Saturday, 19 February 2011

Oh great. Another complaint letter.

It's so ironic that female Canadian singer-songwriters would doubtless record songs about it. No more than a week or so after I write about my internet addiction and my broadband connection goes down.

Sing it, Alanis.

Rather than regale you with the gory details, you can read instead the current working draft of a letter I'll be sending to Virginmedia, my ISP. I do love me a good letter:

To: Mark Davidson, Executive Director, Customer Care, Virginmedia

Dear Mr Davidson

Thank you very much for your recent letter informing me of increases to the price for my combined telephone, broadband and TV package.

I hope you don't mind me sending you a letter in reply. I wouldn't normally - I prefer to use email where possible - but the reason for my somewhat retro approach to correspondence will hopefully become clear in due course.

When I was a very small child I used to frequent my corner shop more often than was healthy. I would go there for '10p mix-ups' where, in exchange for one shiny coin, the shopkeeper would put a given number of random sweets into a bag. I'd scurry outside excitedly and rip open the bag to gaze in wonder at the delights within. Then I'd devour the lot before I got home.

I did this a lot. Some 35 years later my dentist is putting his kids through college as a result, but that's not why I'm telling you about it. I brought up this anecdote because it taught me a lesson about getting what you pay for.

Now let us move in an entirely smooth way to my broadband service, which Virginmedia has been supplying for a number of years. It has been a source of near-constant joy to me, bringing the world to my laptop, enabling to me to shop online, manage what I laughingly refer to as my finances and develop a blog that is inexplicably popular in Iowa, amongst other places.

This happy existence ground to a shuddering halt on Tuesday when my wife remarked that the internet had died. I suggested that it was merely asleep, or perhaps pining for the fjords, but she shot me a look that suggested a Monty Python revival would be an unwelcome addition to the ongoing discourse.

I could sense the tone. That's what 13 years of marriage gives you, I suppose.

I've had this happen in the past and previously resolved it by unplugging the modem, waiting two minutes or so (I find singing the words to Pulling Mussels From a Shell by Squeeze tends to work), then powering everything back up again.

I tried this on Tuesday evening. I even threw in Up The Junction for good measure. All to no avail.

What service we did have was like wading through treacle. And while that might sound like fun - who, apart from diabetics, would want to wade through treacle? - it wasn't really what we wanted from our evening's web-browsery.

At this point I decided to call your support line. Who would have thought that pressing three little buttons - dialling 150 - would in fact put me on a direct collision course with the seventh circle of Hades?

I don't want to blame Gadge (pronounced Gad-gey). His English was way, way better than my Hindi. I only know one word, and I'm not entirely sure it is one to be repeated in polite company. I'm saving it for best. But the problem was that Gadge (pronounced Gad-gey) was hamstrung by more than mere language.

It didn't help that the line between me in Birmingham and him in Mumbai was atrocious. It didn't help that he was having problems with his computer. It didn't help that Gadge (pronounced...oh you get the point) had a script in front of him and He Was Going To Stick To It Come Hell Or High Water.

I asked him if there were outages in my area. There were none, he said. None whatsoever? No, none. There are no outages in your area. It was, if you like, an outage-free zone, uncorrupted by outages.

We had a nice chat for the next couple of minutes about what could be happening. We did the whole "Did you switch it off and on?", "Yes I switched it off and on" thing. We were having a ball.

Then Gadge said "I can see that there is some slow running in your area."

"I'm sorry?"

"Yes, there is some slow running."

"But you said there were no outages."

"That is correct. But there is some slow running."

I decided not to go into the whole philosophical debate of 'outage/not an outage'. Despite appearances to the contrary, I still have some semblance of sanity and I'm quite keen to keep it. So I asked him when it was likely to be resolved.

"Eighteen days."

Eighteen days. In eighteen days I reckon I could develop alternatives. I could have a pretty good stab at training a band of highly intelligent marmosets to bring the zeroes and ones to me personally. Obviously marmosets cannot carry an electrical charge (and believe me, it wasn't fun discovering that) so we would need another way to represent bits of data. Perhaps we could get each marmoset to bring a peanut. An empty peanut shell would represent a zero, a full peanut representing a one.

There are some potential drawbacks to this approach, I'll grant you. We might find some data degradation if some of the less-professional marmosets eat the peanuts. I need to find out if Birmingham City Council would let me put the used shells in my recycling. And, it's fair to say, it might not be the speediest of services.

But it might be an improvement. And at least I'd get what I would be paying for. Quite unlike my current broadband service from Virginmedia.

I'd be grateful if you could let me know what you're going to do about this. Partly because I think your job title suggests this is something you'd be keen to do. Partly because I'd quite like a halfway-decent service. Partly because if I'm paying for a service it would be nice to be receiving it. But also because I need to know what to do with this 17 tons of peanuts I've got in my back garden.

Yours, etc.

1 comment:

Le laquet said...

Please say you sent it - if I had a job like his letters like that would be the high point of my day!


Related Posts with Thumbnails