So when I call Verizon customer service this morning, to discuss a problem with my phone line, a representative says she can only deal with my husband, whose name is on the account, unless I can provide the exact amount of our last payment, "for security purposes."
Forty-eight hours ago, still innocent of reports that Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth have turned over the phone records of tens of millions of their customers to the National Security Agency, I doubtless would have toddled off to find either the husband or the amount.
But now, I instead inquire, "And did you put the government through this before turning over all of our phone records to them?" Click -- somehow, my call seems to have been dropped. Not that I blame the poor woman; I am guessing this is not a good day to be the voice of Verizon.
My husband, who has come in on the tail end of this little exchange, is laughing until I tell him I'm calling back now, to switch our service to Qwest, one company that did not fork over their phone records. Oh, no: Do I not fear interruption of service? Or at the very least, an I.R.S. audit?
But by now, I am on hold, listening to an automated voice tell me that Verizon is, "as always, protecting your privacy...It's your right, and our responsibility." When a human comes on the line, I request change of service -- without commentary, until she asks and I tell. Then, surely reading from a script, she says I really shouldn't believe everything I read in the papers, that in any event, all the other phone companies did the same, because they had no choice but to go along with the government, and that any reports to the contrary are "only your opinion." Another opinion: Qwest's number is (800) 860-2255.