June 10th, 2005

Relay service

An interesting little exercise today...

My dad is in Singapore on his annual trip to visit his wife's (my stepmom) family. He read on the Internet (as he often does) that SBC was starting a new DSL promotion of $14.95/mo. for new subscribers. He's a current subscriber, but the posting he read said that SBC could be convinced to extend the offer to current subscribers if asked. So he asked me to give them a call rather than placing a very long distance international call from Singapore.

So here I am on the phone with an SBC customer service person and my dad in an IM window on my laptop. I'm talking to the operator and relaying whatever she's saying to my dad and vice versa. It was like the telecommunications relay service for the deaf.

I even explained to the operator exactly what was going on. I suppose it would've been simpler for me to just "be my dad" on the phone, but I'm a lousy liar--even when there's no harm from it. Besides, being upfront allowed me to ask for a moment to relay messages to and from my dad via IM. Those would've been some rather awkward pauses otherwise.

I had to haggle a little, and the operator had to speak to her supervisor, but they eventually gave my dad the $14.95 since he has been a "loyal customer." He had to agree to a 12 month term, but that's a pretty significant savings given that he was no doubt going to pay for broadband one way or another for the next year--more likely on into eternity. Mission accomplished, I suppose.