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About 5 minutes after I had stepped out of the shower and put clean clothes on, the ATT guy called to say he was on his way, and within 10 minutes, he was plonging on the doorbell.  (ATT requires them to put “crime scene” booties on over their shoes before they come into your house!)  He tested the TV box.  It tested fine.  My computers had not been turned off long enough to duplicate the problem (naturally) but I’d had that modem since I’d switched my TV service from Dishnet to ATT-Uverse about four years ago, and for a modem which is never turned off (it controls not just the internet, but my land line phone and TV, too), that’s quite a while.  It’s kind of an ‘all your eggs in one basket‘ deal; if the modem goes, everything goes.

I admit to being somewhat of a dinosaur.  I still have a land line telephone.   I do have a cell phone, but it’s one of those pre-paid deals ($1 per call plus minutes).  I sleep with it under my pillow and carry it with me when I’m out of the house so my folks can contact me if there’s an emergency. (My dad will be 90 in a month and he is in very frail health.)  But I need a cost-effective long distance service of some kind (the outfit I work for now is based in Florida, and my immediate supervisor lives in Michigan), so I have ATT’s “any distance” telephone service which, since it uses VOIP, provides unlimited long distance within the US for a flat rate.

The upshot of the ATT guy’s visit was that since I’d had the old modem for so long, he went ahead and changed it out for a new one.  And guess what?  When I booted up my computers this morning, the internet came right up, WHICH MEANS THE PROBLEM WAS IN THE MODEM!and that the modem was beginning to go out.  It only took me 4+ months and four phone calls to get the issue resolved, but at least I got the modem changed out before it completely cratered.

The thing that chaps me the worst, I think, was if that lady hadn’t called yesterday, and I hadn’t gone all John Cleese from the “Dead Parrot” sketch on her, this situation would probably not have been resolved until the modem failed completely and I would have been dead in the water until they shipped me a new modem.  Since I work over the internet,  I wouldn’t be able to work, I’d be without TV, and if I didn’t have a cell phone, I’d be completely without phone service, too.

I called their techistanis (off shore technical assistance people) about this problem three times, having to wade through their infuriating “voice recognition” automated answering phone tree abomination each time, and go round and round with their techistanis each time, and be told each time my computer equipment was at fault, not their equipment.  It leads me to wonder just how cost effective it is for these   companies to send their tech service business off shore when compared to the business they loose due to the aggravation, anger, and bad feeling they generate in their customers because the people that staff these off shore call centers are not native English speakers, which sets up a communication barrier right off the bat, and more importantly, are not trained computer technicians.  These are people off the street who have memorized a script who are hired because they speak English. (Apparently, being able to understand English is not a criterion for employment.)  If your problem cannot be solved by checking your connections, running line tests and rebooting something, they are clueless.  I’ve had so many bad experiences with them and their ilk, especially the ones Dell uses, that my blood pressure goes up at least ten points at just the idea of calling them.  I think if a company had on-shore, computer-trained, American tech support people, I’d switch to them just for that reason alone, even if their internet/phone/TV service didn’t have all the bells, lights and whistles.   I don’t care what they say in their advertisements.  It is not customer service, but the bottom line, that drives these companies.  Dealing with them is like being caught in a bad remake of the film, Brazil.  

Because each modem has its own wireless password, and the new modem had a different wireless protocol (2WIRE120) than the old one (2WIRE50), I did have to “re-establish” my wireless links to my Kindle Fire and my Squeezebox, but right after the ATT guy told me that, I had him read the modem serial number, network name and password to me from the back of the modem and wrote it all down, so it took me less than 5 minutes to get reconnected to my wireless network on those two devices.