It started with the delivery cards from UPS. Well, "delivery cards" is probably not the right term, but "we-tried-to-deliver-but-were-unsuccessful-because-we-can-only-operate-on-weekdays-between-9-and-5-and-you-choose-to-go-out-to-work-at-these-times-card" is a right old mouthful.
I wasn't expecting a parcel delivery, and I was no wiser when I actually read the cards themselves. Apparently the sender was Virgin. My only link with the Virgin brand is my internet service provider, Virginmedia. But why, I asked myself, would they be trying to send me a parcel? Had they decided to send me the entire internet as a hard copy?
I've been with Virginmedia in some shape or form since I first went online, ohmygod years ago when all this was fields around here. I've stayed with them because they've managed not to mess things up and, quite frankly, the thought of going to another provider scares me to death. The download speed is ok, the uploads enable me to maintain the 17,615th most popular blog in Iowa, everyone's reasonably satisfied.
Getting nowhere with the open gateway to Hades that UPS, with no sense of irony, call their customer information line, I decided to give Virginmedia a call.
VM: Hello, Virginmedia, how can I help you today?
Me: Look, this might sound like an odd question. But is there any chance you might be trying to send me a parcel?
VM: Ooh, righty, let's have a look at your account. (Taps away at a keyboard). Oh yes, that'll be your new wireless router.
Me: Oh. Well, hang on a minute. I've got one of my own already. I never asked you to supply me another one. Two routers is a tad excessive, don't you think?
VM: Don't worry sir, it's completely complimentary. We give them free to subscribers who upgrade to our 20mb service.
Me (Going pale at this point): Whoa there. Upgrade? Who said anything about an upgrade?
VM: yes, our records show you called us on the 1st. Your account is marked up and everything.
Me: That's all well and good. But I never made the call.
VM: Oh. Is there anyone else who could have made the call?
(I look across at Katie. She rolls her eyes and shrugs. I take this as a 'no'.)
Me: No, it's just me. And I'm not happy. You have me down for an upgrade...
VM: Yes, but...
Me: Never mind that. I never asked to be upgraded.
VM: I understand, but you see...
Me (mentally looking up the BBC Watchdog number at this point): Because I've seen all these stories of people whose suppliers try to scam them into paying more, and I'm not falling for it. I never called you about this.
VM: But you won't....
Me: I didn't want this. and now I suppose I'm into a whole world of pain to swap back, yes? Who do I complain to? How can you do this to me? I do not want this.
VM: But it's a free upgrade, sir. In fact, I can see we're doing it for less than your current monthly payment. Permanently.
There was a clashing of mental gears.
VM: I can see the discount on your account here, sir.
Me: So you're doubling my speed. Sending me a free wireless router. And charging me less? Forever?
VM (trying to hide the grin from their voice): That's right, sir. You've been with us for a long time, you see. It's something we're doing for our loyal customers.
Well. Colour me embarrassed. And I was getting myself ready for a good old-fashioned whinge, too. Apparently, the good things that happen to other people ("Oh, you'll never believe it, they were giving away free iPhones, and the salesman asked me to marry his daughter too") can sometimes occur to me too. I would seem to be ploughing through a free lunch. Well, a cheaper one, anyway.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some big files to download. Because I can, ok?