to the mailbox. There was LK's first Optus bill since the marathon session of a few weeks ago. With some trepidation, she opened the bill but sure enough there were all the credits they had promised.

And a new charge she hadn't been told about.

Optus was charging over $10 for what the bill called "Business Insur Monthly Service". It sure looked like a monthly insurance bill but surely, we reasoned, no company is going to charge you $10 more to guarantee that you get the service they're charging you $30 for.

And then we realized it was Optus.

LK was quite understandably in no mood to talk to Optusians one more time, but I was curious about the charge so I rang them to ask what exactly that charge was. A very friendly woman asked for the account PIN number, and when I told her neither LK nor I knew it, she said she was going to transfer me to someone else and put me on hold.

Remembering how long you can be on hold with this company, I completely lost interest and hung up. But Optusians are nothing if not tenacious, and a minute later the woman I had been speaking with rang back and said she was ready to transfer the call now. Her calling back kind of spooked me and also made me realize we should have been hanging up on these folks a long time ago. But at least we weren't paying for this call.

Optus was using a trick developed by cheating spouses and kids playing hooky, and it was really hard to hear the rep so I asked LK to handle the call. She sighed and took the phone. And soon I heard her telling yet another Optusian what had happened earlier this year. And what LK then learned in return will undoubtedly make the Optusian Wars Top Ten Highlight Reel.

It turns out that when they disconnected her service in May, they had somehow also started to charge her a monthly fee to insure that her service would not be interrupted.

Now go back and read that slowly, because it says exactly what you thought it did. This company started charging her more than $10 a month to guarantee that she would have a service that they canceled the day the insurance started.

And it turns out that we've already paid more than $50 of this insurance when I gave my credit card after the first round of Optusian Wars. And yes, today's representative agreed, after LK was put on hold for about five minutes, they now owe us money - about $9.

So I think LK won this round of the Optusian Wars. Except she had already decided to cancel her service with them, but now they owe her money. Plus, because they took so long to replace her sim card and she couldn't use her phone, she has around $28 in calling credits. So it doesn't really make sense to leave them now.

I suppose this episode could end with teddy bears dancing around a fire, But why do I have this image of a dark room in Singapore with panels of glowing diodes in which Darth Optus and Sith Titus sit plotting their next attack?

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