austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And maybe you will get a call from me

I would imagine that any Verizon sales person would have a fair idea whether the prepaid cell phone Mobile Web service, which charges 99 cents per day, is charging that just to use the Mobile Web at all with separate charges for actually downloading things, or whether that's all-you-can-download-in-24-hours for that cost. Certainly I had, even though the brochures, flyers, and web sites make none of this clear. Partly the problem is they run every possible bit of disclaimer together in the fine print that explains actual terms. And web site reviews explained surprisingly little, possibly because the professional writers don't seem to find the fine print of a boring service worth mentioning, and the comment-writers that cling to those pages are --- you may have noticed this --- functionally illiterate and mostly upset at how every company in the world is the worst company in the world ever.

So. I asked a clerk at one Verizon store about prepaid Mobile Web interactions. She read the brochure and thought it was 99 cents per day for access, and before you downloaded something it would tell you how much that cost and you could choose whether to pay it. That's disappointing, but it does answer the question. Sometime after this conversation I realized this sounded like she was answering what it costs to buy a game or ringtone or music file rather than downloading a web site, since, how would it know how much bandwidth a web site demanded?

I tried phoning Verizon directly and found an actual customer-service life form after navigating menu options to the point of being hung up on twice. They believed the service was only 99 cents per day, but you also had to pay the daily access charge for making voice phone calls, which could range from 99 cents to $3.99 per day depending on the per diem plans. That's not so good, but, if I should use the data side of things a lot that wouldn't be intolerable exactly. But she was mostly more interested in the fact they have subscription plans, made for people who use their phones to make phone calls.

A different Verizon store had a clerk who looked at the brochure where I pointed out exactly the parts of the pricing plan I couldn't parse. She took it, and went in back to talk with one of those mysterious people who spends all his time in the back of the mobile phone store. She came back and reported it was 99 cents for unlimited access. No phone-usage per diem charge on top of that. This would be the best sort of plan, I think. If she and the fellow in back were right, mind, since by this point I had gotten all the answers I believed it was possible to get. Then I went to the Electronics And Phones section of Target.

On rare occasion the world will produce a statement, a syntax so immense, a sentence so arranged that it cannot be diagrammed on a plane, that the result is impossible to understand and yet beautiful to behold. You may have some idea in mind of someone who deployed such a baffling array of words. The Target employee whom I asked about the web access produced one of the most beautiful batteries of impenetrable wordwooze that I have encountered, and keep in mind, I've searched the web to read explanations of ASP.NET server errors.

I would love to give you a transcription of what he said, but that's impossible. The most wonderfully intricate examples of this language art have the flow and logic of a dream, or the plot of silent cartoons of the 1920s with titles like Irving The Quirky Opossum Who Is Exactly Different Enough From Oswald The Lucky Rabbit To Satisfy The Specifications Of Trademark Law In ... Not So Speedy, where the cartoon is divided up between eight animators, none of whom speak to the other, so there is no narrative flow to help the brain in remembering. If I have the gist of it correctly, he proposed that there would not be a per-megabyte charge on the prepaid phone Mobile Web, because what Verizon really wants to do is have subscribers who can be sold the per-megabyte plans, although the more expensive subscriptions have unlimited access. This does not seem to make sense, but in his hands, it made glorious non-sense. It was beautiful. I'm sorry that I could not grab hold of that experience and reproduce it for you.

Still, it left me without much idea what bills would be like. So I gave calling Verizon directly another try, and got redirected to a call center in Georgia for some reason. Here I was very specific about saying I was talking about prepaid phones, using the Mobile Web to look at ordinary web pages, not downloading songs or ring tones or games or anything like that, and what would the per-megabyte charges be? And would this activate the per-day charge for using the voice part of the phone? Her answer: it's 99 cents per day for unlimited bandwidth, and it does not incur the per-day charge for voice phone use. I asked the question several different ways and got the same answer, as well, so that I felt surprisingly comfortable that she understood my question correctly and that I understood her answer just as well.

Several weeks later, I still don't know if the answer was right as I haven't had to look anything up on the phone's web, but I felt confident enough to look to picking out phone models. This will lead rapidly to the crash of personal events.

Trivia: The first parliament, held in 1377, of English King Richard II's reign, took the unusual step of insisting the taxes produced should be put in the hands of two merchants (William Walworth and John Philpot), as the treasurers of war, in order to assure the money was properly spent. Source: The Later Middle Ages, 1272 - 1485, George Holmes. (Walworth would later be Mayor of London.)

Currently Reading: The Visible Man, Gardner Dozois.

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