Bargain (De)Basement

“Can you do any better?”  That question has stayed with me since I first heard my mother ask it when I was about ten years old.  A carpet salesman was at our house and was giving a quote for wall-to-wall carpeting that my parents were buying.  At first, I didn’t understand what my mother meant; and then it hit me — she was bargaining with the salesman. My first thought was that my family must be going broke.  Why else try to take from the carpet people’s pocket and put it into ours? What other explanation could there be? My shock was followed by an embarrassment so severe that I went upstairs and hid under my bed (a theme for me) until the salesman left.

In all the years I was around my parents this was the sole time I ever heard either of them bargain or hondel (as we Jews might say) with a merchant of any sort. It just wasn’t in their DNA. Nor in mine or my siblings. I say this not out of a feeling of moral superiority but rather as an admission that my family generally lacked the chutzpah required for haggling.

Like most of you, I think my cable bill(s) are way too high. So my ears really perked up when, over dinner, by friend Nnelg told me a story about how he had gotten Time Warner (“We’re now Spectrum!”) to substantially lower his bill.  It required some tenacity and some nerve but he ensured me he knew how to “play the game” with them.

I was very impressed and lamented that I had neither the skills nor the interest in hondeling with the cable company.  And then one of two things happened: either I begged Nnelg to do the same thing for me or he offered to do it. Either way, I told him there was a nice dinner in his future for his efforts.

I transmitted to him all the relevant information regarding my account including my latest bill and gave him license to do his best. I have to say I didn’t feel overly indebted to him because, unlike me, Nnelg warms to this kind of task; he sees it as a challenge or a game. I admire him for the way he makes this kind of thing fun. In fact, as I think about it, it’s probably fairer that he buy me dinner.

In any event, a few days later he reported to me that he had some modest success which would reduce my bill. However, this would involve my installing a new router that was being sent to me. I was less than thrilled at the thought of myself on my hands and (bad) knees fumbling around making connections but accepted my plight. And then a funny thing happened—that evening, when I tried to access HBO, it wasn’t available to me. Nor Showtime. Nor STARZ (whatever that is). All my “premium channels” were gone. In other words, things weren’t going swimmingly.

The next day the box with the new equipment came; a very BIG box. At this point I knew that I was defeated, that Time Warner (We’re now Spectrum!) had won. Rather than re-enlist Nnelg, or call the cable company I decided to go directly to their store located in a nearby neighborhood.  I wanted to give them back the BOX and reinstate my old services. I was willing to sign any document they wanted indicating I would never try bargaining with them again.

I met with a representative, Danissa, who heard my story and out of the blue, offered to lower my bill considerably—just for showing up. I thanked her and walked out, not exultant but with a feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on; one that I found a bit disquieting. Later that day as I was settling in for the beginning of a weekend of binge watching, I turned on my TV only to find that the screen came up with a notice to “Call this number to activate or re-activate your account”. I picked up my land line phone to call ASAP and found that I had no dial tone. And then I checked—no internet either!  I was practically off the grid.

I won’t bore you (further) with my phone call (cellular) for reactivation other than to say I wound up screaming at the top of my lungs at the representative who told me a technician couldn’t get to my house for three or four days. So, as I write this, I’m sitting in front of a large TV that can’t transmit anything. I can’t call anyone nor can I find out all the neat things on the internet that I used to.

One small solace though. With the silence that now surrounds me, I’ve identified that strange feeling I had when I left the Time Warner store. I realize now that I was experiencing a feeling of regret. Regret that when Danissa told me the amount by which she was reducing my bill, that I didn’t just this once say, “Can you do any better?”

 

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4 Responses to “Bargain (De)Basement”

  1. robert goodman Says:

    You are extremely funny especially the whining story of your knees which any of us over 60 can relate to.
    Goody

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      Thanks Goody. Glad you weighed in. “Any of us over 60?” C’mon…. I KNOW you almost 60 years!

      (interesting font…no? Have no idea where it came from)

  2. Rich Says:

    A typical horror story dealing with these companies. Poor Danissa (assinad) is just a working stiff. But I did get a good laugh out of this story.

  3. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    Glad my aggravation tickled you. Clearly, a case of ‘one man’s ceiling being another man’s floor’

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