Monday, October 31, 2005


So it is coming up to a year since you bought your phones and the drama that involved. This also means that the warranty is about to expire.

Several weeks ago you began hassling 3 about the poor battery life and they duly agreed to replace the battery in ONE of the phones, despite both having the same problem. The original agreement was that they were to credit you with the $60 needed to purchase the battery. When your next bill arrived you checked it, but no credit was included. You called them and they carefully explain that what they meant by credit was that you should go into any 3 store and they would hand over a new battery.

Except there are no batteries left in any Perth 3 store for your model. They stopped selling them ten months ago. So you get the manager of your local 3 store to call 3 Customer Care and explain the problem. He manages to wangle a promise of a new battery sent from 3 HQ directly to your home. It is expected to arrive within 4 days maximum.

Ten days later - today - you receive a package, delivered by courier. You sign the form, close the door and head over to find a suitable place to unwrap it, rattling it to see what is inside. There's not even the hint of movement inside. It must be extremely well packed, you think to yourself. You find your pocket knife, cut the copious amounts of packing tape and open it eagerly. It's empty. Okay not completely empty. It does have two inflatable pillow things inside to protect the incredibly fragile six pieces of A4-sized paper and Australian Air Express freight bag.

You call 3 Customer Care again. Spend ten minutes - literally - choosing options only to end up at a dead end before the phone cuts out. You ring again - despite the fact that you have to leave for a meeting in twenty minutes - and choose a different set of options. This time you reach an living, breathing human from Mumbai.

She listens to your problem and asks to put you on hold before disappearing to check with her supervisor. You have fifteen minutes before you have to leave.

She returns asks some more questions almost identical to the original set of questions she asked you and then puts you on hold again. Ten minutes. While on hold you take the opportunity to pack your bag.

Back she comes and she tells you that she has found the person you need to speak to and that she will transfer you immediately. You thank her and are transferred. This is how you meet Roy. You think he asks you for the capital of Assyria, but when you answer Nineveh he repeats the question. After several more attempts at wading through his thick Mumbai accent you eventually work out that he is asking you what the problem is.

You explain it once again and he asks you for your hat size. 56, you say. He asks again, clearly confused. You tell him that he needs to speak slower than the speed of light if you are to have any chance of understanding him. He does so, and he asks if he can put you on hold. You reluctantly agree. Five minutes. You quickly put on your shoes ready to race out the door.

Roy returns and asks exactly the same questions that the first Caregiver asked. Or at least that's what it sounds like. You give him exactly the same information and he doesn't bother asking to put you on hold this time. You double check your bag, make sure you're wearing pants - take off your shoes and quickly put some pants on, put the shoes back on. Check your bag again. It is about now that you wished you had used the mobile rather than the faxline. It lasts only a moment as you remember the bill from the last 3 Customer Care call that went like this.

Two minutes past when you are supposed to have left and Roy returns. He asks you exactly the same questions and you reply with exactly the same answers. He asks to put you on hold again, but you stop him and tell him to call you back instead. You give him your mobile number, hang-up and rush out the door.

You're five minutes late but you still might make the deadline. No such luck. Within minutes you're stopped by the gentle buzz of your silented phone. You answer. It's Roy!

Roy tells you to go into the nearest 3 store and pick up a battery and once again - for the third time - you explain that there are no batteries in any Perth store. He says he will ring again after he has called ALL the Perth stores.

Two minutes later he's back telling you that he THINKS there is one at the Whitfords store. Can you just pop up to have a look? he asks - although it sounds like the recipe for Peking Duck and ice-cream. You tell him that Whitfords isn't good. Especially for something that isn't a guarantee. He agrees to have the store mail it to you, but it could take another week or two. Obviously the mail is slow out Whitfords way.

And so that's how today ends. Exactly as it began. With you waiting for a package with a new battery in it. Maybe next time when you receive the package you shouldn't open it. At least then you'll have a 50-50 chance of there being a battery inside.

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