Wednesday, March 13, 2013

No Talking to Big Communications Company

Thanks to a certain large telecommunications company, I haven't been able to communicate for nearly two weeks.  Following two snow storms, the connection went from bad static to stoney silence. We had no land line and no Internet.  Thanks to smart phones, we were still connected but I wasn't able to update my blogs or perform some of the other tasks that are part of my writing life.

All our cables and lines are buried and, after 25 years in the ground, it's a safe bet that they are deteriorating. About ten years ago, ComEd had to replace their line. It's no surprise that water is now leeching into the phone line and shorting out the connection. Any non-techie could easily figure out what happened by the sound and by the timing. AT&T has a unique way of dealing with these issues.  They don't.

I tried to call their repair department but got nowhere. A visit to the Web site gave me detailed instructions about disconnecting wires in the box on the exterior of the building and using a phone to determine whether the problem was inside or outside the dwelling. We live in a multi-unit townhouse. There is no way we were going mess around in the exterior phone box and risk causing problems for our neighbors. In addition, we weren't about to go slogging about in three feet of snow to find a box that I suspect isn't there. When we moved in, the phone man worked out by the street.  He wasn't near the building.

So the giant communication company, AT&T, doesn't communicate. It is virtually impossible to speak to a human being and get real help.  The upshot is that we switched our service to a competitor. While this competitor is notorious for bad service, after being without phone or Internet for more than a week, we didn't have much choice. At least Comcast has human beings working for it. And while we got Internet magically this morning (another story), the phone still is not connected. A technician is due this afternoon. I can hardly wait to see if this giant communication company is any better at communication than the other one.

Sadly, there are few options for the consumer. In an age so dependent on communication, the providers of the technology are poor at it themselves because they don't have to be good at it.  We have to pay them anyway.