Trials and Tribulations of Transitioning, part 13: The Telecoms Provider

“I’ve signed a contract elsewhere. I am going. I am leaving. The parrot is dead.” Actually I didn’t say that last bit, but I wanted to.

Firstly, an admission, this isn’t part 13; it’s the first piece I’ve written on the subject, though my telecoms provider did supply me with enough material for a dozen articles when I changed my name four years ago.  That process was relatively painless, though my enthusiasm waned rapidly. Eventually, however, only two organisations eluded me: the Land Registry and the delightful people who supplied me with telephone and broadband.

The Land Registry requires a Statutory Declaration and payment of a fee. I can’t be bothered with that, sorry. Telecoms shouldn’t require either but, whilst other utilities responded to a letter or an email, they offered neither a postal address nor an electronic messaging service. It was the call centre or nothing. After several failed attempts to explain my situation to call centre operators far from these shores, I decided that my sanity did not depend on the name on my telephone bill.  Indeed, I soon stopped noticing it.

I did, however, notice the size of the bills that rose alarmingly whilst my salary flat lined.  When the bill reached £50 per month, I finally cracked and made the bold decision to move to a much cheaper provider. Within ten minutes, Deborah Hayton was a proud customer of BT. All done on line without fuss.

The next task was to cancel my existing service before they took another huge chunk of my wealth. Four years on, every route on their website still led back to the dreaded call centre. But if the alternative was maintaining two telecom contracts, the call centre it had to be.

Debbie (me): I want to cancel my telephone and broadband contract.

Scandalously Expensive Telecoms Provider (them): *Sales Pitch* Those two words took up fifteen minutes in real time.

Me: No, I definitely want to cancel my contract.

Them: Are you the account holder?

Me: Yes.

Them: And you are?

Me: Debbie Hayton.

Them: Sorry, that isn’t the name on the account.

Me: I pay the enormous bill every month!

Them: But it isn’t the name on the account.

Me: Deborah Hayton?

Them: No, sorry.

I gave my partner’s name. It wasn’t her either. I was at a loss, and playing guessing games probably wasn’t going to work when the mystery name was on a screen at the far end.  Then I twigged.

Me: Is it – er – Mr Hayton, by any chance?

Them: That’s right. Please could you get him? I need to speak to him.

Me: That might be tricky.

Them: I can only deal with the account holder himself.

Himself, indeed! I told them that I would go and get him. I stomped around the house, planning my strategy whilst giving the impression that I was hunting for someone. It took a while but eventually I found him. Deep voice:

Him (not really me anymore): Hello!

Them: Am I speaking to Mr Hayton?

I nearly pointed out that I was Dr Hayton to them, but two of me were quite enough for one conversation. They seemed happy with my performance, and offered to connect me to their Retentions Department.  I protested in a newly re-discovered bass voice that I wanted to leave not stay, but they assured me that Retentions dealt with anyone who wanted to leave.  However, they would need to deal with me tomorrow; Retentions had already clocked off.

They called back the next day. Mr Hayton was unimpressed with the special rates suddenly on offer. After four years in the closet he was enjoying the moment. He man spread himself over the chair whilst he boomed down the line.

Not Really Me: So now I am leaving, you are prepared to cut my bills in half?

Them: Yes, it is your lucky day!

Not Really Me: But if I had called you a year ago, it might have been my lucky year, or at least a much cheaper year.

Them: We didn’t offer deals this good last year.

Not Really Me: I’ve signed a contract elsewhere. I am going. I am leaving. The parrot is dead.

Actually I didn’t say that last bit, but I wanted to.

Them: You sure?

Not Really Me: I’m sure.

Them: Our Export Department will call you back in an hour.

I told Export the same the same story that I had already explained to Retentions, and finally Not Really Me was cut free. His list of two is now down to a list of one. Surely the Land Registry will be simpler than this? But it still costs money so he can wait for his one last hurrah before I am finally finished with him.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

3 replies on “Trials and Tribulations of Transitioning, part 13: The Telecoms Provider”

Haha. I had an account I had to change under my old name and using my old voice. I can’t remember offhand what the account was, but I remember hating every moment of it. It was absolutely surreal.


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