Friday, June 4, 2010

Ma Bell Go To Hell

I've been having an annoying problem with my phone for about two years now (it may be longer, but I'm old and can't remember). You pick up the receiver to make a call and the line's dead. There have been variations on this as sometimes it's dead for a couple of seconds and then there's an obnoxiously loud busy signal. None the less, it's dead. Since I live out in BFE, where there's no cell service, I have to drive many, many, miles to make a call (Okay, it's not that many miles, but when you're already pissed off, it seems like it is). Always, by the time the repair person gets out to the house, the phone has started working again.

In the past say,two years, (it may be longer, but I'm old and can't remember) we have purchased at least 3 new cordless phone/answering systems. Why? Because I was told by various phone company persons that my phone could be causing the problem (even though the line is dead at the incoming telephone pole). In fact I was told any of our appliances could be causing the problem. Since we're not independently wealthy, when the problems started, we didn't rush out and by all new appliances, electronic equipment ,TV, computer, etc., nor did we have our house re-wired to make sure everything was good. Since we built the house, and it passed all the building codes, and is about ten years old, we're hoping the wiring is still okay (knock on wood). I'm being facetious but I can feel the agitation level in my body starting to rise just thinking about this.

We have, since the "phone nightmare" began, been fortunate enough to get a new refrigerator, stove, and washer /dryer. The washer and dryer are the front loader kind and I LOVE them...and they're red! Which is really unlike me cause I'm sort of bland. So by now, almost everything is relatively new. Guess what???? We still have the "phone nightmare"!

Yesterday, I came home from work, looking forward to the weekend. I work Monday-Thursday so I have Friday, Saturday, & Sunday it.. Anyway, I'm all fat, dumb, and happy and I go to make a phone call...dum de dum dum...dead line this time with the obnoxiously loud busy signal.

Now, it's been less than a month since the repairman was out (it may be longer, but I'm old and can't remember). I was seriously hoping that this time it was fixed. I also seriously think I'm going to win the Lottery. I should seriously quit thinking.

Anyway, the last time, after waiting all day on a Friday for the repairman, because the phone company, AT&T couldn't be more specific than between 8 am and 8 pm for an appointment time,no repairman arrived. As usual, the phone was working by the appointment date but there was a loud hum on the line so I didn't cancel the appointment and waited to see if it could be fixed. Mind you I called on the previous Sunday but since some of us actually work for a living had to wait until my day off to sit at home for twelve hours.

I finally called the phone company around 2'ish on my still humming phone to see if they could be a little more specific about when the repairman would arrive. The ever polite customer service woman said that my line had been fixed on Monday, the repair ticket had been cancelled, and nobody was coming to my house. My blood is beginning to boil...I've been waiting all day. I asked her if she could hear the hum on the phone? Why yes, she could. She said she would make another appointment for me on Wednesday.That was the soonest they had a four hour block of time so I wouldn't have to waste a whole day of vacation time. I was polite. However, I did express my displeasure at the fact that no one told me my phone was repaired. Which it wasn't... as evidenced by the annoying hum... and I totally wasted my day off waiting for someone who was never going to show up. If the phone was working so fucking good, why didn't they leave a message on the answering machine, I said to myself? I did not swear at her. She was very nice and apologetic...she must have sensed I was about to snap...women are intuitive about that kind of thing.

The following Wednesday I come home at noon, repairman shows up. Does some mysterious phone repair work, and fixes the hum. Hooray. I actually believed it was fixed. These guys, the phone gods, who are all really nice by the way, say things like "yeah, I switched your line; yeah, I rerouted you; yeah, there was trouble on the line" which mean absolutely nothing to mere mortals. I was grateful for his help and thanked him profusely.

AT&T has an "online repair service" to "expedite" repairs. I know this because over a year ago (it may be longer, but I'm old and can't remember), I went through their lengthy un-user friendly "online repair service" to create an online account in order to use this expeditious "online repair service". Anyway, I got the online account created. It's important at this time to note that this account was created before the purchase of a new computer and satellite system service (which is still painfully slow and unreliable, but that's another story).

Fast forward to yesterday.

I go to the AT&T website, select "repair", and am taken to the first part of the "online repair service" where you are instructed to go to the outside pole, to check and see if your phone line is dead there. Now, I know I'm old and have no memory, but I don't remember my parents ever having to do this. And I think, actually I know, I pay more for service than they ever did. Having done this before, I'm able to breeze through this part, since I've already checked this. Next, I'm asked if I have an online account? Click yes. Knowing full well that clicking "no" will mean I have to open a new account. Then I try to log on to my account. Here is where my lack of memory becomes the enemy. I have to admit, sometimes I use this to my advantage. Not this time. I can't remember the log on. But not to worry, there's a helpful little line "forgot user name/password". I click on and it asks me to choose which I can't remember. Since I'm pretty sure I know the password, I click on "forgot user name". It asks me to enter my email address, which I do, so they can send me my user name.

I enter my email address and immediately get an ugly response in bold red lettering that says the email address I entered is not associated with my account. I realize, belatedly, that when I used this before, I had a different computer, satellite service, and email account. I try a couple of times, guessing, at different user names. No luck.

So okay, I have to open a new account. Annoying, but do-able. I start over. Go back to the home page and make the appropriate "repair" selections, get to the part where it asks if I have an account and click the "no" tab so I can create a new account. It asks me to enter my phone number and when I do, I get a response that there is already an account for this number. Now I'm stuck, the website won't let me open a new account. They give another option that said I could email for service. Okay, fine, I click on that I'm at a list of choices and about half way down is "repair". I click on repair, naively thinking I'm going to get an email box allowing me to send my repair request through their email system. Guess where it takes me??? Back to the original "online repair service". I'm embarrassed to admit I actually did this twice since I couldn't believe it was really happening. Talk about Catch 22. I can't log on to the original account, admittedly due to my lack of memory, can't create a new account since apparently it violates some random AT&T rule that you can't have two accounts, and can't change my email address with them because I can't log on. I've become trapped in the fucking Twilight Zone.

I email a friend, Scari, hoping she'll get the message, asking her to call repair for me. I wait for a response, no reply, check again, no reply. Hours pass, I know in my heart it's only a few minutes but it seems like hours. This particular friend spends mucho time doing the Facebook thing so I know she's on the computer a lot. Not when I need her, of course, but any other time she'd be online. So I hop in the car and head down to the store where there's cell service.

Now I'm sitting in the store parking lot, fuming, going through the AT&T repair auto attendant choices, look in my rear view mirror and see Scari leaving the liquor store and getting into her car. She backs out, I'm honking my horn, drives ten feet behind me, I'm still honking, she's oblivious, I start to drive behind her, afraid at any moment I'm going to loose cell service. Finally I get to the end of the auto attendant options which means selecting a repair date 7, count em, 7 days from today because the most specific appointment time AT&T can make is a twelve hour period. I hang up and start following Scari, she's old like me, and totally oblivious to my presence. I finally catch her at her mailbox. She tells me she got my email and called repair, actually spoke to a "real" person. They told her it would be fixed between Friday and Monday. I was shocked she talked to a person. M tells me if you press "0" during the beginning you get a live body and not a recording. I must remember this for future reference. Why isn't that an auto attendant option? Press "0" to talk to a person? It's like the secret In N Out menu. If no one ever told me about that I'd never have known about "animal style" burgers.

So maybe my phone will be repaired this weekend. Probably not. In any case, I'm not cancelling my appointment for next Friday until I know for sure. I can say for sure that AT&T phone service sucks big time. And their online repair service is definitely the stoopidist thing.