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Telling Tales: Taking on the phone beast...and winning

Becky Andrews and Angel Kane • Updated Jan 14, 2018 at 12:00 PM

I walked into the mouth of the beast Tuesday. It was as horrible and scary as you could imagine. If it weren’t for the barely breathing battery on my son’s phone, I could have avoided the “incident” I’m about to share. 

My conversation with “Trevor” started out well enough. He told me nothing else could be done. It was time to say goodbye. And because this cellphone company is so nice, we could trade in our pitifully outdated phone for a credit. 

Here’s how our conversation went. 

Becky: “But we have insurance. Remember, you talked me into the insurance that covers all our phones? I can file a claim. He’ll get a new phone, and I won’t have to pay all of the ridiculous fees you are about to make light of.” 

Trevor: “You can do that, but they will replace it with a refurbished phone. Who knows what will happen.”

Becky: “What do you mean? Is it going to explode?”

Ignoring my sarcasm, Trevor replied, “Plus, you have a co-pay. Or you could just get a new 8 series for $27 a month.”

Becky: “The insurance I pay $33 a month for isn’t worth it? Let’s cancel it. That will save $6 a month if I get the new phone.”

Trevor: “You do not want to do that.” 

Becky: “You just said they send refurbished phones. Why keep it?”

Trevor: “I just think it’s not worth the trouble to file a claim.”

Becky: “Of course, you don’t think it’s worth the trouble, Trevor. I’m paying for it. Every time I come inside this store, I leave with a new device, promises that my bill won’t increase “that much” and a false feeling of hope. And when I come back to this store with problems on that new phone, I’m told the phone that was great a few months ago should be destroyed because it’s so electronically inept, my insurance doesn’t cover whatever problem I have and a realization that I’ll never get out from under you people. 

“Please, I beg of you. Please, help me, Trevor. I don’t want to be here for three hours. I need some good news.”

Trevor looks confused but determined. 

He said, “You did pay $22 per month for his phone. But his phone is paid for now.” He continued, “This new phone is $27 per month.”

This math didn’t mean our bill would increase by only $5. Nope. $27. I knew when I’d been beaten.

Trevor came back from the storeroom with my child’s brand new and probably already outdated phone. He went on to tell me that amazingly the trade-in credit on his old phone will exactly cover an accessory bundle. 

“He doesn’t need it,” I said firmly. 

“You don’t want to leave without a screen protector.” Trevor said as he continued to type. “No way. That would be a mistake. That glass breaks so easy. And the cover will protect the body of the phone. They are both fragile.”

Essentially, I was buying my child a premature kitten that needed around-the-clock care to survive.

He only needs the screen protector and case. 

Trevor: “So, you want to pay $120 plus tax for those two accessories? Instead of $97 for all three?”

Becky: “No. I’m going to take our chances that a big bolt of lightning doesn’t hit his phone between now and the time it takes us to get to T.J. Maxx to purchase the same things for $40.”

Without skipping a beat, he delivered more good news.

Trevor: “OK, so you have to pay the taxes and upgrade fee on your new phone today. We can’t put this on your bill. That total is $97.” 

Becky: “Perfect let’s use the credit from his phone.” 

Trevor: “You can’t use the credit for that. You can only use it for merchandise.”

I asked to speak to a manager. He explained this was company policy, and there’s nothing he could do. When I suggested we may just switch companies, do you know what he did? He gave me the 800 number I could call to cancel our plan. 

I wanted to hurl my phone, my children’s phones, my husband’s phone, my dad’s phone, my mother-in-law’s phone and scream, “It’s over, Trevor and Trevor’s manager. We are through. I can’t take this anymore. I’m done with your hidden fees, your false promises, your worthless insurance and the smug little way you imply I don’t have another choice. I’ve seen the commercials. Your little defector has been telling me for months that you’ve only got him beat by 1 percent. I’m leaving you, Trevor and Trevor’s manager. Goodbye.” 

But I didn’t do that. I left…without the new phone. 

I called customer service where William was reassuring and kind. He told me he wasn’t ready to give up on us. He planned to have the new phone shipped to my house. Only it was shipped to the store instead – the store where I ended it with Trevor. 

He tried to act like he didn’t see me when I walked in. “Hi Trevor, I’m here to pick up our new phone. It shipped here.”

He looked like Glenn Close was standing in front of him saying, “I’m not going to be ignored, Trevor.” Then he said, “I’m going to have to refer you to my manager. I’m off the clock.”

In the end, we stayed with the same company…for now. Also, I apologized to Trevor. Not really, but I meant to do that. 

Oh, and his name isn’t Trevor – to protect the innocent. 

 Comments? You can email Becky Andrews at tellingtales@lebanondemocrat.com. Andrews and Angel Kane are the brains behind Telling Tales, a weekly column in The Democrat.

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