Doing the impossible with the Internet

By Marla Boone - Contributing columnist

Here is today’s multiple choice question: How many phone calls does one have to make to a company to get Internet service suspended? (A) One (B) Three (C) Four (D) All of the above.

Answer? (D) All of the above. Add one plus three plus four and you get eight. Eight is the number of phone calls necessary for someone somewhere to grasp the very difficult concept of “Please turn my Internet service off temporarily.”

To be perfectly fair, the first three phone calls resulted in the woefully misnamed customer service representative telling us such a thing was impossible. Preparing for the fourth phone call, I had in my hand the company’s statement from the previous year during which (Surprise!) the very same company had temporarily turned our Internet off. When Lolita (I could not make this up) was faced with this insurmountable evidence of the impossible being not only feasible but eminently doable, her response was, and I quote, “Hmmm.” She kept saying, “Hmmm” for several minutes. Then she, inevitably I guess, put me on hold. When she came back on the line (small mercies) she told me it was indeed impossible to turn the service off temporarily. We had to ask for the service to be turned off, no adverbs allowed. We were not to say the word “temporarily.” She assured us she would put in a work order to turn the Internet off. Then she apparently went out and got drunk because the next day we received a phone call from the company asking us to call them back about a work order they could not understand.

Being a trusting soul, I called them at the number indicated in their message. I went through a lengthy phone tree, asking for English, requesting customer service, entering my account number, my phone number, and the last four digits of my social security number. Then they disconnected me. Not one to back down from a challenge, I called again. Same phone tree, same requests, same entries. Same disconnection, too.

We are now up to six phone calls. Everybody has a dirty little secret. Mine is that I have an ancient, paper-and-pencil address book hidden in a drawer. Hoping against hope, I looked up the entry for the internet company and found a second number for customer service. Calling it (call No. 7) entailed the same detailed phone tree but — and this is why I cannot share this number with anyone else because they will clog up my only lifetime to the internet company — the end of all my efforts a real live person answered the phone. I explained the problem. Renita said she could take care of everything. She flipped a switch somewhere and — guess what? — Steve’s email quit working on any computer in any location. Ain’t technology great?

Call number eight took me back, eventually, to a human being. I explained the problem which I could now recite in my sleep. The person at the other end of the line said, “Hmmm.” It was déjà vu all over again. She said, “Hmmm” several more times and then said I needed an “account specialist.” No argument there. She transferred me to Jennifer, the account specialist. Except she wasn’t. Oh, she was Jennifer all right. She just wasn’t an account specialist. She was tech support “tier one.” Well, we were way past tier one in any department. We were at about tier 9,026. Jennifer said she sensed that I was unhappy with the service I was receiving and that she would transfer me to a real account specialist. I am not proud to admit that I begged — begged — her not to disconnect me. Well, Jennifer was not tech support tier one for nothing. She transferred me to Jessica without a hitch and I think I could hear water running as she washed her hands of me.

Jessica was suitably appalled about the whole situation although at a much lower level of pique than I was experiencing. Hoping I was not asking her to reveal some confidential company policy, I asked her, for future reference, what magic words were required to get the internet turned off but keep email service. “E-O,” she said as though this were the most intuitive thing in the world. “You want E-O.”

It seems E-O stands for email-only. This is what I am going to ask for in the future. Unless it’s impossible.

By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.