Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At Which Time, Reason Ceased to Exist

Welcome to my blog. If you don’t wish to be charged for this experience, please leave a comment with the word “stop.” Otherwise, by closing this window, you agree to be charged $9.99 a month for the next 82 years, transferable to your heirs upon your death. Thank you, and have a nice day :)

If I were a premium messaging blog, that would be how I would operate, as I discovered this week when my cell phone bill came to me. On Feb. 13, I received an unsolicited text from 40544, essentially saying the same thing as the above paragraph. Not wanting to engage the spammers in any way, shape, or form, I deleted it.

The next morning, I received another text with some totally worthless, idiotic trivia tidbit. I promptly called Verizon and asked them what to do. The rep told me he could block them so they could no longer send me messages.

Fine, problem solved.

Until I got my cell phone bill today. Wouldn’t you know, there was the $9.99 charge for the premium IQQuiz text service. I called Verizon again, letting them know that the charge was in error.

“No ma’am, you must have agreed to the charge. The block will keep them from charging you again, but you still have to pay them for the first month of use.

Um, what? I calmly explained that I never agreed to anything. The text was totally unsolicited, and I had promptly deleted and blocked them. And here is when things really started to go downhill.

“Did they say in their initial text that if you did not want to receive the texts, to text back the word “Stop?” she asks.

“Um, yes.”

“And did you text them the word “Stop”?

“Er, no. I called you guys instead. I didn’t want to engage them in any way for fear that I would end up on every spammer’s text list.”

“Well, by not texting them back, you agreed to their terms, and therefore can be charged.”

I looked around at the exploded pieces of my head, wondering how I would ever put it back together again. “That is insane. By NOT responding, I somehow agreed?” Righteous anger bubbled up within me. They couldn’t possibly be serious.

“Yes ma’am. But you’ll only be charged for the first month, since you called and had them blocked the next day.”

Oh, well then—so long as it was only the first month I would be charged for. No problem! NOT. (and yes, I am totally evoking my child-of-the-80’s privilege here to resurrect that particular saying). Me, grinding my teeth: “That can’t be legal. I never AGREED to anything. The absence of a negative does not make a positive.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but it is legal. And you are actually lucky; it is much better than it used to be. Some people are out way more money than just ten dollars.”

Shaking my head in utter disbelief, “So this happens a lot, does it?”

“Every single day,” she replied cheerily.

Honest to God, I have entered the Twilight Zone. If this happened to good, honest customers every single day, wouldn’t Verizon want to do something about it?? “Well, legal or not, you’re going to have to take that charge off, because I called to report it first thing, and it was blocked.”

“We can’t credit you, ma’am, since it is a third party charge.”

Steam began to build up in my brain, threatening to shoot out of my ears like the billowing clouds emanating from the Hogwarts Express locomotive. “I don’t even know who the third party is! The only contact I ever had from them was the text, which I deleted.”

“Well, the number is 40544 – Google them.”

Google them? Google them? GOOGLE THEM? If I could have reached through the phone like Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad and throttled the woman, I would have happily done so. At this point, I may or may not have lost it. Let’s just hope they weren’t recording the call, lest it surface on the pages of TMZ when I am rich and famous.

She was adamant that it was not their responsibility. I was adamant that their policy sucked worse than a Dyson on steroids. I was this close to canceling my contract with Verizon, at significant personal cost, when I used my last best hope for reason. “Well, if it was my responsibility to stop this on my own, WHY didn’t the Verizon rep that I called for help say as much? I am ignorant in the ways of text charges, where as you guys are supposed to be the experts. Would you like his name?”

After a big sigh (we had been going at it nearly 10 minutes at this point), she finally relented. “All right. I will credit you the amount just this once. It is against our policy since we still have to pay the third party company.”

Oh? Allow me to make a suggestion to the powers that be in the lofty upper ranks of Verizon. If you’d like to recoup the losses you’ve sustained by having to refund fees to unsuspecting clients, and since you clearly have no problem with the non-agreed-to agreement, why don’t you draft a letter to the lovely people at 40544, telling them that you will be charging them a $10,000 monthly rate, in return for sending them a daily text telling them what a crock of {insert expletive} they are. If they wish to void the service, they merely need to text the word “STOP” to every single Verizon customer they have scammed over the last decade.

In the mean time, I will be drafting my own letter:

Dear Verizon Big Shot, I will be taking ownership of your mansion and everything in it as of tomorrow. If you would like to stop the transfer of ownership, please text the word “stop” to my cell phone within 30 seconds of receiving this notice. If you need the number, please feel free to Google it. Thanks, and have a great day!

Am I the only one who has ever experience this type of utter nonsense? Please tell me your crazy customer service experience, so I may commiserate. We shafted folks must stick together!

You know what I need? Chocolate. So, here is the fun Regency recipe that I came across in my research last month. Yummy, simple, and the perfect thing to whisk away all the modern day trials that raise our blood pressure :)

Chocolate Puffs

8 ounces caster sugar

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely grated

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 225 degrees

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar and grated chocolate, beating until well whipped and fully incorporated. Dollop the mixture onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet by tablespoons, leaving room for spreading in between each puff. Bake at 225 degrees for an hour

I did mine Regency style - hand whisking with the best of them!


  1. I had an issue with Verizon over billing and took it straight to the CEO. Needless to say, heads rolled. *GGG*

    1. Man- that is awesome! You go girl :). My only question is, I wonder if he has a nice house ;)
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. You go girl and write that letter!! That is beyond ridiculous. BEYOND it.

    1. Thank goodness I'm not the only one who thinks this is nuts! Yeah, getting that letter off today - I want to be moved into that mansion by March!

  3. Oh. My. GOODNESS. I've gotten texts that tell me to reply STOP to cancel, but they've never told me I'd be charged otherwise. Good grief.

    I have been having difficulty with Sprint lately. Looks like I'm about to have to call customer service again. I had them change my plan recently, to one with fewer anytime minutes, since I don't really use that many. I thought everything was fine. They'd said that my next bill would have some prorated stuff on it and it should settle out by the following one, so when my immediate next bill was higher than normal, I didn't worry too much. I just paid it. Well, a month later, I got a bill that was almost 4 times what I was expecting. It seems they switched me to a plan with ZERO minutes, and eliminated all of my free mobile-to-mobile, free nights and weekends, etc. So I was paying $0.40 per minute for every single call I made. So...I got on the phone and got it sorted out. Or so I thought. They did switch me back to the plan I was expecting to be on, and the customer service rep told me I'd have a credit on my account for nearly $200. Just got the next bill...still no credit, and I still owe more than I think I should anyway. So, back on the phone with them. *sigh*

    1. Good Lord almightly, what an ordeal! Well, hopefully you can get it worked out. Honestly, what ever happened to customer service??

  4. It really is just beyond all reason...love the title of this piece. I think you should contact a lawyer and take this shiz to the supreme court! Stop the madness!
    In other news...what is caster sugar? Will regular sugar not work? How did you grate the chocolate so finely? And lastly, if you wish to not send me a chocolate puff right now, don't not write Stop. ;)

    1. LOL - wait, which one is it - write or not write stop?! Argh, I just know I'm going to get a bill payable in puffs from you ;)

      Caster sugar is very fine sugar, suitable for pastries. Normal sugar is fine, but the puffs will be slightly grainy. As for grating, you can use a chocolate grater or the same grater you use to grate Parmesan cheese. Give it a try - this recipe is fun, and you work off the calories with all the energy that goes into grating ;)

  5. OMGosh Erin, I think my head exploded for you as well!! What a ripoff, and Verizon *has* to make money on those texts somehow to have that sorry arrangement. >:\

    While my husband and I were building our house, I had to contact the garage door sales guy to let him know what style I wanted. That fool called my husband to makes sure it was okay with him!!!

    My husband told the sales guy that he should talk with me. I was livid!!! I emailed the sales guy and repeated what I wanted while letting him know that did not appreciate his actions. And what did the sales guy do--contacted my husband AGAIN to make sure my purchase was okay!!

    Needless to say we went with another garage door company that had no problems dealing with the wife. *eyeroll*

    1. O. M. G. OMG. I can't believe that! *checking calender for which century we are in* Thank goodness you went on to someone else with a clue!

  6. I roared through the whole post....sucks like a Dyson on steroids made me lol so hard I thought I'd need a Depend. Terrific blog. Terrible story with a great ending.

    Aunt Char

    1. I'm so glad it made you laugh - those sorts of ridiculous situations must be good for *something*, right?? Wonderful to hear from you - thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. LingOL...and still can't stop! ;-D Like Aunt Char, I absolutely LOVED the Dyson quip...That's HILLARIOUS! And your idea for a third party text to the Verizon big shots is a HOOT. In fact, "STOP"...you're killing me! LOL

    1. Hehehe - nothing gets me going quite like absurd situations like this - I'm just glad it turned out well...and gave you a good laugh :)