01  Feb
modern convenience

we got a new computer

at least twice the power at half the price we’d paid six years earlier
and our cable company was offering a seemingly attractive package
including broadband, cable tv, premium channels and internet provider
for not much more than we were paying separately for everything but the broadband
so why not make the most of modern convenience?

the time/warner sales rep said the installation would be easy as pie
and sent a sullen, non-communicative guy
who wouldn’t answer questions until five minutes after i’d asked
by which time he’d already completed the mistake
i was hoping he’d avoid by my inquiry

he finished his work and shoved some brochures in my hand
responding to any questions i had about this new package of modern convenience
with “it’s all in the stuff i just gave you”
then insisting i sign releases saying he’d explained everything
when i balked
he got attitude and said it was exactly like our old cable box and remote
so i reluctantly signed off
because he was so obviously anxious to move on to his next appointment
and considered my questions a big waste of time

within the hour of his departure i discovered bruce’s phone was dead
so i dug out his m.c.i. bill and called the contact number
which was printed in bold at the top
(the only number anywhere on the bill for contacting the company)
imagine my surprise when i got a phone menu in what sounded like arabic
i hung up
redialed
and got the arabic phone menu again
i hung on in stunned disbelief until an actual person came on the line speaking the same language
i asked something in english and a male voice said
i’d reached the arabic line and referred me to another number

then i discovered the cable guy had installed “road runner” on the computer
rather than the “a.o.l. for broadband” we wanted

thus began hours of calls to the cable company, the phone company and a.o.l.

does it bug you as much as it does me
that whenever you call companies whose business is technology
first you get an endless phone menu
which seldom seems to offer the option you need for your particular problem
finally you choose what you think might get you to an Actual Human Being
to whom you can explain your problem
and eventually you get a prompt asking you to enter your phone number on the keypad
then when you finally reach that elusive Actual Human Being (AHB)
the first question he or she asks is: “what’s your phone number?”
Even though it must be displayed on the monitor in front of him or her?
so you tell AHB your number and verify your address, your mother’s maiden name
your social security number and the placement and configuration of any identifying birthmarks
and finally he or she asks your problem which you explain in great detail
so happy to finally be talking to an Actual Human Being
who always listens patiently then says: “you need to call this number”

so you do
and it starts all over again
endless phone menu offering no options which match your problem
prompt asking you to touch-tone your phone number
finally an AHB who first asks for your phone number
etcetera etcetera through to “you need to call this number”
etcetera etcetera etcetera

but i digress

after reaching an m.c.i. phone menu in english and going through all the above steps
i manage to schedule a phone repair visit for the next day
not from m.c.i. mind you
even though bruce pays them for his phone service
but from verizon which m.c.i. subcontracts for repairs

the next morning a young woman and man check out the situation and determine
the cable guy stapled the new broadband wire into bruce’s phone line
but these particular verizon subcontractors don’t do those particular repairs which will cost $110
so i have to call m.c.i. again and i’ve lost the number for the phone menu in english
so find myself listening to the one in arabic
then the above-described phone menus, AHBs etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
and an appointment five days later with a repair person who
guess what m.c.i. subcontracts from verizon
but who for some reason is apparently capable
of executing the repairs the previous verizon repair people couldn’t

i don’t have time to stew on all the implications of the above
because the new cable box is not working!
the screen freezes continuously
the d.v.r. (which is costing extra) and picture-in-picture (which doesn’t) don’t work
all of which means trying to schedule another appointment with time/warner
more menus, enter phone number, etc., etc., etc.
not to mention trying to get them to cover the costs of the repair to bruce’s phone line
which their installation guy caused
after several hours of the above-described pattern of phone menus etcetera etcetera etcetera
time/warner makes an appointment for someone to come look at the malfunctioning cable box
but says i have to file a damage claim for the repairs to bruce’s phone
including photos of the offending staple

so a week later another much more helpful cable guy arrives
and says we need new wiring to the living room cable box
this is really lovely news
as last year we did a major renovation and buried the cable behind base boards
so the new guy runs new cable above those and gives us a new box
and lo and behold everything actually seems to work
even though the actual cable isn’t nearly as nicely dressed

and bruce’s phone which has been out for six days
is finally repaired by a another verizon guy subcontracted by m.c.i.
but the $110 damage claim seems to be lost somewhere
in the time/warner warren of departments
and phone menus
and subcontractors who handle damage claims

so i keep trying to clear that up
and still am at this writing which is weeks later
i’ve nearly been reduced to tears a couple of times
my stress level is way up there because other deadlines are pressing in
as i try to resolve all this

but hey we’ve got the latest in modern convenience, right?
there are people in china who have never even listened to a phone menu let alone in arabic
the internet connection is really fast
and makes accessing the spam filling my e-mail in-box so much quicker
and now we can record all the crap on television with the push of a remote button

so what the hell am i complaining about?

posted by admin on February 1, 2005, at 1:00 am | filed under poetry | no comments »

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