It started so well.
I had never used a cable company for my internet services before so I was very pleasantly surprised when Comcast immediately sent around a tech with a cable modem for my cave in the woods (more about that in another blog). It's quite a hike and in other parts of the country I doubt I would even have internet service in such a situation. My new modem was installed in minutes. The setup with my static IP and my Linksys Router didn't go quite as smoothly but it wasn't Comcast's fault and I got a charming woman on the line for tech support that though not able to help me was incredibly friendly and professional. When I did figure out the problem and called her back to have my IP reset (yes, I was part of the problem) I got the same woman and she quickly had me up and running.
For those of you new to my blog let me tell you that I pay for business high speed internet and a static IP because I host my own server for my web site www.panhistoria.com and while I'm not Facebook or even one millionth of the size of Facebook I have a loyal and vocal customer base. Without the funds to run a mirror server if my internet is down my web site is down. I have to maintain a Yahoo group just to make sure that my membership can be informed if there is a power outage or any other disruption of service. When my site is down I'm just like that cat on the hot tin roof or even me barefoot on black tarmac when the mercury hits the nineties and I left my shoes in the car. It's not a pretty sight.
Three days ago I started having problems. People were having times when the site was running extra slow to the point of timing out. At first I was unaware as I was navigating the site fine, and my Twitter and ICQ messaging software was functioning just fine. Suddenly people started dropping off the server. Disaster! Then I found I was unable to browse the internet. I get on the horn to Comcast pronto. Only I have a little problem - due to my move and all the organizational issues of setting up in a new location I'm out of minutes - my call is going to cost me 45 cents a minute. Not a serious problem because of my priorities, which is to get my site back up, but it does mean I don't want my time wasted.
I could rant about automated answering systems at big companies, but why bother? You have all been there. Choose the wrong option and you're caught in a cycle of spiraling despair as you get routed to the wrong place again and again. Finally I get somebody in tech support. I assume, since I had to punch in my zip code time in and time again, that they are in my area. That was my second mistake. My first mistake was still having a Vermont cell phone number. They wanted to route me to Vermont.
"No, I moved. I live in California but I kept my cell phone."
"So you're not at the computer that is having the problem?"
"Yes, I am at the computer that is having the problem. I have a cell phone."
"You're in Vermont?"
"No, I'm in California; I have a Vermont cell phone number."
"Can I please have the phone number that is associated with the account?"
"This is the phone number associated with the account. I don't have another number, just this one. This is my only phone, I don't have another."
"So you're not at the computer associated with the account. Can you get to the computer?"
Ok, you get the gist of this conversation.
Now just before I finally got this genius on the line the automated message had informed me that there was a higher than normal volume of calls due to interruptions of service in my area. This was satisfying to me and I assumed that was all I needed to know but I just wanted this guy to confirm it - only he was in Denver and knew nothing about the status of service in California and apparently had no way of knowing.
Oh, and he couldn't help me because he was home tech support not business tech but could he just take some notes? I was begging him to transfer me to the right line because it was costing me 45 cents a minute and he just kept scribbling and asking me the same questions over and over. Finally he was ready to transfer me to the correct tech support line, but first he said:
"Would you like our digital voice services?"
Bear in mind he'd already had me on the line for 15 minutes at this point. He would have been in danger of his life if he'd been in physical proximity.
"No, and I don't want to hear about them as it's costing me 45 cents a minute to talk to you. Please transfer me to tech support."
"But if you had our digital voice services you could…"
I think I was rude at this point in the conversation.
The next guy insisted there wasn't any problem in my area and it had to be my modem and scheduled me for a Sunday after 5pm appointment.
So Sunday I sat around and waited at the appointed hour. My connection had been good all day, but the tech guy didn't turn up. At 6:15pm just when I was wondering if I should call and find out where he was my connection dropped again.
"Oh yes, we recalled him because the outage is actually in your area and not you at all. It went down at 6:15pm. It can take them up to 4 hours to fix the problem. I'm sorry he didn't call you to let you know he wasn't coming."
Wow - it was them after all! At last something concrete!
At 7pm I got a call.
"This is Comcast; we're sorry that we're running so behind but is it ok if our technician comes this late?"
"Uh, sure, but I thought he had been recalled?"
"I know nothing about that sir."
At 7:30pm another call:
"We're running two hours behind can we reschedule for tomorrow morning?"
"But the last call said he was on his way?"
"They recalled him. It was the wrong technician."
Now I'm waiting again.
I'll let you know how that goes.