Thursday, April 8, 2010

The One That Started It All

Why, for the love of all that is holy, did I not read the disconnect notice? It came a few weeks ago and I opened it, and put it in a pile. Why is my life defined by piles? Piles of papers. Piles of laundry. Piles of dishes. Piles of poop. Jenni (my sister) told me this morning that she won't use the word "poop" when she has children. Yeah. Good luck with that, my friend. Clark is only three years old and I've probably used the term 5.2 million times since the day he was born and I had to record his output for the nurse. Or what? They weren't going to let me take him home? But of course, as a new mom, I religiously did whatever any one or any book told me to do with my baby's precious poop. Gosh that is a gross word.

But about the notice. It was from Southwest Gas. I have to say that I ignored it completely. Why? Why would I ignore it? Because I had made all my payments on time and figured I was in the clear, that's why. Especially since a guy came out a few weeks ago (March 9th, to be exact) and instead of disconnecting my gas, told me that I could just give him a check for $191.97 and he wouldn't shut it off. I remember telling him, "But I already paid the bills! Am I going to be reimbursed for their mistake?" He told me that the only way for him to leave without shutting off the gas was to pay the $191.97, "Ma'am." So then of course I start the internal dialogue while he's standing there explaining me my gas rights. Seriously, do I look like a ma'am to you? I cannot believe this. HE THINKS I'M A MA'AM! I about had a heart attack for several reasons, right there on the spot. The most important of which is that I don't have any money.

We're pretty much in a financial crisis. CRISIS. According to the literal definition of the word, according to definition #3: An emotionally stressful event or traumatic change in a person's life. And let me tell you that it just took me 3 full minutes to figure out how to cut and paste that definition straight from, because apparently blogger doesn't let you cut and paste in the "Compose" window anymore and you have to cut and paste into "Edit Html" instead. Geez. Why? Why the heck does everything have to be so ridiculous this morning?

Anyway, because of our financial crisis, I don't have any more money to give to Southwest Gas. Well, I only have about $200 bucks in my checking account. Well. I did before I had to pay them $184.88 this morning plus a "speed pay" phone fee of $3.75. And guess what? I had to pay them the $184.88 plus the $3.75 fee before they would put me on the schedule to reconnect my gas tomorrow. Tomorrow? Are you kidding me? That's what I actually said. "Are you kidding me? You have got to be kidding me!" And then the lady on the other end said, "No I am not kidding, I don't have any available time today, but do you want to talk to my supervisor about expedited service?" And I said, "Well, yes, absolutely." And then she put me on eternal hold and came back on the line and said, "I can get you reconnected today for another $15 fee." I told her that that was ridiculous. And then she told me "Yes, you can get your gas back on today, for an additional $15." And I'm thinking, "additional fee?" So I asked her what fees I would be paying, especially since, mind you, I've already paid my bills, plus the $191.97 check that I paid the disconnect guy on March 9th, which I figured put me ahead of the game and gave me a credit on my account. So that's when she lays it on me that I have to pay a reconnect fee of $35, plus the additional $15 for expedited service." Lovely. And then she asked me if I wanted to speak to a supervisor about getting the fee waived, and I said, "Yes, of course I will." And then she put me on an even more eternal hold.

This was the fourth Southwest Gas employee that I had had contact with in the last 16 hours. The first one was the lady I got yesterday who told me that since I had paid my bill, all I had to do was send her a fax of my bank account showing that I had paid my bill and that she would send it to their research department and that hopefully, within 48 hours, they would know where the money had gone and they could restore my gas service at that time. Um. Excuse me? 48 hours without the ability to cook on my stove, bake in my oven, or use my water heater??? NO HOT SHOWERS FOR 48 HOURS? I DON'T THINK SO! "So, what happens if I pay you right now over the phone for what you say I owe you?" Her reply: "Well, I can't accept payments, we have an automated system for that. You will have to call that number to make a payment and then call us back with a confirmation number, but we are actually closed now that it is past 5 o'clock, so you won't be able to get us that number until tomorrow."

"So, you can't get my gas back on until tomorrow?"

"That's right. If we have a slot available."

Naturally, I did a little research after I hung up the phone with her and figured out that when I created my online bill pay with my new bank, I put the wrong account number in the Southwest Gas payee account number field. It's not even like a digit off. It's a whole different set of digits. I have no idea where that number came from. Old bill maybe? But we've been here for a year...I don't consider myself to be that dumb. Don't answer that. I sent off a fax with my banking info Attn: Pamela. Yeah right. Like that's ever gonna get through. And amazingly, it didn't. The first time I sent that dang fax through, it didn't dial correctly. And then the second time it went through, as in, the paper went all the way through after having connected, and then a error sheet came through, telling me that my fax had not been received. Third time's a charm, I thought. Sure enough.

The next employee I talked to was a guy that reassured me that my fax had been received last night and sent to the research department. But of course he told me that I would have to go ahead and pay the $184.88 on the "speed pay line" and then call back with my confirmation number in order to get my gas reconnected today.

So I hung up with him and called back to place my number in the holding pattern, and then I called "speed pay" to make a payment with the last $200 bucks in my account, and while I'm making the payment, employee #3 calls me, so I click over and ask if she could please hold. I figure I've already racked up who knows how many minutes just calling them and getting through the 5 menus in order to leave my number to have them call me back because their "call volume is high," she can wait for me for one little minute. Well, she hung up. While I was on the other line making the payment. I think I might have cursed when I heard the tell-tale blip-blip.

But I tell you what, employee #3 was a gem. Because she put me back in the holding pattern. And employee #4 called just a few short moments after I finished making my payment of $184.88 plus the $3.75 "speed pay" fee. She's the one that had me on an even longer eternal hold than the first eternal hold that she put me on, to see if I could speak with a supervisor about getting my $15 expedited service fee waived.

After forever, she gets back on the line (by which time I'm actually shedding real tears) and says, "Well, we can't waive the $35 fee or the $15 fee, but we can waive the $22 service fee and the $200 redeposit fee." And I feebly agreed "Okay," and hung up the phone, wondering how many extra minutes I would be charged on my cell phone bill for my amazing Southwest Gas "savings" of $222. All for a bill that I have already paid, my friends. What do you think? Is it worth the fight? Should I demand to speak to an actual supervisor in order to demand a refund of my $35 reconnect fee plus the $15 expedite fee? Frankly I am exhausted. But on the other hand, I only have about $8 left in my checking account. "Oh that's okay, we'll bill you for it." Thank you, employee #4. So much.

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