First-World Problems: A Minor Rant

Yesterday, our internet went out. I knew instantly what the problem was. In an attempt to save a few bucks, we had decided to port our landline (yes, we still had one) to cellular phone service. It seemed kind of silly to pay $30 per month for telemarketers and scammers to be able to call us, but we didn’t want to lose the number because some places like our doctors’ offices do use it. For $15 a month we could add it to our cell phone plan, which was more reasonable. The port had been scheduled to happen overnight the night before, and I knew that in porting the number the telecommunications company had also disconnected our internet service. I didn’t think it was that big of a problem. After all, if they can just flip a switch to turn it off, they should just be able to flip a switch and turn it back on. So I called the technical support number.
I managed to remain calm and pleasant while they ignored everything I told them about the circumstances. They just walked through their checklist flowchart of what could be causing me to have no internet service. Never mind that everything they were having me do I had done already (and had told them as much). They finally decided, after forty-five minutes, that it wasn’t a technical support problem but a customer service one. Again, I had tried to tell them that from the beginning and was mystified because the number I had called was customer service but whatever. The people who answer the phones are programmed to go through a specific sequence no matter what you say so you just have to play along… They transferred me to a “customer service” rep, who assured me they just needed to create a new account for us to attach internet service to and put me on hold. After twenty minutes on hold, he came back and said it’s a little bit complicated but they were working on it. He gave me an order ticket number, a partial new account number, and said they would call me later in the day when everything was done. No problem. I had a dentist appointment and some errands to run anyway. Six hours later, I had heard nothing from them. So I called to see how things were going, only to be told that there was no available bandwidth in our area. Because of this, they couldn’t create new internet service connections until there was, and they had no idea when bandwidth would free up.
“But,” I argued, “this isn’t new service; you just turned off our service by mistake; all you have to do is flip the switch back on. They told me this morning they were going to create a new account for us and restart service.”
“It doesn’t work that way, ma’am. Since the infrastructure in your area is copper, once your service is turned off the port is closed and can’t be used again. The sales system doesn’t sync in real-time with the engineering system so the salespeople didn’t know that engineering couldn’t set it up for you when you talked to them.”
And then, I lost it. First, I wasn’t sure how calling “customer service” resulted in me talking to technical support to start with. Then, how was “customer service” actually a code name for sales? Next, how was it that sales could basically sell something that doesn’t exist? And, why didn’t anyone call me to tell me this when it was discovered? I don’t typically yell, but I do have this tone of voice that, in my mind, is equivalent to yelling. I don’t like it when I use that tone of voice because I know that, even though the other person hears a firm, slightly sarcastic, bordering on rude tone, in my spirit, I am yelling.
“What do you mean no bandwidth?!?” In my head, I knew exactly what it meant; I used to work in IT. “So if I were a new customer and called you for internet service, what would you do?”
“We can’t create new internet accounts at all until bandwidth in your area frees up, so even new customers can’t get internet service.”
I was approaching livid. There are two telecommunications providers in our area, and one of them was telling me they couldn’t provide service to me until God only knows when.
“So what am I supposed to do?!? Get service from your competitor?”
“You can keep checking back to see if ports have become available.” This lady has got to be kidding.
No, I couldn’t. My husband needs an internet connection for his job. My children and I need one for homeschool since I put the assignments they are to work on every day in an online assignment app. Now I’m basically forced to change providers because I can’t sit around waiting for bandwidth from this company that may or may not free up at some point. Sigh. I called the other company available to me. They’d be able to set up my new service–next Tuesday. I called them on Tuesday, meaning it would be a week before my internet service is restored. And even then, I wasn’t confident it would be done simply and without headache, or without costing me a small fortune. I would have to go buy a new modem that was compatible with this company’s system in addition to installation charges that had a footnote next to them saying they could be higher than the stated amount if the installation is “complex.” There was no way our installation will not be complex; we’re not that lucky. So much for trimming our budget. It would now be a couple of months before we would see any savings because of the upfront costs of switching services.
As the day went on, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow our original internet service provider was lurking out there with an order that was going to come back to haunt me. I called them again to make sure the order had been canceled. This was now the fourth person I had talked to at this company. I gave her the order number. She couldn’t find it in their system.
“Was it for new or existing service?” she asked.
I sighed, “Well, both.” I explained the whole convoluted story to her.
“Let me look it up by address,” she said. She still couldn’t find it. “It’s not in our system, so it has been canceled and deleted from the system. Have a great day.”
I found it hard to believe the order had been deleted out of the system. Companies don’t work that way. It would be canceled and marked as such but not deleted. The nagging feeling persisted, and I told my husband that I was just waiting for a call from them in a couple of weeks saying they could now hook up our service. He did the correct husband thing—nodded and grunted all the while thinking his wife was bordering on becoming her mother. I didn’t even have to wait a couple of weeks. The next day, I got a call from a mysterious number.
“This is Suzy. I’m calling to schedule the connection for your internet service.”
You have got to be kidding!
“That order should have been canceled. In fact, when I called to make sure it had been canceled they told me they couldn’t even find it in the system,” I was really trying to be nice.
“Wow, that’s odd. It just popped up on my screen this morning.”
“Well, you’re going to have to cancel it because I already have service from another company.”
All of this is beyond frustrating for me and spirals me into tears. It seems like my life is littered with stories like this. Simple things, small things—like changing phone companies—that shouldn’t be life-disrupting go sideways about six different ways and throw my life into chaos. I’m the embodiment of Murphy’s Law. If there is a way for something to be complicated, it will be so for me. If there is a way to screw something up, I seem to find it. By nature I am anxious, a worrier. I know I’m not supposed to be.1 But as superstitious as it may sound, and probably is, I have learned that if I don’t worry about things, all kinds of stuff goes wrong and I end up in a mess. That’s what happened here. I had wondered how the phone porting would affect our internet access but told myself not to worry about it. Phone companies do this kind of thing all the time. They would realize that I only wanted my phone number ported and that the internet access should stay on the account, I reasoned with my “worry wart” self. Obviously, I was wrong. I should have worried. I should have called them and specifically told them not to cancel the internet service, effectively closing our account. I should have overthought it and micromanaged it. I can’t seem to find a balance between overthinking things and bumbling into messes because I didn’t think things through.
Of course, I realize in this entire mess, and most of my messes, that what I am dealing with is a first-world problem. Let’s be perfectly honest, it’s a suburban, middle-class problem. Do I really NEED internet access? I mean, at one time all of us over the age of thirty lived without it. It’s not like one of my kids was diagnosed with a terminal illness, or we lost our sole source of income and are facing foreclosure and shopping at the food pantry. A week without the information superhighway isn’t going to hurt us. And then there is that “yelling” I did with the customer service rep. Taking out my frustration on her, no matter that I didn’t outright yell at her, was not acceptable. How I actually behaved is not as big of deal as what the attitude of my heart was.2 She’s just some person trying to earn a living. I had been so proud of how I handled the first couple guys I had talked to without getting unpleasant, despite being on the phone with them for over an hour. That pride is probably what lead to my downfall.3 I could spin all kinds of Christian sermons/devotional readings out of this about pride, treating others as we’d like to be treated (a.k.a. The Golden Rule)4, displaying Christ-like behavior5, and acting out of the Spirit rather than trying to police our behavior in our own strength and will.6 I’ll save those for another day. I’ve given them to myself, and that’s enough, never mind that you can probably see them without any further elaboration on my part.

1 Matthew 6:8, 25-34; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 Timothy 6:6-8
2 Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 5:21-22; 15:8; Mark 7:15; Luke 6:45
3 Proverbs 16:18
4 Matthew 7:2, 12; Luke 6:31
5 Philippians 2:3-4
6 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; aw never mind, just read the entire New Testament…
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