Last Monday, I was home, surfing the Internet from time to time, having to reboot from time to time because of increasingly frequent loss of my connection. While this might bother / annoy / enrage / bewilder some folk, to me, it was business as usual. I have become so inured to the vagaries of Bell Aliant and their products and service that it hardly flickered on my radar...
I (actually, it was my nephew) could no longer reconnect. Now, I was in a pickle. I was going to have to actually TALK to someone at Bell, and that tends to go well so rarely that I dread it worse than needles in my eyes.
However!!! I had one last ace up my sleeve that just might save the day....
This situation was not new to me. On average, I lose my Internet connection approximately every 3 - 6 months. When it first started happening, I would call Bell, go through the interminable menues, and finally speak to someone who would direct me to connect the ethernet cable between the laptop and modem, type in this and that, and voila, my connection would be restored - for another 3 - 6 months. I've had this friendly chat with their call-center personnel approximately 15 times. The reason that number is so low, when one considers every 3 - 6 months x I-don't-know-how-many-years, is because in the meantime, I learned to type, and managed to type up the steps and passwords and magic while on the phone with the tech, asking discreet but valuable questions, and was therefore able to do it ALL BY MYSELF!! I felt like I had the keys to the kingdom!
It didn't always work out so neatly, though. Sometimes, it was bigger than the both of us, so the tech would have to ship me a new modem. So, for 3 - 5 business days, I'd be S.O.L. and living off the grid.
I asked the tech one time if it was typical for every Bell Aliant customer to have to call in at a rate of once every 3 - 6 months to get their modems reset. He said "yes". Big-fat-stupid-ugly-stinky liar.
I asked one of the more recent techs if this was the same level of service experienced by Stephen Harper, or by persons with home businesses. That tech just laughed. At least he didn't lie to me.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Here is the story of the latest Bell Aliant saga.
That day last week, I was using my 5th modem. Meet "Five of Six"...
I get a new one of those sent to me on average about every 1 - 1 1/2 years. So now, here I was, Five was starting to act up. GMAFB.
Five resided on a wall in my downstairs mud room.
Why that is, only a Bell Aliant Technician can tell you. It used to reside in my living room, on my desk, but for some reason, it was felt that the mud room was THE-E-E place for it to be. Looking at it now, just hanging there upside down... I wonder if all the blood rushed to its feet, and THAT'S why they kept crapping out? Food for thought.
You may notice, near the right upper corner of the moden, a hat pin stuck into the wall.
On the back of the modem is a little wee hole, that I would have to stick a pin into, in order to reset it. Instead of having to hunt one down time after time, I found it much more convenient to just drive one into the wall, to have it handy when I needed it because, by God, I was definitely going to need it. Again, and again, and again.
So, this night of nights last week, when I found myself banished to the Information Wilderness, I tucked my trusty laptop under my wing and set off for the mud room. My nephew had already attempted resuscitation, unsuccessfully, but I was not without hope. I had gotten the damnable thing going in the past, using the aforementioned ace up my sleeve, after having been told by a Bell Aliant Tech (or BAT for short, and for truth) that all hope was lost.
I balanced my laptop on top of my golf clubs, then took the pin and reset the modem. I turned it off, counted to ten, then powered up again. I reset it with the pin again. No go. I connected the yellow ethernet cable, and typed in the 192.XXX.X.X number I had written down, but nothing happened. No blue screen, the doorway to nirvana, no nothing. I was sad. I feared I was backing into the corner of defeat, which was exactly where I found myself. I was going to have to talk to a BAT.
So I called. In actual fact, I asked my nephew to call, because I was so afraid that I was going to rant and rave at this poor sod who didn't deserve my wrath. (For those who wonder, I DO know the difference...)
Dear Nephew went down over the stairs, and confirmed it... the power light was RED, not GREEN. The modem was dead. No Code Blue, no nuthin' was going to save it. No aces up my sleeve, no workarounds, not even bashing it against the wall, which I did. (What did I have to lose?)
The BAT told my nephew those dreaded words, "Three to five business days", and bid him a good night.
This was a Monday night. I could be looking at being offline for a week, if the "five business days" is on the table. I picked up the phone and called back the BAT. I told her my life history with Bell Aliant, and asked if a service technician could come to my home to see what the ongoing, malignant problems were with a system that is SO FREAKIN' UNRELIABLE. She said she tried to "put in a ticket" but the system wouldn't allow her to do that. All she could offer me was a phone-in system check once the new modem arrived, but no one was able to come to my home. Wow.
I asked if it was possible to pay for an overnight courier. Bell Aliant is the single most expensive utility I pay - even higher than my mortgage - so I thought they might cut me some slack, or at the very least offer that possibility. NOPE. Was there somewhere in the St. John's metropolitan region where I could pick one up? NOPE. Had to come from the mainland. Bell Aliant has NO EXTRA MODEMS IN NEWFOUNDLAND FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. Very impressive fact to learn. The BAT reassured me, though, that seeing as how I was in a city, it would likely be closer to the three days than the five. Oh, joy.
So I sit, and I wait. I was in the middle of posting a series of posts on my blog about my transatlantic journey in 2006, and now that series was going to be interrupted. I pay my bills and do all of my banking online, but not that week. I truly believe Bell thinks everyone uses the Internet for nothing but porn, hence their total lack of any sense of urgency to provide uninterrupted, or even MINIMALLY interrupted service to their paying-through-the-nose clients.
Here I sat, with a crapped out modem. What to do, what to do, what to do??? So, I came up with a couple of ideas for what a Bell Aliant Modem COULD be good for, and seeing as how I had three to five days to test my theories, that's just what I did. SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS!!!!!!!
It made a butt-ugly and rather dangerous doorstop. FAIL.
It was effective as a paperweight, but the aesthetics were less than pleasing. FAIL.
The potential for smell and goopy plastic-y sludge made the modem an inadquate source of kindling. FAIL.
There was a moment where I liked the idea of a tech-y looking coaster, but...
...the top curvature of it made the risk of red wine stains more of a detriment than a benefit. FAIL.
My scientific experiments were for naught.
So, I waited and waited and waited. I even made sure that I put a "broken" sign on the doorbell (which is, indeed, broken), so that I wouldn't miss the delivery, should it come to my home. The last several modem packages were about the size of a laptop box, so I wasn't expecting it to be left in my mailbox.
However, I did check my mailbox, and lo and behold, on Friday, there was a package!!! A wee tiny package, but a package nonetheless!!! Woo hoo!!!!
"They're making these modems very high-tech if they're so small nowadays", I thought as I anxiously drove home, the aroma of the vast world wide web permeating my consciousness, or maybe it was a dead bug from my mailbox. Whatever. I was soon going to be back online, where the American NSA can find me if they want me, no sweat.
The "from" address was one I knew well. It was like getting a package from an old friend, a senile one who sends me crappy stuff, but a package all the same.
I got home, and ripped open the packaging!! A little white box emerged!!! This is so cool!!!!
When I say "little", I mean "little"!! There's a teacup for comparison... What a cool modem THIS is going to be!!!!
Then I opened the box.
The first seeds of doubt took root. I took the device out of the box. The seeds of doubt grew like muscles on 'roids.
I am not the most technically savvy person in the world (which would qualify me to be a top-notch BAT), but I know a standard, run-of-the-mill, nondescript power adapter when I see one, and that's exactly what I saw. No nifty teeny weeny modem, no magic in a little package, none of the above. It was an adapter. I had a smidge of trouble "adapting" to that reality.
But, it wasn't the adapter's fault that it had nothing to adapt. It looked as forlorn as I did, just lying there, a plug with nothing to power up. It was sad, in a Bell-Aliant-incompetance kind of way.
I mopped up my tears, gave the adapter a AAA battery to play with, hoping it would cheer him up, and then I took on the latest BAT.
The lady, her name was Sharon, should be working for someone else, someone who appreciates her competance and ability to think on her feet, make decisions, and right wrongs. No, I am not being sarcastic. If anyone knows a BAT named Sharon who lives in Moncton, please give her a job worthy of her skills. She is lost in the underworld subculture of Bell Aliant.
I explained my tale of woe to Sharon, apologizing right off the bat for my overabundance of frustration at what had just transpired. One of her first comments was to express frustration of her own that, based on my history, the Monday night BAT said she couldn't send someone to my home to fix this. Sharon felt that should have been do-able, no problem. But missus on Monday said no, so I had to wait a week while she sent me an adapter. What a friggin' joke.
Sharon made it happen. Arranged for a service technician to come to my house the very next morning. And what do you think happened?? YUP, a service technician showed up at my house the next morning, bearing a brand new shiny modem, "Six of Six", now situated in my living room, where it should have been all along.
I wonder where he got it? I thought they could only come from the mainland and it took three to five business days to get here!!! Imagine my shock!!! He must know somebody!!!!
Isn't it sweet? You can even see little glowing green lights. Not a red one to be seen. Awwww!!!!
So, the young man, who told me that those other gray modems were what they in the industry call "job security", went on his merry way. He was going to take the old modem and adapter with him, but I knew a blog post was in the making, and nothing enhances a blog post like a little 'show and tell'.
Allow me, then, to show and tell what happened to the old gray modem, once dude left the house...
It needed to die.
And once it did, I buried it, right alongside its four older siblings, who went the same way...
So there, boys and girls, is my latest saga involving Bell Aliant. IF ONLY I had ANY confidence that it would be my last!!!
On that note, here's a warning to you, Six, you shiny new little black modem - I swear to God Almighty that I'll rip those ear-like antennae off you in a New York minute if you should DARE give me 1/1,000,000th of the grief I suffered at the whim of your ancestors. I know where you live...
UPDATE - September 30, 2013
Well, I heard back from Bell Aliant, after posting my blog post on their Facebook page and on Twitter. Missus called this morning, "very concerned" about all the trouble I've been having. She said someone should have come out to inspect the situation. I told her the call center person said that could not happen. She said, and I quote, "*I* can make that happen." So, I gave her my availability, and she said she'd call back.
Four-thirty this afternoon, she calls back to say, ummm, ahhhhh, they're NOT sending anyone to my house. They are going to "monitor" my new modem, and if there's further trouble, they'll get back to me, or I can get back to them. Whatever. Oh yes, and I get $15 off my high-speed / month x 1 year.
I'm rarely this underwhelmed, but that's the only adjective I can come up with that even remotely describes my feelings on this. Underwhelmed, and not at all surprised.
Why is the federal government so danged set on blocking any real competition for Bell and Rogers? Verizon would have given both of them a run for their money, but the feds blocked that from happening. The feds are more interested in making Bell and Rogers very very rich, versus encouraging fair competition which would benefit their constituents. Pathetic.