40 Things That Nearly Drove Me Mad

FRAMINGHAM (04/18/2000) - Hang on, I'm going to draw a deep breath and tell you about the 40 things that have taken me to the edge of insanity in the last few days:

I got home late last night from sitting in meetings all day [1] and found that my DSL line was down [2] which all started last week when I got a call from the phone company saying that my bill was delinquent [3] so I spoke to a droid [4] in customer service [5] who said that they had sent me four bills [6] that had been returned [7] and had also sent me a disconnection notice [8] and when I pointed out that they had used the wrong address yet again [9] there was no way I could get the bills so how the hell could I pay them or, for that matter, attend to the disconnection notice ?

She said that I should have been tracking whether or not I got my bills [10] and I told her that as I had pointed out to them at least six times [11] over the last 20 months [12] that I had moved, they should have been able to get it right [13], and that as I had paid the bill for the "delinquent" number the last time we went through this exercise in futility [14] they should have been able to get it right and if they cut me off [15] I would have to do something drastic, serious and possibly inhumane (although exactly what that might be wasn't clear to me at that moment [16] - not that I was about to admit that fact) .

So, I asked her what I could do to not get axed and she told me to send them a check for the outstanding amount and I replied that as I was at Internet World [17] this was going to be a little tricky so she said mail it [18] so I got my wife to send out the payment that night and thought nothing more of it until I got back last night and the line was dead [19][20][21]. So, I called customer service but of course no one was available at 11 p.m. so I spoke to an engineer in the DSL Service Center who tried to be helpful but was ultimately useless [22] as he said he could get everything working before morning but come morning I found out he was full of it and the line was still dead [23] and so I had to wait until Customer Service opened at 8 a.m. [24] and as I had to drive to L.A. for more meetings [25] I had to call them on my cell phone so, of course, I hit the hold-from-hell and after hanging on for twenty minutes [26] got an operator and as soon as I mentioned DSL she catapulted me over to the DSL Service Center with nary a care [27] .

After another hold [28] and another explanation [29] she told me that it had taken almost a week for the check to arrive [30] (which I didn't believe) and they had cut off my service so after another hold [31] this new operator-droid told me that they could reinstate the line but that it would take five working days [32] (I was now 50 minutes into the call!) .

I had to point out that as I am moving on the 27th [33] (a story in its own right) and the date she was giving me was the 19th [34], this wasn't going to be of much use [35] and to cut a very long story short I had to phone a senior guy I know at the telephone company to pull strings and so with his assistant's excellent help (thanks, June) the line is now running.

So, I have a few questions: Why is their service so inflexible [36]? Why can't they combine my bills [37] (and don't tell me how hard it is to do that)? Why can't they profile their customers to see whether they have more than one address when something goes wrong? Why is their business model so inflexible [38]? Why did it take 10 days for my check to arrive [39] and why is everyone so worried about Microsoft Corp.'s Gates et al. in the face of the overwhelming monopoly situations [40] that the telcos have?

Solutions to the eternal mysteries to nwcolumn@gibbs.com.

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