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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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If you’re new to the saga, check out parts one, two, and three. You can also go digging for the cablevision history, but I’ll summarize it as “my cable Internet hasn’t worked reliably in almost half a year of trying.” Including this weekend. Apparently it’s spread in the building; one of my friends is now experiencing the same symptoms.

Anyhow, back to AT&T DSL.

It’s Monday, which means it’s over 72-hours since I last talked to AT&T. Surprise surprise, I haven’t heard from them, either, despite their emphatic promises of a callback within 24 hours. 0 for 2 on that one.

I went spelunking through the phone menus again, and it again failed to look up my account, despite my new dry line phone number, which while a valuable number in my arsenal, is not sufficient to look up my information unless you’re a trained commando. Eventually got bounced to an operator, and she indicated that I needed to talk to the dry loop department

It’s sort of novel that every time I call the story I get is a little different. I like that. It fills me with confidence.

Anyhow, she proceeds to put me on hold. She doesn’t actually transfer me, but also has to spend this time on hold. Again, this on-hold-within-the-same-company-with-yourself thing is sort of amazing. Again, it’s the silent hold treatment. I lost track of how long I was on hold, beyond that it was at least half an hour; I was getting other work done at the time and sort of forgot I was wearing a headset after a while.

“How may I help you?” comes on the phone.

I remain fascinated by support departments. I don’t understand why bundles of information aren’t passed between operators using technology. Like, if I explain what I need to person A, they could write that down and leave it waiting in the mailbox of person B so they can go “Hello, customer, I hear you wanted to check on the status of your order?” This could be intelligently routed along with the phone call. Like a ticket, or a chain of tickets, on a support incident. I think I’m probably ahead of my time, as this sort of technology will require the future. Maybe my hypothetically speaking grandkids will have access to advanced systems like these.

I provide my order number, when she asks me for my order number, but, no surprise, it doesn’t work. Luckily, the dry loop ID works, and she’s able to pull up my account and the status of my order. Progress!

That part about pulling up the status of the order is a lie. She put me on hold to pull up the status of my order. Five minutes later she said that her system wouldn’t allow her to get my order status, she was going to have to call the Internet department for that. Back on hold. Pan flute and synthesized piano, drum loop. Reminds me of having my teeth pulled. But this takes longer.

20 minutes later, she tells me the Internet department tells her that she needs to get in contact with the provisioning department; the work isn’t done, but there’s no information as to why, and they should have called me back.

This is all starting to sound strangely familiar. She can transfer me to that department, but it may just be better if I just request a call back, oh hell no, you didn’t just suggest I wait for a call back. So I get transferred to provisioning, but also with a new number! This time it’s a phone number for AT&T’s provisioning department, which apparently handles dry lines. Apparently, I’m told along the way, they’re having tons of problems with these lately.

So, as my service to you, a gift. If you’re trying to get a dry line set up and you’re tired of going through three other layers of indirection plus an automated menu system, the provisioning department is available at 1-866-788-6830, option 5. Maybe. The department I actually reached later said they’d never heard of that number, they couldn’t verify it would actually work. They gave me the original two phone numbers, which don’t work, and also gave me a fourth number, 888-722-9337, code 850#. Doubt that will work either, but if it saves you some time, enjoy.

Ambient jazz with a periodic automated “all agents are currently busy, please continue to hold.” Maybe a hint of acid funk just to keep things spicy.

73 minutes into the phone call the provisioning department picks up the line. They want my account number, so I give it. They can’t find it, so I give them some other numbers. Eventually we determine that the number that I was told wasn’t my dry loop ID is in fact my dry loop ID, and that the number that I was told was my dry loop phone number is actually my account number. But that if I get routed to the telephone side of the business, that’s not guaranteed to work. But …

Well, I went back and forth for a while trying to divine the magic nature of all of these numbers, but didn’t really get anywhere, beyond that “it depends” and “it depends” and “oh, that should definitely work.” Which it doesn’t. I’ve tried. Every permutation possible. I promise. I promise extra hard.

Anyhow, she informed me that the provisioning department doesn’t actually call people back. No doubt. Figured that one out already. Oh, you mean it’s policy. Apparently the escalation department could call people back, but never the provisioning department. Back on hold to look up my information.

93 minutes into the call I get the agent again. My order has, in fact, been referred to the escalation department. Because it’s already been escalated, she a) cannot escalate it and b) cannot get any further information beyond what they’ve noted on the incident. Basically, their internal system locks them out of the normal support options, and says “tell the customer to shove off.” Not just proverbially, it removes the options for them to do anything else in their system. Anyhow, on the lockout notice is a note from the escalation department that the assignments from the branch office were wrong, and that they got new assignments on the 9th and would be applying those shortly. These “assignments” apparently have something to do with how to hook the line up for service, I don’t really know anything about them other than that.

My agent indicated that, once given assignments, it takes 0-2 business days to hook service up. So it’s sort of strange that it’s not hooked up yet. But she can’t escalate it further or ping the department that is responsible, since she’s locked out. Additionally, she indicated that the MLAC department (that’s how it was pronounced, don’t know if that’s accurate name/acronym) attempted to contact me at my cell phone number (which she confirmed correctly), but that there was no answer.

ORLY? They don’t leave voice mail messages, I ask?

Sure, they do, but this is usually noted when the number doesn’t answer at all.

I have my cell phone service through AT&T as well, so this seemed a little ironic. I mean, I realize they are like 47 companies in one company. But still. It’s silly.

I was able to confirm (while she was on the phone) that I could call my cell phone and that it picked up. Also, I confirmed that my voice mail picked up. Granted, it might be confusing. Because it says “203-XXX-XXXX is not available. beep.” This is an AT&T standard greeting. It doesn’t say something like “leave a message.” It does take like 4-5 rings too, if you’re super-impatient. Maybe that sounded like the phone company indicating that the line was disconnected. Maybe they’re just lying. Who the hell cares at this point. I changed my voice greeting to be “hi, this is Aaron, please leave a message.” Maybe that will work next time. I dunno. Maybe I should change it to “hi, this is Aaron, if you are Cablevision or AT&T and you think there’s any chance I’ll have Internet this year, please leave a message and mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to my billing address and I will personally send you $100.”