Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sorry, Ma'am, It Must Be Your Modem...

I have been online since before $Prodigy had graphics. Yeah. I was one of those nerdy girls who get all BBSed up at the turn of the 90s and shared lists of CDs with people who lived across town.

In the process of going from local BBS to $P to GNN to AOHell (who coopted my GNN account through some deal with Satan) to Mindspring to Earthlink (who did a similar thing to my Mindspring account--and I still think they should have become MindLink... I'm just sayin'!) to DSL to Cable I have dealt with a tech or two or three.

I have to say that as much as I love having lickity-split cable access to y'all, and a wireless router that allows me to talk to y'all from anywhere on my expansive property (don't get excited, you can walk it in under a minute), I am not fond of dealing with the cable company when things go wrong.

Why's that, Gina?

Because they have like 40 silos of "service" and none of them know a hootie patootie about anything else.

After the 95th price increase in a week, I called to see why I couldn't get TV and Internet for less than a decent car payment and, Lo, the clouds parted and they discovered that if I added a phone to my TV/Internet package they could bundle my services and knock $40 off of my bill. NO lie. It went from $129 to $89 a month--but only if I agreed to let them install a land line.

I haven't had a land line since before we figured out that Y2K was just a ruse to get all of the retired techies from the 60s back into the cubicles. So, although I didn't know what I would do with unlimited anytime minutes (as long as I didn't leave my expansive property--so claustrophobic, no??) I caved and let them roll a truck.

Well, a month later the phone guy shows up and does some magic and wha la the 40 year old phone lines are talking to my cable line and people can call my house and leave me voice mail and then call my cell phone and say, "I tried calling you at home and didn't get you there, so I figured I'd try you mobile." (I have a log book of calls so that I can compare time stamps and make sure that the message from Margaret is really one I should return and not three gave-up-and-reached-me-on-the-cell-phone attempts ago.)


Only... sit down... now my TV and Internet are for shit. No kidding. I can't get On Demand. (What will I do without 24 hour access to Noggin?? No seriously!) One TV gets no signal at all. The cable boxes all say it is 12 noon. I can't send an email. I can't post on my blog. I can't surf. Forget updating my websites.

So, I have spent about 80 hours on my new land line begging my cable company to pretty please return me to my real virtual life. Only they can't. See, the phone guy evidently screwed something up when he cast the spell that made my cable talk to my household wiring. But since the phone is working fine they can't fix the other problems.

So, fine. I call the "Internet Division" and repeat my tale of woe. They tell me it is a phone problem--after all it all went wrong when he came out, right? Um, okay. But aren't you guys like related or something? Nope--different division. Sorry, let me transfer you.

So I talk to the phone people again.

And, again they mute the headset and laugh their asses off and then come back and tell me that I'll have to talk to the TV people.

And I call the TV people--who I swear are the very same people in the Internet Division, only they pretend to be completely new people--and I give them my 19 digit customer number, my 64 digit serial number from the cable box, my phone number, the ISBN off of the book I am reading, and three redemption codes from the My Coke Rewards program--just to make nice--and they say, "Hang on. I am going to transfer you to the automated agent."

And before I can say, "WTF??" I am off into some digitized version of troubleshooting hell.

Claire and I are best friends now. But it wasn't always that way. It took a while for me to get used to her saying over and over, "I'm sorry. That isn't a valid entry. Choose from the following menu," before I was able to bond with her.

She asked me about a bazillion questions including whether my TV was on channel 3 and my cable box was really powered off and my VCR was recording Dukes of Hazard reruns, and my watch was set to daylight savings time and my teeth were flossed. I only threw the phone once.

Eventually, I was able to convince Claire that I really wasn't faking my lack of a picture. So, she gave me back to the breathing TV people who said, "We can send someone out, ummmmmmm, Tuesday." At this point, a week seemed like a flash, so I jumped on it.

Then a couple of hours later, Claire's saccharin sister, Danielle called to tell me that they would actually be coming by in a few minutes and would that be okay? Um. Lemme think. Yeah?

Five hours later not one but two cable guys showed up at my door. They wandered around and scratched their heads and played with their massive walkie-talkies and pretended that they were solving the problem of cold fusion and came to the conclusion that everything* was working fine except for my modem.

Which is actually their modem that they leased to me until I threatened to sue them for charging me $6 a month for 6 years for a $30 piece of plastic. But, now, according to their records it isn't their problem.

But they would be happy to lease me a new modem.


So, I install a new modem. And the Internet speed test swears on its digital momma that I am blazing along but I still can't send an email or surf or upload my websites.

Oh, and the TV isn't getting a signal because--well, er--because you need a new cable line run from the garage through your neighbor's yard around the moon and back and we just can't do that because we have a subcontractor who does that and he is booked until at least Y3K. Do you want us to give you his number?

Maybe Claire will know what to do.

*According to my thesaurus, "everything" means: an amount or quantity from which nothing is left out or held back. According to the Cable Guys, "everything" means: our little meter says that you are getting a signal. Too bad, so sad if you can't actually see anything on your TV or access the Internet.

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