The Curse of the Gibbons relates to telecommunication companies, and no matter how simple a request a member of my family might make, they always, always manage to botch it.
Today's escapade revolved around me finally getting around to upgrade my phone. I didn't want to do it by calling up my phone company, as that would involve having an Indian trying to describe to me how very good a particular phone is as opposed to my getting to see and try out what's on offer.
So I went along to Phones 4U at the centerpoint of Tottenham Court Road. I blame the adverts, on account of their being fun. They quickly sat me down and tried to get their claws into me, suggesting I move to Vodafone or Orange, and seemed somewhat perplexed by my desire to retain my number, my provider (3G), just upgrade my phone, modify the contract and get on with life.
But the girl headed to the basement and found a 3-compatible phone... decent camera, mp3 player, 1 gig memory card, sure whatever I'm not paying extra for a phone so just give it to me. Then we talked over the tarriffs and apparently the only one available was slightly more expensive, and with 6 months half price (no lame cashback redemption either) and the ability to downgrade the tarriff after nine months, I wasn't sure, so she wandered off to see her manager who agreed they'd give me £45 cash there in the store to take the deal. Such bargaining skillz! I agreed, and we started the process of checking my credit rating and sorting it out.
It went okay, my SIM was transferred to the new tarriff and everything was smooth, that is until the final hurdle: scanning the phone in and giving it to me. Then it all went wrong. They couldn't scan the phone in, and in fact there was not a single 3G compatible phone in the shop they could give to me. But my new contract had already been authorised, 3 had put me onto the new potentially more expensive contract, my "upgrade" had gone through and so I'd not be able to get a new phone anywhere else!
The staff at Phones 4U called back the people at 3 to ask that they cancel the authorisation, i.e. return me to the starting point. But 3 refused, the fuckers, saying there was nothing they could do! WTF! Cue lots of calling back and forth, other staff coming out and trying to sort it out, but always the same answer. At one point the guys passed me to the phone and one of the Indians at 3 told me he couldn't revoke it as "it's a business decision", and the only one who could do it was the people at Phones 4U, which was total bullshit, as of course they would have already if it was in their power.
Not even the mighty Raj could help, init. By that point, I was expecting them to bring out a horse to solve my problem (See Little Britain).
Eventually I had to leave, 45 minutes and nothing to show for it. Utter wank. And when I check my service on my current, shitty needs-charging-every-day mobile I'm on the new contract. I'm fucked at the moment, basically.
It's the same every time I deal with a company like this; the people behind the desk know what I want, and then they have the choice of two buttons to press: the "Help the customer get what he wants, take his money and everyone wins" button, or the "FUCK UP BEYOND ALL BELIEF, WASTE EVERYONE'S TIME AND ENSURE HE NEVER EVER DOES BUSINESS WITH US AGAIN, WHY DO WE WANT HIS CASH ANYWAY???!?!??!??!?!?!" button. They choose the latter, every time.
So I'll have to head back to the shop tomorrow, see if they've sorted it out. They won't have. I know that as soon as I stepped out the store, they'll have sighed, decided they'd spent so long trying to do me right and forgotten about it. When they tell me they've not sorted it, what then? I think I'm going to have to waste my own time sorting this out, speaking to Miss Patel in India, who will barely speak the language, to get me back to square one... how ironic that I only have to do this because I didn't want to call India in the first place. At one point for security I had to give my date of birth. "Fifth of May nineteen-eighty-two" I said. The girl on the other end had no idea. "Fifth"? ""May"? Oh all right you win I'll speak the language you've been trained in, zero five zero five one nine eight two. Now we know.