Saturday, August 26, 2006

Final ISP resolution

Well first, some background on my connection history.

1997- Hooked up to the internet! Yay! I bought a 14.4 k modem at FutureShop (sort of a quaint anachronism, right there) and signed up with a small Internet company called Golden Triangle Online.

1999- Friend of mine built me a new tower with a Pentium chip (oooh!) and an internal modem capable of an astonishing 56 bps.

July 2002- Got a brand new Gateway, with all the bells and whistles.

August 2002- Upgraded to a DSL connection.

November 2002 - The fun begins.
And by fun I mean not so much.

What happened that winter would repeat itself from fall to spring every year till this May, when I finally threw in the towel.

As the outside temperatures began to fall, my link light on the modem would start to flicker. I couldn't do anything while the light was flickering. Not connect, not check emails, not surf...nada.
This flickering would last about fifteen seconds every two or three minutes.
All the time. For six months until about April or May. Then I would have a solid connection for the spring and summer until fall rolled around.

The tech-help guys at Golden Triangle (all of whom I would come to know on an intimate basis) went through the usual suggestions: "Check your filters, unhook your modem and let it cycle down, try your modem at someone else's house," etc.
The whole house was the same. Every phone jack that my modem was connected to did the same thing. Intermittent connectivity.

So naturally, I assumed it was a faulty modem.
I traded in my Speedtouch and asked for something better.
The girl at the front desk declined to give me a better/newer model, even though she had proudly bragged that they carry several makes of reliable "market-brand" modems. Well, okay. I'll try this replacement. It came in its own packaging with the shrink-wrap all neatly sealed, so I'm fairly certain she didn't just go into the back room and stuff my old one into a new box.

But the troubles persisted through 2004.
Then '05, and '06. It was getting utterly ridiculous.

The tech guys put me onto Bell. They issued trouble ticket after trouble ticket, and Bell service guys came and went. Nobody would admit to any line trouble.
My theory of line-freezing was repeatedly shot down.

Then something odd happened. My desk-lamp burned out one day, and after I had changed the bulb, the phone rang. I had set the lamp near the modem, and when I returned -- lo and behold -- the link light was solid! I could surf again!
Mind you, I dared not touch my lamp, and I couldn't use it to read in bed anymore, but what did I care? I was connected!

This happy turn of events lasted for a few months until I very stupidly went back to Golden (now called "Execulink") and told them my story.
They said "Oh, those modems were never much good anyway."

Ok, well, can I maybe try a good one this time? I've been a very good boy customer, and wouldn't mind putting my lamp back where it belongs...

After some griping and nonsense about rental fees (I didn't rent mine, I bought it)and warnings about not being eligible for warrantee coverage, I took home a brand new (so they said) G-Net modem.

It got worse. This was March of this year, and it was very mild.
The ambient temperature in my room was a comfortable seventy degrees.
But now, I could only surf for between one and three minutes before the link switch started doing its strobe-light impression. And the worst of it was I had to turn it off and leave it for half an hour before attempting to connect again!

Finally the Execulink people, who were all the while insinuating it was Bell's problem, just advised me to switch to cable.

So in May, totally defeated and dumbfounded, I did just that.
Since hooking up with Rogers Cable I've never had a single interruption.

End of story? Not quite.

Last month Execulink called and told me that if I wanted to keep my old email and webspace (which I was using) to come in and pay them to keep all that going. Fine, I thought. So I paid them thirty bucks to keep my site up for the next six months, and retain my old email.

A week later they sent me a bill for three hundred dollars.

I was fairly convinced that it had to be a mistake, but when I went in there they said that I hadn't gone through the proper cancellation channels, and "just like cable" I was obligated to pay for their service whether I was using it or not.

"Excuse me, dear." Said I, through clenched teeth.
"There's one thing wrong with your analogy: You weren't providing me with a service I could use!

I took this little snot (same one who gave me grief about replacing their malfunctioning modems) to task for a good ten minutes until she scurried into a back office and brought out a manager.

This girl had far less bad attitude, but potentially more business savvy. So I bit back some of my bile, and explained everything patiently, to let her know that I wasn't some deadbeat trying to weasel out of payment.

We stood there looking at my account, and my complaint records, and the dozen or so trouble-tickets that had gone unresolved, and my inability to connect in slightly chilly weather, and finally I think she saw my point of view.

Mind you, she tried every tactic to prove my financial obligation, even throwing that "just like cable" thing out again, but my constant refrain was "How can you charge for a service I wasn't able to receive, and how could I know to cancel said service when I have no way of knowing whether I'm still connected to it?"

I told her that frankly, given that a week before, they had told me to pay if I wanted to keep my webspace and old email active, I found the whole situation suspicious and underhanded.

I also pointed out that if, as she had mentioned, their standard practice is to suspend service after one month of non-payment, why was I being billed for three months of (non)service?

That had her over the proverbial barrel, and she finally agreed to speak to the billing department first thing in the morning.

I walked out of there still fuming, but confident that I had argued my case as well as could be expected.

The next day, she told me that because I was still receiving their email service, I was obligated to pay (as she puts it) "Umm...between forty and fifty dollars?"

"Alright, fine." I said.
"Send me a bill with the exact amount."

I wasn't thrilled, but I was satisfied.
Fair enough, I thought after I hung up.
Take your fifty and fuck off.

That was two weeks ago.
I still haven't gotten that bill...


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