Many moons ago my roommate Karl and I moved from one apartment (a 3-person place we were sharing with Dennis) to another (a 2-person place). Our DSL high speed Internet apparently did not follow us. Our phone line did, but DSL didn’t. It took them six weeks to get it up and running for us. We were charged throughout. When I complained, they said that it’s in the contract that their only duty was to provide us with Internet access and that high speed was a perk available most of the time.

“But you haven’t been providing us with Internet.”

“Of course we have. We got your phone line up instantly and you are always free to call on our dial-up system.”

“First of all, we weren’t paying $55 for dial-up, and second whenever we tried the lines were busy.”

“We can’t do anything about that, sir.”

“You could get more lines.”

“You’re free to go with another dial-up provider, sir.”

“But you’re the only ones that can get me DSL.”

“Yes we are, is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Our Internet at home has been down for the better part of three weeks now. We’ve been experiencing problems for a good part of our stay in Estacado. Typically on weekends for some reason it would go down between 2 and 10 times a day. It would usually only last for fifteen minutes or so before going back up. That I could deal with. Then, about three weeks ago, it flipped where it would only go up 2-10 times a day in fifteen minute increments or shorter.

Rather than force us to start spending more time away from the computer and not let the Internet become such a dominant factor in our lives, we began to schedule our lives around the Internet. In the rare occasion that it would come up, we would stop whatever it is that we were doing and rush to our computers to take care of whatever we could while we could. With an unreliable connection, there’s a lot you don’t do even if you are up. Going Internet shopping is an exercise in futility because you never have a connection long enough to get it done and the way that the sites are set-up are not conducive to frequent disconnections. The fact that we didn’t know if we’d have a whole fifteen minutes or whether it’d crap out in two made it even more impossible.

Thus far the outage has cost us about $170. $30 of that is our monthly fee for a service we weren’t getting, which is technically a sunk cost because we’re paying it whether the Internet is there or not, but I count it anyway because it pisses me off. The $140 came from airline tickets that we almost bought on a Thursday night, got disconnected, and when we tried again Saturday morning the fare had increased from $400 to $540.

We’ve been in contact with our cable provider, naturally. They haven’t been remarkably helpful, naturally.

After it had been down solid for a couple of days and it was obviously not going to come back on our own, I called the tech support line. The guy on the other end of the line told me that their records confirmed that I was getting frequent outages but that it was up most of the time. What was peculiar was that he didn’t start talking about how he was going to help me. He just said “Yeah, it’s down.”

When I pushed, he said that fixing bad connections wasn’t his job and if I wanted to do that I would have to contact a phone technician.

“What are you?” I asked.

“A customer service agent. There’s a difference.”

“Oh, well okay. What number do I call to talk to a phone technician?”

“You can’t call them directly.”

“So how do I get ahold of one?”

“I have to forward you to one.”

“Okay… well could you do that for me?”

Surprised sounding, he said, “Yeah, okay, sure.” and he did.

The next guy I talked to was more helpful. He told me how to read the lights on the cable modem and re-confirmed that our connection has been spotty. He could send somebody over, he said, but not for a couple of days. We were headed for Colosse, though, so that was a no-go. We made an appointment for the day after we got back.

The original live technician was also not helpful. He was sure it was our cable modem, so he replaced it. That didn’t work, so he replaced the power cable. That seemed to work. He said he was going out for a minute to check the line outside, the connection would go dark, but then he would be back and the connection would come back up. The connection went down and stayed there. The guy didn’t come back.

So I called the cable company again. To save time, I asked to speak to a technician rather than a customer service agent.

“You are speaking to a technician.”

“No, I mean someone that can help me with my problem. Not a customer service agent.”

“I am a customer service agent, but I am also a technician.”

“The guy I talked to yesterday said that they were two different things.”

“We are, but your account has been flagged to talk directly to a technician because of your problems.”

“Okay, so the problems haven’t been fixed.”

“What problems?”

“The problems we’ve been having that have me talking to you rather than a CSA.”

“Oh, well I don’t know what your problems are. Just that you have them.”

“There’s no notations about what I’ve been complaining about?”

“No, just that you’ve been complaining. You’re on our high complaint list.”

“Like the one that Sprint used to kick their customers to the curb?”

“Well we don’t kick people off for complaining, but the same basic idea, yes. So what’s the problem?”

I explained the problem to him and I swear he got more irate about it than I did. He railed against the live techs that leave before they’ve done their job, told me that he would stick the reddest of red flags on my account (he made that sound like a good thing) and that he could get somebody out there the next day. That didn’t work out because I needed to reserve a specific time period, so we were going to be without a connection for another week or so before they could stop by.

Then, naturally, it started mostly working again the day before the second tech arrived. It went back to its former behavior of going down regularly but coming back up quickly. It actually was going down more regularly (once or twice an hour) but coming back up almost immediately. So when the tech showed up this morning, naturally I had to tell him that it was mostly working.

I was expecting him to say that his job was done and leave, but to his credit he didn’t. He just lamented that that was going to make fixing the problem a little more difficult, but that if he didn’t fix it then they’d just have to send somebody else to try to fix it later.

It took him less than ten minutes to discover that our connections had gone bad in the guest room wall and the wall outside. He showed the connection to me. The wires were bare, several were cut and frayed. It was amazing that we’d been getting any service at all.

That all happened this morning. It worked great when he left. We’ll see how it works when I get home. I’m actually hopeful for once that the Internet will be there for me when I need it.


Category: Home, Server Room

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