02 August 2004

Welcome to My Nightmare

It’s been almost five days since I had high-speed Internet access. Something—perhaps the thunderstorm that awakened me several times Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning—messed up my DSL modem. I spent almost all day Thursday on the telephone with EarthLink technicians, trying to get the modem working again. I was told that a technician would come to my house between eight and twelve o’clock Friday morning. Nobody came. I cleaned the house for nothing.

I called at three o’clock and was told that somebody had read my “ticket” and canceled the appointment. Nobody had informed me. For all they knew, I had taken a half day off work to be home for the technician. I was told to call back at eight. When I did, I was told that it was a telephone-company problem and that it might be Monday before it was solved. Unbelievable.

I waited patiently all weekend, using my EarthLink dial-up connection for as long as I could stand it (which wasn’t long). Today, exasperated, I called EarthLink. I was told that the telephone company had sprung into action. Sure enough, a telephone technician arrived shortly thereafter. He did some stuff on the outside of the house, then brought his equipment inside. He ran some tests and said everything appeared to be working up to and including the DSL modem. But still I couldn’t get connected, so, when he left, I called EarthLink back.

The technician ran some tests, had me do a few things on my computer, and concluded that something, somewhere, had to be reset. Sounds simple, right? Nope. He personally couldn’t do it; some other office had to do it. He told me to call back in one hour. When I called back, another technician told me he couldn’t reset whatever had to be reset until the telephone company’s report is submitted. He told me to call back at nine o’clock in the morning.

How would you feel if this happened to you? Responsibility is diffused, so each person can honestly say, “Things are working fine where I am.” Everything works, but my DSL doesn’t work. If this is how EarthLink does business, it deserves to go out of business. Someone should be assigned to each customer, the way lawyers are assigned to cases. That person handles every aspect of the case and stays in touch with the customer until the problem is solved. Most people, I assume, would be happy to pay a little more for this. I know I would.

I should have left EarthLink long ago, and certainly before five days passed; but I hold out hope that somebody will reset something tomorrow morning and I’ll be back online. I’m told by various people (including some friendly correspondents who read my blog) that a cable Internet connection is faster and more reliable. If I get no satisfaction in the morning from EarthLink, I’ll call Charter, my cable-television company. I can’t live like this, knowing that at any time, through no fault of my own, I can lose my high-speed Internet connection for five days. Five hours is too long. Five days is nightmarish. I’ve come to depend on high-speed Internet access. To lose it is equivalent to losing air conditioning, electricity, or water.

You’re probably thinking, “What a crybaby he is.” But I haven’t begun to describe the problems I’ve had. They breed like rabbits. I have two computers, an old Compaq and a new Dell. I keep the Compaq as a backup. For some reason, I can’t get a dial-up connection with the Dell. Maybe its modem is shot, but I don’t know why it would be. So to use the dial-up connection, I have to use the Compaq, which is slower.

It gets worse. The dial-up connection is squirrelly. I lose my connection right in the middle of doing something. I’ve had to redial many, many times in the past several days. A few minutes ago, I couldn’t open any web pages. I could get my e-mail, so I knew I had a connection, but no web page would open. Finally, after trying for several minutes, it worked. Will it work next time? Who knows? The various components of my system seem to have formed a league against me.

When you put it all together, I’m shell-shocked. I’m beyond frustrated; I’m livid. What’s happening could easily be the plot of a Kafka novel. My comfortable, scholarly world has been turned upside down. About the only escape I’ve had from the madness was during Saturday’s bike rally in Cleburne. I rode seventy-one miles in brilliant sunshine, enjoying the scenery, the people, and my music. Wish me luck with tomorrow’s “reset.” I hope to be back to blogging soon.

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