Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Computer Frustration: How Not to Have a Good Day

Have you ever been so frustrated with your computer that you wanted to drop kick it right out the window? Happened to me last week, and this with a new, up-to-date, can-do-anything computer recently bought to replace my four-year-old dying one. this new one has Windows 7, so of course I have to relearn practically everything I thought I knew how to do. Grrr! But okay, I accept the fact that computer gurus love to 'simplify' things by making them more complicated. That's just a fact of life. Still, I didn't expect those complications would affect my ability to use the Internet.

Silly me.

Two weeks after installing the new computer, I began to have trouble connecting to the Internet. Didn't matter if it was morning, noon, or night, sometimes I connected immediately and sometimes I got that "Access Denied" message. Then I noticed that the green light on the modem wasn't lighting up, nor was the little world doodad on my router blinking as it did in the past. 'Ah ha!' I thought. Obviously something was wrong with my hook-up to AT&T.

After checking all my line connections and finding everything in order, I called AT&T for help. Of course, the first thing I got was an automated voice that informed me it would perform some tests on my line. After a minute or so of beep-beep-beep-beep, the voice informed me that everything was fine with my line and I should hang up and check my home connections, then turn off the computer, reboot it, and call back within 24 hours if that didn't solve the problem.

That's like a doctor saying, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning." But I did as I was told, and guess what? Still no connection to the Internet. Rather than wait 24 hours, I called back immediately. Another pleasant but automated voice told me it would perform more testing. Again I was subjected to a series of beeps before the voice returned to inform me that I was being connected to a AT&T technician who would help solve my problem.

And yeah, you guessed right, I was connected to a gentleman in India who advised me to pull up Internet Explorer and put some numbers in the URL bar. I told him I couldn't get IE because I couldn't connect to the Internet. He said, "Try anyway." So I did, and I got an IE page saying "Access Denied" because I wasn't connected to the Internet. The technician dismissed this bit of news and insisted I enter the series of numbers he'd given me. Due to a slight language barrier problem, I had to ask him three times to repeat the numbers. When I finally had them straight, I hit the "Enter" button as requested, and of course got nothing since I WASN'T CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET.

At this point the technician made a fatal mistake.

He asked if he could speak with my husband.

I won't bother repeating my reply here since you've probably already guessed what I said to the man. Suffice it to say, he backed off pretty quickly. He then asked if I had a router, and when I said yes and gave him the router info -- name, serial number, etc -- he seemed very pleased. He told me he could solve my problem. I would just have to disconnect the router and he would hook me up to AT&T via my main computer. I would, of course, have to leave the router disconnected, meaning I'd have no Internet access on my laptop. Nor would my daughter have access on her laptop, the computer she uses for her college masters degree program.

Of course that was unacceptable, which I told the technician. Couldn't he hook me up to AT&T and then get it to work through the router, I asked? No, he said. He was sorry, but he hadn't been trained to do that.

At this point I exploded. Surprisingly, I didn't swear, but I did tell the man exactly what I thought of AT&T and their service technicians. I then hung up. I waited one day, then called AT&T again and got another automated voice. Once again we went through the beep-beep-beep of testing, then the voice kindly told me I had a connectivity problem. After banging my head on the wall a few times, I hung up and waited for my daughter to get home from school (she's a teacher) so she could call her boyfriend, a young man possessed of considerable computer savvy. He had originally installed the router, so I figured he'd know what to do.

And he did. It took him less than 5 minutes to find the problem: when we installed the new computer, we failed to link the Internet connection to the hard drive through the computer's program listing, so it had been giving us Internet access through wi-fi instead of through the phone line. Sometimes we got wi-fi, sometimes we didn't. (At least, that's what I think he said. His explanation was way over my head.)

Anyway, we are all now online all the time and happy to be so. As for AT&T, maybe they'd like to hire people who know what they're doing.

How about you? Happy with your service provider, or frustrated like I was?

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