Monopoly games

This is a story about someone I know well. To keep his identity safe, let’s call him … Ivan.

Ivan came from Southern California in April, and the moving van pulled up to his new apartment May 8. The phone company is the same here and there (we’ll call it ARG), so he simply transferred service. Effective date: May 1. He had to set up new service with the cable company (who we’ll call Bombast) but got a similar TV/Internet package. Installation: May 13.

Ivan was a happy man. But not for long. May 8—no dial tone. May 9—no dial tone.

On his cell phone, Ivan dialed ARG and burned peak-time minutes with cordial, impotent representatives. The refrain: We flipped the switch; it’s up to your landlord to make sure it’s connected to something.

Landlord: We paid the phone company good money to connect the wires; call them. And: Every tenant in our new complex had the same problem. All 20.

After Ivan and landlord totaled three hours in calls, ARG issued a repair order. The dial tone came May 15. Two days too late.

See, Bombast couldn’t find Ivan’s place. Out-of-the-area movers could, but the local utility got lost. Naturally, installers called the number that should have been in service May 1 … and got no answer. Appointment cancelled. Next available appointment when Ivan wouldn’t have to miss work: May 27.

No TV. No Internet. No recourse, really. One company per utility—some choice.

Both firms investigated, apologized and said they plan to make changes. The phone company found a disconnect between its computer record and what actually had been done; it offered a refund for days the line wasn’t active. The cable company routinely “pre-calls” so installers don’t head to empty houses; it is exploring ways to close the phone loophole.

Ivan’s story has a happy ending: Saturday, on time, three Bombast trucks rolled up. If others can avoid similar sagas, there would be a joyous postscript, too.