The ordeal of canceling an electronic bill.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
May 4 2009 12:13 PM

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

How do you shut off an electronic bill?

(Continued from Page 1)

Does this statement sound ambiguous to you? It did to Steve S., for whom English, I suspected, was a second language seldom used outside the office in whatever foreign nation he happened to live. (I doubted his real name was "Steve.")

Steve S.: I completely understand your wish to discontinue, since you have already paid for the billing cycle, we do not want you to lose out on the money. I suggest you to retain this number at least till the end of two months credit offer as you will not be charged any monthly fee for the two months. As a goodwill gesture to continue our association we will offer you an additional gift balance of $10 along with the monthly credit which will enable to send up to 100 additional fax pages free of cost (per page per minute within U.S. & Canada).

Steve S.: Tim, you can use this usage balance for sending faxes during this waiver period and then you can get back to us at the end of your waiver period and we will process your request immediately.

Steve S.: You can at least keep the service till this waiver period and just get back to us any time during this 2-month credit period. Since we are available here 24 x 7, we will process your request immediately without any further delay.

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By now I was starting to feel like James Lyngk, befuddled mark to alpha bucket-shop con man Ricky Roma in David Mamet's brilliant play Glengarry Glen Ross. (Jonathan Pryce played him in the movie.) The only significant difference was that Roma employed his own cunning in subverting the client's wish to back out of the deal, whereas Steve S., I felt sure, was working off a company script. I'd told Steve S. that I wanted to cancel. I'd told Steve S. why I wanted to cancel. When Steve S. had tried to talk me out of it, I'd told him I wanted to cancel NOW. It seemed like he was now saying OK, you can cancel, and here's our goodwill gesture as you head out the door. But that "you can just get back to us at any time" haunted me.

Me: I don't understand. Are you canceling my service or aren't you? I do not wish to have to make contact with eFax again. It was hard enough figuring out how to cancel the first time.

Steve S.: All right, as per your wish, I will close your account right now

Steve S.: We are sorry that you have decided to leave eFax, we are continuously improving our products and services but if your faxing needs do change in the future, we would be more than happy to have you back. Please do consider us if your faxing needs change in the future. Thank you for being with us and for using our service.

Steve S.: Is there anything else you would like to have assistance with?

This sounded like goodbye, but I wanted to be sure.

Me: No, thank you. Just to confirm: I will not be billed anymore for eFax, period?

Steve S.: As per your request, I have cancelled your account right now. So, please be assured that you will not be billed for this account.

Me: OK. Thank you.

Only after I logged off did I realize I'd forgotten to ask Steve S. to mail or e-mail me written confirmation that I was canceling my eFax account. Had I really canceled this account? Happily, the following message promptly appeared in my inbox:

Dear Tim,

Per your request, your account has been deactivated. Billing for your eFax number will cease immediately.

Should you wish to reactivate your account, please contact Customer Support, by calling [phone number here], 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or by replying to this e-mail. Please be advised, that we cannot guarantee you will be assigned the same number as before, since all inactive numbers are eventually returned to our system for reassignment.

Sincerely,

Steve S.
eFax Customer Support

Hallelujah! I'd finally removed $16.95 from my monthly nut. Many more trims would be necessary, but this was a start. And it only took … an hour.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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