Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hook me up, baby!

“Welcome to Verizon Online. If you are calling about home DSL service, press 1.”

I was so excited. I just cancelled my EarthLink account. I cancelled after spending two weeks on the phone with their off-shore technical service because my DSL connection had ceased. No, wait, “off-shore” is too nearby. Let’s get accurate here. I had spent two weeks on the phone with their eleventh circle of Hell technical service. Better, much better. So yes, I cancelled EarthLink.

I shouted, “I cancel you! I cancel you! I cancel you!” Slam, slam, slam the phone down hard in its shivering cradle. Three times is the charm, as they say. Three times to divorce, three times to cancel.

“Welcome to Verizon Online. Please listen carefully to our menu options as they have changed. For orders, press 1. For billing, press 2. To cancel, press 3.”

Eager as a beaver, I pressed 1 again. A long message ensued, telling me the virtual history of Verizon, the origins of man, the fact that I’d dialed the wrong number if I didn’t have a Verizon phone line. Since Verizon owned my phone line, I stayed on the line. I continued to hang on even though ten minutes had already elapsed because I was so excited to get my brand spankin’ new DSL service.

“Hello this is Karen at Verizon DSL, how may I help you?”

“I’d like to order Verizon DSL! Hook me up, baby!”

“May I have your phone number?”

I give it. She asks, “What’s your name?”

“Adriana Bliss! That’s me! Adriana B as in boy, L as is lion-hearted, I as in I’m hooked on DSL, S as in super-Callafrajalistic, S as in super-excited-to-get-DSL!”

“I’m sorry, I have no record of you. Who is your telephone provider?”

“Verizon.”

“And your name is?”

“I just gave it to you.”

“Whose name is on the account?”

“My husband.”

“His name is…”

I gave it, knowing there’d be issues being that I still use my maiden name. “Look, Bliss is my appointed name. D is my husband.”

“Do you give us permission to look at your records?”

“Yes, by golly.”

“Would you like us to review your records to see if you have the best deal for your telephone service?”

“Not really, I just want to order Verizon DSL. Hook me up, baby!”

“I do need to look at your records as far as your order is concerned.”

”Fine, whatever it takes.”

“I see that you’re paying a little more than you should. For $44 per month you can have all these features and more, plus we can bind your regular service bill with your Verizon Wireless service. Would you like to do that right now?”

”Not now…just want the DSL, that good old-fashioned DSL.”

“Sorry for the inconvenience. Do you give us permission to look at your wireless records?”

“NO!!! Just give me the freaking DSL!”

“You don’t need to use that language with me, m’am.”

“I think I do, considering you refuse to take my order for DSL.”

“Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place?”

I said nothing, choosing instead to yank a thick lock of hair out of my head and rake fingernails down my chest. She then proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes taking down information. You know, the basics, my name and address. She entered it, then lost it, entered it again, lost it. Entered it a last time.

“Sorry for the inconvenience.”

We finally got to the section about equipment. “For $49.99 you can have the Gateway combination router and modem. How’s that sound?”

“Ohhhh…that sounds lovely. Yes, hook me up, baby!”

“Oh. Hm.”

“What?”

“Can’t do it.”

“Why not?!”

“Computer won’t let me.”

“Well, override it!”

“Can’t do it. Hm. Never seen this before.” She whispers to someone other than me, “Get me a supervisor.” Returns to me. “Sorry. Can’t do it. I’ll look into it.”

“Great,” I said, knowing the problem would die on the vine like a sad fungus-ridden tomato.

“We’ll just send you the regular modem for $29.99. Would you like that in one payment or three?”

“Oh hell, make it three.”

The kids by this time are mewing for food at my feet, licking my legs and kicking the hell out of each other, so I pushed hard to conclude our deal. She promised nothing, letting me know Verizon will be in touch as to the installation date. Within hours, I got an e-mail (because EarthLink hasn’t disconnected me yet) saying there was a problem.

A delay.

Next day I called because I couldn’t bear to spend any time immediately with any sort of agent of anything…and as soon as I dialed the toll-free number, a computer responds to me with my very own telephone number, asking if I’m calling from that number, which is strange because I have a blocked number. How can the computer know my number if my number is specifically blocked? Strange indeed. Anyway, I listened to a message that said, “You’re scheduled for installation on the 26th. This information is the most updated information any agent or I can give you,” meaning I don’t get to talk to anybody. There is no prompt to speak with a live person, just sends me to the main menu where if respond accurately, I’ll get to the same message again. I tried again. This time I’m clever and deny that the number I’m calling from is actually the number, deny that I’m calling about my DSL order, deny that I’m even interested in Verizon…finally reaching a live agent who shoves me off to her supervisor who informs me that my order has been cancelled.

Yes, you read that correctly. I was cancelled before I even got started.

“EarthLink has to release the line before we can check to see whether you can get DSL or not.”

“But I have DSL.”

“We need to check that.”

“I’ve been paying an ungodly amount of money for over two years for fast-as-fire DSL. So obviously I have DSL.”

“We need to verify that.”

“I’m verifying it for you!”

“My superiors in provisioning need to confirm that. So anyway, as soon as EarthLink releases the line, then we can check this and then we’ll get you started again. You’ll need to re-order.”

“RE-order?”

“Yes, re-order the day after EarthLink releases the line. Provided we can verify that EarthLink has released the line.”

My screaming had the man hanging the phone up delicately, saying, “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

I called EarthLink, demanding that they release the line. They said it would take ten to fifteen days. Sometime in mid-October. I tore into the agent who sent me to a supervisor, laughing as she did so, saying there wasn’t anything she could do, that I was in line, in a queue, to be released along with all the other people who were canceling EarthLink like the lemmings we are.

She transferred me to a supervisor, but not before keeping me on hold for ten minutes. After ten minutes she returned to inform me that the supervisors were very busy.

“And what am I? NOT busy?”

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience,” she said before putting on the elevator music.

The EarthLink supervisor finally picked up and reiterated what the agent said, that it would take ten to fifteen days. Please be assured that I told them how absurd that was, how downright criminal that was to keep my line tied up after I cancelled them. He was silent. I did notice however that when I got off the phone and attempted to dial in that I no longer had dial-up internet access. EarthLink may not have released the line, but they certainly cut off my internet access.

I called Verizon and after fooling the computer into thinking my number wasn’t my number and I wasn’t calling about DSL or anything remotely related to the internet or even planet earth, I landed with technical support. The Verizon agent advised me that there was good news, that EarthLink was releasing the line on the 25th of September. Once the 25th passed, Verizon could check DSL and if I passed the check, they could install DSL on the 27th.

“Cool, so you’ll send me the equipment now? This way I’ll have equipment to hook up on the 27th, right?”

“Sorry. Can’t do that.”

“WHY NOT?!”

“We can’t send you anything until we know you can get DSL.”

“I GET DSL!”

“Would you like to speak to my supervisor?”

“You bet your sweet bippy, I do!”

“Here you go.”

Dial tone. She disconnected me. I dialed again, working like a snake, winding my way around the automated system which would otherwise send me to the recording that repeated my blocked telephone number and assured me that my installation date of the 26th was, “the most updated information any agent or I can give you. Thank you for using Verizon. If you have any further questions, please visit our website at www.verizon.com.”

Now…how can I visit their website if I don’t have any internet access?!

Well, I’m sure they’re speaking about people who have Verizon dial-up access. But what about for those who are just getting DSL, who don’t have any internet access at home? They offer the same information at their technical support prompt, the support for people who have trouble with their internet access, and are put on hold. While on hold, I sat through a repeating message about visiting their website. Sort of like rubbing my nose in it, mocking my complete lack of internet access. I hung up on technical support. I decide to call the sales department since my first call before I cancelled EarthLink had been so successful, my fishing call, the information call. The gentleman had been kind and knowledgeable. He seemed like a real person. So human.

“Wow, that’s quite a mess,” the sales guy said to me after hearing my sob story. “Unfortunately I can’t help you at all because we’re a third party vendor.”

Meaning the sales department for Verizon DSL isn’t actually Verizon. Which makes me think the technical support isn’t Verizon and neither is the billing department or the provisioning department or the installation department or the access department. Which makes me wonder, “What is Verizon?”

“It’s PEOPLE!”

Or some terrorist cell organization. One cell can’t know what the other cell is doing otherwise their push to take over the world will be sabotaged. Or perhaps it’s run by aliens. Or maybe the computer has finally taken over. There are no people behind Verizon. Instead, it’s one main computer gone amok.

I call the technical support number again. Lie to the computer. Technical support sends me to shipping. Shipping says I don’t exist and sends me back to technical support which sends me to a supervisor. I demand they send me the equipment but they refuse even though I begged them to please, PLEASE just put a modem in a box and send it to me so that when DSL gets installed I’ll have the equipment in place, all ready to go.

“We need to verify that you have DSL capability first. That’s how we do things here, that’s how the disintegrating memo we received last week told us to do it. That and the buzzing chip that was implanted into my brain sometime in the night when I first got hired on here at Verizon Pluto…I mean, Verizon. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

The 26th rolled around. I called Verizon. I said, “Today’s the 26th, hook me up, baby!”

The technical support agent that I reached after lying to the computer about my blocked phone number spends about ten minutes saying, “Hmm,” and “Mm hmm.”

She says to me, “I need to transfer you to sales.”

“Sales can’t do anything for me because it’s not Verizon.”

There’s no argument. She says, “Hmm.” Then transfers me to the toll free number. After I lie to the computer, I land in technical support once again. New agent. Not a supervisor.

She asks, “Can I have your number?”

“You know it, the computer knows it, I know it, and they know it.”

“Can I have your number?”

“Why am I here? Another technical support transferred me to you – I don’t want you – I want someone—”

“Can I have your number?”

Because it’s clearly a battle I cannot win, I capitulate. I give my number and demand to speak to a supervisor. She transfers me after putting me on hold for ten minutes.

I get one named Dennis.

“Welcome to Verizon where the customer is king!”

“Where’s my DSL equipment and when will my DSL be installed?”

“Ah yes…and you are?”

“Adriana Bliss.”

“But you don’t hold the account.”

“No.”

“What’s the address – just confirm it for me please.”

I do and we begin the dance again where I tell him what I want and he avoids answering like one avoids the plague.

“We have to wait for the go ahead before we can install.”

“And who gives the go-ahead?”

“The access department.”

“Who can I speak to there?”

“Well, they’re not really the deciders. They’re waiting for the provisioning department to give them the final okay.”

“Who can I talk to there?”

“Well, they’re not in charge of the actual line. The engineering department is.”

“Who can I talk to there?”

“Nobody ever talks to them.”

“Oh…my…god. So it’s like the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion.”

“In what?”

“Never mind…so the engineering department, the group who actually checks the wire and gives the okay cannot be reached by anybody, you included?”

“That’s right. We wait for the go-ahead. And updating the consumer records with the go-ahead will take forty-eight hours.”

“Forty-eight hours for the engineering department to tell the provisioning department to tell the provisioning department to update the consumer records so that you can THEN tell me to order Verizon which will THEN allow you to mail out the equipment which will take five business days.”

“Five to ten business days.”

“So I won’t have a working internet until sometime before Christmas.”

He chuckles, “Oh I’m sure we’ll get it up before Thanksgiving.”

I slam the phone down, “I cancel you! I cancel you! I cancel you!”

The Yellow Pages must offer some other DSL options, no? Our country has not been eaten up entirely by Verizon. I call Adelphia for cable. They tell me it will be near $50 and will take ten working days to get someone to my house. I call DirectTV for the satellite option. After listening to the automated system and elevator music for ten minutes, I go into seizure and am forced to stop. I call a couple of numbers. One takes me to an adult entertainment outfit and another is residential number.

“Is this Freebie DSL Service?”

He sighs. “No, this is a residential number.”

“Oh, is this 555-7676?”

“Yes, but it’s my personal number.”

“You’re in the Yellow Pages, you know.”

“Yup, I know.”

“So sorry for the inconvenience.”

So here I sit, waiting for EarthLink to formally disconnect, Verizon to assure I have/had DSL, and then…to hook me up. And then…to wait for the equipment to get here. And you know, I don’t even know that DSL will work because…after all…the failed DSL is why I was calling EarthLink for technical support in the first place.

I laugh now. I laugh and laugh and laugh as I take a huge dose of Vicodin (thanks, Patrick!) and a shot of vodka to wash down those bitter pills. Then I straighten myself out at the podium for my lecture on Constitutional Law to my eager evening students. I end up ranting about EarthLink and Verizon. The overhead then fails. No connection, no signal, the computer tells me. I think about the shows TiVo is recording, thankful that something technological actually works. Besides my phone…my working Verizon phone that’s run by people-eating, alien terrorist-cell organizers.

See you next week, folks, the next time I can get access to some computer somewhere with an internet that works!

5 comments:

Dale said...

AARGH!!!

Brenda said...

I enjoyed this, especially being currently at the mercy of Rogers. I had a landline and ultra lite high speed internet (slower than my brother's dial-up) and was getting two separate bills and wanted one. That meant switching the phone to digital, running it off the cable with a another modem.

Except for wanting to bill me for the 'free cordless phone' because I was leaving the service, and I had to remind them I was staying with the same company, 'Oh, right, okay,' the procedure went smoothly - cable guy arrived on the right day, ran the wires, did the stuff, it all worked.

Two weeks ago my daughter went to see her Dad in Kitchener, about an hour's drive from here. She takes a Greyhound bus, was very tired from being up the night before with a school assignment (Gr 11), and I get a call from my son, who lives with his Dad now, asking what time she left. We all went into panic mode.

She was so tired when she left I imagined the scenarios- fell asleep on the bench at the bus depot, abducted; fell asleep on the bus, is in London by now, abducted.

After numerous calls, including to her closest friend to see if possibly she'd gone there, my son called and said the bus driver had gotten lost and the bus was an hour late in arriving.

A Greyhound bus driver who got lost?! Apparently at one of the earlier stops he announced to the passengers that he didn't know the way and asked if anyone did. People just laughed. And he got quite lost before finding the city and the bus depot.

Anyway, when they finally arrived, my daughter called her Dad's but got only a busy signal (they use an answering machine still) and called the operator to place a collect call to me. The operator told her my number didn't accept collect calls.

When Rogers business office opened Monday morning I was on the phone. 'Oh, that bug was fixed last July; it says so right here.'

'Excuse me but my daughter was told my number wouldn't accept collect calls.'

'I don't know. It should work. I'll put a note on your account.'

'If either of my children needed help and couldn't make a collect call... we're talking safety here. The operator could not put a collect call through, it didn't work, I don't care what your system says.'

'We will get this issue straightened out; we're working on it.'

'I want to switch back to a landline.'

'Okay, you want to switch from the digital service?'

'Yes. Is there a charge?'

'No. Let me connect you to the telecom department...' Which takes 10 minutes and where I'm offered another cordless phone or $10. off my bill for 6 months. I ask if accepting the phone means I'm tacitly agreeing to their service for a certain period of time. I am assured that I'm not.

I was to be connected a week ago, on Thursday. A call from man, a manager of field operations or something, states it'll be last Tuesday. Tuesday comes and goes with nothing. I call Rogers. They're waiting on Bell to give them permission to switch the line and there's a backlog. I'm advised to plug an extra phone into the jack and keep checking it daily to see if it's active.

'Huh?'

When they activate my line all incoming calls will go to the landline, but we'll still be able to dial out on the digital service (until I return the box to a Rogers outlet and cancel the service).

They can't give me a date for connection. A very nice operator who I talked to for quite awhile told me that my daughter could call any Rogers 800 number and request to make a 'courtesy call' to my number... that people do it constantly. 'Hmnn... that's interesting- it takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to get a live operator, could be rather difficult in an emergency.' She also offered to 'keep an eye' on my account to see when my line will be activated and promised to call me and let me know.

Now I'm checking the line a few times a day. There's no other way to tell when 'the procedure' will be done.

Primus has a better deal - for the same monthly sum, instead of ultra light high speed (slower than dial-up) and a phone with one 'free' feature - I pay extra for call display and an unlisted number - which is different to a blocked number, that's another $4. Anyway, for the same amount, $70./monthly, Primus offers real high speed DSL, a phone with 8 features, including call forward (which I sometimes need to my cell if I'm expecting a call), and unlimited long distance day or night anywhere in North America.

Company loyalty?

Hardly.

When I'm finally switched over by Rogers, I'll switch over to Primus.

Ha! Do I think it'll be that easy?

Lori said...

Yow. Unbelieveable.

Danny said...

Honestly, it would be understandable if you became a serial killer and if I were on your jury I'd acquit you of all charges. The "releasing your line" bullshit takes the cake. Have you considered a class-action lawsuit against these companies? I'm so glad I got rid of earthlink years ago. At the risk of the evil eye smiting my dsl modem, I'll say that I've had good luck with sbcglobal. I also spend a lot of time (like right now) on Whole Foods' FREE DSL Internet service (does your laptop have wireless capability?). A lovely organic salad with your DSL? Can't be beat.

Fromage de Merde said...

Alas, we are all just cogs in the gearwheels of the MACHINE! Everyone hates the phone company, everyone hates their DSL carrier, everyone is getting screwed - but you tell it so deliciously...

So, we’ll hear from you again on Thanksgiving?