Friday, January 22, 2010

Productivity – Blocked!

It doesn’t really take much to kill a morning

Thursday morning, like most mornings, was supposed to be split between getting the kids off to school and then writing until lunch. Followed by more writing after lunch until the kids get home. That plan, yesterday, was utterly clobbered by the red-eyed Verizon monster.

You may recall that I signed up for FIOS back in November, because the savings as compared to splitting my phone, internet, TV and Long-Distance services over multiple providers was really significant. Like, $1000 per year or thereabouts. Well, that all sounds good on paper, but then you get your first bill and you go WHOA! Where’d my savings go?

I don’t really want to be too hard on Verizon for this, specifically. Trying to bundle multiple services together along with promotions, discounts, and whatever the sales guys offer to waive is really complex and I would expect Time Warner, AT&T, Comcast or any other big service company to have similar problems. It’s not right – and it’s bullshit that we expect things like this to get screwed up – but it would be unfair for me to imply that this was an issue that’s unique to Verizon.

And my billing representative, Britt, was extremely knowledgeable, pleasant, and seemed genuinely interested in fixing my issues, even when I had to be somewhat adversarial to make it clear that I didn’t feel a given issue could be resolved if it was going to cause actual money to leave my pockets.

However, the call went on for more than TWO HOURS. I had to switch cordless phones partway through. I made bread in my bread machine. I checked my email. I straightened up my kitchen. I even used canned air to blow old burned flour out of my bread machine’s guts before putting the cauldron full of fresh ingredients inside. And I had plenty of time to kill. It was a lot of careful dialogue and note-taking, interspersed with hold time while Britt looked stuff up or (probably) got permission to fix the mistakes they'd made that didn't really look like mistakes on their end.

I mean, it was worth it. I’m going to save $15 per month for the next year that I never should have been charged, and so far I’ve been able to get back about $75 for things like installation charges that were supposed to have been waived. The only outstanding issue is that my salesman clearly stated that there was no additional monthly charge for the HD set-top boxes, when, in fact, there is a charge for them. To the tune of $18 per month. I have it clearly marked on the sales order where the salesman waived that fee before I signed on the line, so I’m expecting that that will be resolved as well, but they need to get some physical paperwork out of the archives or something, and need to call me back in a week. So, technically, this call isn’t over yet.

But none of that helped me to finally put chapter 8 to bed, much less to jump on chapter 9 with both feet. And Friday mornings are more of the same – I head over to my younger son’s school to help with their weekly “Cooking in the Classroom” activity. And, yeah, I leave before the food’s done so I never get to try it. It’s just bonding time. My sincere hope for this week is to have chapter 9 finished or mostly-finished by the end of the day on Friday, with wrap-up as applicable on Saturday while my kids are at a birthday party. I need to pick up the pace somehow, though. This book is likely to end up around 25-30 chapters, and finishing one a week isn’t really acceptable. I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I don’t have a publisher hovering over me with a deadline, I just know I’d like to get ‘er done.

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