America doesn’t want me to have a phone

When I moved to America, I decided that – to begin with – I would just use my corporate phone for everything. It seemed simpler and one less thing to have to buy and setup, plus it would let me wait for Apple’s announcements and see what those brought.

In November, I decided it was time to get myself a phone and split my personal stuff out from the company device, which always left me feeling a little uncertain.

You would think that, after having secured a bank account, a social security number, a place to live, and a house full of furniture that acquiring a phone would be easy.

You would be mistaken.

I had been told that the smart money in New York was on Verizon as the best cell service supplier. This sat well with me as we already had Verizon’s FiOS super fast internet, so I went online and duly ordered my phone with a line of service. It wouldn’t be delivered until December but I was in no big rush.

The afternoon of the order, I got a notification that my account had been flagged for fraud. I called them up and found that their system couldn’t generate any security questions for me as there wasn’t much of a record of me even existing. They asked me to email proof of ID and proof of address, so I sent in my visa stamp and my AR-11 form; a form which I have to submit to the United States Government each time I move. Official.

I received a confirmation of receipt email and that was that, until a week later when I received an email that my order had been cancelled.

I called up, and was told that the receipt email should have also requested that I call back. Well, it didn’t. So transfer to the fraud department I go, and am told that apparently an official United States change of address form is not acceptable. Would a utility bill be available?

Of course I sent that off, and heard nothing back.

I kept checking on my order and it showed as ‘Processing’, until yesterday when I called them and discovered nobody had read my second email, and my order had been cancelled again without telling me.

Cool. The agent agreed that I’d sent all the relevant documentation though, so I could place a new order no problem.

Great. I placed the order last night and woke to a fraud alert.

Fantastic. I called Verizon again and went through the rigmarole before telling them I had done this all already, and had them check my ID, which had been approved by the previous agent.

After 10 minutes on hold they returned to tell me that there was ‘a discrepancy’ with my information and they wouldn’t be able to provide me service. Nor would they be able to tell me why.

I pointed out that I already had Verizon service for our internet connection but they didn’t care.

Fucktacular. A few hours later I got an email that part of my order had shipped and spent another 15 minutes going around in circles before finding out they’d just shipped me a box to part exchange my old phone. Which would be the second such box.

I gave up, and decided to try for a SIM free phone from Apple direct. I’d wanted to do this in the first place but they weren’t offering them at the time.

I checked, found that the Grand Central store had one in stock so duly bought it and went to collect. The Australian surfer-dude scanned my QR code and put me in line.

45 exceedingly patient minutes later, I politely pointed out that I’d been waiting 45 minutes.

He did not seem fazed and scanned my code again. Two minutes later the phone arrived. Thanks Jackass, for not scanning me in properly to begin with.

I left, finding myself in a impromptu deluge (scattered showers my arse) and now sit literally and metaphorically steaming on the LIRR, an hour after I should have been.

America. Land of customer service …

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