Stretching credulity


Wow. I’m serious. Even I have trouble believing it and I just went through it myself. I need you to bear witness and you tell me if this chain of events, at its conclusion, is stretching credulity.

It starts, as too many of these posts begin, with the ubiquitous Comcast. Yes, folks, more issues with Comcast. Nothing stretching credulity so far, eh?

Let’s begin at the beginning and set the stage properly.

Consistently inconsistent

I’ve been off of cable for a while now. I find I am quite happy with just internet. Most of my entertainment activities, outside of reading, can be performed admirably just from the web.

So, the only thing I need is a stable internet connection. Usually, this is what I get with Comcast. Indeed, I am so comfortable with their service that I pay an extra $10 per month for 150 mbps speed.

But, for the last week or so, my connection has been erratic. Some days, the connection speed drops precipitously. Other days, it stops totally.

There is no solution to this problem other than, the dreaded “Call support”.

The dreaded “Call support”

Comcast no longer wants you to call them direct. Now, they want you to go online and request a call. Yes, I (and every logical thinking person in the known universe) recognize the flaw in this program: If you can’t get online, how do you request a call? Capital “D” little “u” little “h”

Nevertheless, I squeezed a call in during an intermittent “up” period.

You know the drill: unplug the modem; send a signal; unscrew the cable; is it working? No? Okay, let me try a little more. Is it working? No? Okay…um…we need to send out a technician.

The technician

Remarkably, I get an 8-10 am block on the next day. And he arrives at 8:20 am! Super!

Of course, testing repeats all the stuff I did over the phone. Then he goes outside. Then he goes up in my attic (poor guy, but at least it’s still cool out).

The conclusion: it’s outside (good, no extra charge to me). He replaces some cable for me and puts in a call for new cable to be laid (and buried) outside.

Internet is up and all is right in the world.

All is not right in the world

That evening, the internet goes out. Not down…out. An hour, two, four, infinitum.

Of course, without internet connectivity, how to contact support to get a call? Ah, let’s hear it for caller ID.

On the first call, Comcast called me 4 times about the appointment (each time trying to get me to cancel). Also, I get 5 texts (even though I type “stop” after each one which is supposed to stop me getting texts).

So, I redial the 800 number and – voila! – Comcast support.

The dreaded “Call support” – again

So, rinse repeat. New support person, same routine. All proves fruitless of course, because, eh, there’s now NO connection.

So, schedule another technician. Next day, sure, but now 1-3 pm. Sigh.

But wait!

I get an interim call from support. My situation is “escalated”. Let me give you an example of Comcast escalation:

“So, would you like to cancel the appointment?”

“I have no internet, no, I would not like to cancel the appointment.”

“Oh, I apologize for the inconvenience. Do you have any lights on your modem?”

“Yes, the power light.”

“Do you have an internet light?”

“No, I only have the power light. There are no other lights.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience. I understand you are having problems with your internet.”

“Yes, I have no connection.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience. Can you tell me which lights are on your modem?”

“Just the power light.”

“Thank you. I see you have requested a technician for tomorrow. Do you wish to cancel that appointment?”

“No, I have no internet. Obviously I don’t want to cancel the appointment.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience. Do you have any more lights on your modem now?”

“No, as I have said three times, only the power light.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience. We will send a technician out to you to fix the problem. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

(Seriously, I may have actually left off a few of the “I apologize…” lines. At one point, I told him he didn’t need to keep apologizing.)

The technician(s)

This time, I got a double team. Two guys, two trucks. Now we’re rocking!

These guys were the team supreme. They went over the modem. They moved my bookcase full of Jack Vance novels to get to my wall connection. The smaller of the two climbed the attic. Then they went outside and pulled the cable from the box.

Good signal in the attic, they said. Good signal outside, they told me. But somewhere, from the attic to the office, the signal was degrading.

Give ’em credit, they tried to upsell me a Comcast modem. I gave ’em lip, but said, sure, bring it on in and prove to me it will work.

Just as they were about to tear open the plastic on the modem, the signal they were measuring from the wall plummeted. Um, it’s not the modem.

Back to the attic. Back to the patio. Again at the main box. Son of a gun, it’s outside somewhere. How did we not notice this the first time?

I must say, these guys are my superheroes, though. They kept at this problem for about an hour and a half. In the afternoon. In the sun of South Florida. Wearing black. (I did provide them with bottled water)

Finally, they figured out the problem and solved it. I was so pleased with their effort I gave ’em a twenty and told ’em to go get something on me.

As I was cleaning up the office and resetting all those paperbacks, the guys were apparently still working. Perhaps it was simple due diligence. Maybe it was the twenty bucks. In any case, they called me out back to the patio to show me their work.

The cable lines leading into the patio from outside were now nicely zip-tied down. The hole in the wall where the cable came in (and occasionally some bugs) was now completely covered by a plastic box with a hinged door. Moral: tip your service people!

But, you ask, while that is annoying and incredible all-in-one, where is the “stretching credulity” thing?

Ah, faithful reader, I’m glad you ask! Here is what the problem is causing my intermittent/lost connection: a tree in the back of my house.

That. Tree.

The roots of all evil. As in, the roots of the tree are ripping the cable lines from the ground, stretching the lines too taut and causing “noise” to interrupt my signal.

The two guys laid a ton of new cable and fed it close to the house, avoiding the roots altogether.

But, seriously? Are you kidding me? That stupid tree, the one that punctures my roof, uproots my back patio and inundates my front patio with leaves? The one I’m fighting the HOA over for 9 years? That’s my internet connectivity issue?

I’m sorry, but that is just stretching credulity.

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