Friday, September 21, 2007

I never much liked Monopoly

Last weekend, Andrew and I made an important purchase: a mobile phone (no one here says "cell phone"). Which is good, because I found out yesterday that we have to wait two weeks to get a landline. That means two weeks until internet and TV, too. It all goes back to BT (that's British Telecommunications), which is still run by the government, and is, thus, a monopoly. The British aren't really keen on customer service anyways, so when you add in the fact that there's no competition in an industry, there's barely any service at all. I spent a total of three hours on hold trying to get through to BT just to set up our new phone line. And this wasn't an American-style holding system with music and cheerful voices. This was three hours of hearing the phone ringing in that special British insistent double-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring, fourteen times, then "We are VERY busy right now. Stay on the line." Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. It was maddening. Oh, and this was all in a phonebooth, too, because if I called from my mobile phone, it would be like a pound per minute. No toll-free numbers here; you have to pay to waste your time. I finally got through, only to be told that the earliest they could install our line was the 3rd of October. "WHAT?!?" I couldn't keep from exclaiming. But there's nothing for it, apparently. The friendly Irishman I was talking to said that two weeks is about average. Let's all pray nothing ever goes wrong with the phone line! So he set up the appointment for me, and then at the end of it saw that that whole day had been filled up during the time it took him to take my details. So we started all over from the beginning. Joy. But I have been told that on October 4th I will have phone service. Fingers crossed. Do not breathe. Do not pass go. Certainly do not collect 200 dollars.

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