This Was Handled Poorly

The difference between a good company and a bad company is how they handle a situation like mine. This was handled poorly.

Last month I wrote about the hassle of proving I was the original and rightful owner of my refrigerator. In the end LG Electronics agreed refrigerators shouldn’t break at 13 months and sent a technician my way on their tab.

IMAG1385He was here last week. I showed him a photo of Stef holding a chunk of ice from under the freezer tray. I pulled out my phone to play the sound the fan sometimes made, but he stopped me.

“I know what it is,” he said.

We needed a totally new assembly for the rear of the freezer compartment. It would have to be ordered.

IMAG1437The photo on the left is what I’m about to throw out. It’s not physically broken. This wasn’t a part gone bad. This was a system poorly designed. This was a ‘soft recall.’

Why did LG make me jump through all those hoops? Were they looking for a way to avoid responsibility? They know problems on my model’s freezer are common.

Why didn’t LG or Lowe’s, where we bought it, reach out to their customers first? There are probably loads of owners who see their 12 month guarantee is up and hope for the best. They end up swallowing LG’s mistake.

Engineering is complex. There will always be design flaws. I understand that part.

The difference between a good company and a bad company is how they handle a situation like this. LG handled it poorly.

Backing The Car In Changes Everything

Backing out is for wimps! I’m a real man now. I am a badass.

I had my windshield replaced a few weeks ago. To make things easier for the technician I backed into the garage instead just pulling straight in. With that one act I’m a changed man!

“It looks like you’re in the Bat Cave,” Helaine noticed.

She’s right. With the car pointing toward the door all I can think of is squealing tires and burning rubber! I’m now positioned for a quick getaway should the Commissioner call.

Backing out is for wimps! I’m a real man now. I am a badass.

A Day Without Hot Water

Helaine woke me up around 7:15 AM, two hours after I went to sleep. It only took one look to know, this was not a pleasure trip to the bedroom.

“No hot water,” she said. “Didn’t you hear the heater cycling all night?”

Using methods similar to those Tonto deployed in “The Lone Ranger,” Helaine has hearing and (now revealed) tactile sensory powers far beyond those of mortal men. The water heater is in the basement. Our bedroom is on the second floor, but it’s above the garage which in turn is built over a concrete slab – not the basement! How did she know?

I got out of bed and walked downstairs. My expertise in this sort of thing is limited, but I understand it’s my duty (as laid out in the ketubah&#185) to make like I know what’s going on.

Our heating system is a complex ‘hydroair’ system, powered by oil. The hot water is heated by the furnace which also heats the house. It is virtually impossible to run out of hot water!

The thermometer on the side of the hot water reservoir was pinned on 90&#176 – the lowest it registers. The water was certainly cooler. The furnace was quiet.

I checked the oil tank. We had plenty.

Thirty seconds of looking and I already knew this was way beyond me. I picked up the phone to call my oil man. If you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you seen comments from Woody. He’s my friend and my oil man.

Ring, ring, nothing. I hung up and dialed again. Ring, nothing. Uh oh. Ring, ring, ring, nothing. Even during the height of the summer, I knew they’d be there early. This was a bad sign.

I opened my mail program and started to compose a note to Woody.

Hi Woody –

I’m emailing because your office phone rings once or twice and stops! We have no hot water. Help!

We have oil. The temp in the water tank is as low as it gets. I have no idea beyond that.

Can someone come and help. xxx-xxxx.


I quickly realized, Woody might not be there. He’s bought a home in Santa Fe, NM, which he visits from time-to-time. We needed hot water now… or at least soon.

The oil company office is only a few minutes from here. I had no choice but to drive over and get the process started.

I sleep in pajamas, but they’re not really traditional pajamas. They’re the 21st century equivalent of sweatpants and a t-shirt. I threw on a hat and sneakers, kept my pajamas on, and drove away.

Helaine said, “I smell a blog entry.” Really?

It was only 7:30AM, but the oil company’s office was buzzing. Winston the dog was attacking the office workers, jumping at least five feet off the floor as if he was on a trampoline. Service technicians were getting their trucks ready. Everyone there – living in homes with heated water – seemed happy.

“Your phones aren’t working,” I said as I walked in.

“We know. Was that you who tried calling?”

By the time I drove home, Woody had replied to my email… and obviously had made contact with the mother ship.

i hear you were very handsome in your jammies when i called the office a couple of minutes ago. plus i can’t imagine you getting OUT of bed at 7am.

anyhow, sorry about the phones. they’re semi-operational right now. i have our VOIP provider meeting me there first thing. there will be no bluffing –

an ass kicking is on the agenda. hope your facial problem is better.

The technician arrived a few minutes later and quickly found a clogged nozzle. He replaced it and our filter. We have hot water again.

In retrospect, I can’t believe I drove away to see people while wearing my PJs. I’m starting to get very Britneyesque! Thank heavens I don’t attract paparazzi.

&#185 – A ketubah is a Jewish prenuptial agreement or marriage contract and is an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage. Ours (as most others) is an ornately printed certificate, mainly in Hebrew – a language neither of us reads nor understands. Over time, both of us have ‘quoted’ the ketubah to try and justify ridiculous things we’ve done or want.

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

I’ve been wearing the boot for my fractured fibula since June 11. I went back to the orthopedist this morning to see how things are going.

My impressions first, then hers.

There’s a whole lot less pain overall and no pain at all when I’m in the boot. I walked all over Midtown Manhattan last Saturday with no problems… until I got home. Even then it was just a little sore, and that passed.

Tuesday at work, as I was walking onto our elevated anchor desk when I caught my foot on something and felt a twinge. Since then, without the boot there is some minor sensitivity, especially if I turn the leg to an uncomfortable position.

Today’s appointment was for 11:30 AM and they took me right on time. A technician took me to the x-ray table&#185, snapping off three shots. They’re still old school at this office with actual film negatives that get chemically processed.

My doctor took a look and was pleased with my results. She pointed to an area which was a darker shade of gray than the surrounding bone. It was where the healing is taking place.

My first x-ray (before I visited her) showed nothing. My next x-ray showed a small off-shade area. This time, the area has grown.

“So, the worse it looks, the better it is,” I asked? Bingo!

She said I was healing quickly, something I was pleased to hear. As you get older… ugh, must I say this… As you got older, nothing works as well as it did when you were young. That includes your recuperative powers.

She said I have no restrictions on walking, as long as the boot is on. That’s good, because my folks are coming in in a few weeks and I need to keep up! We have lots of plans, much of which includes walking.

This stress fracture happened as I was running, trying to get into shape. I’m not anxious to repeat that, but I still want to work on getting fit. Once I’m boot free, I plan on lots of bike riding.

Finally, I don’t know who it was who invented my Velcro encrusted boot, but I am grateful. My leg would be in a cast without this technology. I can remove the boot to shower and sleep. That makes the whole adventure much more palatable.

It’s still a pain, but I haven’t let it change my life.

I will wear the boot another three weeks, until all pain is gone.

&#185 – I still find it comical they throw a washcloth sized lead shield over my mid-section as the x-rays fire through my leg.

Computers Can’t Be Trusted

“Computer problem.” I’ve heard those two words a million times. Mostly, it’s a crock. Computer problems aren’t usually computer problems but problems which appear when humans operate computers. In other words, it’s mostly human error.

Computers only do what they’re told. Hardware failures that allow them to run amok are relatively rare. It’s that fingertip/keyboard interface where all the trouble arises.

With that perspective, it’s off to Chicago where, earlier this week, WGN radio found itself broadcast all over the radio and TV dial. I was tipped off to this story by Adam Chernow in Wisconsin, but I’ll quote the Chicago Tribune:

In the parlance of the Cold War era that spawned the federally mandated Emergency Alert System, launch codes were issued throughout Illinois on Tuesday morning, automatically pre-empting dozens of radio and television stations as if the region faced nuclear annihilation.

Rather than President Bush reassuring citizens after an atomic blast or some other calamity, the audience of many Chicago outlets was treated to the sound of dead air followed by the voice of WGN-AM 720 morning man Spike O’Dell struggling to figure out what had happened.

It turns out O’Dell’s pair of brief surprise appearances between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on everything from local public broadcasting to music stations — an “unintentional disruption,” a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman called it — stemmed from a FEMA contractor’s installation of the state’s Emergency Alert System satellite receiver in Springfield as part of a nationwide upgrade.

If the contractor had asked me to call all those stations, I would have pointed out the error of his ways. Computers are more obedient and, unfortunately, don’t question authority!

Why do we do this? Why do we allow an automated system take control so an errant human can cause chaos?

I know why. I was there the morning the old system failed!

It was February 20, 1971. As I remember, it was a sunny and mild winter’s day. I was working as a disk jockey at WQXT, located right on the ocean in Palm Beach, Florida. Life was good.

At 9:33 AM a series of ten bells rang out from the Associated Press teletype. Ten bells was the signature for a national emergency, an EBS alert… but this was Saturday at 9:33 AM. They tested the system every Saturday at 9:33 AM.

Somewhere deep within Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, a technician put the wrong put tape in his teletype. Instead of sending the test, he sent the real thing!

From Wikipedia: An EBS activation message authenticated with the codeword “HATEFULNESS” was sent through the entire system, ordering stations to shut down and broadcast the alert of a national emergency. A cancellation message with the wrong codeword was sent at 9:59 AM EST, and a cancellation message with the correct codeword was not sent until 10:13AM EST.

Most radio and TV stations did nothing! They had no way of knowing the message was wrong. In fact, every indication was it was real.

In my case, I heard the bells and disregarded them. It was test time. I heard those bells every Saturday morning.

By the time I looked at the teletype, the alert had been corrected. The few people listening to my little radio station were well served because I totally screwed up!

After that debacle the government worked to change to a better, faster, more streamlined, heavily automated system. And yet, with this week’s problem, the cause was exactly the same – human error.

It’s this automated system that has sometimes allowed cable companies to cut my television station’s audio as they run emergency crawls… even though we’re giving emergency info when they kill our audio!

Society has become so complex, we can’t operate without computer assistance. Unfortunately, that has forced us to put much too much power in someone’s fingertip. The folks in Chicago understand.

Moving Through The System

My leg/ankle is still killing me. I can walk on it and don’t wince in pain, but I am limping and the discomfort has woken me in the middle of the night.

I went to see Steve today. Sock off, pant leg rolled up, on the table… he looked every bit a doctor as he examined me.

He saw enough to send me off for an X-ray. The Temple Medical Center is only a few blocks away.

Though Steve is an ‘old school’ sole practitioner, once you leave his office the medical profession becomes the medical industry. As a patient in this system, you’re a tree on your way to becoming a box of toothpicks.

Unless you’re ‘in the system’ on a regular basis, it’s easy to lose track of how big ‘organized medicine’ is. I parked at the Temple Street Garage and walked the sky bridge to the medical center’s building. After an elevator trip to the ground floor, I walked across a connecting lobby, then up another elevator to the radiology practice.

The waiting room is massive with magazines everywhere and a glass wall behind which the office staff sits. Because my stats are on file for Yale, they are on file here.

A nice woman behind the glass put a hospital bracelet on my left wrist. I went back and sat down to wait my turn.

Before I go on, let me say it’s good to be Geoff in New Haven. When people know you, and are nice to you, it makes an otherwise pedestrian experience enjoyable.

Today, people could not have been nicer. That’s not lost on me. I am grateful for their attention. I cannot understand the attitude of today’s big celebs who forget to be gracious and nice.

I was ushered through a door and into the inner sanctum of medicine. We were deep enough in the building for my cell phone to lose service. There were windowless halls leading to windowless rooms.

I ended up in an X-ray room (I’m sure there’s a proper technical term). Shoes and socks off again, I stretched out on a slab while my foot had a target projected onto it.

The technician threw a lead shield over my private parts! I suppose it’s some sort of historical site worthy of continued protection.


After three X-rays (now digital, thank you), I put my sock on, only to be requested to take another. No sweat.

A nice guy named John showed me my shots. A foot is crazy with bones. It’s tough to imagine how complex that part of your body is. He could see my tissue was swollen. There were no breaks!

So, now it’s on to physical therapy. I have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

Whatever bruise, tear and pull I have needs help to heal. And, I have to ask them to figure out exactly what I need to do to start exercising again.

I don’t want to lose my motivation. On the other hand, I also don’t want to limp.

All Night At The ER

If you’re squeamish, maybe this isn’t the blog entry for you. I’m about to write about bodily fluids. This is not everyone’s idea of a good read.

Our story starts at 1:00 AM. Helaine was asleep. Steffie was watching TV. I was in my upstairs office, playing online poker.

It’s difficult to describe the sound of someone throwing up, except to say it’s pretty distinctive. Stef was throwing up.

I went to see her, but was rebuffed. She wasn’t feeling well, but it wasn’t a big deal. Everything was fine.

It was not.

Before long she was back, leaning over the toilet, letting loose.

Stefanie is 19. She lives in a dorm most of the year. Late night barfing is commonplace. Her own stomach distress wasn’t a major concern – even though she hadn’t participated in the usual pre-throw festivities that make college life so… well, college life.

Within 10-15 minutes she was back.

We tried Pepto Bismol pills and some soda, to replenish the fluids she lost. As quickly as they went down, they came back up. Her forehead went from warm to cool with each episode.

Helaine and I were getting nervous. We had never seen Stef like this before. Upstairs, we spoke about what to do, while downstairs Stef moved between the family room and the bathroom.

I started talking to Stef about going to the hospital, but she would have none of it. “People don’t go to the hospital because they’re throwing up,” she said.

I totally see her point. She knew she wasn’t feeling well. She also thought you had to be in much worse shape to demand any ER attention. The ER is a place where people come with limbs hanging off.

But things weren’t getting any better. Stef was out of solids in her stomach and quickly depleting herself of fluids.

“We’re driving, or I’m calling an ambulance.”

With Helaine, Stefanie and an oversize kitchen pot in the back seat, we set off for Yale/New Haven Hospital. I was driving fast. I already had decided what to say if stopped by the police.

We navigated our way through New Haven to the ER entrance. The receiving area has a small circular driveway with a cement island in the middle. I pulled up onto the island and shut the engine.

Stefanie plopped in a chair as a technician entered some rudimentary patient information into a computer, put a blood pressure cuff on her arm and pulse monitor on a finger. It’s tough to put in words, but this was done in spite of Steffie’s being there. She was obviously in distress and continuing to heave, but the cuff and monitor went on as if they were in some parallel universe.

A wheelchair was rolled in and we made our way to an examining room.

Emergency Room is a misnomer. At Yale, it’s a sprawling area of many rooms with dozens of staff members, visitors and patients. We turned right, just past the nurse’s station. Along both walls, patients laid in gurneys.

The first held a man, no shirt, with an intricate tattoo covering his arm and some of his chest. I didn’t see the rest. I looked away. Helaine later told me, she did the same.

We made a left, into a small room. To our right, in a doorless small room divided by a flimsy curtain, a man on drugs, alcohol or both, incoherently babbled about his hate for his mother and how he wanted to get home to go to sleep. He was loud and angry. I’m not sure where he belonged, but it wasn’t on-the-street without supervision.

Stef’s exam room was small and dingy. Let’s assume it was clean. It would have seemed cleaner with a fresh coat of paint.

A succession of nurses, physicians assistants, technicians and one doctor came and went. Each was confident. Each had a job to do. We think they were happy to be taking care of someone whose distress was not self imposed – certainly not the babbler across the hall. No one could possibly relish the thought of quality time with him.

One of the nurses brought in an IV bag, and a drip was started. Whatever else they’d find, Stef needed to be hydrated. It’s sort of Gatorade in a bag, minus the sugar.

Through all this, there was no change in Stef. Every few minutes she was back with her head down, holding a pan the hospital provided to replace the kitchen pot we’d brought.

The first attempt at treatment was an anti-nausea drug injected directly into her bloodstream via the IV. When there was no change, in went the next potion. We were told there were a half dozen they could try…but they didn’t have to.

If you’re a parent, I don’t have to explain this moment to you. If you’re not, there’s no way I can explain it. Stef began to respond. She was still talking in monosyllalbes , but now there were a few strung together. She leaned back and put her head on the pillow. It looked like she was out of distress.

You don’t go from as sick as she was to ‘pink of health’ in an instant, but this was still a pretty rapid turnaround. There was no guarantee, once the medicine wore off, she wouldn’t revert – though she didn’t.

By now, whatever was the cause of her nausea was long gone. The body is amazing, knowing perfectly well how to expel those thing which might harm it. A best guess is food poisoning from chicken she had eaten earlier. Though Helaine and Stef had eaten together, it was Steffie’s first meal of the day. Any pathogen was going to find little in her stomach to dilute its power.

As Steffie rested, we waited for the attending physician, the ER’s ‘boss,’ to come and say it was OK to go home.

I can’t begin to tell you how impressed we were with the professionalism that marked the care Stef received. It’s always possible whatever celebrity I have here could bring more attentive care, but this was beyond that. Every person who touched Stef was confident, well spoken and obviously well trained. There was never a moment when we didn’t feel they warranted our trust.

We got home long after the Sun had risen on a beautiful June morning. As I type this, 12 hours after we walked into Yale’s ER, Steffie is weak, tired and well.

Your child can grow up, but she’s always going to be your baby. Sorry Stef – that’s how it works.

Blogger’s note: Originally, I offered up to Stefanie, this would be something not shared in the blog. She asked why? So, here it is.

If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s don’t wait. If you’re considering going to the hospital, that’s probably all the evidence you need to go!

The photos were taken after Stef felt better.

I Am Currently Twiddling

Steffie’s laptop computer had a run-in with some juice earlier this afternoon. It works fine, with the exception of the Enter, space bar, and some other keys.

OK – under those circumstances it might as well be dead.

I need to contact Dell for service, since we have the ‘all hazards’ protection. I thought, with a college student, this was a good idea. Two points for Geoff.

I went to the Dell site looking for support. Buying it was much easier than finding it!

I waited on the phone, but it’s tough to stay on the phone when you’re at work. Instead, I’m trying their on-line chat function.

There’s obviously a lot of estimating going on. At one point it told me I had 5:12 to wait. A few minutes later it was up to 5:44, even though there was one less person in the queue.

On-line chats have many advantages. For instance, I’ll never know if “Chad” or whomever I get to talk to is really in India or closer to home (don’t bet on closer to home).

02/13/2006 08:26:32PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Thank you for contacting Dell Consumer Hardware Warranty Support Chat. My name is Gaurav. Please give me a minute to review your question.”

He’s here. It’s Gaurav. Where’s Chad?

Chatting for tech support is like living life in slow motion. It’s excruciatingly slow. On the other hand, with my typos from time-to-time, he’s not the only one who is speaking like a foreigner&#185.

02/13/2006 08:38:56PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “I request for a minute more please.”

I’ve just paused while finishing my chat. I am pleasantly surprised. Again, we bought the full, no holds barred coverage.

02/13/2006 08:30:55PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Well as per you warranty there are two option first to send the system to depot for complete check, it will take 6-8 days.”

02/13/2006 08:31:20PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Or I will send technician or the key board with proper tolls and lay out to get it replaced.”

02/13/2006 08:32:00PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Technician will not examine the system completely as it can only be done in depot , he will only replace the keyboard of the system.”

02/13/2006 08:32:14PM Agent (Gaurav_01113232): “Please let me know what service call should I create .”

I chose Stef’s dorm. Trust me, this is much better than it could have been and certainly easier than taking it or sending it to a depot.

I think Steffie is impressed. I am certainly impressed. I’ll report back when the laptop is fixed.

Oh – if you’re hanging around and run into Gaurav, let him know he made a friend in Connecticut. I just wish he worked here too.

&#185 – Gaurav, as it turns out, is in New Delhi.

The Trouble With Comcast

There was no blog entry yesterday. Grrrrr.

We got home from Philadelphia only to find no high speed Internet access. OK, I thought. We’ve had these sporadic, intermittent problems before. Wait a while and it will return.

Meanwhile, I got on the phone and gave Comcast a call. The guy on the other end was nice, but couldn’t help me. He wanted to arrange a Tuesday appointment for service, but I pled my case, asking him to look at the myriad times I had complained about lost service earlier.

The repairman came around 11:00 this morning.

My little home office is a pig sty and I wasn’t thrilled to invite him up, but Internet service is Internet service. It’s not what it was nearly 20 years ago when I started logging onto Compuserve… at 300 baud.

Having Internet access is as important as having a phone or television set. Without it, in this day and age, you’re cut off from the world’s information.

The technician removed the coax connector from the back of my cable modem. He took the tiny bare wire that usually makes the internal connection and touched it to another bare wire. He frowned.

He went to the splitter. Another touch. Our signal was down by a lot. He’d go outside, where the cable service entered the house, and if that didn’t work he’d go to the basement.

About ten minutes later he was back at my door. He had found a corroded connector on the side of my house. It was a Comcast installed piece of equipment, so I didn’t have to feel guilty.

By the time we got back to my room, the modem lights were on. What had been a 0 db signal was now an 8.5 db signal&#185. He did a little more checking and tightened a few not too loose connections before going.

Hopefully my connection problems are solved. However, I am surprised the ‘innards’ of my cable modem doesn’t report its signal strength back to Comcast so they can head these problems off before failure occurs.

It would seem to me my modem is already capable of this trick. Maybe Comcast is just not asking.

&#185 – db, or decibels, measure power on a logarithmic scale. A 8.5 db loss (which is what seems to have been happening) means about 90% of the cable signal was being lost to corrosion before it got inside my house!

The Tire – The Conclusion

I woke this morning to find a message from someone at AAA in Connecticut on my voice mail. I returned the call and found he had been in touch with his Florida counterpart and had gotten to the bottom of my waiting problem from last night.

There was a longstanding problem with the tow truck operator. I have been told (and I believe) that there will be an in person trip to see him and a warning that this has happened the last time.

It is possible, because I’m TV boy, that I’ve gotten better or more thorough service here. I really don’t know. I will say there’s never a “Do you know who I am?” moment. I never bring it up.

However, I am not shy about letting my thoughts be known when a company has let me down and I find most want to be responsive. I try to write, but be succinct.

Sometimes that means making a complex story less so by leaving out details – details that might benefit me. Brevity is more important. A short, well written letter will get more response than something that needs to be waded through.

The Connecticut AAA manager offered to reimburse me for the valet who finally did the job. I said no, I didn’t want anything. He then said he would extend my membership six months – I accepted. I felt this wasn’t actually the same as money, since we hardly ever need AAA. It’s like insurance.

Meanwhile, my parents’ car sat in the parking lot with the donut on the left rear tire.

This morning, about 11:00 AM, one of my parents neighbors came by to tell them the donut was flat! Unreal. He also came by to offer his miniature compressor so we could inflate it.

That a neighbor of theirs would have a fully functional miniature compressor, in its original box and in pristine condition is no surprise. We’re in a community of people who have survived because they’re a little more prepared, maybe a little more anal.

The tire was finally repaired at BJ’s here in Boynton Beach. Larry, the technician, looked and looked. It was almost as if the tire had healed itself. Finally he found what we think is the actual leak, from the valve stem.

So, it’s mid-afternoon and we’re pretty much where we were yesterday afternoon. Tonight I’ll be taking my parents out for their 57th wedding anniversary.

Long Distance Service Returns

As of late this morning, we still didn’t have long distance service. Because of the nature of the telephone business there were two possible points of failure – but I knew it was my local company.

I dialed 811 and then, with insight gained from a technician I spoke to yesterday, just kept pressing “0” at every prompt until a human answered.

It wasn’t painful. It wasn’t difficult. It was time consuming. I was called back a few times as technicians used my ‘dial tone’ to make sure their reprogramming had stuck.

My phone now works the way a phone should, but it is becoming increasingly difficult not to seriously consider cutting my bill in half and switching to a VOIP provider.

Laptop – Visiting It In The Hospital

Last week Helaine turned the laptop on. The screen flickered and then – poof – gone. I took it to a local repair shop where they said they could fix it, quickly. Now, a week later, it’s not fixed and I haven’t heard from them!

Today, I took a trip to PCW, the laptop’s sick bay. When I got there, the tech was actually working on it. The keyboard was askew, other pieces had been removed and there was a perplexed look on Omar’s (the technician) face.

I don’t want to go into the sordid details, but the laptop with no video is now a laptop that boots sometimes – and still has no video. It’s very troubling.

Helaine needed some files, so I offloaded 3 Cd’s worth of data. But, the laptop is still on the bench.

We’ve got vacation coming up, and I’d rather bring that laptop than the older, slower Dell. This story is not finished.

My Internet Connection S-L-O-W-S to a Crawl

Sunday evening, playing poker on the laptop, I first noticed the problem. My Internet connection would stop for a few seconds – sometimes 10s of seconds – before resuming. The poker site I play at allows you to check the connection of the others at your table. They were fine, I was not.

Comcast has been very dependable. So, I did nothing, figuring all would be well on Monday morning. Guess again.

Helaine asked me what was going on. Her connection was slow. Steffie later chimed in with the same complaint. “The Internet is sketchy,” she said.

Between the three of us we spend an awful lot of time online and we’re spoiled with reasonably fast connections. This was totally unacceptable.

I decided to call Comcast when I came home from dinner. I worked my way through the phone tree (press 1, press 2, press 1 again). My hold time was somewhere around 10 wasted minutes.

On hold systems have two options:

1) Incessant announcements (which drive you nuts when you start hearing them the fifth, sixth, twentieth time).

2) No announcements, just a little light elevator music. That was Comcast’s choice and it’s really not much better.

While on hold I wondered if I was really in the queue? Maybe I’d be listening to these European studio musicians for the rest of my natural life!

A pleasant sounding woman, from Central Ontario it turned out, answered the call. She made me jump all the usual hoops – reboot, unplug, replug, etc. She could see there was a problem with packet loss and offered to send a service tech, but the system wouldn’t let her schedule one. Could I call back later?

After work, and on whisper mode with Helaine asleep in the next room, I dialed Comcast again. As I was waiting for a live person, I scooted over to to see if anyone else had reported this trouble. The Comcast Connecticut thread was four pages long! I had plenty of company.

This time a Canadian guy (I didn’t ask if he was Canadian – but I worked in Buffalo, just across the Niagara River from Canada and know their regionalisms, eh) picked up. He started to do his dance and talk about sending a technician to the house, but I stopped him.

The problem isn’t here, in my house. It’s far away at some router. I even know the router’s address: It’s owned by AT&T and probably serves as Comcast’s connection from Connecticut to the Internet in general.

If I know this, why doesn’t Comcast’s tech support guy? Why spend money and send technicians when there’s no problem they’ll fix? Why not tell me loads of others have reported problems, we’re working on it?

If I asked someone high up at Comcast whether they wanted this fixed right away and wanted their customers informed, I’m sure the answer would be yes. They want the best possible result spending the least amount of money. Yet their actions show there’s a disconnect between what would benefit them and their customers and what they’re delivering. And, they might not know this customer service problem even exists.

There is no one served by what went on tonight. Not me. Not Comcast. Their phone people were polite and pleasant but never even brought me one step closer to satisfaction.

I really don’t want to have to call back on this tomorrow.