Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't You Die on Me, High-Speed Internet Access!

I often make fun of my kids who have complete meltdowns when one of their gadgets go dead like the iPod, the Wii, the X-box, the Sims game on the computer. I usually start with, “when I was your age, we didn’t even know what computers were!” or something equally unimpressive to their young, technologically-savvy ears. So, it was with great interest that I have been judging my reaction to an email I received two weeks ago yesterday, in which a man—I’ll identify him as Greg (not his real name)—wrote to a group of local dsl users with his company—I’ll call it ZT&T (not its real name)—that ZT&T was dropping all of them as customers. No explanation as to why, but uninterrupted service was promised, despite the fact that service would be suspended within forty-eight hours. Not long enough to get another service, but just short enough to send the names on Greg’s email list (which were revealed, not hidden), enough time to panic. I recognized two of my friends on the list.

I’ve identified the five stages of grieving for your internet service. Here they are:

1. Fear: Who was Greg? Did he really work for ZT&T? Why did he reveal the entire email list to all of the other affected customers? Was he phishing? To counteract the fear, I called ZT&T and reached India. The man in India assured me that Greg was real, he did work for ZT&T, and yes, he was dropping me as a dsl customer in less than forty-eight hours. He bid me adieu and wishes for a nice day. I told the man in India that not only was I beyond annoyed, I was dropping ZT&T as my local and long distance carrier. He was unimpressed.

2. Frustration: I called Greg; he had left a phone number which I assumed went back to India where I would get the desk of the guy sitting next to the first guy I spoke to. When Greg picked up his phone, I was amazed. He let me rant and then told me that service would be uninterrupted; they were selling us, en masse, to another local carrier we’ll call Berizon. Yes, yes, yes, Greg intoned, there would be no interruption of my dsl service. I reiterated that I ran a business from my home that was dependent on high-speed internet access; in his monotone, he GUARANTEED that I would have service on Thursday when I awoke. I did—it just went out after lunch. Technically, he did not lie.

3. Anger: My emails to Greg, which in the beginning ended with “have a nice day” or “thank you for your help” descended into “you’d better resolve this before I bring Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of New York State, and all the wrath he wrought down on your pathetic tuchis.” Before long. Greg, too, was unimpressed. (Sense the theme here?) He assured me that I was first on the list for reconnection and would have email by Monday, the 15th at the latest. Later that day, I received a packet in the mail from Berizon with my installation disk saying that I would have service a week from Saturday, June 26th. I called Greg back, but he didn’t pick up his phone this time; an away message on his email indicated that he had gone on vacation (I’m not making this up). He instructed us to call someone else. But I’m so dang tired of this whole thing that the thought of explaining who I am, why I’m angry, and how desperately I need high-speed internet service made me think twice about calling this new person. Something tells me Greg didn’t fill the new guy in on the hordes of angry customers in our Village.

4. Denial: “This isn’t really happening,” I would intone as I waited for my dial-up service to connect. Hours later, while still waiting, I would still be in my fugue state, rocking back and forth in my chair, saying the same thing. Every try to download a pdf on dial-up service? It takes four days. Eventually, I did download the complaint form from the Attorney General’s office, but since it took so long, the bottom was cut off and I have to start again.

5. Acceptance: I will have dial-up forever. I will never work again. It’s okay. Lots of people live with dial-up. Lots of people have productive lives. High-speed internet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Just as I got to this point, the doorbell rang. When I opened it and took in the smiling face of the Berizon technician, his shiny truck at my curb, I nearly jumped into his arms. “Berizon man! I am so happy to see you!” I screamed, clapping my hands together; I held back from hugging him. He took a step back from the doorway and slowly made his way down the front steps, fear etched on his kind face.

“Nobody is ever that happy to see me,” he said, regarding me warily. “They usually want to wring my neck.”

I checked his name tag. His name was Dave. Not Greg. And he worked for Berizon, not ZT&T. In my book, this guy was okay. He helped me call up my web page and helped me get a wireless connection. Never will I make fun of my kids again. Now that we have the technology, let’s all use it!

Maggie Barbieri


  1. Oh, how we love our tech!

    I often send a letter or some other document, long or short, to my printer and then when my gratification isn't instantaneous enough and the document doesn't appear RIGHT NOW, I clench my teeth and hiss "Come ON already!"

    Because technology, that irresistable tease, promised me I would never have to wait, damn it.

  2. oh I will make fun of your kids....believe me......

  3. Great Blog! I've been meaning to leave a comment for the last two days. I can't stand it when my internet connection is interrupted. And dial-up? It's hard to go back to a horse & buggy once you've used a car for transportation on the internet super highway.

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David