Tuesday, June 19, 2007

TeleHell

Internet was down.
A simple call to fix it,
I foolishly thought!

Today began much like any other this summer.

Woke up around 7:30, got myself dressed and ready as the kids finished eating their breakfasts, doing their morning chores, and getting ready for camp. Leave about 8ish. Had to stop for gas. It's only $2.85 a gallon, but still takes $46.00 to fill up the truck. *sigh*

Get to camp around 8:30, drop them off, and drive back home. Play with my cat, Tut, for a bit, then turn on the ol' computer for some blogging, email, games, and whatever.

Except my Internet connection ... was GONE!

I check my Device Manager. All is as it should be.

I make sure the lights on my router and modem are flashing what they should be flashing. Verdant lights twinkle happily at me from the modem. Amber sparkles merrily from the router.

They were lying.

I reset both the router and modem. Nothing.

I power down the computer, shut off the monitor, and kill the power from the surge protector. Everything goes dark. The only sounds are the rattling whumps of my ceiling fan and the distant rumbling hum of someone mowing their yard a few houses down.

I drum my fingers impatiently, silently counting to 100 in my head.

With a flourish I tap my CPU to life, click the monitor back on, and watch as the modem and router flicker through a cheery power-up cycle.

My desktop soon glows softly in the still dim room. My mouse eases the cursor over to Thunderbird and ... nothing. Cannot connect to pop server.

Nooooooooooooo!

Knowing the outcome, I resolutely open Internet Explorer, hoping more than a white screen of nothingness would appear. It didn't.

I call Brighthouse Networks local support number.

A cheerful woman's voice comes on and begins telling me to speak this, or say that, say nuevo for Espanol. Do I want Sales? Do I want Billing? Do I want to order new products? Am I having technical issues?

Gone are the days of button mashing. Technology is now such that I merely need to speak my requests to this disembodied, vaguely digital woman's voice and all my worries and cares will slide from my burdened shoulders like butter on a hot griddle.

I speak clearly. I take care to enunciate each word, each syllable, each glottal and vowel.

"Technical Support."

The digital woman must be hard of hearing.

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

I repeat myself.

"You said you wanted Belt Buckle Sports. Is this correct?"

I answer clearly, "No!" to which she asks me to repeat my previous request. I speak slightly slower, slightly louder, with enough forced enunciation to make my high school English teacher weep tears of unfettered joy.

"Tehkk-Nih-KhahL Suh-PorrrT!"

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

I blow a frustrated blast of air through my pursed lips, as I debate the ethical ramifications of cursing out an automated answering service voice.

"One moment, and I will transfer you to Sales."

What? No! When did I ever get close to saying Sales?

I sigh to myself and figure at least I'll get a live person who can then (hopefully) direct my call to the proper place.

The hold music is a bit creepy. Something you might hear as mood music on a Sci-Fi Original movie about haunted houses, or zombie filled graveyards. I wasn't encouraged.

The strange music is interrupted by another vaguely digital voice, this one male, informing me that I now can bundle my cable, Internet, and telephone services into once package and save money. Please ask the customer service rep about this spectacular bargain when they come on the line. Which, by the way, may be a while as they are all busy helping other customers and would I please wait while they take my call in the order in which is was received.

The cheesy Scooby-Doo mystery music comes back on. I swear it's louder than it was before.

Three more times over the next ten minutes I get the sales pitch to bundle my services with the busy sales rep spiel following after.

Just as I decide to open up solitaire and amuse myself, the music stops. I hear a click ... another click ... any moment now a real, live person would help usher me to the correct line. I begin to smile, happy this long, annoying wait is near an end.

Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn Ehn

They ... Hung ... UP!

I calmly depressed the Off button on my cordless, set it down, and took a slow sip of water.

1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... *grumble grumble* ... 6 ... 7 ... *mutter mutter* ... 8 ... 9 ... "Son of a @#$%$!" ... 10.

I took a deep breath and once again dialed the Brighthouse number.

The electronic answering girl must have gotten a dose of digital Q-Tips, because this time she understood everything I said on the first try.

I was again eeking towards happiness as she cheerily informed me she was transferring me to the Technical Support department. Yay!

A click ... I held my breath ... a second click ... I began to worry at my lower lip ... silence.

At least there was no disconnected signal. I hung on the line, daring to believe I was being connected.

Suddenly the same voice was back in my ears telling me a simple reset of my modem should solve the problem I was having. (I'd already done this manually once). She would be happy to do so remotely for me, if I wished.

I said, "Yes." I would like that. Anything. Just get my Internet working!

She asked for my account number (Ha! Like I knew that) or my home telephone number, area code first, please.

I spoke my number out, in the same manner, tone, and clarity I had used to get this far.

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

@#$%^&*!

"I'm sorry. I did not understand your response."

I resolutely TYPED the number in.

Wonders of wonders, she informed me she was accessing my account. Why the blue blazes didn't she just tell me to say or type the lousy thing in in the first place? Grrrrr!

"Your modem has been reset. Usually the effect is immediate, but may take up to several minutes to see a change. Thank for calling Brighthouse Networks. Goodbye."

What? No wait, you flat-toned, digital demon. I want someone LIVE!

I hung up and silently fumed to myself for a minute. I'd at least see if this had worked or not.

It didn't.

I waited longer.

No go.

I called back, my fingers strangely calm, my emotions eerily silent. I think I had the placid look of a serial killer just then. The kind where the interviewed neighbors always claim the killer was "quiet and kept themselves, never saw 'em hurt a fly".

As soon as Betsy Babbles came on the line with her recorded banter, I mashed the 0. Repeatedly. With great force. I think my phone may have said ouch. I'm not really sure, as all I heard was my blood rushing.

The male automaton came on and again informed me all reps were busy, would I please wait until my call was blah blah blah. Yeah, yeah. Just hurry it up, will ya?

My wait was a mere 15 minutes.

During this time I learned about service bundling, modem resetting, cable set-top resetting, how to pay my bill online, how to pay my bill through my cable TV, how to use On-Demand programming, that Brighthouse Networks was yet again rated #1 in customer service and satisfaction (I missed more that was said during the pealing laughter which burst out of me at that last).

Finally, a very sweet voiced, polite, and awfully youthful woman came on the line and asked for my info. I provided it. Calmly. It wasn't this poor wage slave's fault the automated phone system was the bastard child of Machiavelli, Satan, and half a dozen political bureaucrats.

I told her my problem. I suggested my modem may be malfunctioning.

She tried to be helpful. She really did. But she was utterly clueless.

At one point, she told me that if I could open my email program, then I had to be connected to the Internet. =/

Eventually she placed me on hold to "check her resources".

I worked years as over-the-phone technical support for a large communications company. I knew "check my resources" was a euphemism for asking your boss for help.

A few minutes later she was back on the line, relief evident in her voice, that she couldn't do anything from her station and I needed to be transferred to the local office because obviously my modem wasn't working.

Um, yeah. That's why I spent the last 45 minutes trying to navigate the labyrinthine phone system and said the same thing at the outset of the communication with her.

I kept my voice calm, even cheerful, thanked her and said, "Yes, I'd love to transferred to someone who could help me."

Another few clicks, a short stretch of silence, and I was once again mired in the hold music form hell, punctuated by droning advertisements of services, products, and I think even one may have discussed the mating ritual of the African honey bees. I'm not really sure because my eyes had glazed over, my butt had fallen asleep, and my elbow seemed permanently locked in a phone holding position.

Then, joy of joys, a young man got on the line.

He seemed to know what he was doing. He was confident in his speech, yet a titter of nervousness could be heard behind the bold front. I think he was one of those people who are pretty smart, know a lot of things, but just don't quite grasp the intricacies of personal communication.

He walked me through a few tests, laughed nervously at my attempts of humor, fiddled with something on his end, then had me recycle the whole system. Power it all off, unplug the router, unplug the modem, disconnect the modem from the cable line.

Then we waited.

I tried small talk about my cat, who was loudly meowing at me because I was strangely sitting on the floor, under the desk, where he took afternoon naps and he wanted know if he could join me. Mr. Technician laughed that nervous twitter of his, likely wondering if my problems weren't caused by a surfeit of feline fur clogging some vent somewhere.

Judging by the amount of dusty fur and dander particulates floating around under there, he may have been right.

A few minutes passed in uncomfortable silence after that until he asked me to reconnect everything and power it all back on.

I did, and it all worked.

Still, he said, my signal was weak and he would set up a in-house technician to come over and test my cable lines, the modem, and my patience. The last was a joke he said. Ha ha ha!

So, after an hour plus on the phone, on the floor, and in a bad mood, I was back online. Yay! I could now read my bloglist, post to my own, play WoW, surf the Internet for funny and interesting videos, whatever I wanted. The Cyber-world was mine for the taking again.

So I ate lunch.

1 comment:

beartracks said...

Boy I could copy your post almost verbatim. I had a similar encounter with my satellite company. Why is it if you are a new customer they will send you out new equipment but if you've been a faithful customer for 7 years they think they own you and expect you to buy new equipment. I explained that over the phone and even threatened to switch to a competitor. They are sending me a new receiver and are going to waive the monthly warranty fee for three month. Of course I can cancel at anytime. hehehe What do you think I am going to do?