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Continental divide

Customer service in this country is not what it used to be. Maybe thats because in many cases, its not in this country. When was the last time you called for service for your cell phone, computer or even your new refrigerator? Did you notice that the person on the other end didnt sound particularly American? Thats fine, weve always been a melting pot in this country, but it appears that our 1-800 phone calls are going a lot longer distance than they used to. And that can be frustrating. My father-in-law recently moved into the Countryside Adult Home in Warrensburg, and we very quickly learned that his cell phone did not work there. Sure, there are one or two spots outside the building where you might be able to get a weak signal, but it is not a reliable way to communicate, so I called his cell phone provider. Hello, my name is Sue, how may I help you? said the voice at the other end of the phone, with what sounded like an Indian lilt. I explained the situation, and asked to have his contract cancelled, since he no longer had any income. I am sorry, but my map indicates that there is cell service in that location, so we cannot terminate that contract without a $175 service fee, said Sue, who sounded more like a Subahra than a Sue. Ive tried to make calls from there, and it doesnt work, I said. There isnt any service at that location. Our map indicates that there is cell service at that location, she said. What map did she have? How could someone on the other side of the world be so certain that there is cell service on Schroon Lake Road in Warrensburg? I asked her if she could send someone out to that location with a cell phone to test for service. No, we do not do that, she said. We have our maps that show where there is cell service. I sat shaking my head, wondering how to convince this woman on the phone, sitting in an exotic, third world country, that there was no cell service in Warrensburg and no money to pay for it anyway. Sue, this person has no cell service, and his income is no longer available to pay for cell phone bills, so I need to terminate this contract, I said. I am sorry, but we cannot terminate this contract without the $175 contract termination fee, she said again and again. But this person no longer has any income to pay this bill or pay that fee, I said, for the final time. It was useless. Whoever Sue was, and whether she was in India, Pakistan or Thailand, my plea for help was going nowhere. How could she care, or even understand, the concept of a county run assisted living center, Medicaid applications, social security and the fact that there was no longer money to pay for a cell phone with no service. I sighed and gave up, and she, predictably, thanked me for calling this particular cell company and to please call again if I had any problems. Right.

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