Call Me

I’ve had a US Cellular account for years. I’ve never been delinquent in my payment or paid less than I owed. I have the cheapest phone they offer; $9.99, no bells or whistles. The only person I talk to on that phone is my husband.

I do not drive. You are safe and happy because I do not drive.

Yesterday, I was in close proximity to the US Cellular store. My phone has been temperamental and I am eligible for a free upgrade. The store manager drew the short straw and waited on me. I sat down with him while he reviewed my account for the upgrade. I chose another $9.99 phone. He asked to see my ID, after I’d rattled off my address, social security number, phone numbers, shoe size- you’re catchin’ what I’m throwin’.

Well goooolly Sargent Carter, my ID has expired, who knew? More to the point, BFD. The officious cell phone store manager informed me that he couldn’t sell me a new phone on my active and current account without a “valid government issued ID”. He told me, egregiously, the requirement is “an FCC regulation”.

I politely asked him if he’d ever read Animal Farm, Brave New World or 1984. You’re damn right I did. Then I said, “I could understand this requirement if you were selling bombs or guns but we are talking about a cell phone and I am an established customer.” Of course, he had never heard of any of the titles I mentioned and could not make sense of the weapon analogy. I thanked the man for his time and I left.

I went to the DMV to renew my “government issued ID” where the agent laughed at my lively description of my attempt to engage in commerce.

I looked all over the FCC website. Nuthin’.

I called US Cellular wanting specific regulation numbers so I could write to the FCC, Congress, the press, and others. I was told that they would be happy to mail a phone to me. I didn’t want a phone; I wanted the damn regulation number.

Remarkably, there is no such regulation. I was told that sometimes US Cellular representatives request compliance to an imaginary FCC regulation from their customers because someone (no doubt a distant relative to they) has misinformed those employees. As with the IRS agent a few posts back, I could not refrain from engaging the man on the phone. “So if I’m understanding you correctly, this is a company policy issued by someone in risk management to protect the company from litigation.” Coincidentally, yes, that was correctumundo!

US Cellular, corporate, will be hearing from me, as will the FCC and the FTC, possibly the ACLU, NAACP and the POTUS. Good Gawd, where does the bullshit stop?

I would have been completely understanding of a company policy, and readily compliant. The thought of the federal government requiring a valid government ID for a cell phone sent me spiraling out to the ozone.

I’m sure my heart was subjected to undue palpitations and stress as a result of this interaction with US Cellular, pain and suffering… .

About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
This entry was posted in Autonomy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Call Me

  1. mandala56 says:

    Good post, bad situation, of course. I hope you’ll keep us informed. Man, I hate those cell phone companies. My cell phone is really really old because I don’t want to go in the store and sign another two year contract. Hate those people.

    • elroyjones says:

      If you call them ask to talk with someone in account retention and you may be able to get out of the two year contract. A lot of cell phone companies are getting away from that.

      It irritates the bejesus out of me that a phone costing just a couple of dollars is sold for close to $200. I am irritated further when the phones are not recycled and sent instead to the landfill.

      I asked if I could donate the phone I have to the local homeless shelter with a new battery, batteries for that model are now obsolete.

      The cell phone people are evil.

  2. gkinnard says:

    Somebody’s blowin’ smoke about needing a government ID. Patty and I use dirt-cheap Tracfone service—no ID necessary. Sam has a free cell* through one of those government programs for low-income folk—he has no photo/government ID.

    (Sam never uses the cell; he barely knows how to. We got it for him as a way of tracking him after he got lost once—that was scary!)

  3. Doug says:

    Living on the north side of inner city Chicago, I have watch record stores, character filled greasy spoons, and Ma and Pa corner bars give way to a Starbucks and Cell Phone store front ghetto. Highly caffeinated, high-tech urban blight. That said, I’m still to dumb to realize, that I really don’t need a smart phone. But like you, I have never made peace with my mobile providers. So way to give ’em…what for.

  4. Pink Ninjabi says:

    Yes, cellphone companies are definitely frustrating as it seems straightforward deals are not available, especially amongst the 5 point font print. May you find the connection you need (and yes, personally, I have ranted and raved until I got my way, only to have a near heart attack in doing so. Three year contracts, never again! :D).


  5. Pingback: Together Alone | elroyjones

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