As of now, I hate Australia.
Allow me to tell you a story about my incredible inability to make a collect call.
I need to call Visa and change our address ’cause we’re expecting them to mail us a new card any day now. I can’t call the 1-800 number in Canada from here, so I need to call the local number. I’ve twice called it and been disconnected, so I decided to try and call collect, figuring if I’m going to suffer it’ll be on their dime.
First I tried asking Zumi. Zumi told me questions like this are what the internet’s for.
So I checked the internet, knowing that I could never refine my question enough to get an answer. Sure enough, I couldn’t find an answer.
So I checked Telstra’s site. Telstra, the gov’t owned phone monopoly, has a website that doesn’t return search results 4/5 times.
I try dialling zero. I get nothing, zero doesn’t get you an operator here.
I ask a friend in Perth. He tells me to call an operator. “How do I call an operator?” By this point I’m really angry, I’m typing all in caps. This guy’s from Canada too. “Dial zero” he says.
So I asked someone in Melbourne, who was on ICQ, what the number was. He doesn’t know, he uses the internet to talk to people. He asks a friend. His friend tells me the number for calling direct-dial long distance. I gently bash him and tell him I’m trying to make a collect call. “Oh,” he says. “I dunno. I don’t even know what that is.” He then proceeds to bug me about it for ten minutes. “What’s a collect call?” I finally decide it’d be easier to explain it than ignore him, and he says “Oh, a reverse-charges call.”
So now we’ve got new clues. It’s not a “collect call”, it’s “reverse charges”. I wonder what they call it when you call Visa to have a charge reversed. “Oh, a woodgumdidgeridoo.” Australians are assholes, they’ve invented weird, cute or inappropriate words for a lot of things that should have been left alone.
I check Telstra’s site. I search three times for “reverse charges” before finally getting results. They list methods for calling within Australia, and to Australia from other countries. There’s nothing about calling other countries from within Australia.
Someone suggests I use the phone book. “Phone book? Do I even have a phone book? I have the internet!” How quaint is that? A phone book. Desperate, I try it. There’s three different methods for calling long distance: within, to and from Australia. Each seems to require a different procedure, ’cause really, why should this be easy? It would be too much to expect the phonebook to have the answer I want, but at least it has a number to call for information about calling collect.
The operators have gone to bed.
Apparently, in Australia, people don’t use the phone after 10pm. They don’t have the urge to call people collect, or if they do they’ve somehow got the knowledge, the ability, genetically programmed into them. Or something, fuck me, I don’t know. This is retarded!!
As if that wasn’t enough, it costs more than four dollars to make an operator-assisted collect call. If you can even find an operator in Australia they’re going to shove a painful thing up your ass for the privilege.
Zumi tried searching for the details from Japan. She found TWO numbers for calling Japanese operators.
I’m tired. It’s late. I’ve spent an hour trying to make a collect call. It’s not supposed to be this hard, you know? I come from a country where they make it easy for you to spend your money. In Australia the thinking seems to be different. It’s hard, bloody hard, to get someone to take your money. When they do, though, they’ll take more of it. Four bucks! It’s obscene, and I couldn’t do it if I wanted to anyway.
I hate it here, how does this shit make sense to anyone? I’m not a stupid man, I swear I’m not. How can this be so bloody hard?