When I call for tech help I don't care that I'm calling India or Botswana or Denver I just want someone who can talk in even broken English. As I'm sure I've mentioned, I'm a complete computer retard. I have this very real fear that I will press the wrong key or make the wrong menu choice and it will crash every computer in Europe. I call this Y-2Ken. I also panic whenever anything goes wrong because I don't know if it's a computer problem, a server problem, a "me" problem, or residual payback for having co-written Mannequin Two.
One night last week our power went out. Usual reason -- underground explosion on the next block. I was forced to sit in the dark and worse -- Tivo was out. Five hours later the electricity returned and all was back up and running except my cable and internet -- the two most crucial features of my life.
So I called tech support. Maybe there was something that had to be re-set, or maybe they were aware of the problem, or the BIG god forbid - maybe they had to send someone out here.
After going through the automated menu, pushing sixteen buttons while having to "listen closely because our options have changed", enduring fifteen minutes of canned music (I think it was from the "Mantovani plays Guns & Roses" album), I finally get connected to Latka, the character Andy Kaufman played on Taxi.
He asked me for my account number. I thought he meant reboot my computer. He asked me for the phone number on my account so I dutifully disconnected my router. He wanted to know to whom he was speaking. As per that request I pulled out the power source to the modem.
A half hour later my internet still wasn't up but I had changed four smoke alarms, moved the microwave to the den, re-set each clock one hour ahead, and turned on the backyard sprinklers. It appeared I needed a -- gulp -- service call.
I was transferred to another department. Ten more minutes of lilting strings playing "Dead Horse" then got someone in Seychelles who spoke enough English to say "I'm sorry, sir, we can't do that" almost on a continual loop. The earliest they could get a maintenance guy out to my house was in eight days. WTF!!? A month ago I got a call from this same cable company offering me a spiffy new overall package that would include cable, internet, and long distance phone service. Was I interested? They could have a truck out there that afternoon, or tomorrow morning if it was more convenient. But to restore service I was already paying for, that would take over a week.
After much pleading and being transferred again, then told their computers were down (although there was something poetic about that) they said the dispatcher from my area would call right back and he would set up an appointment for that morning. I said, "Do you have a direct number so I could call you if there's any problem?" "Sorry, sir, we can't do that." So I hung up and waited for the dispatcher to call.
He never did. Big surprise.
Fortunately service was restored in a few hours. Why or how I do not know.
Five minutes ago I get a call from the cable company confirming my service appointment for tomorrow. I told her it was no longer needed and she said I might be getting a follow-up call from the cable company wondering if I thought she was helpful and courteous. I asked if they had a feedback section for their notorious tech support department and she said no. I could go to their website and file a complaint, which would immediately go directly into a trash bin.
So in protest, no, I did not buy their great new overall package. Maybe that's the only language THEY'LL understand.
You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com