Tuesday, October 04, 2005


MCI, still struggling to recover from the scandal and bankruptcy that sent the Worldcom name from the stock pages to the stocks, called recently with a great deal. It already had my long-distance business for a measly $5 or so a month; it would take over my local service as well and send a combined bill saving about $10 off what I paid Verizon.

It seemed too easy, and I was suspicious. But I was also easily convinced and, a few days later, became a complete MCI customer. It was, in fact, easy.

A week or so ago I called MCI to arrange a move and a change in billing to my new apartment.

I was put on hold for — literally — an hour.

It undoubtedly would have gone on longer. I hung up.

Called Verizon. Switched back. Told them to move my line and shift my billing.

And you know what? It was easy.

That would be a delightful end to the story, but agonizing contacts with Verizon over the next couple of days by me and my parents resulted instead in a limping, listless sort of denouement. The contacts included similarly excruciating hold times and a Monty Orwellian (or is it George Pythonesque?) examination of the advantages of business lines vs. personal lines (a listing in the white pages, basically, a lame prize in the age of the Internet). Never have people struggled so heroically to pay bills. Never has a company made it so difficult. I hope.

Coming up Thursday: MCI shareholders vote on whether to merge into Verizon for $8.4 billion.

Suddenly I’m feeling rather uneasy.

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