When did the word ‘service’ disappear from the English language? I post this on my facebook status after many hours and days wasted trying to get phone and internet service at the rental house. Originally, I planned to transfer the service I had been using the past 7 years in Austin. Simple, right? Nope. I don’t usually name names, but I am so frustrated with the abysmal service that I hesitate no longer. I have a new four-letter cuss word: atnt. Every time I call, I get a different person, a different appointment, a different story, and a different price. I keep meticulous notes about when I call, who I speak with, and what the person promises – in vain. Each time I get the run around, I recite this information and more. Please, go listen to the recorded phone call the robot voice tells us may be used to improve service. I beg of you. Because your service definitely needs improving. But it’s useless. I’m not the only one to complain about AT&T’s service. Whenever I mention them on facebook, I get numerous comments validating my right to bitterness. After two weeks of false promises and no-shows, I call them to cancel my service. Forever.
I desperately turn to the cable company, who installed my cable TV quickly on the promised day. Unfortunately, they are totally backlogged and cannot get a tech to my house for two weeks. My son Jacob thinks this is a tragedy. His dad has more or less forced him to join his sister Sarah at my house now despite my lack of internet access. I understand my son’s frustration, but I also understand his dad’s desire for some alone time. At least we have cable, I remind him, and a TV in each of your rooms and the loft and the living room. Sarah finds the TV sitution amusing. We have more TVs in the house than people, she says. Enjoy it now, I tell her. It’ll never happen again, at least in my house. It’s not that I’m anti-television though I used to be. I was one of those parents who greatly restricted the kids’ TV viewing when they were younger. We had only one TV and no cable for years until we moved to Austin and the kids were in middle school. Their dad donated an old TV and DVD player for them to watch in the loft at my house, so we were up to two TVs. I just think four TVs for three people is a bit excessive.
I call the cable company again, this time to ask how I can exchange my cable box for a DVR. I now know I cannot watch TV in real time. I don’t want to be tied down to a schedule, and I sure don’t want to watch commercials although forwarding through them has cut down on my reading time. During this conversation, I ask again if an earlier opening for a tech is available to fix up the internet. No, he says, but if I want, I could pick up the equipment at the same place I get the DVR and install it myself. This sounds like an easy solution, but deep down, I know it’s never as simple as it seems. I consult with my son, who has lit up at the possibility of connecting to the virtual world today. Sure, I can do it, it’s easy. He is scornful of my doubts, and so we head over to the TimeWarner store. The DVR goes as planned. So far, so good. I put my highly confident son in charge of the internet. I soon hear him upstairs talking angrily to himself, so I suggest he call tech support. He does and a mere 1 ½ hours later . . . we are connected! There are always glitches, I say, but his mood is dark. I leave him alone with his cherished new laptop, a participant in the world wide web once again, and escape downstairs. It will take another two weeks to get the phone line, but it’s only used as a back-up when cell reception wavers and, therefore, not nearly as important. Five weeks after moving in, I will finally finish dealing with cable, internet, and phone service. At least for a few months, and then I get to do it all over again when I move back to my house.