not my actual phone but very similar

Do they see us coming? Do they? Do they? The ‘they’ in this case being young people, admittedly a fairly broad church when you’re 69, and the ‘us’ is retired people, aka old people. The expression, ‘see you coming’ was often used by my grandma on any occasion when she thought I’d been diddled (that was her word for cheated or treated badly). Eeh lad, they must have seen you coming. Now I know exactly what she meant and this clarity has been brought about by that most demeaning of activities for the elderly person, buying a new phone. I’ve had my current, soon to be ex, phone for about 4 years, so some would say that, in this throw away age, it, and I, have done well and I grudgingly admit there may be some truth to this.

Now I know that this is going to come out as one of my more grumpy retirement blogs but what the heck I need the therapy. It all came to a head when my old phone would only work if I took the battery out and re-started it every time I wanted to use it and after it went ‘dead’ after a period of time and also my emails weren’t coming through. Not a problem when we’re at home but as we’re off on our autumnal holiday in a couple of days, more of which probably in next week’s blog, not being able to get on-line would be an irritation and even an outright problem. Yes, I know if I didn’t allow myself this kind of dependency on modern technology I wouldn’t be experiencing all the frustration I am about to share with you dear reader.

So you can see I gave my old phone every chance to heal itself but, sad to say, it hasn’t. I took a deep breath and on Wednesday night, which is my evening for going into Leeds to attend my jazz piano evening class, I went into the Ohdear shop in the Trinity Centre for those of you who like exactness. I went to this shop because its opening and closing times fitted well with my class. How very, very foolish of me to think I could make my life easier by doing two things in one evening. I went to this particular shop because the one that Mrs Summerhouse went to a couple of weeks ago to get a new phone on the same contract (she got it too) having put her, not very old one, through the washing machine, closed at 5 pm, so no good, and the shop nearest to us in Headingley are on my shit list for telling me I needed a new phone because the old one (see above) was not repairable. That was a year ago. So I thought they gave me bad, i.e. self-seeking, money-grabbing, customer abusing, advice and determined never to go there again.

Back to Trinity Centre shop, of course it was no surprise that I was eventually attended to by a young person, they all are, a female in this case but I can say, in my experience, there is no difference, both genders are, shall we say, equally disappointing. So I told her what I wanted – a new phone on the same contract and then I told her what my current deal was. She looked at me with that look that says, you’re an old person aren’t you, you don’t know much about mobile phones or indeed the current world as a whole, isn’t that right? To cut a long story fairly short. She told me no such deal existed and I must be mistaken. I told her about the deal Mrs SH had got from the other Ohdear shop. She thought about calling me a lying old fool and settled for well, they’re franchised (they think we don’t know such words but we do) and can make their own deals.

What I can do for you, she said. I might be old but I know when they roll out this phrase they don’t intend to do anything for me except rip me off. She offered me a deal that was ‘a little bit more’. That turned out to be a monthly payment of £17.50 as against my current deal of £9 a month. Now call me old-fashioned but that does not meet my definition of ‘a little bit more’. I thanked her for her help – ha – and said I’ll try the other shop. I may be a lying old fool but I’m not stupid. No problem, the sweet young thing said, in a way that was clearly code for – I hope you fall under a bus and die … you old git. I looked at the poster on the wall – number one for customer service. God help those who only have access to second and lower.

So next day I was faced with an interesting, at least to me, moral dilemma. Face another trip into town to Mrs SH’s shop or throw out the window all my principles and go back to my local shop, yes, the same one that I swore would never see me until hell froze over. Well you can guess and to be fair it was a bit chilly although perhaps not totally freezing over. I went to my local Ohdear shop and then the nightmare started all over again. Briefly, another young person, male this time – there was no such deal as the one I was on and turned his screen (the ultimate act of showing what a trusted customer you are, you can even look at my screen, actual code again for I’ll show you the screen but because you’re an old git it won’t mean a thing to you). His ‘a little bit more’ deal was £13 a month, oh and I had to buy the phone – £65 – a bargain because it had just been reduced by £50, the poster on the wall said reduced by £30 but what do I know, I’m an old person.

I didn’t challenge him as I might once have done. I mean what are the chances of a 69 year old person challenging (i.e. telling him he’s a liar) a young guy whose every centimetre of arms was covered in tats, as I believe the current vernacular has it. I mean true back in the day when I was a young man we’d have been told to cover up our tats, this guy was wearing them with a short sleeve shirt for all the world to see. But I’m not knocking this, it gave me something to read while he was talking at me about the deal he was offering me which I had stopped listening to 10 minutes after I’d sat down and we’re 40 minutes in.

I agreed to buy the phone, which they hadn’t actually got in the shop but would have one tomorrow. And tomorrow I will sign a new contract at £13 a month. Frankly I would have signed a form in support of euthanasia to get away. I’ll stop now, again in the words of my grandma, it’s a grand (retirement) life if you don’t weaken. Unfortunately in terms of buying a new phone I have weakened.

A post script. I’ve already written over 1200 words so it will have to be brief which is a shame. I went to the Merrion shop and I got the deal I wanted i.e. £9 a month and could buy a phone for about £60 except there was the problem, of course. I’ll have that one, sorry we don’t have that in stock and again and again and again. It turned into the John Cleese cheese shop sketch from Monty Python – do you actually have any cheese? Substitute phones for cheese and you have the idea. I made the mistake of saying I just want one like my old one, the nice young person who looked quite surprised when I banged my head on the desk in frustration. She had lovely eyes I know this because when I looked up she was staring at me with them. Didn’t find it amusing I guess. She showed me the ‘equivalent’ it cost £540. Then she showed me two other phones one costing, sorry I said I would be brief. I bought a phone costing £29 which she hadn’t mentioned and which I already don’t like and plan to change, yes, really. I have to say the manager was very helpful in transferring all my data from my old phone to this new usurper. So that’s one up for him and I hope he has a good holiday in Las Vegas. I know this because the transfer took a long time and we got to know each other quite well. Not his fault.

Post postscript. I met my son-in-law for a pint on the way home. We’d both had difficult weeks, me with the bloody phone and him having trouble with the Germans. Not sure what exactly. I explained my week and he said, next time call 150 and order a new phone. Hmm, I suppose he was trying to be helpful. My head hurt from banging it on desk so I didn’t do it again, but the desire was there.

Final, final postscript. On the very day I sat down to write this blog there was an article on BBC on-line about phone companies ripping people off by letting them continue to pay for phones they had paid off (altho’ not my phone company). And the group most affected were people over 65. I rest my case.

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