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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Mind, Nearly Lost

What a day I had yesterday. I had some things that needed to get done, so I began to seize the day. I knew what had to be done and I was ready to do it. My first task went quite well. I had to make a phone call to a doctor's office to see if they'd let me pay my bill a bit at a time. I was pleasantly surprised at how nicely I was treated, and the fact that I wasn't given the hard line of, "You need to pay this all right now, or else." With a contented sigh of relief, I decided to do a few things online like catching up on emails and bank balances before paying some bills online.

This was when my day took an unpleasant turn. To tell you why it was such a pain, I need to take you back in time. You see, for several months when I first got this laptop and we got a new modem, I was unable to access my own WiFi connection. This was pretty frustrating for me, especially since the modem is less than ten feet away. On one memorable occasion, I called the manufacturer (see how discreet I am; no name-dropping!) for help with the problem. Before I made the call, I reset and unplugged and removed the backup battery from the modem. Several times. When I was connected to the service person, I told him up front that I had done this several times, and to please not ask me to do it.  And he asked me to do it. About four times. I could feel my blood pressure building. After two and a half hours of phone time, he expressed his opinion that it was a problem with the provider. I was beyond wanting to spend more time on the phone, so I just plugged back into my wireless connection, which I had already been using anyway.

A few months later, I wanted to ask a moderately computer savvy acquaintance about the message I was getting regarding the connection. Lo and behold, when I tried to show him the problem, I was able to connect wirelessly! Kind of like when you finally get to the mechanic and the weird pinging noises go away. I was a happy camper. I felt like a big girl because I had severed my umbilicus. But I'd lose my connection (the computer would tell me the connection was Limited, which I have come to believe is code for does not exist) at random times. I'd do some song and dance and it would come back, but it was irritating. You can live with minor irritations, though, so I kept on keeping on.

In the last month or two, I realized that the problem was getting out of hand. On two different occasions, I had spent more than an hour writing blog posts, and lost my connection. Talk about a panicky feeling. If my post got lost, I wouldn't be able to recreate it in the same way. How do you recreate the flow of your thoughts and emotions? "Oh, I remember, I was listening to Movie X and thinking about kersniffens, so I must have mentioned pollywogs." Not so much. I had this dreadful feeling as I went searching for my cable, which Trent helped me find in seconds flat. The post was saved, and panic ended. 

I decided to go on my internet provider's website for troubleshooting. I was thrilled to see instructions for the exact problem I was having. Yippee! All I had to do was make sure that my computer was doing two specific things, and the problem would dissolve. I eagerly clicked the link for instructions. Mm-hmm. Instructions for every version of Microsoft except 8, the one on my computer. Lovely. I was undeterred. I searched Google for instructions on how to do the recommended tasks, and they were accomplished fairly easily. But I still had problems with wireless connections. So I went back to full-time umbilicus use. And on Saturday night I started losing that connection. It was time to get on the phone with my provider.

After checking to make sure that all of the cables were in place and doing powering down and resets of the modem, I called. I was told that it was simple, they just needed to send me a stronger signal. Sure enough, the connection miraculously came back to life. I was a very happy camper computer user. For one whole hour, until the wired connection went away again. I was disgusted and tired and just went to bed. Things went on the same way until Thursday, and I was losing my connection like crazy. I'd do the modem dance, and the connection would last about a minute, and then I'd have to start the dance again. When I called the provider, another signal was sent after I danced on command (without so much as a pat on the head or a "good girl!" or a tasty treat). And then I was told that if this didn't work, I'd have to have a service technician come to our home to make sure that the modem and cables were all attached. 

It's a wonder I didn't have a coronary or a stroke or just plain lose my mind. I freely admit to a lot of computer-related stuff being over my head, but I am not a blithering idiot. I am intelligent enough to know that I am not the smartest kid on the block. And that I am not the dumbest either. So it really makes me angry to have someone treat me like I'm too stupid to own a computer. I informed Ms. Customer Service that I had no need to pay $150 or thereabouts for someone to come to my home and see if my modem was plugged in. After venting to poor Trent, and to my friends on Google +, I set about paying those bills. Luckily for me, my friend Paul was able to give me some advice based on the information I gave him, and it seemed to help the situation immensely. Ahh...

Things went well for five to seven minutes. Until I tried to pay the bill for my cable/internet provider. I went to their website and typed in my login information. I was told that I was being taken to my account information. And ended up back on a login screen. This happened a few times, so I asked Trent to watch. Heck, maybe I had lost my mind! And it happened again. After checking other sites to make sure I had an internet connection, I called again. Let me interject. I worked in telephone customer service for years. I also trained people to do that job. I always try to be very kind and courteous. The people on the phones don't create the problems, they just have to deal with them.

I told the person who answered that I was unable to login either with my computer or my tablet, but I did have a connection. I said that I'd like to make a payment, but couldn't. He said there was a fee to make a payment, but he'd talk to someone in that department. After a couple of minutes, he came back and told me that even though there was a problem with their website, I'd be charged $5.99 to make a payment. I was incredulous. Your website isn't working, so I have to pay a fee to make my payment? Not going to happen. I refused as politely as I could and decided to have Trent take me to one of their storefronts so that I could pay it in person. 

I was incredibly upset at this point, having been treated like an idiot by more than one person from the same company on the same day. I am a non-violent person. When I get really incredibly angry, it often overflows itself in the form of tears. I was rapidly getting there. Trent said that I should call back and make a complaint; it would make me feel better in the long run. I said that there was no way. But in a few minutes, I decided to call again.

When I finally got through to a special service area, I began by apologizing. I told Marvin, the very kind gentleman on the phone, that I just needed him to listen. I also told him that I was so angry that I was on the verge of tears. Which then started to flow. He told me that he's a great big guy who has the same problem, and that he was here to listen to me. So I recounted all of of the trouble and frustration, mentioning that I got more help from a friend than the company's staff. I also let him know that I was going to pay the bill in person, and that at my earliest opportunity I was severing my relationship with the company. Marvin had the power to help me. But even better, he had the desire to make me happy and to retain a customer.

He told me he would do whatever he could to make it up to me. Before I knew it, he had made arrangements for us to be switched to the company's newest cable technology. He added a home phone line and threw in a premium channel at no charge. And made our bill lower. And arranged for installation to happen this morning. An installation that normally costs $100, for which there would be no charge. I called expecting nothing more than making a complaint before I left the company forever, and this person saved my account. And while he was working on my account, I remembered that they have a relationship with my cellphone provider. So after I got off the phone with the cable company, I called my cell company. They are going to lower my bill for a year, so I will be saving more than $100 over the course of the next year. By the time it was all over, I was exhausted, but pleased that there are still people out there that care.

Trent, I appreciate your love and support; thank you, my best friend. For my friends who listened when I was losing it, thank you. Paul, your simple fix worked; thank you so much. Marvin, I'm sure you are one of the best assets of your company, and I left your manager a message saying so. And to all the folks I spoke with in customer service, a request. Please treat your callers the way you wish they'd treat you. We may not be rocket scientists, but we're not all idiots either. And as I always say when a customer service representative asks if there's anything else they can do for me, promise me you'll try to have a fantastic day!