By Judy Gruen
The following is based on a true phone call between Don, a mostly law-abiding guy, and Hank, a “customer service” representative at a humongous high-speed internet service.
Hank: This is Hank at Humongous High-Speed Internet Service. How may I help you?
Don: Hi, your company keeps charging my credit card $29.95 every month even though I cancelled my account three years ago. Can you cancel my account for good? Hello? Are you still there?
Hank: I’m here, I was just trying to understand why any right-thinking individual would want to cancel their service with Humongous High-Speed Internet Service. Can you explain yourself?
Don: I don’t need it anymore. I haven’t needed it for three years.
Hank: What, do you have high speed or DSL or something?
Don: Yes, I’ve got DSL, as a matter of fact.
Hank: Do you use your DSL for business, pleasure, or internet gambling?
Don: That’s none of your business. Just cancel the account. I don’t need it anymore.
Hank: I’ll be the judge of that, Don. Pulling up your account here I’m showing you have a LOT of usage with us. I’m showing more than 792 hours in the last month alone.
Don: That’s probably just IM usage. We don’t even have your software installed anymore.
Hank: As I said, Don, I’m showing a lot of usage on this account. Clearly you are not in a position to cancel it. Sorry. No can do.
Don: Look, I said that was IM usage. I’m the account holder. Your company has been robbing me of $29.95 every month for three years, and every time I call to cancel they tell me they’ll cancel it, but then the next month I still see the charge on my bill. All I want is to get this blasted thing cancelled. What don’t you understand about this, Hank?
Hank: Is there a problem with the software itself?
Don: You’re not listening. CANCEL MY ACCOUNT.
Hank: On June 2 you were signed on for 72 hours, Don. In May you had 681 hours of usage.
Don: Listen, you SOB, just cancel the account!
Don: (incredulous) You can’t do that!
Hank: I’ve done it already. That’s why efficiency is my middle name. If you carefully check your conditions of use on this account, Don, you’d see that we may, in our sole discretion and at any time, modify or discontinue the terms of our service, or any portion thereof, add extra fees and made-up charges without prior notification to you, especially if we had bitter coffee that morning.
Don: You are a sick individual. Sick and demented!
Hank: I wish you hadn’t said that, Don, because that is more verbal abuse. Now you’ve left me no choice but to send a lethal virus into your computer and disable the powerful pop-up blocker and virus protection that Humongous High-Speed Internet Service created and which is the envy of our competitors. Maybe now you’ll understand that I’m only trying to help you.
Don: Helping me doesn’t mean finding ways to keep an account I’ve been trying to cancel for three years, adding bogus surcharges to it, and infecting my computer with viruses. It means CANCELLING THE FRIGGIN’ ACCOUNT!
Hank: Don, is your father at home?
Don: My father lives in a retirement home in Coral Gables! I’m the father in this house! You know, you’re annoying the *&^%$ out of me.
Hank: Yeah, same here, pal. Have you ever considered anger management therapy?
Don: I don’t need anger management, Hank. I need a gun and to instant message it to your kneecaps. You are coating my intestines with stress acid. The enamel is falling off my teeth. I’ll say this one last time before I call an attorney: CANCEL. MY. ACCOUNT.
Hank: You will live to regret this, Don. Don’t be surprised when 400 e-mails offering investment opportunities in Nigeria come flooding in your virus-plagued computer. Before I can go any further with your so-called cancellation, I need to torture you by reading several paragraphs of small print about our free membership benefits, including our definitions of such terms as “account,” “supplier,” “content,” and “third-party telecommunications provider” in our service agreement.
Don: (screaming) Don’t read me anything! I can’t take it anymore!
Hank: “You must be at least 13 years of age or older to use our member services and to create screen names and passwords. . . " What’s that banging I hear in the background, Don?
Don: I’m hurling blunt instruments against the wall and getting ready to slit my wrists with my letter opener. Here I go . . . (screams again)
Hank: “We are deeply committed to your security and . . . “ Don, you with me buddy? Don? DON?
Judy Gruen is the author of two award-winning humor books including "Till We Eat Again: Confessions of a Diet Dropout," and the popular "Off My Noodle" column on http://www.judygruen.com. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.