Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Jewel-Encrusted Taj Mahal of Fax Machines

Keeping in line with my lifelong pattern of procrastinating, I waited until the last minute to send some important documents in to some important people at important desks a few months back. I caught myself, however, and realized that in light of my self-fucking-over, I had no choice but to fax them in before the deadline. This posed a problem in that I have no fax machine.

After stumbling around online, I discovered eFax, a website that allows you to upload documents and fax them to a given number straight from your computer. This worked out conveniently for me, as my paperwork could squeak past the deadline while not revealing to the people at the important desks that I neither own nor had access to a fax machine. (You know, because I live in the town with dirt roads that doesn't know about that technology yet.) The service also cost $16. At the moment, I didn’t mind. As time passed, I continued to procrastinate and continually failed to cancel the service.

Last night, while checking over my credit card bill, I saw again that I had been billed for my eFax membership — which, now that I work in a real office, I have no use for as I can stealthily fax any document I chose. Sometimes, I just fax scratch paper and doodles of puppies to numbers I make up just to see if they go through. (Sometimes they do!) My stinginess finally triumphing over my laziness, I looked around on the eFax website for a way to cancel the service. No exaggeration: after ten minutes of looking over every conceivable page for a way to save $16 a month, I learned that site's only method for unsubscribing was through a chat room maintained by the company that owns eFax. Awkward, no? I figure the company is betting that people too lazy to buy a fax would also be too lazy to figure out how to stop paying for the online pseudo-fax.

Begrudgingly, I entered a chat room, for the first time since junior high. Below is a reproduction of the conversation that took place.


Okay, fine. I lied right off the bat. I was anticipating that awful kind of haggling where the company you're quitting tries to bribe you into sticking with them, even though you don't want to. Like "Oh, if you stay with us, we'll send you a fruit basket." I admit I initially felt bad about lying to Stanley K, but I wanted to head off any kind of groveling and help us both keep our dignity.


Oh! Don't feel sorry, Stanley! For all you know, my parents bought me a fax machine that's as big as a house and encrusted with jewels. It's, like, the Taj Majal of fax machines.

Also, you want my pin? In a chat room? Isn't that the kind of thing you never, ever give out in a chat room, because then internet barbarians will sack your life and make your join weird clubs and buy cars and lap dances with your credit card?

But then I figured I might as well — I am canceling this thing after all.


Um, Stanley? There's not actually a number that corresponds to the lie I gave you about the jewel-encrusted Taj Mahal fax-o-matic. Perhaps they should look into remedying that. I chose option two, which was technically lying again and also lying even inside the parameters of the first lie, since I never actually said I personally bought the replacement fax machine.

Also: What the fuck, Stanley? Weren't you listening when I said why I wanted out? You even expressed sorrow that I was leaving.

This was my first indication that Stanley was (a) not really invested in my well-being, (b) personally invested but forced to follow a pre-written script of questions and answers, or (c) less of an actual human and more of an automated system programmed to simulate a person who was not really invested in my well-being.

Stanley's next question asked for the last four digits of my credit card number, which again creeped me out a little, even if you'd have to be pretty shrewd to do any damage with only four ending numbers of anyone's credit card. Despite my ungrounded trepidation, I typed them in.


Yes, I blacked the number out. Apparently though I kind of trust Stanley, I don't trust you people at all.

Also, What's that, Stanley? Whoops. Wrong number. That's weird. "Perhaps I signed up with my debit card instead of my credit card," I thought.

Apparently, that too was wrong. Very odd. I expected Stanley to ask me for the rest of the numbers, to see if any of them might be in the four-digit combo he might have been looking at.


Stanley got pushy, as you can see. I raced through all the records I could find. The membership info, the credit card bill. Everything. They all said that the numbers I was giving Stanley should be right.

He was insistent, the little prick. I became frustrated.

Me: WHY?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS STANLEY? You seemed so nice and caring when you thought my parents having bought me a fax machine was bad, for some reason. WHY ARE YOU BEING SUCH A JERK?


He would have none of it.

Me: No, actually, there's literally nothing else you could do for me other than cancel my service. Who cares if I happened to be an ID thief? What would I have to gain from canceling Drew Mackie's eFax service other than saving him $16 a month? And no, thank you, our session hasn't been the least bit helpful, unless people named Stanley think accusing innocent people of being liars qualifies as help. And fuck you anyway, Stanley. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't be able to quickly cancel my online pseudo-fax service at 1 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. I don't care where you are. COMPLY!


After a brief talk down, I decided to call the number. Preparing for an equally complicated phone menu, I was happily surprised to get a cheerful, thickly accented Indian lady who introduced herself as Natalie. I told the same lie again about getting the magical fax machine present. She seemed cool with it, even though she still asked me if getting three free months of eFax would entice me to stay on board. No, Natalie, neither I nor anybody else should have to send that many faxes.

Ultimately victorious but still weirded out and annoyed, I went to bed, not sure if I was being karmically punished more for my laziness or the fiction of the jewel-encrusted Taj Mahal fax machine.

Oh, and eFax can suck it.

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