A day after I paid my rent, my telephone bill arrived. The telephone company here, TELMEX, was for a long time a state-owned enterprise until it was privatized back in the 90s under the administration of President Carlos Salinas. Carlos Salinas may well hold the distinction as the most sleazy and corrupt president in the history of Mexico (and that’s saying a lot!) He currently lives in Ireland, I believe, and quite comfortably after he was able to ‘accumulate’ millions of dollars during his presidency and stash it in offshore bank accounts. He has been implicated, though never charged, in the assassinations of two political rivals. His brother, however, has been convicted in those two murders and is currently serving time in prison. There is also a lot of suggestion that the Salinas brothers were connected to the drug cartels up along the border.
As president, Carlos Salinas also sold off TELMEX to his good buddy Carlos Slim, who is now the richest man in Latin America. I think I have some idea why he’s so rich after seeing how things work at TELMEX and one of his other holdings, Prodigy internet service.
Anyway, I got my bill from TELMEX the other day and was quite shocked to see that it included a 1,499 peso (US$135) charge for Prodigy internet service. The charge had never shown up on my previous bills, and I certainly hadn’t ordered it in the past month. So I called up TELMEX to straighten the deal out.
“We have it on record that an Enrique Madrigal ordered the service for this number on March 11,” the service rep. told me.
“Well, I do not have the faintest idea who Enrique Madrigal is,” I responded.
“But the record shows that he placed the order from your phone number.”
“No, he didn’t,” I responded, “because I don’t know him and I can guarantee that he was not in my apartment on September 11.”
“Very interesting,” she responded, followed by a pause and the sound of fingers tapping at a keyboard.
“Now that I look at it,” she eventually responded, “the order was placed on March 11, 2005. Somehow, our computer reactivated the request…”
“Well, please tell the computer to un-reactivate it and take the charge off my bill.”
“Oh, I can’t do that. You’ll have to call Prodigy and have them disconnect the service. Then I can credit your account.”
So after a little venting, I had to call Prodigy. I told them that there had been a mistake and that I needed to disconnect the service. “OK,” said the rep., “but I see that the account is in the name of Enrique Madrigal. Are you Enrique Madrigal?”
No, I said, I wasn’t, and furthermore I had no idea who he was.
Well, then, she asked, was I Francisco R.? (That’s my landlord – the TELMEX service is in his name.)
No, I responded.
“Sorry,” she replied, “but only the account holder or the owner of the phone service can cancel the account.”
“Well then,” I responded, “I misheard you. In fact, my name IS Francisco R.”
“But you just told me that it wasn’t,” she said. “Plus, you don’t sound like a Francisco R.”
Darn that accent (putting my fist in the air and waving it)!
So then I had to call my landlord to ask him to cancel the service. And although his phone line is back up and running, he isn’t answering. And neither is his assistant answering on the cell phone. So I went by the landlord’s place (he lives not very far from here) and he wasn’t home. Probably down in Acapulco. But I left a note with the doorman explaining the situation so hopefully it will get straightened out soon. But if it doesn’t, for those of you who have my phone number, if you try to call and get a message that the line is out of service, you’ll know why.
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