Life Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Yesterday, I finally faced down fear and bought a new phone.

The old phone – assigned to me in 2015, I believe – was on its last legs. It had so little memory that, every time I needed to download a new app, I had to delete an old app. And, every time I told it to open an app, it paused and waited and thought about it.

I’ve been meaning to buy a new phone for months. For over a year. I knew I had to do it. But I feared the stress and time-loss associated with the phone set-up process.

Yesterday I was feeling brave. So, on the way home from a relaxing walk in the park, I dragged my husband into the Verizon store and picked out a new phone. I’m a pretty simple person; I don’t need to impress people by having the fanciest phone on the block and I’m not a fan of bigger is better; so I went for the S21, basic, model.

The Purchase

I think we maybe spent an hour in the store making the purchase, mainly because the sales agent kept disappearing into the stockroom for long periods of time. I joked to my husband that the same way that men imagine sumptuous spas in the ladies rooms in restaurants because we disappear into them for “hours”, I imagined the Verizon stockroom to be filled with hedonistic pleasures unavailable to mere mortals.

At one point, the rep said that the only color phones they had in stock were pink and purple.

“I’ll take pink,” I said decisively. I was tired of black anyway. My husband pushed back – did I really want a pink phone? Yes, I replied firmly, I do. And anyway, it will be in a case. As soon as I find a case I like.

“Can we see the pink phone?” He asked, convinced I had apparently lost my mind. The salesperson disappeared into the stockroom again.

“Look what you’ve done!” I admonished him. “Now she’s disappeared into Valhalla again.”

When she came back, I bought the pink phone. I told her I had put off buying a new phone because, the last time, it was so painful moving my data and apps from the old phone.

No problem, she said. I would use the Smart Switch app to transfer the data. She even showed me how to download it on my old phone in the store.

And we left the store.

Our first mistake.

When we got home, I did a couple of chores that I would usually put off until later, because I anticipated that this would take much longer than you would think. My husband settled down on the couch to watch the tennis finals and to take his Sunday siesta. I braced myself and turned on the new phone.

Let’s get you activated, it said brightly and asked for my phone number, which I entered. And then it asked for my password.

What password did it want? My Samsung password? My Verizon password? I tried both and it liked neither.

Agent #1

On my old phone, I started a chat with Verizon. The Chat AI, which is where I started, told me that the problem was that my husband, who manages our Verizon account, was the owner and that I was a member on that account but not a manager. Would I like to send him a text to make me a manager?


He received a text and approved my becoming a manager. I received a text telling me that I was a manager. I tried logging onto the new phone again. Nope, still not able to.

Back to the Chat AI. Which still insisted that I needed to be a manager. Would I like to send a text to my husband requesting to be made a manager.

No, I wanted to speak to a human.

Agent #2

It transferred me. The new person – who I then spent close to two hours chatting with – started performing arcane rites, during the course of which my husband needed to log in. I looked over at him. He had fallen asleep.

I gently woke him up and asked him to sign in. Groggy, he attempted to sign in. What was the answer to his security question, Verizon asked: the first name of his college roommate. Which was not the security question he had selected when establishing his account.

Now he was wide awake and angry.

Return the phone, he demanded.

Come on, I said. How much longer can this take?

You wouldn’t have this problem if you had purchased an iPhone, he said. Not wanting to complicate things with brand tribalism, I pointed out that the problem was not with Samsung but with Verizon and the fact that my phone shared an account with his phone, and that he was the owner.

The cat chose this moment to remind us that she had not been fed. Busy arguing and trying to set up my phone (me) and log into an account that the Verizon chat rep seems to have broken (my husband), we didn’t respond as quickly as the cat would have liked so she attacked my husband’s feet and was banished to the bedroom.

After another hour with the chat rep – who was clearly juggling several customers at once – during which time, she cancelled both our My Verizon accounts, requiring us to set them up again, and didn’t solve the problem of not being able to log into my new phone, she transferred my chat to the Sales team. (Why had I spent several hours on the phone with her to begin with? I wondered.)

Agent #3

The Sales team person asked what the problem was. I told them to review the chat transcript. They said they were sending me a text with a temporary password. Only it wasn’t a text, it was a My Verizon message, and somehow I then got disconnected from the chat. And I still couldn’t log into my new phone OR my My Verizon account.

My husband started to swear. Loudly. He somehow believes that swearing loudly will calm him down by allowing him to vent his anger. Studies have shown that, yes, if you drop an anvil on your toe, swearing loudly at that moment is helpful. They have also shown that continuing to swear after that point is not helpful and only makes you angrier. But in this age when we pick and choose our science, my husband refuses to accept these studies. So he swears. And I generally breathe deeply and ignore him.

Agent #4

Now I call the 800# on the screen and argue with an IVR about whether I’m going to give it my 4-digit pin – I don’t remember ever setting a 4-digit pin and the pin my husband thought he had set doesn’t work, possibly because the chat agent cleared his account. Finally the IVR puts me on hold for an agent. A rep will be with you in 7 minutes, the IVR tells me. 21 minutes later, I am connected to a very nice Verizon tier 2 rep in Indiana who listens to my tale of woe.

Have you turned off your old phone? He asks. This is the first I’ve heard that I need to turn off my old phone. I do that. Hey, presto chango, my new phone lets me in. Three hours at this point, and this is what it takes just to activate my new phone.

He gets me set up with the Smart Switch that starts transferring the data. It will take 25 minutes, the phone tells me.

While we’re waiting, I ask, reluctant to let him off the phone while something could still go wrong, can you fix access to our My Verizon accounts which the chat rep seems to have broken.

No, he’ll need to transfer us to Tier 2. He does so.

Agent #5

We begin with yet another rep.

Who clears our accounts again. My husband’s swearing grows louder. I go sit next to him on the couch. And that is when I notice his feet are bleeding.

“What happened to your feet?” I ask. He glances down, hands me the phone, and heads to the bathroom to bandage his feet. I try to log into his My Verizon account on his laptop. It wants me to pick a security question for him.

What security question do you want? I call.

Where’s the antiseptic cream? He calls back.

On the top shelf, in the box, I shout back.

I can’t find it, he shouts back to me. As if I have hidden the cream. He returns to the living room. You find the cream; I’ll set up my new account.

In the bathroom, it looks like a serial killer has struck. There is blood on the toilet cover, blood on the floor, in the sink, on my fluffy white bathmat with green stripes that perfectly accent the bathroom tiles that it took me three years to find. I clean up – I suspect I will need a new bathmat – but I cannot find the cream.

Returning to the living room, I realize there is a blood trail to the bathroom from the couch. I clean that up, too, while he continues to swear at his My Verizon account.

And find the antiseptic cream on the coffee table next to his laptop, where he must have left it at some point and it became buried by other things that don’t belong on the coffee table.

The rep enables me to log in. He enables my husband to log in, although now it appears my husband has two accounts, one which uses the user name that he selected but prompts him with a security question he didn’t select. The other account uses his phone number and the right security question. And, in the course of this, he has had to have the phone rep issue a new 4-digit pin on his behalf. Now he’d like to update that pin to a number that he didn’t select over the phone with a rep. He logs into his account using his phone number. He can see on the account that the user name associated with that phone number is the user name that causes the wrong security question to come up. And there is no place to reset his pin. The rep checks with his manager; apparently in a recent update, the ability to reset your pin online has disappeared and there is no anticipated date for it to return.

Husband gives up and hands the phone back to me.

I tell the rep that, when set up the Smart Switch to transfer my data with the guy in Indiana, there was a message on-screen telling me that 4% had transferred and it would take 25 minutes to complete the transfer. And that now, over 2 hours later, it is still stuck at 4%. He says he will have to transfer me to Samsung service.

I say great, before you do that, please arrange for a transcript of the chat that I had online with Verizon to be sent to me, so I can share it with the Verizon executive vice president for customer service. Because it should not take 5+ hours to set up a new phone. The rep, terrified that he will get caught up in all this, nearly bursts into tears and begs me to tell him that he has been helpful. I spend 10 minutes peeling him off the ceiling.

Then he transfers me to Samsung.

Agent #6

After a few minutes, the hold music stops.

Hello, I ask. There is a startled voice.

Hello? An American voice asks.

Is this Samsung? I ask.

Yes, she replies cautiously.

What is your name? I ask. Rather startled, she gives it. I explain the situation: the Smart Switch doesn’t seem to be working. There is a pause.

Then more hold music.

Agent #7

A few seconds later, someone else – this one clearly in the Philippines – picks up. I explain.

Two hours later, the Smart Switch is still not working. We’ve tried turning it off, turning it back on, deleting the app, reinstalling the app. We’ve even tried a hard-wire connection, which involves an adaptor.

Finally she asks me if I have another adaptor I can use. She’s lucky I even had one.

I admit defeat. Tell her it’s 9 pm, I’ve been at this since 2 pm and I’m done. I’ve long passed the end of my patience and tolerance for talking on the phone to service reps. My husband and I – and my cat – are starving. I’m hanging up and I will take the phones to a Samsung store where I will refrain from throwing them at a sales rep, and ask politely if they will transfer the data.

And I hang up.

Before I make dinner, I set up the phones to try the Smart Switch via WiFi again, don’t ask me why.

I make a nice dinner and we eat.

On my way to bed, I check the phones. The data has fully transferred over. My new phone now has all the apps and data from my old phone.

Never Again

When my husband comes to bed, he tells me that I will never get another new phone again. He will never get another new phone again.

I tell him that’s ridiculous. At our ages, we will probably have to do this again another 5 times at least.

But the next time, I will make the purchase of my new phone conditional on the person in the store getting it set up for me before I leave the store.

The way I figure it, Verizon owes me compensation for 8 hours of my life. (Or 6 hours and Samsung the other 2.)

And a new bathmat.

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