Column September 29, 2010: Why won???t you sign me up, Buttercup?

“HULLO?” inquired the Scot on the other end of my phone. “Hello,” I replied, in my English accent.

“Can I speak to Mr Bainbridge, please?” Could he?!? I should cocoa! Nobody ever phones my house wanting to speak to me. This would be a rare treat. For him, too, I imagine.

“Speaking.”

“I’m calling on behalf of Madeupname-toavoidlegalgrief Broadband. Would you like to reduce your broadband bill with us from £19 to £12 a month?”

There’s no way there could be a catch in that, I thought. “Yes, please,” I said immediately.

This was a weight off my mind, to be honest. Madeupnametoavoidlegalgrief had phoned a week before to suggest I might want to continue using their services. I told them I wanted to shop around to see what the other broadband operators had to offer. But when I investigated, it seemed that everybody hated their own broadband operator at least as much as I did.

Kylie is right, I thought. Better the devil you know, I thought. Everybody would be happy with this arrangement, I thought. I was, of course, wrong.

You see, Cameron – as I will be referring to my caller – had a script to deal with resistant customers, one which my immediate capitulation had rendered obsolete. And there was no way he was going to fly blind and deviate from that script. After all, he’d seen on Facebook what happened to the last guy in his call centre who improvised . . .

– Ewan McDougall sneaked an xtra gd mrng into script no. 4. lol

– Ewan McDougall just found a new word for Snow on Inuit Wars.

– Ewan McDougall is being summarily executed for use of unauthorised “good morning”.’ 😦

“We have noticed that you do not use the extra phone line. We can give you a reduction to £12 if we remove that facility.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ve just said, I want it.”

“And the speed package goes up to 20 meg . . . ”

“Yes, yes, I want it. Let me have it. Please let me have it.”

“I’m testing your line now . . . Your line can take up to 10 meg.”

“Right, £12 a month. Ace,” I said. “Hang on, only 10 meg? No, no, go on. Sign me up.”

“And this is an 18-month contract. Right, Mr Bainbridge, if you could just confirm the first and third letter of your Madeupname-toavoidlegalgrief password.”

What? Eighteen-month contract? Hadn’t he seen the news? There might not even be computers in 18 months. My head was swimming. How could I possibly be expected to give Cameron the third letter of my password?

“O and G,” I said.

“Sorry, sir, could you repeat that?”

“No, wait! O and Y!” In my confusion I had become either dyslexic or innumerate.

Cameron, through his insistence on maintaining his script, had turned me from a definite into a maybe. He wasn’t a salesman, he was an anti-salesman. I mean, why should I pay for 10 meg access the same price as somebody who gets 20 meg?

And then it occurred to me.

Madeupnametoavoidlegalgrief had been happily taking £19 off me every month for the past three years, £7 of which had been for a service which they knew I hadn’t used and was never going to use. I bet they’d all been laughing at me for years. Cameron probably won a raffle to be the one who’d get to call “Bainbridge The Idiot,” as I am no doubt known.

I changed my mind. Too late. “Thank you, Mr Bainbridge. Your details have been changed. Goodbye. CLICK. Brrrrrrrrr…”

Ah well, I’m sure there might be better deals around, but the fact is I can’t find the box my broadband router came in. I’d happily endure slightly rubbish internet access for another 18 months to avoid the embarrassment of having to post the router back without its proper box.

So, in the end, I suppose I’m a winner. But I don’t think I’ll ever answer the phone again.

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