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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Time for another installment of “I can’t make this shit up!”

For more background, read parts one and two of my struggles to get an AT&T dry line set up. Or read the multi-month saga of my issues with Cablevision to get their Internet working (sidebar: having reached 6 days of having an upstream link at 5 megabits, I’m approaching record best for cable Internet service). Alternatively, simulate the whole experience by banging your head against a wall until you can’t feel anything, and then continue for another four months.

In part two of the story, I was informed by AT&T that I would be called by their line division with a new estimated install date, since there was something not done yet. That was a few days ago, and never got that call. The red light of doom remains lit on my modem; there’s no DSL signal on the line.

I called the support number today. Talked to an operator after spelunking through the automated menus, and she said she’d transfer me to the Internet department to get me some assistance. Instead, she hung up on me. I was pleased by this experience, as it put me in the right frame of mind for the next call. It’s important to stretch the hate and anger centers of your mind a bit before releasing them at full bore. You don’t want to open up right away, or you might lose your ability to operate at full force for the long haul.

I started the process over, got a different operator after spending a while on hold waiting for unexpectedly high call volumes at 8AM on a Friday to subside. She couldn’t find my order number. My dry line ID. My phone number. She kept saying she needed my number that starts with XYZ, the one that they wanted before, and that I don’t have. I provided my order number which I’d been given in our previous installment. And told that this was the canonical number of canonicalness that would allow them to look up anything about me, and that I needed no other number. The one true number of oneness.

Yeah, the one true number doesn’t exist in their system either. My dry line ID. Doesn’t exist in their system. My billing address. Doesn’t exist in their system.

In other words, I don’t exist as an AT&T DSL customer anymore. Or at least they can’t find me by address, phone, dry line loop ID, order number, social security number, or the number of toes I have on my left foot.

So she said she’d need to get through to the billing department to look up my billing number. A new number that I don’t have yet! I’m collecting them all.

I spent half an hour on the phone on hold waiting for her to get through to her own billing department; she came on every few minutes to tell me she’s still waiting for them to pick up, but they haven’t been, “it must be very busy this morning.”

She got through to the billing department, who then needed to get through to the Internet department, who then needed to get through to the provisioning department to check on my order status. So, yes, at this point it takes four departments and an automated voice prompter to get to my order status. I could not design a more efficient system, if held at gunpoint/ This loop continued in a recursive spiral of death and being put on hold a few more times, until finally the magical number of billing could be provided back to me, along with a nugget of information about the status of my current order. I assume at this point that it’s like the game of telephone. Each of the actors have modified the truth slightly on its way to me. I also got a confirmation number, which would appear on my first bill, apparently. So hardcore. I have more numbers than anybody.

Did I mention that I got a nugget of information about my order status? That it was like a game of telephone, and I got my information, and all was dandy? That was a lie. That’s what the first operator indicated would happen, but not what actually happened.

I like to pretend how things might work out in the barely more ideal world. An alternate universe where everything is one click less absurd. Let’s dial things back up to real reality.

Ninety-seven minutes into the phone call, just when I was starting to wonder when I last charged my cell phone, the third operator in the chain (in the Internet department) picked up and indicated that she had conferenced in the fourth operator (the provisioning department), and that I could now have my information.

My information was that I would be called back in 24 hours with the information.

The enemy has captured your information!

Wait, wait, wait! That’s not quite how it played out, either. At 83 minutes, the second operator actually piped in and said that the third operator would call me back, since (the third operator) she was still on hold with the fourth. And I’m like “uh, yeah, been there done that, fuck you.” So she offered to conference in the third operator, who would then promise to me over the phone that she’d call me back. Protesting, but given no choice (the operator (#2) had already returned me to hold), I played along. The Internet department picks up. She (#3) says she understood that I didn’t want to wait any longer on the line, and wanted a call back and …

I’m like wait wait wait what? I didn’t say that. Mysteriously. previous operator (#2) is no longer on the line, and now it’s he-said she-said, but we negotiate that I have all the time in the world, and at this point am way too invested in this phone call to give up, and I don’t mind waiting on hold while she waits on hold. It’s become comfortable to do such things by this point.

Anyway, back to the 97-minute mark when operator #4 picked up again, after hanging out with operator #3 for a bit. The lady (#4) is telling me to expect a call in 24 hours. And I’m like “heard that before.” And she’s like “they just got the request today, and it takes up to 24 hours turnaround” and I’m like they just got the request today. Not earlier in the week when they should have gotten the request. Or perhaps back in June, when placed this order. But they just got the request today.

So you have represented a deck of cards as an array of numbers, 0 to 51, and you intend to, uh, make a new shuffled representation of that deck by going through each cell of the new array, randomly picking for the previous array, and continuing to spin randomly through the first array until, after searching the new array, you’ve verified the number hasn’t been used yet, resulting in a nondeterministic running time with an extra factor of n thrown on just for sport, and you think that’s the optimal solution?

You just got the request today?

“Yes. And it takes 24 hours to process. And that’s not to when the work will be done, but that’s when we should have an estimate of when the work will be done.”

Oh, I say, don’t worry. I didn’t expect this would be working anytime soon. Never for a second did I imagine that was a possibility.

We go back and forth for a bit, and she lies to me about the timing of a few things. Having documented the timing of a few things, I point out the lie, and she backpedals, and admits they dropped the ball and that they probably should have gotten the request before today. I confirm that going through four layers of support is still the fastest way to get to her department, and that there’s no way to get a phone number or a faster traversal of the menu system or operators on the line.

After a few more iterations along those lines, I’m again waiting for a phone call in the next 24 hours to receive an estimate of when the soonest my Internet could be activated is.