The other morning Spark sent me an email telling me what was likely to happen if I went over my monthly data allowance. I ignored them because I thought that if I was careful it was unlikely to happen. But naturally enough it did. Yesterday another message arrived advising that I was now well and truly over my monthly quota and I was henceforth operating on dial up speed.
No worries I told myself blithely, I will simply upgrade my plan because it’s time it was upgraded. I will accomplish this on line, via the Welcoming Spark Website. I realized how droll that conclusion had been after I had spent an hour attempting to do so without success. The Change Plan page did not work for me.
I made a cup of coffee and counseled myself because clearly I was not following instructions correctly. But no amount of self- encouragement seemed to help. It was time to ring Spark. The obliging automated voices, if I listened attentively – and I did - eventually got me to a place where I was advised that someone would call me back in thirty seven minutes and I would not lose my place in line. I agreed to this, although I was doubtful that it would work. I made more coffee and nervously kept an eye on the clock.
In the interim I kept myself usefully occupied by re-reading the instructions on the oh so intuitive Spark Change Plan page – those I was patently incapable of grasping. By the time the helpful Spark Staff Member rang me back, precisely on time, I had still not fully absorbed them though they did appear to be disarmingly simple. It was more than promising to be speaking to a real flesh and blood human being although I have to admit that although this employee, whose name I could not catch, spoke perfect English, I found it difficult to understand the inflections of his speech and so he was forced to endlessly repeat himself which he did without getting as irritated as I might have done in his position. After a verbal struggle, during which I apologized profusely for my stupidity, he announced in triumph that he was now going to pass me on to the person who could make the appropriate changes for me. I was immediately cheered and it was unfortunate that I was cut off at the precise moment this next particular Spark Miracle Worker began to speak. At this stage I very nearly cried. It was time to make more coffee, stronger this time.
When I plucked up enough courage to face the phone ordeal once more I found that after negotiating the automated Spark voice, the waiting time for a call back was now going to be one hour and fifteen minutes. Abandoning the day’s original plan of a healthy and invigorating walk the length of Parnell Road and back again, I opted for the call back despite the extraordinary waiting period. I would be able to fill in the time trying to do battle with the web site, because eventually surely I would crack the code; it was, after all, designed for those of average intelligence.
Needless to say over an hour later I was still no further forward and in the ten minutes before I was destined to hear from the next Spark Employee I slipped away from the laptop and downstairs for sustenance. Not for more coffee though. It was time for a large gin and tonic.
I was inordinately reassured to speak with Spark Staff Member Alice and furthermore I could understand every word she said so she did not have to repeat herself once. Alice was confident she would be able to solve the problem without undue delay. I could have kissed her.
`The reason you were not able to upgrade via our website,’ she told me, `Is because the plan you are on is an old one.’
`Oh I see,’ I gushed, though I didn’t really see at all because presumably I would not be endeavouring to upgrade a new plan. Still, I knew better than to argue over such minutia.
Our conversation was so positive and encouraging that had I been standing I fear my legs would have buckled beneath me when Alice suddenly announced the very bad news that she was unable to help after all. She was extremely sorry but she had discovered that contrary to all expectations, I was not in fact the account holder. I was not authorized, licensed or eligible to make the momentous decision I had in mind. More Monthly Data was not for the likes of me.
`I can’t believe this,’ I almost sobbed when she said that the account holder was one Gordon J. Harris. Yes, the husband. He who was at that very moment on a golf course and likely to be so for the remainder of the day. In my panic I toyed with telling her he had died but decided that might complicate matters further.
I heard myself whisper that he was not at home and then added honestly that even had he been at home he would not be able to hear a single word she said on account of his deafness. There followed a hiatus during which Alice resolutely tried to find a solution to the dilemma and I endeavoured to be courageous about it all. After all the world was unlikely to come to a standstill simply because my broadband account had descended into dial-up speed. Well, it's easy to say that isn't it?
At last Alice said that she had discovered that someone called Patrick also had his name attached to the account. The very Patrick the husband and I had three years previously unceremoniously thrown onto the street to fend for himself at the tender age of forty two when we sold the house in St Heliers to get rid of him.
I agreed that Patrick had set up the modem for me when we first moved into our diminutive city fringe apartment, that specially chosen because it was too small to accommodate him at any stage should he decide to return to us. Under the circumstances it had been very helpful of him. I refrained from telling her further details because very possibly she would be disinterested.
`Perhaps I could ring Patrick?’ Alice suggested, now talking in the kind of voice usually reserved for the very young or the very elderly.
Despite my misgivings that Patrick would be unlikely to answer his cell phone mid morning, unbelievably he did. And without any hesitation or question he gave permission to Spark’s Alice for me to upgrade my broadband plan.
The relief was immense. I fell over myself in expressing my gratitude. It wasn’t until the following day that I allowed my mind to meander upon the undeniable fact that such a simple operation perhaps should not have been so needlessly grueling.