Going Riparian

This is not actually about watershed ecology so anyone who surfed here looking for that kind of thing, my apologies. What it was, as I have mentioned elsewhere, was last June my engineer friend, after squiring me to a pleasant morning lecture on riparian buffers, was helping me level a concrete bench in the jungle that is slowly becoming my garden. We fixated on the word “riparian” and kept using it about everything, goofily, just because when do you get the chance to say “riparian” most days? Just as we finished a pee break,  a couple of dudes showed up, wearing red Verizon polo shirts and caffeined-up gregarious grins — well actually, only one did any grinning or talking; the other merely propped up my porch railing, with the impassive expression of a bodyguard or someone detailed to drive the getaway car.

Grinface launched into a rap that I cut off, saying I have your DSL, I don’t have a TV and I don’t need the lightning fast crystal clear vodka-virulent  hard-sold Verizon FiOS. Oh no, he said, we’re checking in with local customers because we just upgraded the cable in this area and for a limited time we’re offering bundles that are probably below your current prices and…

I let the smarmy prick waste about twenty minutes of my time and was actually talking to some billing-office person before a nuance of her script gave away that this was, indeed, about trying to hustle the goddam FiOS service.  Despite my cutting off the conversation then and there, I nearly had to toss the guy off my porch neck and crop. I think my ringing stage voice rattled not only the windows of passing cars but my engineer friend, who makes Mr. Spock look like Courtney Love, because when I said later that I worked off my aggression by pruning, he said “Yeah, and going all riparian on traveling salesmen.”

Fast forward a year: I’m trying to get a wireless modem from Verizon and install it. Forty-five minutes on the phone just to find out what department can take care of this (it was Billing; isn’t that where you call to identify and order equipment?). Two hours screwing with the device itself, downloading the manual, hitting one installation roadblock after another and finally giving up the third or fourth time that Verizon’s error message insisted all my ID information had been stripped in transmission, despite turning off firewalls and anything else that could get in the way. Holding off until a moment some days in the future when I have a block of time long enough to wait out Verizon’s tech-support queue.

Verizon is famous for this. But who else is better? In the past few years, a seventy-something-year-old woman with no prior record cheerfully paid damages for equipment smashed up at her local Comcast office. And we’ve all seen this, but it’s worth watching again:

Maybe if they all spent less money on marketing and diverted some toward customer service? Revolutionary thought?

Someone better do something before I go all riparian and buffer the hell out of someone.

8 thoughts on “Going Riparian

  1. Communications providers stink. I have been trying to change my address with Telstra and despite numerous phone calls and a letter with a copy of my drivers licence they refuse to do so. Why? Because last year they upgraded their system and they now realise my ex husband was the original purchaser (it was a birthday present) of my mobile phone.

    so even though I no longer own the original phone and I’ve been allowed to change my address with them FOUR times since I divorced my husband TEN years ago, it’s no longer good enough with for new upgraded system.

    They want me to contact my ex in Queensland and get him to ring them and give permission for me to change my address!!!!!!!!!

    WTF? Are we living in the 1950s? I don’t ask a man’s permission for anything, especially not an ex husband’s

    • See you and raise you. The year I divorced, for whose income I was still allowed to file a joint tax return — to my advantage since my late and ex never earned a penny after 1991 — the Internal Revenue credited every last prepayment I made to his account and sent me a huffy letter claiming I had paid no tax and owed them a five figure sum. When I called to straighten it out, they said they had credited the prepayments to him because he was “the husband,” even though his occupation was politely listed as “retired.” I had to write a letter for him to sign before they would change it.

  2. Travelling salesmen (and telemarketing jerkoffs) deserve whatever abuse they get.

    I have to say that my telephone/internet customer service with Telefónica here is surprisingly good. A friend of mine just switched companies because of being offered a much cheaper deal by Orange, but I think she is going to end up paying for it later if she ever has any problems. I used to be with Orange and can’t even begin to count the hours wasted trying to get some sort of customer service out of them.

    When I finally switched they insisted I owed them 12 euros (I didn’t – it was their mistake) and for about three years they sent me monthly letters threatening legal action. Duh?

    • This is kind of like my Albino Ex who could not get Sprint to close his account because they kept sending him a statement with .02 credit connected with some promotion or other.

  3. Wow. I’m sure I would have had apoplexy sometime during the above scenario. I’ll have to remember this post if I ever decide I need a different phone provider.

    And let Jim, my IT guy, deal with it.

  4. “We fixated on the word ‘riparian’ and kept using it about everything, goofily, just because when do you get the chance to say “riparian” most days?”

    The only time I ever saw this word was in a translation of Justinian’s Institutes It gave me a chance to use my OED (with the cool magnifying glass).

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