Ok, this isn't necessarily political, per se, but I've got to rant. Please note, if you're an elected official, there's a special note for you at the bottom of this post. So, Ms. Publius and I have Charter cable and high-speed internet over at the dojo. Now, a few weeks ago, Charter was kind of in and out, or in our our neighborhood, pretty much just out. I called Charter a few times, was told that there was an outage in my area due to some maintenance and upgrades. I was told we'd be back up and running in just a few days.
Not so much.
In fact, we've now been almost three weeks sans internet at the ol' homestead. The supposed maintenance outage has been resolved, but still no internet. So, we call in to the helpful folks over at Charter. After 45 minutes on hold (while listening to recorded ads touting their great customer service), we finally get to a real live human being in their tech support department. Now this guy is clearly on top of his game. In fact, we can actually hear him flipping the pages in his "resolve any technical issue through asking questions" notebook. After an hour of back and forth, Einstein has a solution: It's clearly our network card.
Well, no, says Ms. Publius (who was kind enough to spare me most of the tech support ordeal), you see we both own laptops, and his (mine) worked on both a wireless and plugged-in connection at work, only a few hours ago. And, to boot, we have no connection on hers either. So, if it's the network card, clearly, both of our laptops would have had to have lost their network cards independently within the last two hours.
"Ma'am, listen to me, it's your network card," says Einstein.
"Can I talk to your supervisor?" says Ms. P, "I don't think you're understanding our problem."
"Why? So he can tell you the same thing? It's your network card!"
...and so on. Here's the best part, though. Einstein (hereafter referred to Captain Technology) actually asks Ms. P if she could "put her husband on, so that he can explain it" to me. Aw shucks, lil lady. Don't you know that having a Y chromosome actually gives the bearer the ability to understand a higher level of technology? (Shit, I can't even program the VCR.)
Finally, we convince him that it isn't the network card and that Ms. P is perfectly capable on her own of understanding big words like "network card," connectivity," and "douchebag," and he promises to send someone out on Monday between 1pm and 5pm. Well, Ms. P is pretty strong-willed, especially when she's pissed off. She semi-politely informs Captain Technology that we have jobs - jobs which *gasp* require our presence at a location other than our home during normal business hours. Captain Technology, suitably cowed, arranges for a Saturday appointment.
Well, AthPo readers are pretty bright, and you've probably noticed that I'm actually typing this post on a Saturday. You might assume that Charter showed up, fixed the problem, and I'm happily sitting on my couch, watching tv, and luxuriating in my refound internet.
Not so much. In fact, we called to confirm this morning that Charter would be dropping by today. Nope. After another 45 minutes of holding, etc, we get to another service moron. Our appointment was in fact not scheduled for today, it was scheduled for Monday, or perhaps Thursday. Ay, there's the rub. So Ms. P asks again for a supervisor. No problem, but you'll have to hold, as there are about 6 people ahead of us waiting to talk to him too.
Sigh. If anyone needs me, I'll be here. Political stuff returns tomorrow. Don't forget to vote Tuesday.
A special note to all of our readers who are candidates or elected officials:
Guys, I know we just signed on with Charter for another ten years or so, but seriously, can't we allow some competition or something in the marketplace? Charter is shit. Don't believe me, ask around. I'll bet there are hundreds of your constituents who have had equally shitty experiences with these douchebags - I know most of my friends have.
Less than two hours after I slapped this angry post up, I got a very nice email from none other than her Honor herself, Mayor Heidi. She brought my rant to the attention of the proper folks in the local gummint, which was far more than I was expecting.
See, I wrote this post initially for two reasons: first, I was righteously pissed, and second, there's an old saying in customer service/marketing that every customer who has a bad experience tells ten friends. I just took that adage to the next level.
But with Mayor Heidi getting involved, well, it's a good thing. I doubt this will ever progress much farther. Charter will (hopefully!) come by and fix my shit tomorrow, and all will be right with the world. Still, this is a good reminder of why Heidi got elected and why she's most probably going to get re-elected. Details and retails, kids. She gloms on to the little details - very little that goes on in this city is off her radar. And she's a master of retail politics - reaching out to folks one-on-one. And, for a lot of voters, "I can't believe she supported rental registration/the smoking ban/what have you" is trumped by, "I bitched about something and she called me personally."
Anyway, the substance of my Heidi email was that she forwarded my complaint over to the right folks, I can file a formal complaint (which probably won't do much good), and as many of you said, the dish and dsl is the way to go. She also mentioned, rightly enough, that I probably wouldn't be particularly satisfied with any of the other providers. (Judging by context, I'm guessing that the lack of competition thing is more FCC than ACC.)
So, the bottom line of Heidi's email is that there isn't a whole hell of a lot I can do, unless I'm into filing compaints and shaking my fist in impotent rage. (I'm not. Well, ok, I sorta am.) But none of that really matters. Like I said, my shit'll get fixed, or I'll switch to BellSouth. The important thing, from a political perspective is that sometimes, City Hall is on your side. And just like I told ten friends about a bad experience with Charter, I'll give credit where where credit is due, and tell you guys and more about a good experience with the ACC gummint.