“Oh, bother!” was my reaction when I read the letter informing me that my local internet provider was ceasing its operation. The provider was a small local company that supplied our exurb with fast internet speeds and personalized customer service, all at affordable and competitive prices. The company maintained and managed its network so well that I rarely experienced internet downtime. When I did, I took solace in knowing I could call and speak with a friendly technician who remotely connected to my modem and computer, quickly troubleshooting and resolving most issues. Call me ‘old school,’ but I liked talking with Gary—a real person who was well-versed in all things techy.
So you can imagine the twinges of anxiety I felt the day the switch from one service to another occurred. The installer was professional and efficient, completing the conversion in less than an hour. Afterward, he handed me a brochure and turned to leave.
“Wait. I have a few questions. What do I do if my internet connection is lost? What if the equipment breaks? What number do I call for customer service? How do I make a payment?”
“I don’t know, ma’am. I’m just the installer. Read the brochure,” he said, climbing into his vehicle.
For two weeks, my new internet performed superbly. Suddenly one afternoon, the internet disconnected. I waited a few minutes, hoping the disconnection was some sort of anomaly. Thankfully, it was, and my internet connection returned. But with increasing regularity, my internet connection dropped—each time longer than the previous one, prompting me to call the customer service number in the brochure. I dialed the number, hoping to hear a friendly Gary-like voice on the other end. Instead, Suzy the synthetic voice answered.
“Thank you for calling,” she said. “Your call is very important to us. In a few words, tell me why you’re calling.”
“No internet,” I stated.
“I can help you with that,” Suzy replied. “What is the telephone number associated with your account?”
“469-328-0470,” I answered.
“I’m sorry. Would you repeat that, please?”
“469-328-0470,” I said, tension building in my voice
“Was that 469-328-0470?”
“Okay. Got it. I’m searching for your record. While you’re waiting, did you know that you can get answers to your questions by logging into your account on the internet? I’ll give you a few minutes to try.”
“What! If I had an internet connection I wouldn’t be calling you!” I muttered under my breath, inwardly seething.
“Pardon? I didn’t catch that. In a few words, tell me again why you’re calling.”
“Real person!” I exclaimed, my anger mounting. “Gary pleeeease,” I pleaded.
No response. Nada. Nothing. Just dead air. Yep, Suzy had hung up on me. Can you believe it? She’d evidently had enough of me. I was about to storm out of my office when I recalled one of Gary’s techy tricks. I unplugged the modem, counted 15 seconds, plugged it back in, and waited three minutes. Wah-lah. Internet restored.