Friday, August 17, 2012

The Call (At long last, the call!)

So the big news is that I have, for the past week, been in communication with representatives from Suddenlink, including the much sought-after local office, regarding our unfortunate ongoing situation with them. And the reason for the communication is due entirely to name-checking Suddenlink on this blog on July 29 (you know, beyond my thinly veiled "Link of Sudden" phrasing I've been using for months).

Shortly after I posted the Suddenlink name-drop, I received a comment to that post from a someone called Suddenlink Help who wrote: "Hi - My name is Tina and I am a `Suddenlink agents paying attention on the lookout' for customers in need of assistance. Please feel free to reach out to me directly for assistance."

And this was exactly what I was hoping would happen.

I looked Tina up on the Suddenlink website and found that she did indeed appear to exist and worked for their help desk. So on August 7, 2012, I sent her an email containing my former account number with Suddenlink and the short short version of the unfortunate ongoing situation minus all the Once Upon a Time language. And, for a short short version, it was still fairly long. But then, the unfortunate ongoing situation is now in its sixth month, so I think a couple of politely-worded pages can be tolerated. I doubt that it's even necessary to post the short-short note here, but the truly short short short version is that I spelled out the major beats of the unfortunate ongoing situation, noting the 18 times I tried to go through proper channels to no result BEFORE I name-dropped them on this blog in anything other than a thinly-veiled way. As I explained in the note, the reason I'd not name-dropped Suddenlink sooner is that I'd been hoping for a positive resolution with my efforts to communicate with them locally. But since one did not appear to be forthcoming, after 5 months, I decided to say their name and draw the attention of someone higher up. Beyond that, I noted my willingness to work with them on a solution if only someone would call me back or otherwise contact me to answer the questions I've had for lo these last six months, even if that answer is "No."

The very next day, August 8, 2012, I received an email from a Director of Operations at Suddenlink following up on the email I had sent to Tina. He apologized that the unfortunate ongoing situation has been as ongoing as it has and asked my patience as they evaluate things on their end and correct the errors of the past so that this sort of thing doesn't happen to anyone else. He even gave me his cell number and apologized again. He said he was turning things over to the tech operations manager of the local Suddenlink office who would be in contact with me shortly.

That very afternoon, I received a telephone call (AN ACTUAL CALL ON MY ACTUAL TELEPHONE!!!! GLORY BE!!!) from said tech operations manager of said local office. He too apologized and said that engineers had been sent out that very day to evaluate the situation, take pictures and gather maps so that they could figure out what could be done, if anything. He promised he would give me a call with an update the following day. And the following day, as promised, he did.

And it is at this point in the narrative that I shall suffice to say that communications with Suddenlink regarding the issue are ongoing, but ongoing in a positive manner. This is not to say that any promises have been made that I'll be receiving service, and I was not expecting any such promises.  However, steps are actively being taken to see what can be done to get service to me.

For the moment, I'm pretty pleased with how things are going.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Once Upon a Time (Part 11)

As he said in Part 7, the scribe had allowed two months to pass since he last talked to a representative from the Link of Sudden. The last time he had, the rep had been very sympathetic to his cause and had said she was going to load up his account with note after note explaining the unfortunate ongoing situation to her superiors and they would definitely be calling him very soon about answering his questions. Yep. Very soon.

Which, of course, had not happened AT ALL. And even after the scribe had dutifully given her his new phone number, since the one associated with the account, much like the account, no longer worked.

The last he had heard, two months previous, there was a note in his account from someone local that the cost of getting Link of Sudden service to his new castle would be $12,000. There was no explanation of what this cost covered, or if the scribe was expected to pay that or if the Link of Sudden was expected to pay that, or if there was a split. Nothing. So now, the scribe had decided that since having notes left in his account was about all he could expect in the way of communication from the local office, and since two months previous he had asked the Link of Sudden to see if they could get anyone to tell him exactly what the $12,000 figure meant, he would now just phone up the Link of Sudden once again to learn if any new notes had been left for him in answer to the previous ones.

The rep he spoke to indicated there were no new notes. He could see the $12,000 note, but no further explanation was indicated. Rather than read over the 18 plus previous notes in the account, the rep instead had the scribe give him the short short version of the unfortunate ongoing situation. During the telling, the scribe once again mentioned the 18 approximate times he'd been promised a phone call but had yet to receive one. The rep seemed suitably annoyed on the scribe's behalf. The scribe, however, could barely summon up even annoyance any more, let alone anything approaching anger. This wound, he decided, had festered for so long that the tissue had gone necrotic and he was left just feeling dead inside over the whole thing, but was still left with the ability to see the absurdity of it all. So he just told each increasingly ridiculous part of the unfortunate ongoing situation and he and the rep laughed and laughed and laughed, one of them with cold dead eyes.

After they stopped laughing, the rep said he was going to write everything out in detail and send the account up the poop shoot to his superiors. He, at long last, was going to be the rep to get things moving on this issue. The previous reps had been chumps. The new rep would not rest until he had documented things fully and he assured the scribe, someone would be in touch with him very soon.

"No, they won't," the scribe said. And he laughed and laughed some more.

"So how should I word this?" the rep asked.

The scribe decided to play along. If the rep was going to let him dictate the sort of wording he wanted in the notes, the scribe was all for providing those words. He was, after all, a scribe.

"Wants to know if the junction box in neighbor's yard can, in fact, be upgraded to accommodate a cable for customer's house," the scribe suggested. "Customer is willing to pay to have the cable buried, if upgrade can be made," he also suggested. "Is very annoyed that he's been promised phone calls on the matter on 18 separate occasions since February and has yet to receive even one," he continued in suggestion. "Is about to start negative media campaign," the scribe finished.

The rep said he didn't think he should include that last part. The scribe quietly disagreed, but allowed the matter to drop.

At the end of the call, the scribe thanked the rep for his time but assured him that he, the scribe, was under no illusions that what they had just done would have ANY effect whatsoever. He'd long ago given up thinking that anyone at the Link of Sudden was going to pay any attention to mere notes in an account or the suggestions of their phone reps. Clearly either there was a disconnect somewhere in the system in which the local office was unaware he wanted a call back, or they were actively ignoring him.

However, the scribe thought he might know a way to change that, or at least get the attention of eyes and ears higher up in the Link of Sudden food chain. And it could be accomplished, he believed, with the mere reordering of ten letters.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Once Upon a Time (Part 10)

With the last of the improvements accomplished at the old castle in Borderland, it was time to get the place sold once and for all. The castle-sales-agent there asked the scribe and his goodly wife which lawgiver they wanted to use to do the work. Despite having lived there for four years, they had no real notions who would be good to use, so they asked for recommendations.

"Harpo or Zeppo" she said.

They chose Harpo.

Nearly two weeks then passed with no word as to a closing date. Just as the scribe was starting to notice that they should have heard SOMETHING by then, the agent phoned to say that the potential buyers were getting antsy that they'd not heard anything from Harpo's office. They were going to jump ship and go with Zeppo for the closing. The goodly wife called Harpo's office to inquire as to the date and was told by his Verified Georgia Peach of an office manager that no date had been set because she'd not even started working on it. "Well don't bother, then," the goodly wife said. The scribe and his wife told their agent to go with Zeppo, who said he could put a rush on it and set a date for the following Thursday.

The Tuesday before the closing, the scribe and his goodly wife took a trip to Borderland. Their reasons were two fold. One, there were a few things to pick up from the castle there. Two, they had an appointment for their dog, Moose.

During the intervening months since they'd moved to Tri-Metro, Moose had developed some problems. At first it seemed to be a temporary lameness in one leg, causing him to not put weight on it at time. Then they noticed it was actually in all of his legs, one at a time. Fearing something awful, the goodly wife researched it and discovered that Lyme disease produced such symptoms. Only a quick scan from their local vet in Tri-Metro showed no trace of it. The local vet had no other notions and just told the Goodly Wife to keep an eye on him. When, after a week, the problem seemed to be getting worse, to the point that the poor dog had pain with any movement and spent most of his time lying down on his comfy pillow, not daring to move even for the encroachment of deer, the Goodly Wife said, "Screw this" and made an appointment for him at their old vet in Borderland. He too ordered a battery of tests, including an indepth scan for Lyme. In the meantime, he put Moose on antibiotics and anti-inflamatories. One or more of these seemed to help and soon Moose was his usual energetic, bouncy self. But the Lyme scan came back negative, so the vet referred the dog to a university veterinary hospital. They too could find no conclusive cause to the problem, but did note that Moose's lymphatic system was active and producing fluids that were building up in his joints, likely causing him pain. This could be caused, they said, by an auto immune deficiency wherein his own systems were fighting him. The pooch was given a course of prednisone that would likely last for four months. This too seemed to work and soon Moose was gaining weight, drinking like a camel and peeing like a race horse.

The vet visit in Borderland went well. But when the couple arrived at their beloved former castle they found the power was off. From the warm temperature of the fridge, it seemed it had been off for some time. They called their power company and alerted them. However, the company couldn't send anyone to check on it until after they had hit the road for Tri-Metro once again. They were told, via a call, that it was back on.

When they returned to Borderland for the closing on Thursday, they stopped back by their former castle to pick up the one last thing they had left behind, the rope for their dog run, tied between trees in the back yard, and to drop off a welcome card to the new owners. However, the power was still off. Having very little time to get to the closing, they phoned the power company on the way and were told that the house would soon be transferred to its new name.

"Yes, but the future owners do not have the power to turn OFF our power until they are actually the owners, which won't happen for another 15 minutes," the scribe said. "Besides that, the power has clearly been off for a number of days already. We'd like it to be on for the new owners when they take possession."

Oddly, when the scribe and his goodly wife arrived at the office of the lawgiver their real-estate agent had told them to go to, they found it was Harpo's office and not Zeppo's. "Didn't we fire him?" they said. Evidently the firing had not taken. However, the future owners of their castle had had better luck with their firing, for they were nowhere to be seen since they had successfully moved into Zeppo's care. So the closing was completed without the scribe and his goodly wife ever meeting the new owners. They each signed their papers in offices one city block apart. And with that their former castle was now well and truly no longer theirs. They each had a little cry. And, fortunately, the power company phoned back to say that they had actually restored power this time instead of just saying they had.

With the old castle's sale finally concluded, the scribe bid a fond goodbye to Borderland and he and his goodly wife drove off in the opposite direction of the sunset.

(Wait, what was that other thing he was supposed to remember? Had something to do with the move... Was a source of frustration... OH, YEAH! Now I remember...)

Once Upon a Time (Part 9)

The scribe and his goodly wife raided all the gasoline powered equipment they owned, siphoning them as dry as they could with a little hand pump. This, however, amounted to what
little was left in the two mowers and the nearly full tank of the garden tiller. Maybe two gallons, if that. This they poured into her car and hoped for the best.

The wife said that word on the street was that Asscrackton wouldn’t see power again before Sunday and it would probably be the same for Tri-Metro. They would have to find gasoline, somehow, somewhere. The only good thing about the storms was that it had cooled everything off, so they slept pretty soundly with a breeze blowing across us through the windows.

The next morning, the wife called in to work to make sure she needed to come in. No sense driving to Asscrackton if they weren’t going to be open, after all. She was told that they would be open and that one of the main gas stations on the interstate had generator power and was open. Her plan was to drive there and get gas before work. She would also fill up our gas cans.
Meanwhile, the scribe’s job became keeping the house as cool as possible for as long as possible, because temperatures were supposed to hit the upper 90s again. So he kept the windows open until the battery-powered thermometer began to creep into the mid 80s. Then he started closing windows and shuttering blinds.

Mid morning, the goodly wife called to say she had been unable to get gas because the line for fuel was out to the interstate itself. However, her old clinic in Borderland reported that they had plenty of power there, so she suggested he drive there and fuel up. He really didn’t want to drive an hour and a half to gas up the car, but figured he could make it on less than a quarter of a tank if he didn’t use air-conditioning or any other electronics that drew power. And he did make it, and was even able to gas up at my favorite station 17 miles outside of town, across the border, where the gas is always the cheapest. However, they didn’t have gas cans, so he drove on into Borderland proper where he found things were well and truly FUBAR. Every gas station near the interstate was completely full and there was a line of cars adding to the chaos with each passing traffic light cycle.

The nearby Lowes only had 1 gallon gas cans left, so the scribe wound up driving further into town where he found an Advance Auto Parts that had a 5 gallon can left. On his way there, he had driven past Kroger and saw that their gas station hardly had anyone at it. The chaos, he reasoned, had not made it this far into town. But with credit card machines down at Advance, due to the storm, it was a cash only transaction, and by the time he’d made it to an ATM and back Kroger was eat up with cars. He had to wait in line for 15 minutes while the two deep line of people at the pump filled up their vehicles and multiple gas cans each.

The scribe took his newly filled gas can and drove to Asscrackton where he gassed up the wife’s vehicle and chatted with her for a bit in the darkened clinic.

“Do I need to cancel my trip?” he asked. After all, they were in a state of emergency officially.

“No,” she told him.

He returned to Tri-Metro, where there appeared to be one gas station that had some degree of generator power, but none for the town.

Though they waited to cancel the show until close to call time, the final performance for the scribe’s play was indeed cancelled. They would have no wrap party. They would take no cast pictures.

That night, after the scribe’s wife had returned home and they had opened all the windows and doors to catch what little breeze there was, he asked her again if he should cancel his trip.

“Please,” she said. “I grew up with no electricity until I was in high school. This will be fun.” This was, of course, a reference to her formative years growing up in a series of cabins in rural Alaska, where she did indeed have no electricity until her high school years. Her point was that while the scribe could be of some help to her there, his would be another car that needed gas. Plus, he was kind of a wuss when it came to lack of air conditioning. She, however, had grown up with less than this. She had a house, she had water and so she could survive just fine. If things got bad, she would pack up the animals and the deep freeze and drive them back to Borderland where we still had a house and still had power.

The scribe awoke at 3 in the morning and drove to the nearest airport to fly to Mississippi. He noticed power in Asscrackton as he drove through it, which seemed a good sign. The wife, however, would not see power in Tri-Metro for several days yet.

A day later, fearing the loss of their deep freeze full of Alaskan salmon, the goodly wife used a set of shelf-boards as ramps and then used a wheeled dolly to roll the smallish deep freeze into the laundry hall of the castle and then from there up into the back of her Honda Element. She then packed up the dogs and drove to Borderland, plugging it into the garage. Two hours later, another set of massive storms rolled across the state and knocked out power in Borderland. Seeing that there was nothing else to do, the following morning she had Lowes locate the nearest town that still had generators for sale and she drove there to buy the next to last one. With this she returned to Tri-Metro, powering the deep freeze for a few hours each day as well as charging her phone and laptop. And because of their continued lack of power and the lack of Link of Sudden High Speed Internet even IF they’d had power, her 3G hotspot capabilities in her phone kept her connected to the net of the whole wide world.

Meanwhile, the towns of the Tri-Metro area slowly crawled back to life. Stores reopened, people returned to their jobs, and life mostly resumed, albeit on a cash-only basis.

Power was also eventually restored to Borderland, which the wife learned from her former coworkers there. She made arrangements for the last of the castle-improvements to be completed so that the castle there could at last be sold.

Finally, nearly a week later, the power was restored to our castle in Tri-Metro. And an air-conditioned sigh of relief was breathed.