Category Archives: TWC

Giving TWC a run for it…

So last night I spent fifty (50) minutes on the phone with someone at Comcast, trying, yet again, to fix our internet service (it is not, at present, working; I’m writing this at the library. God bless the library). Though problems with Comcast have been a regular feature of my life since moving in to my current abode at the beginning of August, they are still better than Time Warner in a few ways:

1) The automated system takes two minutes to get through, after which the caller is rewarded with the experience of speaking to an actual human being; no hold music, no estimated 45-minute wait times.

2) That human being is usually competent and helpful, and apologetic for the problems the caller is experiencing (and ESPECIALLY apologetic if a tech person was supposed to show up and did not).

3) When it is necessary to schedule an appointment for a tech person to come to the house, that appointment is usually scheduled for 1-3 days in the future, not two weeks (cough-TIME WARNER-cough).

4) When the tech person does show up (and on two or three occasions, I will readily admit, s/he has not), s/he is competent, helpful, and usually fixes the problem (often by replacing one piece of non-working equipment with a piece of working equipment, which means they came prepared).

So, on balance, better than TWC; but then again, they didn’t set the bar very high, did they? An unathletic snail could get over that bar, given a few minutes. Putting things in perspective; I know there are many, many people in the world who don’t have access to clean water or enough food, and that is a much worse problem than spotty internet access – a problem in a completely different category. On the other hand, we’re paying for the service, and having to spend hours on the phone, and further hours waiting around the house for tech people who may or may not show up, depending on which house Mercury is residing in these days (I don’t know what their criteria are), just isn’t acceptable.

Here, again for your enjoyment, are two examples of people turning frustrating customer service experiences into humor (and, in one case, results!), rather than – as I’ve done here – simply rephrasing that whiny, impatient chorus of a child trying to drag his/her parent out of a boring situation or setting, such as a conversation with another parent, or a shoe store: Come on come on come onnnnnnn!

The Oatmeal

Let’s just hope the guy shows up this time.

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Battle of the Internet Service Providers

So the internet went out again yesterday, and I got to call Comcast, because the resident IT superhero was at work. And you know what? I navigated easily through their automated phone menu, spent barely any time listening to hold music, and spoke to a real person – ONE real person – who FIXED THE PROBLEM. Revelation. Wonderment. Joy and splendor. Glory hallelujah! All she had to do was refresh the modem, which we both knew, but she was perfectly polite, and we were both patient with each other, and look at that, a customer service experience that didn’t devolve into a TOTAL NIGHTMARE. How ’bout that, Time Warner?

Battle of the internet service providers:
Comcast: +5 points
Time Warner: -12 squillion points

Of course, with my luck, Time Warner will control the internet in the next place I live, and some extraordinarily bored employee of theirs – someone who has exhausted every other single even mildly entertaining resource on the web – will have stumbled across this blog, and this employee will be all, “It’s ON.” We could even do a Point/Counterpoint for The Onion where my side is “Dude, I am cursed,” and TW’s side is, “No, we are out to get you.” No wizards and elves and spells and charms here, just a big corporation.

Since this is categorized under “rant” anyway…I heard “Friday I’m in Love” on the radio. On Thursday. Anyone else take issue with that?

What I’m reading: The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti
What I’m listening to: Galore, The Cure

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“I like to talk to the robot.”

Once again, writing a draft of a blog post in Word because our internet is out. Again. I swear this shit follows me around like a curse. Either that, or it’s this bad all the time, for everyone, in which case, WHY are we still paying them (Time Warner, Comcast, etc.) every month for service we DON’T GET?

The silver lining to this is that my roommate, and not I, is the one who’s constantly on the phone with Comcast, getting transferred from one robot to another until he finally reaches a person who – maybe, if he’s lucky, transfers him to another person, and so on, until finally he reaches The Person With The Magic Button who restores our internet access.

Boston. Massachusetts. United States of America. Two thousand ten. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE FLYING CARS AND JETPACKS BY NOW. (Speaking of which: I’ve never listened to them, but We Were Promised Jetpacks is one of the best band names ever.)

Annnnnd we’re back (online)! Third roommate just entered, and inspired a total and complete lack of jealousy in the other two of us by announcing she’s taking sixty eighth graders on a field trip tomorrow (she’s a teacher).

Also today – this Tuesday was suspiciously Mondayish – I got on the green line (E) train after spending three hours in class followed by six hours working in the library (that’s nine (9) hours at school, ten including lunch) only to have the train stop before we even got to Copley, and it was stopped for TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES. And I was hungry and cold and very nearly out of reading material, but I had the New Yorker with me so I just read more of it than I usually would. And then I stopped at the grocery store to get pumpkin and now there are pumpkin-apple-chocolate-chip muffins in the oven and this day is finally, at 10:26pm, looking up.

And here are some pictures of morning glories, from various people’s railings in Brooklyn.

Oh wait, internet is out again. The internet was also out in Brooklyn last weekend, because of the tornado. Yes, that’s right – back to the category of Things Going (Unexpectedly) Wrong – there was a tornado in Brooklyn last week. A TORNADO. IN BROOKLYN.

There were broken trees all over, snapped branches strewn across the sidewalk. Someone went ahead and gave this tree remnant some Brooklyn pride.

As far as I know, though, all the houses retained their roofs, and there were no flying cows, and it was all in color to start with – much like the other “tornado” I lived through when I first moved to Brooklyn, in August 2007. That day, unfortunately, I was trying to fly to Chicago, and THAT, my friends, is why I always build extra time in when I am figuring how long it will take to get to the airport: because YOU NEVER KNOW when a tornado will hit New York and gum up the subway system. I should probably start earthquake-proofing my room here in Boston, though actually, it pretty much already is; nine years in California will make you just paranoid enough, it turns out, not to want to hang framed pictures over the bed (or anywhere people are going to sleep or sit), or have your china in glass-fronted cabinets (not that I, at 25, have either china or glass-fronted cabinets). (For safety purposes, of course.)

That’s right. The danger of teacups. Be on the alert, people!

Oh my God. It is out again (12:33am). I am going to beat that modem to death with a baseball bat.

What I’ve been reading: Love Is A Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield
What I’ve been listening to: various mixes; Bach cello suites

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MTA: Miraculous Transaction Accomplished!

Here’s a little choose-your-own-adventure story:

Less than a month after I sent my bent Metrocard and a form asking for replacement or reimbursement to the MTA headquarters, I…

…was still waiting, beginning to lose hope. (Turn to page 36)

…received a response to my customer service request, in the form of a letter and a check for reimbursement! (Turn to page 47)

From page 36:
While you’re waiting, you might also like to read The Time Warner Saga (parts 1-7)!

From page 47:
You win! The end.

What I’m reading: Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
What I’m listening to: The Ultimate Collection, The Kinks; Moon Safari, Air

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The Time Warner Saga Concludes

Yes, the Time Warner Saga has, at long last, concluded. More or less. I hope. (If you missed the first, let’s see, SIX installments, dating back as early as September 2009, you can find them here, here, and here.) Over the past couple weeks, I (a) obtained a faxed estimate from my dentist as to the cost of a replacement retainer; (b) faxed this, in turn, to the TWC representative who came to inspect and photograph the damaged item and to take down my account of events; (c) received a call from TWC informing me that they would pay for 71% of the cost of replacing the retainer (“We can offer you X amount.” “Despite the fact that it will cost Y amount to replace?” “Yes, well… [muttering about how I can’t PROVE it was their technician who broke it. I guess they are 71% sure it was him though]”); (d) received another call to schedule tonight’s appointment for the rep to come give me a check and have me sign papers; (e) met with the rep, who was only 45 minutes late and who kindly called ahead to let me know that he would be late; (f) accepted the check and read over the statement I was to sign; (g) suppressed a massive coronary attack at the multiple, blatant, glaring, egregious spelling and grammatical errors on the one-paragraph document; (h) photographed the document, signed, and saw the rep on his merry way.

I’ve spent a few days at work recently going over a contract, so I am not unfamiliar with legal language. This has got to be, hands-down, one of the most garbled and senseless paragraphs I have ever seen in my life, and I HAVE READ JAMES JOYCE. (Sections of Ulysses, anyway, and they were easier to follow than this.) Sentence structure aside – it’s clearly a mess – the “UNERSIGNED”? “…and forever discharge IT’S parent…”? It’s the misplaced apostrophe there that nearly killed me. Out, out, damn spot! Begone with ye.

Apparently my explication on the correct placement of the apostrophe in the word “y’all” earlier today was just a warmup. (For those who weren’t in on that: “y’all” is a contraction made up of the words “you” and “all.” The apostrophe takes the place of the “ou” in “you” and therefore the correct spelling/punctuation is “y’all.”) (For the record, this explanation earned me the “most hilarious e-mail in the ‘sort of a dick move’ category” award.)

What I’ve been reading: The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson
What I’ve been listening to: Songs Without Words, Mendelssohn; Clarity and Stay On My Side Tonight, Jimmy Eat World; Hard Candy, Counting Crows; Gordon, Barenaked Ladies; songs from Parachute, Lost and Gone Forever, and Goldfly, Guster

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The Limit Does Not Exist

Will wonders never cease? Time Warner’s “damage assessment specialist” called at 6:09pm. I was digging out the car (again) and saw him from across the street as I answered. We went up to the apartment, and, consulting his notes, he asked about “the dentures…?” Closer than “damage to kitchen floor,” I suppose. I showed him the broken retainer; he photographed it. He had me recount the story – an unlikely tale, certainly, but one which I would be neither able nor inclined to invent – which he then wrote down.

And so the saga slogs on. I’m only sorry I’m unable to provide the typical flourishes and interesting details, but having a giant internet corporation AND an orthodonist AND a dentist is quite enough for me to handle, though I swear I would not be surprised if a Cyclops showed up at this point.

Tomorrow – God and American Airlines willing – I fly to California. Perhaps I will see another one of these:

Incidentally, I polled people today to see how many books they thought I ought to bring. Including travel time, I’ll be gone for eight days; numerical answers ranged from 5 to 8, with one “the limit does not exist,” and a few people who answered the question with more questions (“How big are said books? Are they dense or easy reads? Is it really a problem if you have too many?”). Someone even went so far as to invent and apply an elegant little mathematical formula, which he then revised to take an element of choice into account. I have great friends.

The More-or-Less Final List of Books I’m Taking With Me

History Lesson for Girls, Aurelie Sheehan

Making Toast: A Family Story, Roger Rosenblatt

The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson

Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson

First Light, Rebecca Stead

Run, Ann Patchett (again)

And possibly

Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby


The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield (again)

Tell No One, Harlan Coben

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The Time Warner Saga Continues

That’s what sagas do, isn’t it?

Int., OFFICE, morning. One assistant sits at a desk; another enters.

ASSISTANT at desk: Guess who just called.


FIRST ASSISTANT: I’ll give you a hint: rage.


Got it in one! Yes – Thursday morning I received a call from a nice-sounding woman at TW, who asked about damage to my kitchen floor. After being stunned speechless for a moment, I told her that, first of all, I was not sure how “shattered dental retainer” was ever translated to “damage to kitchen floor” to begin with, but the kitchen was fine, it was my retainer that was broken. Second of all, I called to report this in SEPTEMBER. It is now – let us consult our calendars and the pervasive Christmas music we seem to be hearing all around us – DECEMBER. (“September to February? Is swift?” –Ordinary People, Judith Guest)

She said, and I believed her, that the claim had only landed on her desk yesterday. She then asked if I was home for someone to come assess the damage, and I explained that no, I was at work. Eventually we settled on a time (next Tuesday at 6pm, would anyone like to place a bet on whether or not someone ACTUALLY SHOWS UP?), and then she asked if I had had it repaired yet. No, I said, it couldn’t be repaired, it had been stepped on and SHATTERED, it would have to be replaced. No, I hadn’t replaced it yet, because the dentist had estimated that it would be about $400, which I had no intention of paying out-of-pocket when chances of hearing from TW’s crack team at the damages department (let alone actually being reimbursed) seemed to be nil. She said there would be paperwork. You don’t say!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – by which I mean, the office –

FIRST ASSISTANT: Hey, does your internet connection keep going in and out?

SECOND ASSISTANT: Seems to be working…

FIRST ASSISTANT: Look at the lower right hand corner of Outlook.

SECOND ASSISTANT: “Trying to connect…”


As it happens, the office at which I work has just switched over to TW internet as well.

What I’m reading: The Mistress’s Daughter, A.M. Homes; It’s Beginning to Hurt: Stories, James Lasdun

What I’m listening to: Surfer Rosa, The Pixies

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