Yesterday, I discovered that my American phone service provider, Page Plus, had deactivated my phone number and disassociated it from my account, unbeknownst to me. This surprise came at the end of a technologically pitiful week full of frustration: the internet access since we moved to Kashiwa two weeks ago has sucked; despite my best efforts, Google Maps won’t update me to my new location regardless of how many times I clear the cache; two of my websites were hacked so badly that they were kicked off the Googlesphere, and I couldn’t even log into them to fix–a joy to manage with decent internet access and like Christmas to fix without it…the list goes on.
It’s understandable that when this latest technology failure came down the pipeline was I devastated. My phone number, which had been with me for nearly 20 years, had evaporated, and with it one of my last lifelines to America and my “normal” life. I think many in my situation have lingering fears they’ll be forgotten back home, and the loss of my number felt like one more rub of the erasure of my America life.
My call to customer support was so bad that I had to go running afterward to blow off some steam, which should mean something because I am not a person who runs. The first barely-English-speaking support technician passed me to another barely-English-speaking technician who put me on hold for 10 minutes and then nonchalantly reiterated that my number, and the money associated with the number, was gone, even though we still had two more active numbers on the account. Why didn’t they at least transfer the money to a different number on the account?
Both technicians referred me to their Terms of Service, a document absolutely nobody reads and a concept absolutely incongruous with customer service. I had been a champion of Page Plus until the moment the technician said, “Maam, as per our terms of service, we are not required to notify you upon deactivating your number. When you don’t have enough money on your credit card for payment, your number is deactivated.”
First, it’s a credit card. It doesn’t have any money “on” it. Second, perhaps it’s not part of your terms of service, but it’s a lot cheaper to keep a customer than develop new customers. Even my dinky little business had automatic emails notification set up to inform customers about account changes. Businesses have been sending notes about credit cards expiring since the advent of the internet! Was I to believe this cellular company couldn’t muster an email to take money out of my pocket?
I was livid, but watching Mike Tyson Mysteries got me off the ledge, and when I woke up this morning, I convinced myself the loss of my number was a gift. I mean, try to find me now, IRS! 😉
Seriously, I realized it just doesn’t matter that much. Although I am slightly inconvenienced, the loss of my number is saving me money for now, and it opens the opportunity for me to research other carriers. Plus, it completely eliminated the need to call customer service and separate my account from Dylan’s, which has been long overdue.
I have no idea what the future holds. Where I’ll live; what I’ll do. Where I’ll do it. But losing my phone number feels like a step forward.