And the "kinda" is just because I'm feeling polite this morning.
On Monday, our phone line went out a couple of times, then developed a horrendous buzz, with intermittent crackling, that made it almost impossible to have a phone conversation. And you do realized what happens to dial-up internet access when you have interference on your phone line, don't you? That's right... it drops from a blazing (it is to laugh) max of 44000 BPS to at best a limping 9000 BPS or, even worse, a speed so slow your modem can't detect it. And to make matters worse, your modem hangs up constantly. So I effectively was without internet access for a few days. It's hard to believe this is 2008. At one point I was able to receive emails, albeit at a glacial pace, but not send them. Please 'splain to me why Gordon can get Crackberry access here, but we can't get anything better than dial-up, or a satellite service that everyone hates? (See Xplornet Sucks) Oh right, it's all about money. I forgot.
So why "days" without internet access, rather than hours or minutes? Because Bell took its own sweet time sending a repairman out here. I guess they figure everyone has a cell phone these days, so why rush? It's not like you NEED a phone, right? Well, BELL, because I can only get cell phone reception here IN THE COUNTRY if I'm lucky, and even then it's OUTSIDE, maybe standing on the septic field. And the weather turned cold this week, so I was not really enjoying having my phone conversations out in the bitter wind. But hey, what does Bell care if I freeze off my tender hiney in a cold spring breeze? And what does Bell care if I can't use my dial-up, since they don't care enough and are too cheap to bring high-speed out this far in rural Ontario?
It was quite the comedy act when Gordon called Bell Monday to request service (yes, I know BELL, you might have to look up "service" in the dictionary. It's a word you used to understand a few decades ago.) Of course when he dialed 611, he got the damn automated system. I listened for the longest time as he struggled to get a real human being. The machine was asking many questions, and Gordon was giving many answers: "Yes." "No." "Yes." "NO!" "Today." "NO!" "YES!" "555-2342!" "YESSSS!" I sensed some irritation on his part.
And on it went, for several minutes. In the background, I started helpfully shouting out response words for him to try: "Breast!" "Doughnut!" "Hawaiian vacation!" "Fire in the hole!!" "Bite me!" Things did not improve when Gordon started laughing into the receiver. Apparently automated answering systems don't get humour.
Finally I could tell that the system was asking the nature of his problem: "Noise on the line." Nope, machine couldn't understand that. Too much noise on the line! "Noise on the line!" Nada. "NOISE. ON. THE. LINE!" exclaimed Gordon. It was at this point, several minutes on, that an actual human being came on the phone. Goooordon broke the computer, Gooooordon broke the computer! La la la la laaa la!
I continued to listen to half the conversation. Gordon had to repeat everything he had just spent several minutes sharing with the automated system. Then the hard sell started. Gordon was starting to sound exasperated. "No. I DON'T want a service plan. YES, I understand you will charge me $72 if the problem is inside the house."
"Yes, I have unplugged and replugged the phones. Yes yes yes. Yes, the phone is plugged back in." At this point I chimed in helpfully from the kitchen, "JUST SEND THE DAMN REPAIRMAN!" But of course what Bell really wanted was to sell us a stupid service plan, which we did NOT want because of course the problem is almost never inside the house. They just want you to think it will be so that they can sell you a damn service plan. I am old enough to remember the days when Bell just came and repaired things, inside or out, without a big hassle, hard sell, and several minutes spent yammering at a computer. Of course we had rotary dial phones back then as well. I'm feeling all nostalgic... ah, rotary phones... ah, Bell, a company that offered decent customer service. Those were the days!
"Wednesday between 8 and 5?" My ears perked up. WHAT? I had to wait until WEDNESDAY, 48 hours on, for a repair?! Gordon covered the receiver with his hand and asked me, "Would you prefer between 8 and 12, or 12 and 5?"
"Well, I'd PREFER they fix the phone RIGHT NOW but how about between 8 and 12?" I loathe early-morning service calls but wanted my internet back, not to mention the ability to speak on the phone without getting a headache from the loud noises on the line.
So the appointment was set, after far too much hassle. One should be able to call Bell for repairs to ITS phone line without being verbally strip-searched, interrogated and anally probed. I mean, HONESTLY! Hello, I am the CUSTOMER. Do you WANT my business? Do you really WONDER why we switched our long-distance to Primus?
I got dressed early yesterday and was all set for anything to happen from 8 am on. Of course, Bell Dude (a very nice guy, I might add. It's only the management that sucks at Bell; I always like the repair guys. Oh, why do I know this about repair guys? Because this is the third house we've lived in that has developed a loud buzz on the line, the third time we've had the service plan hard sell, and the third time the problem has been with BELL!!!!) shows up at 11:45 am, within the window but hell, I could have slept in a bit longer had I only known.
I could see him checking the boxes at either side of the end of our laneway. Then a pick-up truck stopped next to him. A guy got out and started chatting up Bell Dude; I figured he probably wasn't asking for a date; maybe it was his supervisor or something. Then our neighbour Steve showed up on his golf cart. Another 15 minutes of chatting ensued before Bell Dude finally drove up the laneway and rang the bell.
"Your neighbours are all asking me when they're going to get high-speed!" he told me. Not surprising; they are installing the lines for it a couple of kilometres down the road from us, but we have been told it will not reach our house. So close, and yet so far. I mentioned this to Bell Dude, who told me not to rush out and sign up for satellite just yet, as we may very well be able to get a signal (or whatever the technical term is). Apparently Bell is handing out modems for the locals to try out a week Friday. We'll see.
Turns out that the problems with our phone were mostly related to the installation of said high-speed lines going on down the street! What an insult... first Bell won't give us high-speed, then while providing it for everyone but us, they screw up our phone line so that we can't use our suckacious dial-up or have an intelligible conversation!
An hour later, Bell Dude, bless him, had fixed everything up. No charge, of course. My modem, while not connecting at its top rate of 44000 BPS, is at least chugging along at the respectable speed of 33,000 BPS. For this pleasure I waited two days and blew off a morning.
So I say to you, yes, Bell sucks (and this is just plain amusing.) Just like Air Canada sucks, and Xplornet sucks. Customer service is dead and buried in this country. Somebody bring me high-speed!!