Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


If you’ve emailed me lately and haven’t got a reply, I have a good excuse: I’ve been trapped in Techo-Hell for the last two days, wherein I have tried to communicate with various people from India who answer phones for Earthlink. Once I naively believed they were tech support people, but the ones I talked to don’t have that skill level. They just answer phones and tell me to “Haf-a-gud-deh.”

OK. They actually do a little more than that. They request my mother’s maiden name and the place I’m calling from. Then they want to know the problem, which is (or at least, was) that I can’t connect to the Internet via dial-up on either of my computers—the eMac in the study or the laptop in the den. Because neither computer would connect (and since I could dial phone numbers with no problem), I figured it was something on Earthlink’s end.

Both computers, bless their little electronic hearts, really tried to dial out. I heard the number being dialed. (Oops! Make that numbers. I’ve tried all three that are available.) I heard the pings start—and stop. Normally I hear three, but I heard one and a half. Then weird electronic noise started—but not like the noise that I used to hear when the computer actually connected.

The Earthlink connection went AWOL around noon Thursday. I tried on and off during the afternoon. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Earthlink never went down for more than a few hours before—the last time about two weeks ago. I figured maybe there was a local outage. On Thursday night, I stopped at Dairy Queen on 220 and used their Wi-Fi (which is really fast). I could download my email with no problem. I figured maybe things were fixed by then. Then I went to the Earl Hamner reading at Hollins University.

Back at home, I tried again. Still out. At 11:20, I called the tech support number and was told by an automated voice that “due to unusual activity,” they were busy and maybe I should call back later or go online and chat. Huh? How could I go online when I couldn’t connect and wasn’t about to drive 15 miles to the nearest Wi-Fi? I held on and eventually a live person with a heavy accent answered. He assured me that if I’d just delete the number I was using and type in a new access number, things would be fine. He gave me a new access number and told me to make sure it wasn’t long distance. (It was a Ferrum number, so it was OK.)

Things weren’t fine. I called back. The automated voice, after noting that I’d recently called, wanted me to answer yes or no if it was the same problem. After announcing that “due to unusual activity,” the tech folks were all busy and maybe I should call back later or go online and chat, finally I was connected to another person with a heavy accent who said he would reset the connections from his side but it would take at least a half hour for the changes to take effect. I waited a half hour and tried again. Guess I didn’t wait long enough. I went to bed.

Friday morning, I tried again. You guessed it! This time (after the automated voice asked me the yes-or-no question, mentioned the unusual activity, suggested chatting online, etc.) another guy with an accent told me that he would have to get in touch with a real tech person (not his words, but that’s what he meant) and he’d have the guy call me. I said the person could call at 8:30; I’d arrange to be in the house then. The guy agreed. (The tech people are no help, but they are polite.) I hurried out to feed the critters, came in, made breakfast, and waited. No one called.

At 10:00, I called back and spoke to Mia who said she would escalate the request and gave me a case number, and we arranged for the tech guru to call between noon and two (yeah, we verified the time zone I’m in each time). Guess what?

At 2:30 Friday, I called again and after much waiting, was connected with Mia again. She wasn’t able to reach the guru to have him call me, but he’d call in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, my husband had errands in town and took the laptop with him. He stopped in at the Franklin County Library, which has great Wi-Fi. He downloaded the email that had come in since Thursday night. Among the emails were three from Earthlink. Why would they email me when I couldn't access email? One began:

Dear EarthLink Subscriber,

Thanks for contacting EarthLink to request a new Internet access
number. Before dialing in to EarthLink, please confirm that
the number(s) are local*.

However, I didn't request a new Internet access number. I requested help in getting online. Here's the second email they sent:

Dear EarthLink Subscriber,

On 10/02/2008 you contacted EarthLink Support and were assisted by
Aaron regarding case number 14163****.

Your satisfaction is our #1 priority, and we'd love for you to
tell us if we provided the outstanding support you deserve.

The link below will take you to a brief survey that takes
about two minutes to complete:****

The link will be active for 72 hours from the time we sent you
this email.

If you can't access the link above, please visit our general
feedback page at:

If you have questions, you can always trade real-time messages
with a friendly Live Chat representative:

We appreciate your time and assistance!

EarthLink Support

Now, if I can't get online how am I supposed to take surveys, access links, and chat online? But I kept trying. The last time I tried Friday night (after 10 PM), I still couldn't connect.

Now, I have had a long relationship with Earthlink, but I don’t think it’s working anymore. We can no longer communicate on the same level. I think Earthlink really isn't interested in making my satisfaction its #1 priority. Earthlink never even called. Since Earthlink is no longer interested in meeting my needs, I've started looking for something spiffier, faster, more user-friendly. Something whose toll-free tech support is located in the US. Something who understands what I need and when I need it.

After I talked to the nice Indian lady on Friday afternoon, I made another phone call and had a nice chat with a real live human. We made some arrangements. This time next week, there’ll be some changes in my Internet connections—and, alas, to my email address.

Meanwhile, my connection finally worked on Saturday morning. Maybe during the night, someone got a break from the “unusual activity” and fixed the problem. Maybe the connection self-corrected. The guy from Earthlink never did call.

Now, maybe I can finally "Haf-a-gud-deh." Anyhow, it'll take me a while to catch up on all the emails.

Edited on Monday, Oct. 6, to add this email from EarthLink that I received this afternoon:

You contacted us recently concerning your EarthLink Service. In
order to restore your service, we need to perform additional
troubleshooting steps. Please call us toll-free at 1-888-300-
8469 pin **** and reference ticket # 1832***.

EarthLink, Inc.

Uh, why do they persist in sending emails to folks they think don't have service? Isn't that kind of like a doctor saying to a comatose patient, "If you'll just tell me what's wrong, I might be able to help you?"



Blogger CountryDew said...

I hope you have this worked out! If your email addy changes, don't forget a certain yahoogroup will need the right address.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Sally Roseveare said...

Becky, I would have been standing in one of your fields screaming "Aaarrrggghhh!"


10:57 AM  

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