Monday, March 03, 2008

&$^@#!?*% Verizon!!!! (a Trois)

While I was nerding it up at ConDFW, my internet connection died on me. I had no idea until I got home from the conference and started up my PC, only to find myself being mocked by Windows Vista's "limited connectivity" icon. Usually when this happens, I just power off my modem and power down my PC, then bring them both back up and hey, problem solved!

(As you may recall from the last time I had this problem, my modem is slightly older than John McCain, and was apparently constructed prior to the invention of on/off switches. So in order to "cycle power," I have to reach around behind it and pull out the power cord. My modem sucks, and I hope it dies alone and unloved.)

Anyway, despite my best efforts, I just wasn't getting any connectivity love. So once again, I broke down and did something that never seems to bode well. I called Verizon Customer Service.

Now apparently Verizon has decided that the whole DSL thing is beneath them, so they've quit supporting it themselves and farmed it out to some very nice folks for whom English is, to be kind, most likely a second language.

So, with much trepidation, I dialed Verizon Customer Service and reached the soulless automaton who would be my guide. Her soothing, robot voice informed me that I was at the Main Menu, and I could return here at any time by saying "main menu." And so, comforted by the thought that safety was never more than two words away, I plunged into the swirling, nightmarish abyss of Verizon's nested menus.

I informed the godless fembot that I was calling with regards to Verizon High Speed Internet, that my phone number was indeed correct, and that I was having connectivity issues. After much clicking and whirring as she attempted to process this human emotion called love, the she-droid informed me that she was going to perform some tests on the line and it might take a few minutes.

This is the part that always kills me, because while waiting for the results, another helpful recorded message always sees fit to inform me that "the solutions for many common connectivity issues may be found online at the Verizon website." Thank you, Verizoputer 5000. I'm sure if anybody ever bothered to point out the fallacy in that logic to the robots manning the phones, they would short out and their heads would explode.

The fembot finally came back on the line to let me know that she had found a problem in the network and she was transferring me to an agent who could assist me further. I have to say, this filled me with hope. If she'd already managed to figure out the problem, hopefully I'd be up and running in no time. Right? RIGHT?

Wrong. I was finally connected with a very nice human being in a drastically different time zone who had me go through the usual rigmarole of shutting things off and turning them back on again. Because they never believe you when you tell them you've already done it 5,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. I told her that the magic voice on the phone had already found the problem, but unfortunately the robots and the Indian contractors don't seem to be speaking with one another these days. After exhausting her bag of tricks, my agent informed me that she was going to escalate the issue to her supervisor, or something like that. She said they would be in touch and let me know when the issue was resolved.

Well, I got the call on Friday that the problem was solved and my connection to Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's Internet should be up and running. I went to check, but no connection. I unplugged the modem, powered down the PC, and brought them both back up. Still no connection.

On Saturday, I sat down to place another call to Verizon Customer Support. I found myself at the familiar Main Menu, and once again worked my way through the myriad options. When I finally informed the cold, mechanical fembot that I was having connectivity issues, she gave me the following choices:
I see that we recently closed a ticket for you on this issue. You may need to restart your modem and your computer. To repeat this information, say "repeat." To return to the Main Menu, say "main menu."
I tried again and again, but I couldn't seem to get past this barrier of computer logic. No option to reopen a ticket, no option to speak to an agent, nothing. Annoyed, I returned to the Main Menu and this time when she asked me what my issue was, I said, "Other." Fortunately, my unpredictable human brain proved too wily for her circuitous logic, and I was able to pierce the clever defenses of the Verizon Customer Service Automated Menu System. I felt like such a hacker.

I was eventually connected to another exotic customer service agent who apologized profusely for the inconvenience and reopened my ticket. We went through the reboot thing again, and I'm sure you can imagine my surprise and astonishment when that didn't work. So she said that she would escalate my call to her supervisor, and they would be in touch with me.

I heard back just two hours later from somebody here in the continental U.S. He said they were going to upgrade my connection for free, and I'd be receiving a new and improved modem (and cables) in the mail in the next few days. He also gave me his number and said I could call it if I ran into any problems getting the new stuff up and running.

So I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. Hopefully I'll be back online before my social security benefits kick in. In the meantime, I'm making due with my internet connection at work, and the occasional low-quality wireless signal that I can grab with my laptop.

Can you hear me now?


Boidy said...

Since your connection died at the exact time I was trying to catch up with your blogging, I'm guessing your internet connection balked at hooking up with the frozen hinterland I call home.

Professor said...

I hate automated sustems and it SUCKS. good luck and I hope you are reconnected some day.