It started innocently enough – we were shopping in Sam’s Club, when an AT&T salesman walked up to us. Black Friday sales – amazing offers, the latest Apple and Samsung phones at huge discounts! Did we need new phones – come on, does anyone ever need a new phone??!! But Manasi’s phone did have a crack running down the screen, and what’s the harm in looking, right? So we heard the very attractive spiel, and sure enough, convinced ourselves that yes, oh yes, we did need new phones, after all! It didn’t go anywhere though – the offers were for new customers only. Technically, our provider Cricket runs on AT&T networks, so we were indirectly already AT&T customers – and there go the amazing deals!
That should have been the end of it – but the seed had been planted. It’s amazing how fast the line between ‘want’ and ‘need’ blurs and fades – and so began the search for ‘The Great Thanksgiving Phone Deal’! First stop, of course, was Cricket – we really didn’t need to change our service, and if they could throw in the shiny phones we
wanted needed, well, everyone could go home happy!! The same thing here – first of all, they didn’t have a ton of Black Friday specials, and the deals they had – you guessed it – only for new customers! The place where I work – new business is important, yes, but retention? Retention is the bread and butter – and it is baffling to see that these providers don’t really seem to care about retaining loyal customers?
Narrowing it down nicely now – latest phones, great deals – we would have to change our carrier – sorry, Cricket! Out come the spreadsheets – now we’re cooking! That was a good week or so of effort – comparing monthly rates, subscription rates – for all the different carriers in the area. We decided to check with Xfinity next – they were already our internet provider – bundling mobile with internet would possibly be an even better deal! Logged into our Xfinity account and went through the whole ordering process online – and it’s never easy, is it? – part of the verification process was a credit check. Much to our dismay, a screen popped up telling us that our credit was frozen, and we would have to unfreeze before we could proceed. No idea how we were frozen, let alone how to ‘unfreeze’. That’s it – a trip to the store was inevitable now!
The day began quite well – we discovered that instead of driving to East Peoria as we had thought, there was a new Xfinity store less than 10 minutes away! We went in, and our very helpful Xfinity agent, Tyler, put in all our information, and he too, came up against the same ‘frozen credit’ screen. But he did know what to do – apparently there were 3 credit companies and he gave us their phone numbers – call and figure out which company had frozen us! So Ajey calls the first one on the list – Experia. Going through the automated menu, he selected the option ‘Press 2 to Freeze/Unfreeze’ – and instead of moving on to the next set of options, the very polite automated voice thanked Ajey for choosing Experia to freeze his credit, and gave him a confirmation number. Wait, wait, wait – that’s not what we want – well too late, we’re double frozen now.
While on this ill-fated call with Experia, Ajey actually remembered the real story – couple of years ago, during the pandemic, his name and details were used to claim fraudulent unemployment benefits – one of the lovely scams that proliferated during that time. As part of sorting out the mess, our credit was frozen by – yes, crystal clear now – Equifax!! Next part was easy – Equifax was very obliging, and once Ajey’s identity was verified, we achieved the unfreeze! But we still had the other company to deal with. The logical option was to setup an online account, and then request a reversal of the accidental freeze. Now setting up this account – let’s just say they stopped a tiny bit short of requesting a full body cavity search – and even after all this jumping through hoops, the site wouldn’t let Ajey log on.
Back on the phone – this time, aggressively over-riding the automated menu by repeatedly pressing ‘0’ – until the system gave up, and connected us to a real living and breathing person. Explained the situation, thought it should be fairly simple – boy, were we in for a wild ride. First off, the lady asked Ajey for a ‘Freeze key’ – and oh no, this wasn’t the number he had written down from the earlier phone call. How were we supposed to get this key? Well, it should have been emailed to you – um, expect that we didn’t have an email address registered with this company. So the lady tells us that we should have setup an account with an email address before we froze our credit – wow, you don’t say! So just to get this right – this company froze our credit without us having an email address registered, or even a valid account set up? So no key – what next?
Next, apparently, was to be a series of questions to further verify Ajey’s identity – but before we could get to that, the lady goes, wait, did you just try to repeatedly login to your account – because of the multiple attempts, you are now locked out, and you have to wait 72 hours for the system to reset. Ajey is fuming by now – and he’s telling her he doesn’t even want the account – the very polite response, if you want to cancel the account, sir, you will need to send in a written petition. This was turning into a disaster – we had an account with a company that we didn’t want or need, who didn’t have any of our information, and yet, had locked our credit. We were getting nowhere with this lady! Almost resigned to waiting the 72 hours, Ajey pulled the ‘let me talk to your supervisor’ card – and then magically, our situation was resolved by the system sending a code to Ajey’s phone, and that was it – unfrozen, at last! Quite anti-climatic, actually, after all the drama!!
We bounced back happily into the store – all systems go now – or so we thought! You know I’m getting the whole retention strategy now – changing carriers is so incredibly hard, I’m sure most people give up due to sheer exhaustion! Our plan was to upgrade phones for Manasi and me, and Ajey was going to keep his phone, and just transfer the line. The final hurdle – apparently, Ajey’s phone was ‘incompatible’ with the Xfinity system. That’s right, a phone bought less than a year ago was incompatible – so he would have to get a new phone from Xfinity as well. The kicker? They had the exact same model he currently has – we just had to buy it from them. This was too much, even for us! I was ready to go home and take a nap – was a new phone really worth all this hassle?
We did go home, but Ajey wasn’t quite done. After several phone calls, the conclusion was that his phone was locked, and once unlocked, he could switch carriers. But the unlocking would take a few days. So final decision – Manasi and I would move to Xfinity, get the awesome deal on new phones, with the added benefit of doubling our internet speed for the same price. Ajey would stay with Cricket for a few more days, until his phone was unlocked – then move to Xfinity. And if the unlocking didn’t change the compatibility, he would still move his line, also with an awesome deal on a new phone. Whew! That took only, what, a day?!! In the end, all’s well that ends well, I guess!! Manasi and I are the proud owners of new phones – and we are off to a great start to the Thanksgiving weekend!! Bring on the pumpkin pie!!