Monday, January 14, 2008

We Have a Love/Hate Relationship, Verizon. Guess Which One I'm Feeling for You Right Now.

You and the rest of the interweb that seduce us into using your services to make our lives easier. "Do all your banking online!" you exclaim. "Park important documents online," you offer. "Manage your television picks from your PC," you tempt. Well, that's all fine and good until your DSL service craps out on me. Not just mine. Oh no. Apparently, something had infected service to many, many individuals in the 301 area code.

Friday morning, I happily settled down to the grind at my dining room table. My job is awesomely flexible about working from home, and I was taking full advantage of that flexibility on Friday. I flipped on my wireless connection and...nada. This happens from time to time, so I toddled downstairs to poke around. Flip this on, flip that off, reverse, a little Triple Lindy prestidigitation, and...still nada. Hmph.

Call Verizon tech support. Answer the questions being asked by the dulcet-toned option menu. Hear a less dulcet-toned, Stephen Hawking-ish voice tell me that there's an outage in my area code. Get transferred to a very apologetic resident of Mumbai, who explains that there is a technical problem in my area, but there is no resolution time. Hmph.

Text Little Bro, who works for a subsidiary of Verizon to see if he has any insider's scoop. He's fresh out of any good scoopage, but replies that he's heard it'll be anywhere from 2 hours to 48 hours 'til I'm back on the grid. Hmph hmph.

I do whatever work I can that does not involve e-mail, digital access to my company's servers, or internet research. That adds up to about three hours. I take advantage of the cyber snow day and run errands. When I come back, still no access. I'm in something Verizon dubs the "Walled Garden." Meaning, I can pull up their page that says I can't access the internet, but I can't go anywhere else. Hmph hmph hmph.

I'm jonesing for the 'net. At this point in the day, I've typically traded about 20 e-mails with colleagues, resolved several issues posted to my office's intranet, accessed files that need revision and resolution, and hogtied a rabid calf. Okay, that last part isn't true, but suffice it to say, I keep busy. And life without internet was leaving me feeling...phlegmatic.

The next day, I call Verizon again, just to see if there are any updates. There's nothing automated on their customer service line, and customer service is closed for the weekend, so I hang up and try Tech Support. Again, nothing automated. Oh, except they tell me that I can usually find troubleshooting info by going to Verizon's website. Which would be helpful, IF I COULD GET TO THEIR WEBSITE. I connect to tech support, and am not as soothed by the dulcet-toned option menu as I was the day before, and I speak to another apologetic resident of Mumbai, who is unable to provide me with an estimated resolution time. Hmph squared.

Sunday is a day of rest, so I let it go. The calling Verizon part, I mean. I still check the old web browser every once in awhile to confirm that I'm not able to pull up a single line of html.

Today, when I arrived at work, I checked Verizon's website. This is all the reference they make:

Posted Date: 1/11/2008 8:35:31 AM CST
Status: Resolved
Some Verizon DSL customers in the Metro Washington, DC area may be experiencing difficulties accessing the Internet at this time.
Engineers are aware of this issue and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.

When was it resolved? How many people were impacted? This drives me crazy, because DSL and other internet connection services are rapidly becoming as important as telephones. Is it vital to our existence? Well, no, not like electricity. But if phone companies report how many folks are without phone service due to a weather event or some other snafu, shouldn't they also report it about internet connections?

We'll see if I've actually got service when I get home tonight.

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