This story is brought to you by the fireworks that I’ve been feeling all week-end...although they were actually taken at Canobie Lake last week-end...
So, there it was, Thursday night. The start of a long five-day week-end. I stayed an extra hour to make certain that all the loose ends were tied up. I organized my desk, I changed my voicemail, and I even put the old “out of office” message on my email. "This was going to be great," I thought. "Ashes will have her birthday on Saturday, and then, after that, it’s three days of fun and frivolity for me and the Corbster."
There I was, driving on 95, playing “Cuz I Can” at earsplitting levels and singing at the top of my lungs.
And then, I received the call.
It was Corb, with seven of the most dreadful words in the English language.
“Our cable and internet connections aren’t working.”
What the--? That doesn’t make any sense. Everything was all paid up. I paid the Comcast bill five days in advance, as a matter of fact.
But still, it was the start of a five day vacy vacy. No problem, I can handle this. “Corb, can you look at our last bill?” I asked. “I’ll give them a call and see what’s going on.” I was certain—one simple call, the whole thing would be resolved, and that would be it.
After going through the telephone gauntlet (“Dial one if you want to speak in English, two if you have a problem, three if it’s for cable, four if you’re circumcised…), I spoke to some customer assistance guy. “Oh yeah, it looks as though you’re not connected,” he said. “Weird. Okay, we’ll have someone come by to take a look at what’s going on. How does Monday afternoon sound?”
“Monday afternoon?” I sputtered. “But that means, I won’t have cable or the internet for four whole days?”
“During the week-end?”
This man was speaking blasphemy!
“Well, don’t you have anything earlier than that?” I asked, trying not to let the panic show in my voice.
“Ummm, no. Sorry.”
“Let me speak to your supervisor!” I barked out.
He transferred me to Brenda, who wasn’t exactly a supervisor, but a sort of shift leader. “How can I help you?” she asked.
“Well, the guy I was just talking to you was telling me that you can’t get anyone to my house until Monday and that’s crazy because it’s not as though my bill isn’t paid up to date you can check it and it’s clearly all paid up so there’s no reason that we shouldn’t have our cable and internet and it’s our vacation week-end we were planning just one staying home or taking day trips but how am I supposed to stay home without my internet?”
Brenda tapped a few buttons on her screen. “Hmmm, it shows here that you were disconnected. And also, you’re the only one in your area, out of eight hundred customers in that grid, so it’s not a blackout.”
“Sorry. Can’t help you. It’s first come, first serve. If I went to you, that wouldn’t be fair to other customers, would it?”
“But I’ve paid my bill!” I yelled out. “There’s no reason that I shouldn’t have my cable! So you’re telling me I have to wait four whole days, during my vacation, for this to be taken care of?”
“I should look around into satellite TV! I should look around for another internet provider! It’s not as though you all are the cheapest, or that your internet is that high speed. It’s really not, you know!”
“Sorry, sir. There’s nothing I can do.”
Her I icy cool tone was really starting to aggravate me. I don’t think she really gave two shits. And maybe she didn’t. I realized that this was a conversation I wasn’t going to win. “Fine. Then there’s something I have to do.”
She maintained her same dead tone. “Okay. Is there anything else I can do to help you?”
That did it. How idiotic! Not that you’ve helped me one bit to begin with! “How can you just sit there and…” I sputtered, then stopped. “Yes! There is something you can do to help me, lady! I WANT AN ICE COLD LATTE DELIVERED TO MY FRONT DOOR, CAN YOU HELP ME WITH THAT? AND WHILE YOU'RE AT, CAN YOU TAKE A LOOK AT MY SERVICE???” I stopped. “What’s your name, again?”
“And your extension?”
“I can’t give you that. Only my employee ID number.”
“I’ll take that. But can you hold on, just a minute? I’m driving.” I then threw down the cell phone and drove for about a minute, whistling loudly. When I heard her sputtering on the phone, I picked it up, once more. “Hold just a minute, please!” And I waited a full minute, before slowing down and getting the number.
The next day—the first of our vacation, and the day I had set aside to plan for Ashes’ thirteenth birthday, I called, early in the morning. Susan picked up. I explained the situation. “And I sort of lost my temper, last night. But can you at least explain why we don’t have service?”
Susan “pulled strings” to get someone to come to the place from 12-4, even though Brenda said that was impossible. We crammed our shopping into two hours, to be there at 12.
No show. At 4:30, I called again. The lady on the phone apologized, and guaranteed that someone would be there from 5-7.
At 7:15, Corb called, and spoke to a guy. “We don’t have any record of anyone planning an appointment for you today,” he said. “Just for this Monday. Did you take down their name?”
“Susan,” I told Corb.
“What’s her department or extension?” Remember, Brenda had told me they don’t give out extensions. “You should always get that information. How else can I help you?”
“Well, let me look into it,” said the guy, after a bit. “I’ll call you in fifteen minutes.
“Wait…what’s your name?” asked Corb.
“Bob, said the guy, and hung up before Corb could ask more.
Forty minutes later, Corb called back, and spoke to Amy. Turns out Bob had scheduled an appointment for us on Saturday, without letting us know. “We can’t do Saturday. We have a birthday party,” said Corb.
The best they could do was Sunday from 8-12. Even though we had been planning to leave for Provincetown early in the morning, we decided to get a late start and take the time.
At ten on Sunday, with no cable guy in sight, we called and spoke to Alix. He said the cable guy was on schedule, and “guaranteed” that someone would be there before twelve.
12:15, we were still waiting. Corb called again, livid. By now, we had wasted eleven hours of our vacation. The person on the phone assured us that someone would be there from 1-3 today, and gave us two free weeks cable and internet service. She gave us her extension, too, so she could monitor it all day.
That night, when we returned home from Provincetown, I went into the bedroom, and noticed that there were four bars on the internet modem. Service had somehow been restored. Without us having to even be there!
Moral of the story: here’s a lesson for you, sinners. Although it may sound attractive to have your internet and cable systems “bundled,” theoretically because it saves you money (which it doesn’t), and is more convenient (which clearly isn’t the case, either), a REALLY big inconvenience with this system is that, if the system fails, you’re in deep shit. And the big monopoly is really not going to give to hoots about your problem, either!