Wednesday, September 17, 2014




Eat your heart out, Rod Serling

By APRILL BRANDON
Aug. 26, 2010 at 3:26 a.m.


By reading this column, you're traveling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of the contents of your wallet. A journey into a heinous land whose boundaries are those of your credit limit. Next stop - the Credit Card Zone.

The place is here. The time? Now. Street scene: summer. A woman is on the sidewalk, pacing back and forth as she talks on her cell phone. Age: Twenty-something. Occupation: Hack writer who steals formulas from 1950s television series.

Meet Aprill Brandon, a fiscally irresponsible woman with a penchant for ridiculously high heels. In just a moment, Mrs. Brandon will enter a world where logic and reason have no meaning. A world where only confusion, misdirection and "Sorry, lady, that's not my responsibility" reign. For an otherwise ordinary day, this simple phone call is about to take a turn for the worse.

"Hello. Please enter your 16-digit credit card code."

1234-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

"Thank you. For security purposes, please enter the last four digits of your Social Security number."

5XXX

"Thank you. All our available operators are currently busy. Please wait for the next available operator."

Doo-doo-doo-dah-dah-dah-bum-da-doo-dah...

(15 minutes later...)

"Hello. This is Steve. Welcome to customer service. How can I help you today?"

"Hi, my name is Aprill Brandon, and I'm calling about the debt cancellation policy I signed up for when I first got this card. I keep getting charged each month for it, which is making it hard to pay off my card, and so I'd like to cancel it."

"All right, ma'am. We don't handle those policies, so I'm going to transfer you to the third party company that does. You'll be redirected to a menu and when it prompts you, you'll want to choose Option Three, OK?"

"OK. Thank you."

"Hello. Welcome to Account Protection Services. If you are calling about your debt cancellation coverage, press One. If you are calling about processing a claim, press Two. To return to the main menu, press Nine."

"Um...(beep)"

"I'm sorry. I do not understand this command. If you are calling about your debt cancellation, press One..."

"...(beep)..."

"Hello. This is Linda. How may I help you today?"

"Hi, Linda. I'm trying to cancel my debt cancellation policy for my credit card. I was transferred to an automated menu by customer service and pressed Option One and I got you."

"OK. Well, we're not the ones in charge of those policies, so I'm going to transfer you to the department that handles that. You'll be redirected to a menu and you'll want to choose Option Three."

"Oh, but wait, the last time..."

"Hello. Welcome to Account Protection Services. If you are calling about your debt cancellation coverage, press One. If you are calling about processing a claim, press Two. To return to the main menu, press Nine."

(Two hours later...)

"Hello. This is Haashim. How may I help you today?"

"OK, look. I know this isn't your fault, but I've been on the phone all afternoon and have been transferred to at least 15 different departments or in some cases, completely different companies. I'm just trying to cancel the debt cancellation policy on my credit card. But I keep getting sent to a menu where I'm told to choose Option Three. Only there is no Option Three. There is never an Option Three. All I want is to talk to a human who can cancel this policy. Can. You. Cancel. This. Policy?"

"Oh, I'm very sorry to hear about all your trouble, Mrs. Brandon. Unfortunately, we do not have the power to cancel the policy in this department. I suspect, however, the other operators were transferring you to the wrong menu. Let me transfer you to another menu, which should have Option Three."

"BUT THERE IS NO OPTION THREE! THERE'S NEVER AN OPTION THREE!"

"One moment, please..."

"Hello. Welcome to Account Protection Services. If you are calling about your debt cancellation coverage, press One. If you are calling about processing a claim..."

"(Rocking back and forth)...There is no Option Three...There is no Option Three...There is no..."

Aprill Brandon. Age: Twenty-something. All she wanted was to begin a new life of fiscal responsibility. But in the end, it turns out the price for such a goal was her sanity.

It can happen . in the Credit Card Zone.

Aprill Brandon is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. Twenty-seven thousand brain cells were massacred as a result of this incident.

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