2014-08-27 / Loose Ends

Call me, maybe

Susan Nienow

They certainly gave me enough ways to get in touch with them if I have any questions – the Social Security office, that is. There’s a toll-free number to an office located in a secure facility somewhere in the world. There’s a website I am welcome to visit or a local office with a local phone number. Or I can write them.

Thank you for not believing I am old enough to need a conversation with the Social Security office. My other half just said he didn’t hear anyone say that. Thanks, honey.

I am old enough, however. And I received a letter informing me that they changed my monthly benefit. I got credit for the benefits that they didn’t pay at the full rate before I reached full retirement age. The double use of the word “full” in one sentence is theirs, not mine.

My benefit was raised last December because the cost of living increased. So I will receive a check for $69 next week. However, they either withheld federal taxes or it’s my contribution to their office party. So is the amount less than $69 or just $69? I think this is an extra check.

Apparently because I “retired” early, I confused everyone, including me. This $69 is a big deal. In the past when I received more or less than before, it averaged about 52 cents. I figure it cost at least a month’s check to send me a notice about the 52 cents, so they are getting more for their money writing me about $69, even if I don’t understand it.

Am I going to pursue this? No. Even thinking about calling any entity with thousands of employees and at least hundreds of offices makes me want to go out in the yard and pull crabgrass.

But this brings up another piece of mail I don’t understand – my phone bill. We no longer have a landline we use for calls. We do have two landlines that we can’t use for calls. I think one is attached to our washing machine and the other to the bird feeder so they can call and complain when there isn’t any food out there.

The phone bill has changed because we got new phones, which means a new contract and more opportunities to confuse the customer. We also got a tablet thing but in order for it to work when we take our frequent road trips, it needs its own phone number so it is sharing the line with the washing machine.

When a bill takes eight pages to explain itself, a simplification is in order. To give the phone company a fair shake, the government – several levels of it – has taxed my phone services. There is a Fed Universal Services Charge, Regulatory Charge, Administrative Charge, Virginia Gross Receipts Surcharge and a Local BUS Lic Surcharge. Oh, and don’t forget the 911 fee and the Communication Sales Tax.

Are you asleep yet? There are charges for the gigabytes we have used and voice minutes, messaging and data usage. Oh, and an activation charge.

Our phone bill will have to remain a mystery. I’d rather pull crabgrass than spend any more time on it.

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