I’m a Taurus. I’m stubborn. Once my mind is made up, good luck getting me to change it, unless of course you’re a sales rep, in which case you can talk me into almost anything.
For the past couple of days, the WiFi in my Brooklyn apartment has been on the fritz. Each time I powered on my laptop, I was greeted with the message: “You are not connected.” The first night I called my cable provider, I was on hold for too long and hung up. The second night, an automated male voice informed me that there were outages in my area, and implored me to be patient while they worked on the area. The third night, an automated voice, this one female, tried to troubleshoot the problem with my connection. I was impressed and a bit creeped out that I was having a pseudo-conversation with a computer. She asked me yes or no questions, and based on my answer, would ask me to hold on as she sent signals to my modem. She apologized and thanked me for holding. She also told me she would wait for me as I unplugged and removed various cords. After nearly half an hour on the phone, she concluded that the problem was with my wireless router and not the modem. A human being came on the line and gave me the customer service number to Linksys.
Once again, I found myself speaking to an automated voice before a real person took over. Her name was Leah. She introduced herself as a technician. I trusted her as she walked me through resetting the router and making sure all connections were secure. I mentioned that I had made a similar call to Linksys around this same time last year to have the router reconfigured. She asked me the model number and series numbers.
“Wow, you’ve had this since 2004. That’s amazing. Most people change routers every 2-3 years. You’re lucky this is even still working,” she said.
She informed me that as a technician, she did not advise me to pay a one time fee of $29.99, again, to have her remotely reconfigure my router. She could not guarantee that I would not have to call back in a day, month, week or year. When I placed the call, my intention was to resolve the issue at that moment to resume my internet connection immediately, instead of having to wait 3-5 business days for the delivery of a modem.
“For only $119.98 you can receive our new model, one year technical support and free shipping. We’ll also offer a 10% discount.”
I thought I was being a smart consumer by asking if I could find the same router or something comparable at a retail store, like Best Buy. She said I could not. I asked if I could think about it and call back the next day. She didn’t know if the special would still be going on. I whipped out my credit card and read the numbers to her. I should’ve taken advantage and cancelled the order when she had trouble entering my office address as the ship to. I gave her a floor number, but the system kept asking for a suite number. She finally found a way to override it. After spending so much time with her on the phone, I was embarrassed to cancel the order.
She had done a good job of selling me the dream. The new modem would be much faster than my current one. I’m paying so much for internet service, I might as well use it to its maximum capability. Yeah, I thought to myself. I don’t want an outdated nine year old modem and slow connection. Up until that point my connection had never bothered me.
Leah completed the transaction and gave me my case and receipt numbers which I would also receive via email confirmation. As soon as I hit “end” on my cell phone, I had buyer’s remorse. My cheeks flushed with shame as I chided myself. I’m on friendly terms with nearly all the members of the IT department at my office. I could have and should have asked their advice before making any technological purchase. I did before I upgraded my cell phone.
Jason listened and chuckled as I recounted my story in the office kitchen as I made some tea. “I feel hustled and bamboozled,” I told him. He shook his head when I told him the price of the modem, which he later found on another site for less than $70. He informed me that unless I was a techie like he was, there was no reason to have an extra high speed router. I’m the sole person in my apartment. Linked to my router are my laptop, cell phone, Nook and Wii, all of which are always used in the living room, within a few feet of the router, and never used all at the same time.
I called customer service and cancelled the order that I had made only the night before. I didn’t catch the man’s name, but he seemed frustrated with me and hurried me off the phone. An hour later, I received an email with a UPS tracking number and message that my package had been shipped. In 5-7 business days, I’ll receive an overpriced, superfast router that even as I ordered, I knew I didn’t need, nor could really afford. Jason looked up a few modems for me on the Best Buy site and sent me a link for a much less expensive model that he thought would suit me. I didn’t want to risk being talked into buying a more expensive modem once I arrived at the store with a printout of the model I wanted. Using my $5 Reward Zone coupon, I placed my order online and chose in-store pick up.