Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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LetsTalk has jumped the shark

LetsTalk is a company that used to be a dandy place to find good cell phone deals. After TheCellPhoneGuy had gone off the air, I found them to be useful and save me a considerable amount of money over the deals available directly from the cellular providers.

But no more. My old phone is beginning to wear out. The handgrips are decomposing, the paint is coming off, and it has developed a habit of failing during incoming calls. I can hear myself, but not the caller. This happened three times in a row with calls from the CEO of my company.

ayasdollz suggested a Nokia 6822, but that doesn't quite fill the bill for me. Ideally, I'd get a phone that:

  • works with my car kit (Nokia CK-7W)
  • has an antenna jack or coupler to work with my amplifier and external antenna
  • has Bluetooth
  • will operate with my computer as a modem
  • will synch with my address book
  • is extremely durable
  • supports Near Field Communication
  • has a full keyboard for IM

I don't ask for much, do I? The frontrunners were a Sidekick LX (loses on durability, external antenna support, NFC, and would need a kludge for in-car charging) and a Nokia 6131 NFC (loses on durability and full keyboard). I decided to opt for the compact 6131 NFC.

Nokia has discontinued this model (evidenced by the code phrase "only in stores" on their website). So I did the usual web search, and found LetsTalk had 'em in stock, unlocked, $20 off and free shipping. So I decided to sleep on it.

The next day, LetsTalk was out of stock.

The following day, they were back in stock, but their ordering system was broken. The checkout page gave an error message that routed to another page (which also had an error message), and instructions to order by phone. I called (this was Sunday, their Sunday hours ran to 7PM and this was mid-afternoon). After 30 minutes on hold, I gave up and left them voice mail.

The next day, they finally called back and were unable to order (apparently their ordering system is broken, and the phone operators just use the same web site us peons do). But the operator was finally able to get around it and get to the checkout page. I gave her the billing (PO box) and shipping (street) addresses. She decided she had them mixed up and swapped them. Then she needed to "verify my identity due to all the identify theft". It turns out they use Verid to verify identity. The first thing Verid wants is your SSN. So in order to protect my identity, I'm supposed to give one of the most sensitive pieces of information to a company who then gives it to a third party I've never heard of? This fails to give me a warm fuzzy feeling. But RSA Security isn't total slime, and I'd dealt with LetsTalk before, so I reluctantly gave it to her (after the usual lecture). Then she came back with a bunch of oddball questions like what street my sister had lived on and so forth. After running that gauntlet, she submitted the order.

The next day, I checked on the status. It came up as "Customer Contact Required". I also see that the operator has the PO box for the shipping address, even after I was very specific about it when she wanted to switch things up. I figure that's the problem. Normally, when a company wants to contact me, they contact me! But they just changed the order status and depended on me to go check it. Now that page doesn't have a phone number. Nor does the "order receipt" page it links to. Nor do several other obvious pages. The order confirmation email doesn't either. The trick is to click on the "returns info" link, which opens a new browser window containing the customer service number. You can go to their home page, scroll all the way to the bottom, and click on the "Contact" page (which doesn't contain any contact info) and try to follow the links. At some point (and I honestly don't know where), I found the phone number for order status. Calling this gives the usual automated attendant that wants you to babble out loud. But when it asks if you know the order number, pressing "1" works as well as saying "yes". Then you can key in the number (their voice recognition is pretty poor, so this saves much time), and the billing address zip code. Then you verify your name ("1" again) and it says you need to talk to a customer service representative.

I explain to the representative that the address are wrong, and he explained that they will only ship to the billing address (why didn't the woman yesterday point that out?). The billing address on my card is a PO box, as there's no mail delivery on my street. And they only ship UPS and FedEx. Now UPS and FedEx will both deliver to a PO box these days, but LetsTalk refuses to acknowledge that. They sternly explain to me that I have to call up my bank, supply an alternate address for my card that's my street address, then call them back and they'll verify it. However, my card already has an alternate address (as I use PayTrust to pay my bills, so their PO box is the alternate address. Fuming, I tell them to forget it.

The next day, I have a brilliant idea. I'll get a single-use Secure Card issued, associate it with any address I please, and submit an order with that. So I go back to their website (which is finally working), and fill in all the info. Sure enough, the website has places for shipping and billing addresses and I put them in. I have to do the Verid song and dance all over again. It takes me to the order status page, which says "picking" (their term for going to get objects to ship). Since it's before 2PM, they'll ship the next day (eh?). Later, I go to check the status, just in case it shipped the same day. "Customer Contact Required". I go check the status of the single-use card. It shows an authorization (which succeeded), and a charge, which is "pending". So I call the order status number, go through all that rigamarole, and finally reach a rep.

The rep says they're unable to verify the address. They called the issuing company and got routed through several people and automated attendants, but couldn't confirm the address (ha-ha! See what it's like, suckas?). Could I get the card and give them the 800 number to call to verify the address? Well, I don't have a physical card, I just have a magic number generated by a computer that the Mastercard system will accept as valid. So I go to the vendor's website and find their customer service number and give it to them. They put me on hold for a while, and come back on to say they were able to validate the address, everything's peachy, and the order is back to "picking".

I check it online, and it's still "Customer Contact Required". Ah well, maybe their database doesn't update in real time.

I try it several hours later, and it's still "Customer Contact Required". Feh. Either the operator didn't really update the status, it got lost somehow, or they've come up with some new hoop for me to jump through. So I call the secret order status number yet again, go through the procedure, to be greeted with the infinite "your call is important to us" nonsense. Obviously, the hours they post on their website are a fantasy, and all their people go home to drink heavily and shoot up heroin right after lunch. So I leave a fairly bitchy message explaining that the order seemed okay, but the status doesn't agree and I've already validated my identity and the card company has confirmed my shipping address.

I wonder when or if they'll call back this time.

Tags: shopping, stupidity
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