Dial M for Murder. And hurry! Before the battery dies!

I'd love to delete George from my speed dial!

But he keeps reappearing like ticks on a coyote.

George runs a shop the size of a walk-in closet selling used cell phones, supplies and services related. It's in a dicey neighborhood so they'll get their share of hot phones and attempted scams from riff-raff.

A couple weeks ago I found myself suddenly in need of a phone replacement. I'm at the Verizon store and inquire about the cost of a new one. She says $200!! I nearly fall on the floor!

"It costs much less with a two-year contract."

"I don't want a contract. I've no intention of being on a contract. Verizon's brought a lot of problems. I'm not locking myself in." There's no phone offer sweet enough to reel me into that.

So I leave and hop onto craiglist. Nothing pans out with private parties but I notice George's ad. George is phones! phones! phones!

His shop's just down the road and I'm sure there's something within my pea-sized budget. Hold onto your hat but when it comes to phones, I need only a reliable device that makes and receives calls and has a camera in the event of a traffic accident or emergency.

Long story short, I leave two hours later with a phone that seems OK. A phone whose battery, I discover, has all the staying power of a gnat. It goes from fully charged overnight to no bars in an hour.

So back to George I go.

"The battery should work," he says, spinning it on the glass countertop. A flat spin supposedly indicates it's still good; a slight curvature means it's been overcharged, overheated, lost its juice. It's an unreliable test but I'm not gonna get into it.

"Whether  it should work is moot. It doesn't."

So George inserts a new battery. By new, I mean a battery picked from the pool of used ones in a drawer. I go home again.

Next day I'm back at George's.

This time I get the younger and more together younger dude, Anthony.

He recognizes me of course. Everyone there recognizes me for the hours and now three visits in a week.

"What's the problem?"

"The phone reads 'unable to charge.' Yesterday the bars registered, now they don't show at all."

He opens the back. "That's because it's the wrong battery."

Good goin' George.

He fishes around in the drawer, does the spin test and says it should work. Uh huh. Should has all the credibility of Obama claiming he's addressing unemployment with laser focus.

I'm thinkin' an exchange (permissible within 30 days and a receipt) but the pickings are slim on my budget. "We get new phones every day so come back again," encourages Anthony.

Really, I'd rather not come back at all! I'd rather have a phone that works! One that has more than an hour of staying power! I'd rather just be done with this and the cross-town trips!

So home I go again with the phone and now the third (used) battery in a week.

Last night it's put to the test. It dies after several calls in one evening.

By now I've really  had it. I wanna just wash my hands of George.

So I call. "Hi. I bought a phone there recently. It's still having problems. I have the receipt. Can I get a refund and be done with it?"

"We don't do refunds. Only exchanges."

So I'm stuck with George. George of the Gargantuan Grrrrrrrr

So tomorrow it's back to George yet again. In the meantime, I'm turning to a communication system that's proven as reliable as this phone:

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