Six Hours With Tech Support

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Having basic competence in coping with personal computer hardware and software technical support is something I’m lucky to rarely need.

When I got to my used bookshop yesterday the internet connection was down. That rarely happens, the last time one of Verizon’s relays had caught on fire. After shutting down all the hardware and restarting the problem persisted. I thought I’d give it a day to come back on its own. We were still offline this morning.

I tried possible solution that came to mind. No luck. Time to call Verizon Technical Support. Ordinarily this proved painless. But this wasn’t an ordinary day.

I kept getting shunted to dial-up support, which is of no use if you have a DSL account. I tried a different number only to hear an Asian voice say dial-up. She offered to connect me to broadband support. When the next technician came online the connection was so awful that he and I spent much time repeating what we’d said. It was a baffling dialog: he kept asking me if I could connect to the internet as though that were different from being able to access web pages and email. When after about thirty minutes he asked me if I knew my local access number I realized that I’d been talking to a dial-up support tech.

He offered to transfer me to broadband support. But that young lady proved to be yet another dial-up tech. She insisted that I had dial-up. I kept telling her that I was looking at a DSL modem we’d had for seven years. So she offered to connect me to an account agent. Turned out that our dialup service hadn’t been cancelled when the cable modem had been installed.

Finally I was able to call in and talk to a broadband support person. She was pretty good: the business support people always have been at Verizon, at least for me. Nothing we tried helped. She offered to arrange to have someone visit the shop. Feeling completely beaten by the problem I agreed. She put me on hold while she talked to a supervisor to arrange the visit.

On returning she said she wanted to try one more thing and had me open the TCP/IP setting: they were blank. I thought that might be the problem but couldn’t remember how to access them. I typed in the numbers she gave me but no joy was to be had. Luckily I still had an ancient email that contained different data. After entering those I was back on the web.

But I couldn’t get our email. Verizon doesn’t support Thunderbird and I figured I could fix a software glitch, thanked her and said goodbye.

Really, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the email password was being rejected. I decided to check our email using Verizon’s webmail interface. Only to see the surprising message “Account Suspended.” Eh! Oh, damn, I bet we lost the email account when the old dialup account was cancelled.

So I called Verizon’s business accounts. They don’t mess with that but the woman transferred me to someone who she promised could. The next woman couldn’t help me either but offered to transfer me to yet another person.

This time I heard the competent voice of a Verizon business account support agent. He could help me. Because our dialup account dates from the time when Verizon was GTE they couldn’t transfer the address. But they could restore the dialup account and all would be well.

Total time: six hours.

It was such a rotten, wearying experience that I had a headache. Normally nothing psychological does that to me. But a sense of futility is damned grueling.


I had a similar but much less harrowing experience when I called up for support for my wireless network and the tech swore up and down that the router I was using was NOT from Comcast and therefore I was responsible if it was malfunctioning.

“Ma’am, what does the router say on it?” he finally asked.

“It says ‘Comcast’ on it.”


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