The 99 Dollar Mistake

Here’s a tale full of error and woe. One day last week the phone stopped working. No dial tone. (I should add that I’m talking about the land line, as those new fangled mobiles seem to be rather popular these days.) Since I don’t know much about phones there was nothing for it but to ring in a support call.

Of course, you have to ring up the service desk which is always a bit of a hassle, what with the phone not being available. Times past you would have gone to your neighbour and used theirs, but nowadays you can use one of the ubiquitous cell phones. Only one of the reasons we have a land line is that we live behind a large hill seemingly made of solid iron which does a mighty fine job of blocking out the local cell phone tower.

Well, there was just enough signal to get through and soon enough I was happily pushing buttons trying to navigate the treacherous path through the automated system to get an operator. After a few mins I felt that a real person was just within my grasp … when the signal faded completely and I lost the connection.

Second attempt and I went through the menu system much quicker. Knowing that time was short I gave up attempting to contact an operator and gave myself up to the machine. Rather surprisingly I was able to get an appointment the next day.

Next morning, the engineer arrived and soon busied himself with the outside line. However, everything looked fine and then we had the question: “Would you like me to come inside?” Usually that’s not an issue, only with the phone man you know what that means. It means the free ride is now over and the 99 dollar charge now applies.

Well, in for a penny, in for a pound and with a wave of signature he was now in and looking around. Room after room fell to his inspection before arriving at the last bedroom with a phone jack. This room was currently being renovates and contained precisely nothing.

Nothing, that is, except for an exposed phone jack with the cover off ready for painting. “Ah, he said. I think I see the problem.”

Phone Cable

“Those two wires, the orange and the blue? They shouldn’t be touching like that.” And with a wave of his hand, the wires separated, the phones started working and 99 dollars vanished from my pocket.


So, just in case you don’t know, when you take the cover off a phone jack to paint take a minute to tape up one the wires so they don’t cross. Because that 99 dollars is really better off with you, not the phone company.


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