January 2010

Installment Seven: Saga of the Search for Speedy Internet

To get the full flavour, you gotta go at least skim Introduction, Installment One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. Really. Take my word for it.

So I’m making dinner and I’m not holding out much hope that I’ll be called back even though Big Communications Corporation (BCC) Phone Guy has promised he would, because I’ve SO been there, when the phone rings.

It’s hubby. I explain disappointment is nothing personal. Tap dance a little. Hang up.

I continue being amateur chef beating up on onions, garlic, red pepper, and sausage. Phone rings again.

It’s Phone Guy! He says everything’s all set but the only thing is, can Installation Setup Guy come on Friday? That’s like in two days. I’m having company then: my sister and niece and nephew whom I haven’t seen in awhile. I weigh options.

Too bad, the family will have to deal. (Actually, they’ll probably be really happy Installation Setup Guy will be here while they’re here if it means they’ll never ever have to listen to my carping and whining about being on dialup ever again.)

So I agree to Friday for Installation Setup Guy, profusely thank BCC Phone Guy and hang up. I am happy but not ecstatic. Been too long, come too far. Something or other about counting chickens and hatching eggs.

So Installation Setup Guy Arrival day arrives. He himself arrives. Thoughtfully leaves his boots at the door. I show him computer and nearby phone jack. I leave him to work some magic. I join the family wreaking havoc upstairs when he pops his head in and asks if he can use the phone.

Gulp. Okay. Pass him the cordless.

I hear him talking, fiddling, doing some stuff. He calls me to the computer. Apologizes but says he was having some trouble getting the System Setup to recognize me.

Hah! Why am I not surprised? I say apologetically, “Uh, well, apparently we had to be added manually to The System, or something.”

He nods sagely. He goes through the setup screens with me. Says we should be getting faster than what it’s currently giving us but that he has to get a switch flicked at another location which he is not authorized to do himself (!?). He shows me lovely white router which he has unwrapped fresh from the box. Explains all about it. Patiently tells me about the filter doohickeys that now have to go on all phones all over the house. Says he has to go hook up Some Other Guy nearby now and leaves me his cell number in case of a problem.


So Installation Setup Guy puts his boots back on and leaves. Family and I play with the internet just a little to prove it works. I am giddy at the speed of things. Here! At Home! But it’s the summer and the sun is calling so we leave for awhile. When we come back, the router is not working. No lovely green lights on it anymore. Red ones. Damn!!!

But I resist my urge to freak completely. I phone Installation Setup Guy’s cell. He answers: “It’s not working anymore, is it?”

“Right,” I reply in a voice that I hope doesn’t sound as squeaky to him as it does to me.

“No problem,” he says. He tells me Big Communications Corporation has to change something at the main “office” box in Smalltown, and the guy who is authorized to do that can’t do it until tomorrow. It should be all set by about noon.

Um, tomorrow is Saturday. I am skeptical but keep it to myself. I thank him politely and hang up. Saturday we are out at one of the many festivals this tourist region has to offer. We return home. I glance at lovely white router. It’s got green lights on it!!!!!

So we play with the internet. We call up YouTube just because we CAN. We sample snippets of the top 10 iTunes tunes. We search for stuff on Google. We look at satellite images. We LOVE IT!!! I am not so sure what our data plan is, but I am not thinking about that right now. Right now, who cares?!

Then, a day or so later, the up-until-now mythical Return Kit arrives for portable plastic piece o’ poo modem. Yay! I send it packing. Hah!

And then

And then I get another package in the mail. BCC has sent me a lovely new white router in a shrink-wrapped box.


It is identical to lovely white router Installation Setup Guy already installationed. I look at new white router-in-box. I look at lovely white already-working router. I quietly place new white router-in-box on top of computer desk. I have determined my best course of action here: New white router-in-a-box collects dust. It makes a nice paperweight, really.

And there it remains to this day,
because I remain
at long, long, long last
a techno peasant
no longer.

© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

Installment Six: Saga of the Search for Speedy Internet

See Introduction, One, Two, Three, Four and Five first. It makes this all that much better. Honestly!

Where we left off: I’ve just been told I can’t return something I don’t have in the first place, meaning that what I do need to return I can’t return yet.

A week goes by before I get up the courage to phone Big Communications Corporation (BCC) again. I am not looking forward to explaining that I don’t have a g.d. rural modem, I just want to return this stupid portable plastic piece o’ poo modem so I can get my money back. This time I get a guy who puts up with my initial stumbling and awkward attempts to describe the situation succinctly.

“So let me make sure I’ve got this right,” he says. “You had the technician out but he never left you a rural modem?”

“Yes!” I practically holler. Then I explain again about the one I do have.

Hey then says that technically, because I’ve had the portable modem for over 30 days, it usually means I’d have to keep it.

Stunned silence on my part.

Then I manage not to yell: “If you tell me that I have to keep it now, I’m going to have a brain hemorrhage.”

I seriously said that. Me!

“No,” he says, “No problem.” He can override that apprently.

I say, “So I’m not going to get a call later on saying I can’t have a return kit because you don’t take back rural modems?”

Nope, he says. He’s sending me out the return kit himself.

All right then. I’ll have to just take that as it is then, won’t I?

“Is there anything else I can do?” the guy offers.

He’s being so friendly and helpful, I decide to go for it. I try to explain that I am looking for internet services and although BCC says I can have nothing but dialup my neighbours have DSL and when the tech was here he verified that I’m not on a loaded line even though the BCC database says I am and that I’m on the same cable 400whateverpointwhatever as the neighbours that do have DSL and that all that info had gone on to The Powers That Be but that I’d not heard anything since and what do I do now? (Or something to that effect.)

“Well,” he says, “Would you like me to check on that for you?”

“Um, okay, yes thanks, that would be great,” I manage to squeak out.

So I’m on hold. And on hold. Classical music, natch, but this time the volume has been set to an ear tolerating level. Thank god. Maybe someone else complained.

After a bit he comes back and says he has good news and some okay news. I try not to shout: What??

Fearing the worst, I brace myself for his answer. He says, yes, we can have DSL but we can only have some kinda minimum DSL lite service.

Excuse me? I got stopped processing after the part where he said I COULD have DSL. Did I just hear that right? So I fumble for something to say and manage, “Um, what is that service? Could you describe that for me please?”

He rather apologetically tells me the parameters, that it is only going to be about 1.5 mbps, and all I can think is: “Buddy, I’m workin’ with 56k here!!!!!! WHO CARES?!?!”

“Would you like to sign up for that?” he asks.

I waffle for a second. (Remember I can’t make snap decisions?) And then I decide to go for it.

So he taps some keys, taps some more, then asks if he can put me on hold again.

Ugh. You’re kidding, I think. I’m positive this is not promising, but I say sure.

More classical music. I get a look at the time. Crap! Gotta start dinner. So I trap the cordless phone between my ear and shoulder in some sort of Quasimodo impression and start chopping up stuff for dinner.

The guy comes back on the line and says he’s very sorry for the delay and could he keep me on hold for just a little longer. Uh, okay. Damn, why am I starting to think he’s going to revoke that offer of highspeed internet lite with some sort of a “Ha ha, just kidding”? I take it out on the onions I’m chopping.

The guy comes back again. He apologizes yet again and says his system isn’t allowing him to put in my request and that it will have to be done by some Other Branch of BCC and can he call me back.

Oh yes, you do hear a pin drop.

“Okay,” I say meekly. I hang up. Sob. No wait, that was induced by the onions, I swear.

And so I remained
ever and ever still
a techo peasant.

[Go to Installment Seven]

© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

Installment Five: Saga of the Search for Speedy Internet

Catch up reading Intro, One, Two, Three, and Four first. K?
It makes this all the more painful. Trust me.

So I did my duty. I waited a month.

In fact, it was more than a month. It’s now July. At about 6 weeks after my last contact with a real person, a real nice person in the form of Max the Technician Guy, over my eligibility for better-than-dialup internet, I phone the secret number. I get an auto-answering message. So I leave what I hope is a credible and understandable summary of the situation (yeah, I know, how to condense it all in 30 seconds? Not possible…but I tried).

No reply.

So more time goes by. Another week. I call again. Same message on the other end but I only leave my name and phone number.

More time.

I call again and hang up when I get the message. I try the put-in-your-number on the BCC website to see-what-services-you-can-have thing just for the helluvit, and its pronouncement is: Dialup.

Then it hits me that I still have this stupid useless hunk of a plastic piece o’ poo modem sitting here. !! Wasn’t I supposed to get a return kit so I could send the thing back?

I call regular main BCC number. I explain that I want to return my portable internet modem, give my particulars, and “No I Am Not Going To Try Anything To Get It To Work Right Now,” I say. Because I’ve been there.

Yep. So been there.

Then the guy says: “The System says you have a rural modem.” So I explain that no, the technician came out but didn’t find a signal so we never got a rural modem.

Oh, fine, he will send out the kit then. Did I want anything else today?

I choke out the request for dialup. I get connected overseas. I hear that dialup will cost me $26 a month.

WHAT?! I am not amused.

The guys says, “But it’s unlimited.”

So???? It’s dialup. I kinda need to use the phone sometimes! (And on the most heavily used months on my current plan I’ve only gone over ONCE and even then I only paid $17.) I can’t deal with the whole thing so I hang up on the guy. Sorry.

That night there’s a message on my phone from some Christine. She says she sees here that we want to return a rural modem but they don’t do that–you have to take them down yourself and if I have any questions to please call.

I’m Speechless.

At a complete loss for words. I mean, I can hardly speak. In fact, I just can’t deal with it. I do not give her a call.

And so I remained
ever still
a techno peasant.

[Go to Installment Six]

© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.

Installment Four: Saga of the Search for Speedy Internet

 If you haven’t already, go read Introduction, One, Two, and Three first. Really. It’ll make your whole experience reading this so much better. Honest.

So systems at BCC (Big Communications Corporation) went down earlier in the day and my request couldn’t be processed. I had to call back later. It’s now later…

It’s evening. Hubby has the hockey game on and I’m thinking, yawn, might as well make use of the time, so I call BCC. I go through the spiel, which I’m getting mighty damn good at by now, give my identifying info, and the guy asks am I sure I don’t want the portable and I try not to yell:

IT WON’T WORK!!! Trust me!!!

So okay then, he explains the rural setup. I say, “Great–sign me up!” He takes my info, and mentions he can hear the hockey game in the background.

I tell him the score.

He says, “Oh, I want Pittsburg to win.”

So does my hubby. It’s a tie so I offer to keep him updated. He says he has to put me on hold to process my order.

I know the drill. LOUD classical music in one ear. LOUD NHL in the other. I hold my breath thinking that sure, there’ll be some other server malfunction or something with all my luck.

Finally he comes back and says it’s all set. He’s explaining the next steps when whoever Pittsburg is playing scores to win with like 30 seconds left. Hubby curses LOUDLY. I tell the guy on the phone that on the slim chance he didn’t catch that swearing in the background, Pittsburg just lost. He’s bummed. Finishes the order and says have a nice day. I wish him the same.

 But I get a call the next day for my technician appointment, just like I was promised. Set one up. Okay, all’s proceeding well.

Technician arrival day arrives. I get home after dropping kids off at school (daughter 2 had biking in gym class and needed her bike at school). I say good morning to technician guy who pretty much immediately says, “You’re not going to like me much.”

Crap. Not a good start.

He says he’s not finding any signal. No signal at all. Nada. Squat. Zilch.

Hmmm, I think, maybe that would explain why the other damn modem wouldn’t work? But I digress.

“So,” he says, “have you ever thought about the mobile stick?”

I say I had but have never tried one. He says he has one on the computer in his truck and why don’t we fire it up and test out the signal. Right-ee-o then. Let’s do it.

So he turns on his machine and waits. And waits. “This isn’t a good sign,” he says. Some window comes up, he connects to the internet, and we wait. The page is loading…and loading.

Damn, this looks like dialup!

“Unfortunately,” he says, “this isn’t really worth it for you. It’s fairly expensive and you’re not getting much improvement. And it probably wouldn’t even be as good inside.”

I can’t argue with that now, can I? Can I just cry instead?

But I’m reluctant to leave it on the total downer that obviously I am only good enough for dialup, or doomed to drop a serious chunk of change on a satellite system. So I ask him why then can the guy up the road have DSL and not me?

He says, “Well, this is hard to explain” but then goes into a really vivid and clear explanation of what a loaded line is and what a loader does so that even a techno pleeb like me gets it.

“But what if I happen to know, or have a pretty good idea, that I’m NOT on a loaded line even though BCC thinks I am?” I ask. I then explain that a couple years ago a dad of a friend of my daughter’s checked out my phone and said it was not on a loaded line but that we were listed in the database as being on one. I did call customer service at that time and asked them to send someone out to check that officially, that I’d PAY them for the trip, but of course nothing ever happened. I just had no idea what to do from there.

“Well, let’s test that out,” he says. And he pulls out a meter and sticks it into my phone junction box and fiddles with it and finally reads the readout. “Humph, you’re right,” he says. “It’s not loaded.”

Woohoo! … Now what?

He’s thinking. He literally scratches his head. “This is going to require a lot of jumping through hoops,” he says.

Why am I not surprised? But I’ll do it! Anything! I practically plead.

He can’t install that system, it has to be done by someone else and it all has to be approved and all, he says. He will phone his sales person and see what we come up as on The System. It’ll take a few minutes.

So I go inside. Unload the dishwasher. He rings the doorbell.

He’s found that we are listed as being on a loaded line on an unknown cable from their sales office. “Are you far from Smalltown?” he asks. “Is it like more than 8 km or anything?”

Uh, no. I am under 3km. Besides, I’m no farther away from it than the dudes up the road who DO have highspeed. All right, so I’m too wimpy to have actually verbalized that last sentence.

He says he’ll put a call in to his supervisor about what to do now. He’ll be back in a minute.

So I return to my stuff. He comes back. Wow.

What we have to do now is gather all the info, find out what cable I’m on, and if there are any neighbours who have DSL that would help, he tells me. Then that info will have to go “up the food chain,” he says, “because they can’t just give you DSL because Max says you can have it.” He’s Max, btw. He says the whole thing could take up to a month and is that okay? It’s not going to be overnight.

“Max,” I think, “I’ve been on dialup for 7 YEARS and if this doesn’t work out, doing time on dialup is apparently all I’ve got to look forward to anyway, so SURE!” And actually, I do have my neighbours’ with DSL phone numbers because I’ve looked into that before. I give him a few names plus numbers. He says that’s a good start and he’ll look into it.

Um, sorry for being skeptical, but I’ve been left hanging with the “I’ll get back to you” line on this issue from all sorts of sources MORE TIMES THAN I CARE TO COUNT! I smile my hopefully most winningest smile and say, “Um, is it possible to get someone’s number I could call if I haven’t heard anything in a month?”

He thinks and then says okay. He gives me a number. Says please don’t pass that on and give them time to look into it.

I swear I will. And I WILL!!! Wild dogs couldn’t drag it outta me!!!

So he leaves. I have no better service. But I have Hope!

Then that afternoon I get a phone call. It’s Max. He says he’s found I’m on cable 400whateverpointwhatever and it is indeed the same one on which my neighbours have DSL.

Did he just say THE SAME ONE on which my NEIGHBOURS HAVE DSL!?!?! Holy! But I get ahold of myself. It means nada, squat, zilch for now.

He says all this information has been passed “up the food chain” and we’ll wait to see what happens now.

Oh. My. God.

So I waited.

Would I ever be deemed worthy of attaining the tantalizing and heady online speeds that dangled just out of my reach? What was the judgment from the internet granting powers that be? That’s best told in another installment.

And so I remained
ever still
a techno peasant.

[Go to Installment Five]

© Lizann Flatt, www.lizannflatt.com
No part of this blog may be used without written permission from the author.