It’s evening, the day after Christmas. Beginning at about 8 a.m. the day before Christmas, the internet connection here at the house, which is also the internet connection FlaglerLive, my other jobs and everyone else here at the house depends on, started acting strange. Certain sites didn’t load–among them, ironically, the News-Journal. It hadn’t sold, at last check, and cost-cutting hasn’t been so dire that the company’s Time-Warner cable bill was going unpaid. Google, too, was acting up. Sometimes it would load, sometimes not. Google News was on and off. And chess.com, my occasional addiction. It wouldn’t let me log in.
I thought the problem was at my end. I checked for news stories about internet issues. Nothing. I had a look at Brighthouse’s web site, thinking that, like Florida Power & Light, it would let its customers know if there was a pattern of problems they were aware of, and hopefully working on. Nothing. I set to work trying to resolve the issue at my end. You know how those things go when you start. Computers save time, theoretically. When they’re not working properly, they devour time like a black hole. I once spent a week’s vacation trying to fix a memory-card problem with Dell on the ophone, day after day, only to narrow down the issue and fix it on my own. This internet problem began to look like the same time hog.
I deleted cookies, temporary files, caches, histories (material and time-saving history I’d accumulated for years). Rebooted at every turn. I messed around with things I never knew existed (what the hell is MTU size? I learned it, changed it from 1500 to 1492, then to 1450, even to 1400). I messed around with my computer’s registry, which is like juggling IEDs. I eliminated firewalls, Windows’ and my router’s. None of it made a difference. I finally exhumed my old dial-up connection with at&t, my very first from 1995, which I never got rid of. I found the old password, set it up, dialed in. Lo (or ho, considering the occasion) and behold: Google worked. The News-Journal came up (what'[s left of it, anyway). Chess.com worked fine. On a 56k dial-up. So it wasn’t my problem. It was, is, Brighthouse’s.
I figured it was the router. I went to Staple’s, bought a new one, spent another six hours trying to run it properly. No dice. Periodically I would check the web for news, even checked Brighthouse’s web site. Cheryl live-chatted with a Brighthouse customer service representative yesterday. He blew her off, immediately concluding that our lines were fine, so it was our computers’ problem, not his. Cretinry on Christmas.
Finally tonight I dialed in for my own live chat with a Brighthouser. There were 39 people ahead of me. I had a few live-chatting chess games with my children as I waited. Finally, “Sandra” came on. I explained my problem. Here’s what she had to say: “Many customers from your area are reporting this issue.It seems to be an Outage and we should get an update very soon. I request you to try accessing your Cable Service after some time and the issue should be resolved from the server end once it is reported.”
“It would have been nice,” I wrote back, “if you’d put up a notice on your web site about what you just said, so you might have kept customers like me from spending three days trying to resolve the issue in the dark.” I added a “damn it,” but it was automatically replaced with stars. They can’t get their act together, but they sure know how to filter frustration, though I did wish poor Sandra a merry Christmas all the same, since she had nothing to do with the problem. Damn it. But she did have the gall to add this: “For your information, you can visit this link anytime to get more help and knowledge about the products and services offered by Road Runner: http://help.rr.com and check for online FAQs.”
I did. We all did. Repeatedly. To no avail. Including this site, which claimed all along that “At this time the network is operating normally.” It wasn’t. That’s Brighthouse for you. Patent deception from start to finish. So much for a “$350 million, 16,000-mile cable network.” Reminded me of why we quit Brighthouse cable years ago and went with Direct TV. But it’s a small world after all. There’s no other broadband service in my area. It’s Brighthouse or nothing.
Update: Sunday morning. Day four. Still no fix. It looks like Brighthouse’s tiff with Fox over football coverage is sucking up the company’s energy at the expense of its more essential services. And yes: proper internet coverage is more essential than whether you get to watch Tim Tebow and the Sugar Bowl. Also, on Sunday morning, Brighthouse had a new message for customers looking to live4-chat with their support staff: “Agents unavailable.” No shit.