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Compulsion to tell the truth


I'm curious what the compulsion is for most people to tell the truth to a complete stranger when asked a question. I suspect only the most guarded person will avoid the truth with initial questions, yet answering the truth, even when it potentially does harm, is the default.

Today, Kris and I went to the nearest-I-could-remember T-Mobile store to purchase a new phone for him. He's been without a working phone since March, and we were tired of paying $30 a month for no phone. Each time we went into the Cingular store, they said they couldn't fix hist broken phone, how about you buy a new one? Oh, and to activate that spiffy new phone to replace the one that broke less than a year into your contract? That'll be another year contract please. With the crappy customer service, horrendous prices (even with the big Oracle discount) and bad connections, staying around another year was like offering to gouge our eyes out on a daily basis.

No, thanks.

Kris remembered to take the last Cingular bill with him to the store, so that we could switch carriers without getting a new number, but I was unable to find my last Sprint bill. Apparently, the mobile phone carriers need your account number to transfer a phone number. Oh.

Now, I have been with Sprint for six years, ever since I started working at Sinia and they offered to pay for my phone (but it had to be a new, WAP phone). I regret to this day accepting that new phone, because it meant I no longer had Kris' phone number + 1, which was really cool. We were connected not only here, but in the phone's spirtual sense. Ooooooo! Aaaaaah.

But, no. Sprint. Sinia. New phone.

So, I called Sprint's customer help line, and begin the infinite-hold dance. After twelve minutes and thirty seven seconds on hold, the customer service rep answered, and asked how can she help me.

"I'd like my account number."

"You want your account number?"


"Why do you want your account number? Is it to access your account online?"

"No, it's to switch companies."

"You want to switch companies? I'll have to transfer you to another department to access your account number."

Huh? You just asked me for my social security number, why do you need to transfer me to give me the account number right on your screen? I think.

"You have to transfer me to another department for my account number?" I ask, incredulously. "You're saying you don't have my account number right in front of you?"

"I'll need to transfer you to another department," she answered, deflecting my question.

"Is this the We-won't-give-you-your-account-number until-we-have-a-chance-to-convince-you not-to-go department, by any chance?"

"Yes," she answered in a small voice.

"And I can't get my account number without talking to them?"


"Okay, transfer me."

While I was put on hold for another five minutes, I commented to Kris, "Next time, I'm just lying and telling them I'm going to use the account number to log in online."

The next rep wasn't as nice as the first, and he started the conversation by first butchering my last name, then accusing, "You want your account number so you can change carriers?"

"I would like my account number, yes."

"But, you want it to change carriers, right?"

"I find that irrelevant. I would like my account number, please."

He gave me my account number grudgingly, and I was able to give it to the T-Mobile guy to switch my account away. We'll see how this goes. My bet is that my second phone number, the one attached to Kris' number, will be cancelled when his number is transferred away from Cingular.

Because that is the most retarded thing I could think for a mobile phone company to do.

And that's our luck with phones.

When we tell the truth.

Telling the first representative, sure, yeah, that I need it to access my account online wouldn't have been the truth, yet I doubt it would have caused problems. I told the truth to the second representative, but wished I didn't need to even consider lying in the first place.