I have some questions about my phone bill, which my phone company, which prefers to be called my wireless carrier, prefers to call my billing statement, because it’s clearly too difficult for my phone company to communicate clearly.

My billing statement from my phone company is eight pages long. That’s longer than most of my phone calls, except the ones where I get an automated voice mail menu, and can’t get a human to talk to me despite screaming for 15 minutes “REPRESENTATIVE — GET ME A REPRESENTATIVE.”

(Parenthetically, screaming “GET ME AN AGENT” at an automated robotic voice that continues to robotically run through its menu options which, you know, have recently changed, has been shown in laboratory studies to be equally as ineffective but also can result in a kidney stone.)

My billing statement is full of numbers. It breaks down my calls, my texts, my data downloads, my kidney stones and how many calories I’ve consumed since lunch. It separates the different phone lines on my account by number, alphabetically by line owner and by favorite movies.

Still, despite all this information, I continue to have questions.

If I am eligible for a free upgrade to a new phone, why does the free upgrade cost $199 plus surcharges? Does the word free mean something I don’t think it means? Could it mean “not free”?

If I downgrade to a new phone or even to an old phone, will you pay me $199 plus surcharges? If that doesn’t work for you, can I just take the credit?

Should I be grateful that my “free upgrade” also comes with “no fees,” as long as you don’t count the “device payment activation” fee?

What device does the device payment activation fee activate? Why would I upgrade to a new phone if I didn’t want to activate it? I don’t activate my refrigerator when I open it looking for Greek yogurts. Why does my phone bill use the word activate when it really means turn on?

How come the word surcharge appears nine different times on my phone bill? Is there really a NC Telecom Relay Srvc Surchg or are you just making that up to see if I was paying attention?

Does the “universal service surcharge” mean I can call anywhere in the universe? Or does it mean I can just receive calls anywhere in the universe as long as the call is mobile-to-mobile and on a night or weekend and with a member of my immediate family but not an in-law?

And why are they surcharges and not just plain charges? Is surcharge just a British affectation? Are you really an American company? Do you know the name of the capital of North Dakota?

And most of all, if my plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and so much data that I can’t fit it into the downstairs front closet anymore, then why are you spending eight pages tracking all of that?

 

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