The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 11, 2010

Turn It Off Man, It’s Sucking My Will to Live

Filed under: Technology — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 12:13 am

The countdown to my upcoming move stands at two weeks now, and as you might imagine, I am still knee-deep  in the process of putting off all the stuff I really should be doing in preparation.  I haven’t really packed anything yet (I don’t expect that to take nearly as long as it probably will,) I still have to get rid of a bunch of stuff (ping me if you’re interested in a slightly decrepit old arcade cabinet, a gas grill or a coffee table,) and I still have a whole bunch of address changes and cancellations I need to take care of before I move.  I’ve been in the process of (slowly) going through these, and to be perfectly honest, the stuff has been a pain to deal with. 

These days, pretty much all of the address changes are handled online, but for some reason, half of them don’t seem to work.  The Post Office has gotten rid of their paper change-of-address forms and replaced them with some card directing you to a page on their website.  where you fill out the details, get prompted to enter a credit card to ensure that you aren’t presently engaged in some sort of act of Change of Address with Malicious Intent…  And promptly get declined, at which point I was informed that I would have to print out a form and either mail it in or bring it to the post office.   Which I could have done the first time I was at the post office if they hadn’t changed the process so that wasn’t an option.  Isn’t it great to see the promises of the paperless office  we were being given years ago finally coming to fruition?  Next on the agenda was my voter registration.  Once again, I was provided with a link to a nice convenient website that, of course, just happened not to work at all.  This time I was able to pull up my voter registration info, given the option to make a change, then prompted for my driver’s license number, which was once again soundly rejected by the system.  Once again, I was informed that I was going to need to print out a form and mail it in.  So far, I’ve gotten as far as printing out the form, filling it in, realizing I had the new address wrong and shredding the incorrectly filled out form.  Still need to take care of that one.

In addition to the address changes, there’s also been a few cancellations to deal with as well, mainly my landline phone and DSL through what used to be Verizon, but is now some Frontier company that I’ve never heard of.  I’ve actually had five years of mostly trouble-free service from my DSL connection, but the new apartment is serviced by Qwest, meaning that I couldn’t transfer my service.  I’ve also found that at this point I find little reason to keep a landline phone around, and I figure it’s probably as good a time as any to get rid of it and save the $30 or so it’s costing per month to keep it active.  On Friday most people at work were going to be out of the office, so I opted to work from home so I could have some time to take care of a few of these items.  During a pause while waiting on a new build, I made a quick call to whatever the heck the phone company here is supposed to be called these days to set up a cancellation at the end of the month.  A few minutes on hold got me to a customer service rep who was able to set this up, provided a reference number for the call, and I was on my way. 

Two minutes later, my DSL promptly stops working. 

This, obviously, wasn’t what I had intended to happen.  A second call to the phone company was first directed to a rep that apparently had no clue what was going on, then ended up somehow getting transferred to some sort of tech support voice recording, then finally to some vague excuse and an instantaneous hang-up.  In the meantime, I’m still supposed to be working from home, which is rather difficult to do with no Internet connection.  A second call to the Phone Company That Can’t Be Named got me to another customer service rep, who asked a few vague questions, spent some time typing a bunch of stuff into the computer, then put me on hold for ten minutes.  When he came back, he informed me that because I had specified a disconnection date for my services which was on a weekend they were unable to process the request.  Rather than seeking a clarification, it seems the first guy I talked to instead put in an order to disconnect my services immediately.  Furthermore, since my service had now been disconnected, I was informed that it would require putting in an order for new service to get me reconnected, which would be just kind of pointless with all of three weeks remaining before I vacate my current place.  So to make a long story short, I had been officially exiled by the phone company.

It was, of course, bad enough that I had found myself suddenly relieved of my Internet connection by what basically amounted to a billing error, but to make matters worse, I’d burned at least half an hour on this by now, had gotten myself nowhere, and had been reduced to writing typo-laden e-mail replies on my phone to make it look like I was still actually doing stuff.  Faced with the prospect of spending unhealthy portions of the next two weeks slumming it in the nearest Starbucks, I knew I’d have to do something about this.  Fortunately, I live in reasonably close proximity to the local Comcast office and its customer service counter.  I had actually already planned to use Comcast for my Internet service in the new place, so I thought I’d give them a shot.  Sure I’ve heard all the various complaints about their business practices and their service, but since I already have cable TV with them I figure I might as well consolidate services and pay one bill per month for the stuff instead of two.  They’ve also tolerated my various bunglings during my ill-fated Tivo upgrade pretty well, so I figure I might as well give their Internet service a try.  And since I didn’t have a whole lot of other options, I figured I might as well try to see if I could activate the Internet service a couple of weeks early.  After about ten minutes of calling a co-worker to provide some sort of vague “technical difficulties” excuse, ten minutes in line and another ten minutes of dealing with the rep at the counter, I was able to walk out the door with a cable modem and some vague collection of cables, which I was able to bring back to my place and somehow turn into a functioning Internet connection.  I later had to make a quick run to Staples to grab a wireless router so I could connect mobile devices, as my old and now doorstop-enabled DSL router had been previously serving Wi-fi to the house.  Due to a lack of functioning cable jacks in my apartment I did have to set up the cable modem and router in a somewhat inconvenient location (see above,) but since I’m moving out in two weeks I think I can probably get away with it. 

So to make a long story somewhat less long,  I had somehow resolved an Internet outage resulting from an unplanned cancellation of services and returned to normal functioning within an hour and a half, leaving with plenty of time to clear off my list of resolved bugs for the day.  It seems I was even able to pick up a bit of extra bandwidth in the process as well.  I’m pretty sure this one falls into the “Results not typical” category, but I’d say that’s definitely a bit of an improvement over a 3-megabit DSL connection.  And if even that’s too slow, I’ve probably got bigger problems than I’m going to be able to fix by switching browsers.  Then again, given the circumstances, I’m mostly glad I don’t have even bigger problems than this.


1 Comment »

  1. Good luck on your move. If you need anything with Comcast, email us at the email indicated below. We can check for best rates for you.

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations

    Comment by ComcastMark — July 12, 2010 @ 11:35 am

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