Part 3 of 3, in “Things I learned while working on my ‘Ways to Make the City Better Now’ pieces, but had nowhere to put”.
Since I thought it rude to take off at the end of my internship, and leave everyone in terrible suspense, after having hinted tantalizingly that I had some juicy payphone info, I thought it best to write a final entry.
Here’s my info. Use it wisely.
One of my stories about the city was inspired by one of my biggest Halifax beefs---very few of the payphones around ever appear to be in working order. After some fun-filled phone-tag around the city to try to find out why, I learned the following:
1. Aliant are the only people in the city who deal with payphones.2. All media questions for Aliant must be posed to their regional manager for the HRM, Bruce Lilly, even if he is not the most effective person to answer said questions.
However, once I got Mr. Lilly on the phone, he wasn’t particularly forthcoming with concrete facts ---for example, he said that the payphones are checked “regularly” to make sure they’re working, but could tell me what exactly “regular” meant in this context.
But I was able to glean two semi-concrete facts from Mr. Lilly, and these facts, when taken together, are kind of interesting.
Fact #1: When asked if Aliant does anything to designate broken payphones as being broken, once somebody has called them in---like putting up a fricking SIGN saying that the phone is out of order!---Mr. Lilly said that as far as he knows, nothing is done by Aliant to designate phones as being broken.
Fact #2: Mr. Lilly also said that it’s not Aliant’s policy to put calls through for users if a payphone eats their quarter. “It’s unfortunate that people may lose their quarter by times, but it’s not our policy to put calls through based on that.”
The latter policy seems reasonable, of course---otherwise, I imagine that people would exploit a free phone-call policy pretty quickly.
But Aliant’s two policies left me annoyed and frustrated quite a few times during the last three months of August. I had just moved to the city, and didn’t have a phone at my house yet.
Often, I would lose my last quarter to a hungry payphone and couldn’t make my calls until I had a new one.
All things considered, this only caused me minor inconvenience---some days I had to walk a little further to a new phone, or go get some more cash back at the grocery store.
However, it got me thinking about the fact that sometimes, another quarter isn’t just waiting in the bank for people, and that getting a new one requires some effort.
It’s probably unreasonable to ask Aliant to place calls for every pissed-off customer that calls up and asks for help.
It would be nice, though, if the company would at least be considerate enough to put up a sign on phones it knows is broken. Right now, tossing money in a payphone is an act requiring crossed-fingers, patience and hope.
I just think that when payphones become analogous with wishing wells, Aliant needs to re-think its system.