Bob Dyer: Don’t change your address

By Bob Dyer
Beacon Journal columnist

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I am never moving.

Ever.

When the time comes, just scrape me off the floor of my current house, toast my body and scatter the ashes in summertime waves at the Outer Banks.

Apparently, the act of moving from one residence to another has become almost impossible.

This month, I relocated my elderly father. I thought the hard part would be psychological. But he barely flinched. He knew the time for a senior facility had arrived, and he maintained his usual even keel.

The logistics of the move? Lord have mercy.

If you haven’t changed your address for a while, you’re probably thinking: Bob, just how hard can it be to switch over a few services?

Hard.

Harder than Lake Anna during a polar vortex.

Harder than IRS Form 8801.

Harder than getting the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl.

Really, really hard.

To wit:

• Frontier Communications: My dad’s old phone company doesn’t serve his new area, and he wanted a landline, so Frontier gained a customer as the result of a special offer. The deal included unlimited local and long-distance, an unlisted number and caller ID, plus a DSL Internet connection. Combined total: about 56 bucks a month.

I was told the first bill would also include an activation fee of about $45, so we would be looking at roughly $100, plus tax.

The first bill: $267.28.

Frontier tried to charge my 90-year-old father two activation fees of $49.99, as well as a bogus $32 “service order” fee and a bogus $13 “central office connection” fee.

And instead of $19.99 for DSL, the bill showed a charge of $44.99.

After multiple phone calls — one lasting 29 minutes and 46 seconds — I was able to bring the bill back to $115.

In other words, Frontier tried to charge him more than double the amount he was obligated to pay.

That final figure does not include the first month’s Internet fee, because, well, he didn’t receive the first month of Internet service. Although a modem arrived within a couple of days, the promised connection date of Jan. 2 came and went. A second date came and went. As did a third.

Number of phone calls required to summon one tech for one visit: four.

• DirectTV: Because he was moving into a facility that doesn’t permit satellite dishes, we met no resistance. Why sure, they said, we’ll cancel his service and pro-rate the last bill. Don’t even bother returning the out-of-date receiver; we only need the little plastic access card. And we’ll send you a prepaid envelope right away.

Wow, that was easy!

Except ...

After two weeks, no envelope. Turns out someone at DirecTV typed the wrong forwarding address, not bothering to include the street number or the apartment number. Simply correcting the address in the DirecTV computers required two phone calls — the second lasting 28 minutes and 36 seconds.

Just ... to ... change ... a ... mailing ... address.

• USPS: Speaking of mailing ... arranging for the post office to forward his mail seemed like a piece of cake. You can go online, plug in all the info and approve a $1 charge to a credit card (in part to try to ensure that the person requesting the change is the real deal).

But when I tried to finalize the transaction, I was hit with computer screen after computer screen of offers for retail catalogs and discount coupons. The website was so relentless — it prevented me from closing out one screen without making a selection — that I got mad and simply X’ed out of the whole site. I didn’t think the process had been completed until I received an email confirmation.

When did the post office turn into a relentless Tijuana street merchant?

• KeyBank: Armed with power of attorney, I figured changing his checking account to the new address and starting online banking could be done with one visit. Ha.

My photocopy of the POA wasn’t enough. I had to track down the original and come back. “It’s the law,” I was told.

But coming back with the original still wasn’t good enough to set up the account that day. They had to “get it into the system,” which would take several more days.

Several days later: Yet another paperwork demand, this time because my father has a trust account. I had to deliver a copy of the same document he gave the bank when he originally opened the account.

Number of days from first visit to full activation of his one account: eight.

Sometimes I think companies have laid off so many employees in cost-cutting moves that those companies no longer are capable of doing what they’re in the business of doing.

Sometimes I think the people who still are employed are so uneducated or unmotivated or dense that they are tripped up by the simplest of tasks — say, keying in a street address.

And sometimes I think companies are purposely overcharging us and jerking us around because they figure we’ll run out of gas and just give up.

Whatever the reason, it’s not pretty in Moving Land.

Enter at your own risk.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com.


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