Berly (Kimberly) is in D.C. at a national convention for L’Arche (the organization she started working for 2 months ago).  Sadly it’s her birthday on Saturday (sad that she’s with nobody to celebrate it).  I sneaked a couple of things into her bags Thursday when she was leaving, but that’s not really the same.  Actually, it is only sad to me since she’s not much into birthday celebrations.

Kimberly is paying about 25 bucks for Adelphia cable TV and another 25 for internet access, a lot better price than DSL.  I went on the website to see what specials were being offered.  It gave the national prices for internet, which were $19.95 for the first 3 months (to suck you in) and after that it jumps to $42.95.  I thought Kimberly must have gotten a local deal currently going on, but since they have no Lynchburg phone numbers, I went down to their office yesterday to check it out.

One customer was in front of me in line, and she was talking about personal things to the lady behind the Adelphia counter.  When her business was finished, she took a couple of steps towards the door and stopped, still talking.  They both ignored me for several minutes as they finished their little chat.  Finally Lady Adelphia decided she had time for me and turning to me asked, “What’s your address?” (not “can I help you?” or “what can I do for you today?”).  She punched it into her computer, and when nothing came up she realized she had asked the wrong question.

“I’m here to ask about new service,” I said.  “Is there some kind of special?  My girlfriend lives three blocks from my place and she is getting cable and internet access for about 25 bucks each.”

“Well,” she answered, “we have a special, a 3-month special for $21.95 a month.  After that it goes up to $42.95.  Modem rental is an additional $3 a month.”  I suddenly realized how they had misled Kimberly–and would have gotten me if I had not seen the website. 

I tried to use a gentle voice to allay any defensiveness: “The way you say that sounds kind of confusing.  Your customers could easily understand you to mean that if they sign up today they will pay only 21.95 from now on.”

“Oh,” she responded, “People do sometimes claim that we didn’t tell them their rates would go up.  That’s why we are very careful in how we say it: ‘we have a 3-month special for $21.95 a month.  After that it goes up to $42.95.'”

“Well, if I heard you say that,” I replied, “I could easily think you meant there is a 3-month window, and that if I sign up now, I can permanently lock in the low price.”  She responded politely and with a patient smile, “Well I don’t understand what YOU are saying.”  She didn’t WANT to understand what I was saying.

At this point I realized I was the victim of Southern gentility–she can completely ignore my comments as long as she does it with a soft tone and a smile.  Shoot someone in broad daylight on Main street, and if you do it with the proper manner–dress nicely, speak politely, tip your hat to the ladies–Everyone will say you are a real gentleman.  The one great unifying cultural force in the South, the foundation for all good relationships, the mightiest instrument for social advancement is denial… by politeness.



Posted September 23, 2005 by janathangrace in Uncategorized

8 responses to “

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  2. Sounds like you’ve had some trouble with Southern etiquette!

  3. hello there Kent…can you please give me your address again? i seem to have misplaced it.

  4. yo dog…your last blog was in september….c’mon man.

  5. I agree with Eddie. We must know what’s happening in Kent’s world.

  6. you’re not bloggin…you’re bbbbbbbbbbbbblllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooogggggggggggggiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggg

  7. Blog! Blog! Blog! Blog!

  8. Strongbad would be soooooooo mad right now.

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