Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Special Call

"So how goes the project?" I asked my intern as I poked my head in to check on his progress.

"Well, I'm actually kind of mad," he said, "because I accidentally fried the heater controller."

My eyebrows went up, but I asked carefully, "Are you sure it's unusable?"

"It went 'POOF' and I took it apart and there are burn marks, and it rattles when you shake it."

Yep - to quote McCoy, he's dead Jim.

And how did this happen, you might ask?

"Uh... I hooked up the AC power to the wrong terminal."

Yep again - that'll do it. 120V A/C into a 5V DC signal terminal.

Sigh. Mistakes happen, goodness knows I've done stupider things. I told him it was okay, and that I would order another one. Bless his heart, he really was apologetic, and he hung his head but then eagerly pushed his college-ruled notebook toward me.

"But see, I called the company, and got us a special deal. They will give us 20% off the replacement. Here, I talked to John, and here's the case file I opened and the phone number to call."

Slightly impressed by this, I told him to send the information to me in an email, and I'd get it taken care of.

Yesterday I tackled this item on the To-Do list, and I started by looking up the original part number on the manufacturer's website, so I'd know what to order. I looked at the company's phone number at the top of the website - and noted that oddly, it did not match the number the intern sent me. Not even close, like it might be if he had simply mis-transcribed a number.

I brushed it off, and used the number he gave me, thinking perhaps he had a direct line to the John fellow he had talked to. 1-800- yadda yadda.

Recorded phone message: "To talk live, please visit to register."

Huh. Sounds odd, but maybe directing me to get in touch with customer service via the website? I consulted the website again, and noticed that the main number was 1-888 instead of 1-800, so I thought I would try 1-888 plus the number the intern provided, which I figured would go to the direct line of the service guy.

"Hey sexy, how you doin' tonight?"

Say WHA? Flustered, I snapped the phone shut. HELLO.

About thirty minutes later, I get a text to my cell, something along the lines of:

Barely legal party girls waiting to hang out with you! Call now, or RPLY to unsubscribe.

By now I had put two and two together and figured out I called some chat line, and some dubious organization now had ahold of my cell #. I texted back to unsubscribe myself, thinking that would end it.

Thirty minutes later, I got a second nasty text, worse than the first.

And three minutes after THAT, I was on the line with Verizon setting up a block on anything incoming from that source.

So now my question is - what in the world was that number that my intern gave me? I can't fathom how it got on his notes to me. My best guess, and I hate to say this - but I bet that he looked in his cell phone through "recent calls" to write down the number he called to customer service, and he picked out the WRONG RECENT CALL.

Any better guesses?

All I'm saying is, if that was really the number he called, he may have sweet talked his way to a deal and gotten 20% off something, but it sure wasn't a heater controller and a Type K thermocouple...

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