So, since I knew (so I thought) that I had been automatically paying my phone bills via credit card, and didn't have an account with MCI, I figured I'd just call them and tell them there must be some mistake.
First, though, I checked my old credit card statements, and found that the phone bills for my two extra phone lines hadn't been charged to the credit card for around a year. I didn't know why, but assumed I'd have to pay the charges. So, I called the number on the bill to talk to MCI about paying what I owed, and to cancel the lines since I didn't need either anymore, and hadn't used one of them for over a year, and the other only a handful of times for FAXing.
I thought this was a good lesson for me to pay more attention to my credit card statements, and not put off canceling things that cost me money whether I'm using them or not. Simple solution, easily done, I'd call right away. And so I did.
But, the person who answered the phone at MCI said, after I waited on hold for awhile, that she couldn't find my account. She said no such account existed. I said, "It's right here on the statement, how could it not exist?" She said she could not find it. After I'd waited a considerable amount of time for the MCI rep to find it, and she'd given up, I said I'd call back later when I had more time to devote to the job, and got off the phone.
I'm not sure how many times over the following months I called MCI and tried to cancel the phones. It may have only been that one time, but I think I called one, probably two more times with the same results. Time passed, as they say, and I got more bills, each one larger as MCI added a new month's worth of charges. I thought it ironic that they could keep on charging me for something I wasn't using, couldn't cancel, for an account they said didn't exist.
One day I decided to take care of the situation no matter how long it took and how long I had to stay on the phone, and how many people I had to talk to to get the phones canceled and stop the bills coming. It was late morning when I made my first call that day to the number on the bill.
They, of course, could not find the account. I was prepared for that, I asked to speak to their supervisor. For hours and hours I told my story to reps, supervisors and their supervisors in Asia where MCI outsources their help lines.
Some of the reps' English was none too good, and I'd have to excuse myself, get off the line, and call back hoping to talk to someone else. Or, I'd just say I couldn't understand them and ask to talk to another rep.
There was a whole long set of hurdles I'd have to navigate with each transfer and/or each new call (sometimes they'd give me another number to call, sometimes I'd be left on the line, sometimes I'd get disconnected, sometimes I'd reach a dead end and have to start all over again with another call to the same or yet another 800 number). First, I'd get a recording, cheery and perky, asking for my phone number, and they'd "check the line" and report that there did not seem to be a problem with it. Then there would be other options presented to me, via the recorded helper, I'd go through the audio mailboxes and prompts, jump through the hoops, and eventually reach a real person, albeit, one far away, who could not understand me very well, and I couldn't understand them very well either.
For example, they'd ask me for my first name, probably so they could mention it at regular intervals as some sort of rote friendliness factor. One woman in the Phillipeans, where most of the reps seemed to be (I eventually took to asking where each one was, just out of curiosity) asked me my name and I told her it was Pat. She thereafter, through the whole conversation called me "Bat." A tiny bit disconcerting to be repeatedly addressed as Bat, and not at all adding to the friendly ambiance it was supposed to create.
This process went on for hours. I'd think I was actually getting somewhere, but, no, sorry, they, after exhausting all their questions, attempting to solve all the problems they were trained to solve, and that I didn't have, would give up, as would their supervisors, and I'd be shifted via transfer (after waiting on hold for a considerable time while they briefed the next person to talk to me, or whatever else they needed to do) to someone who I'd have to either tell my long story to, or try to correct the errors in the one they'd been told by their predecessor.
My husband came into the room several times during the afternoon to see if I was making headway, and the sun went down as it became evening. It got to be some sort of marathon challenge. I was determined to get it settled--cancel the lines, and stop the charges. I've tried to estimate how long I was on the phone that day trying to get the lines canceled. It was at least five hours, probably eight.
Then, amazingly, I hit pay dirt. I landed on Mr L. Mendoza's phone line in the Phillipeans. He was like a drink of cool water on a hot day. He spoke English perfectly, he was delightfully friendly and not a rote or stilted thing came out of his mouth. A real person.
And he said the magic words, he knew where to find my account. He said the problem was that the Brooks Fiber Com accounts had been incorporated into a section of MCI's small business division, and that most of the reps wouldn't know to search for my account there. But, he, among the few, did know where it was.
He pulled it up on his computer screen, issued an order for the lines to be disconnected, and said because I'd essentially not used the lines for the year the bills were accumulating and I'd had to spend so much time and effort getting the lines canceled, he was going to request that my account be "zeroed out." He said, "Don't pay the bill, and don't pay the next one either. It may take a couple of months for this to go through MCI's system, so if you get a bill or two, just ignore them."
I thanked him profusely, and got off the phone happy, happy, and relieved! Problem solved, and even better than I hoped.
Or, so I thought.