I use the Internet a lot, including:
Email: My preferred way of communicating with family and friends. I can write an email at my convenience, and save it for later edits, additions and deletions before sending. I spend time and thought on my emails, as opposed to telephone conversations which are in-the-moment and not necessarily thoughtful. Yes, I talk on the phone, but my preference is email.
Research and Writing: I’m a writer, and the Internet is a great resource for research. It’s rare that I look for something online and can’t find it. I don’t consider the information on the Internet infallible, but as a research tool – invaluable. Without the Internet I’d have to go to a library (when it’s open), or check the encyclopedia (remember those?), or try to contact subject matter experts by telephone, and wait for them to get back to me (never).
Lifestyle: On the Internet I can schedule a dentist appointment or plumber, buy anything from toothbrushes to furniture, rent a video, pay bills, and manage my finances. In my jammies and robe, if I wish.
Games: I have a few games I play regularly and enjoy them all.
So: Internet dependent?
No doubt about it.
And when my Internet connection fails, I’m reminded just how dependent I am.
Fails, as it did early on the morning of Sunday, April 14. One minute I had nine tabs open and was using all of them at different times.
And then, WHAM! My computer freezes and nothing – nothing – was available.
I was able to close the Internet, restart my computer, and open the Internet.
No email. No research. No writing. No bill paying. No games.
I called my service provider, Cox, more formally known as Cox Communications, less formally known as “Your Friend in the Digital Age.” They provide my Internet connection along with my cable TV and phone landline. Cox has millions of subscribers spread across 18 states, and around 20,000 employees, a number of whom I talked to over the next 10 days.
Why 10 days? Because April 14 wasn’t the last time I lost my Internet connection.
Just the start of it.
On April 14 Cox offered to send a technician to my house, but – of course – not until Monday. That left me with no Internet for 30+ hours, and it was, if not painful, then certainly a pain in the ass.
- Helpless – there was nothing I could do to fix this.
- Frustrated – there was nothing I could do online.
- Angry – that I felt helpless and frustrated.
The technician finally got the problem fixed Monday afternoon. Normal life resumed.
Until a brief outage on April 16 and multiple brief outages on April 17. I called Cox and the customer service person (CSP) made some internal adjustments and my connection stopped disconnecting.
Then on April 24 the connection died, and so did my landline. And this time it wasn’t brief – it was more than three hours. I called Cox, and instead of getting through to a CSP, I got a recording that advised “service is not working in your area right now.”
Like I didn’t know that.
And there was no option to select so I could talk to a CSP, so there was nothing I could do but sit, wait – and hope my Internet and phone would start working again.
Which eventually they did.
But during that outage I felt:
- More helpless – there was nothing I could do to fix this.
- More frustrated – there was nothing I could do online.
- More angry – that I felt helpless and frustrated.
Why did this keep happening? Was it going to continue happening? I thought those were reasonable questions, so…
On April 25 I called Cox. The CSP acknowledged the outages in my area, saying they were “unusual.” And this helpful tidbit: “There is nothing we can do to stop outages.”
Unsatisfied, I asked to speak to a supervisor. The CSP said she could send a “ticket” up the chain requesting a supervisor call me, and I’d get the call “within 72 hours.” However, when she clicked her “Send” button, she learned she “wasn’t authorized” to send that message.
This completely unsatisfactory call called lasted more than 30 minutes and she put me on hold five times. During the last one, I hung up.
I was still angry and frustrated, but I’d had enough of feeling helpless. Next time I’d insist on speaking to a supervisor, and this time I’d get some satisfactory answers.
I called Cox later that day. I told the CSP that I’d requested a call from a supervisor and he agreed to put me through to one, though later I realized that this “Lee” in Omaha could have been a supervisor or the janitor, for all I knew.
Lee was the ultimate in useless. He could see that there had been outages, but “didn’t know what the problem was.” He “didn’t know if it had been fixed.” If it had, Lee “didn’t know who fixed it.” But “the district manager would know,” Lee assured me.
I asked for the name and number of the district manager. “That person isn’t available to the public,” said Lee.
End of conversation.
Back to being:
And, according to Useless Lee in Omaha, I had no way of finding out if the cause of the frequent Internet disconnects had been addressed.
So much for my “Friend in the Digital Age.”
At this point you’ve tired of my whining and say, “Dump Cox. Cable is going the way of the dinosaur. There are plenty of other providers out there – just change companies.”
And you’re right. I’m on the Internet right now and I’m going to research companies and