Friday, March 11, 2011


I had a problem with my Internet service the other day. Namely, I wasn’t getting the right number of lights (four) to light up on my modem indicating everything was hunky-dory with my hookup to the wonderful world of email and beyond.

This concerned me, because this has been a particularly busy week for me.

In addition to the basketball reports I have been filing since December, many college football teams are heading into spring practice. That means writing previews noting top players, team priorities, players’ arrest records, etc., for the schools that an outfit called the Sports Xchange has assigned to me.

So when my DSL service went down, it was a concern.

This was especially so because I have had problems in the past that have required me to replace my modem. I’ve had three or four in the span of a similar number of years. Can’t really remember for sure. That means I’m without Internet access for a couple of days waiting for the new modem to arrive.

I can still get to my reports by either going the library down the street and logging on there, which is inconvenient, or taking my laptop on the road and finding wireless Internet access at a place like McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. I had a good friend who used to pull up in parting lots at popular hotel chains and log onto their wireless networks when he was on the road.

Both options are pains to deal with.

So, yes, I was a bit concerned when this latest incident occurred.

I decided to run all the diagnostic tests, and the little “help” chart that popped up stopping running any more tests after informing me that my DSL connection was down and I should check all my connections to make sure all the proper wires were hooked up.

Thank you so much for that valuable tip, I muttered to myself.

So then I decided I should maybe call AT&T, and here is finally the point I am getting to.

On the “help” -- I continue to put “help” in quotes for reasons that should be clear -- page for AT&T Internet service, there was no phone number for me to call for, well, help.

Instead, I was given a link to connect to AT&T’s support website.

Think about that for a minute. Do you see the obvious conflict here?

If my problem is with my modem, which isn’t working, exactly how am I to hook up with the AT&T DSL service technical support page? Osmosis?

Well, I went downstairs (for the record, I am not a blogger sitting in my basement in my underwear; my workspace is on the second floor of house, and we don’t even have a basement) and dug out the previous month’s bill from AT&T.

There I did find a phone number to call. After going through automated answering hell, pressing “one” for English and then “one” for technical support, etc., I was told things were busy and I could expect a 15-minute wait.

I suspect such messages are bogus because after just a few minutes of getting such “helpful” information during my waiting period as being told the answer to my problem might be found on the AT&T technical support website (see my previous comment on that a couple of graphs up), I was hooked up to a real person. And this person seemed to be talking from somewhere in the U.S., though I could be wrong about that.

Any way, she had me unplug the power to my modem and then plug it back in, which I had already done several times to no avail, and she ran some other tests from her end. Or so she said. I even went around the house unplugging other phones/filters.

Nothing worked. Only the first two lights, not the required four, remained on.

Then she said something about a possible area outage.


I mentioned to her (I think she said her name was Myra) that a couple of traffic lights near my house weren’t working when I had come home earlier. She did some checking and sure enough, she said, there was an area outage. The proper people had been notified and were working on it, and I could expect service to be back up within 24 hours. I was one of 140 customers in the same situation.

Not the best of situations, but not a big problem.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending as the service was back on probably within an hour or so. I suspect that “24 hour” notice is simply an automatic response to give the company a little leeway, kind of like how the airlines schedule a two-hour window for what used to be an hour-and-a-half flight from Atlanta to Miami.

Any way, I told my friendly technician that it might be good for her to pass on to her bosses and others that it was little help for AT&T to give me a website link for help when my problem was that I couldn’t get to the Internet in the first place.

She laughed and said, yes, that didn’t make sense.

But I doubt she will pass it on.

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