My Month In Internet Re-Hab

7 04 2011

Chapter One – Broken Arrow

It was a dark and stormy night. Rain was lashing the windows and flashes of lightning were crashing through the sky like …whatever. It was a storm. You’ve seen one before.

The house was hit and lightning knocked out the oven, my TV and my internet. Normally I unplug it, but decided to just turn it all off. There’s a lesson for you, dear reader.

Once the storm blew over I tried all the usual things you do to get Internet working again. Unplugging it, leaving it a while and plugging it back in and so forth. None of that worked and since it was a storm I figured it had struck the cable and knocked it out. My phone was also out, so it seemed the logical answer.

Calling Optus, I spoke to the first of many tech support representatives. He was from the phone support section, and while I was talking to him via mobile, my Optus phone decided to resurrect itself and start working again. He put me through to cable support.

This is where the fun began. Indian Tech Support.

Now… Before you jump to conclusions, let me clear this right up. I don’t get annoyed with foreign tech support because they are foreign. I get annoyed because when you’re trying to fix a problem, you need to be able to understand what the person is telling you, and they need to understand you. It doesn’t make a difference that they are Indian or Filipino or Martian. The same thing would apply if they were speaking in a strong Cockney accent.

It’s just hard to communicate with them. Not racist. End of story.

So, I’m talking to the first guy and he tells me to do all the standard stuff. Unplug the modem, turn off, reconnect and so on. I’m just getting no signal at all from the modem to the computer. At this point, I’m thinking it could be the actual outside cable, the modem, the Ethernet cable or the motherboard. I didn’t have a network card, just on the board.

Optus Guy says that from his end, it’s all working perfectly and there’s no problem. I ask if it’s the modem and he tells me that it can’t be, because he’s getting good signal from his end. It must be my computer.

Fine. It’s not the modem.

The next day I go to work and buy a network card from a guy there for $30. Expensive, but I had no internet. It’s like crack, brother.

At the end of the day I take it home and connect it up, and the card is as dead as a dodo. No lights come on or anything at all. I guess it could be the Ethernet cable…

Next I go to Jaycar, a shop that sells various electronics and such. I took the cable down and they ran it through a tester, which came up fine. I bought another network card and tried again.

Still nothing.

Having nothing to lose I called Optus again, to make sure the first guy wasn’t just on Work Experience.

Indian.

I explain what I’d done last time and that I’d already spoken to them and had replaced the network card and so on.

He goes through exactly the same thing again and tells me the modem is fine. He says to me, “Do you have a laptop to plug the modem into so that you can see it’s working?”

“I don’t have a laptop, sorry.”

“So you don’t have a laptop you can plug it into so you can see it’s working?” He suggests.

“No, I don’t have a laptop.”

“Oh.” A pause. “Can you get a laptop so you can plug it in to see if it’s working?” He suggests.

“I don’t have, or have access to a laptop.”

“If you have access to a laptop you could plug it into that to see it is working.”

I sighed, and reached for a weapon.

“I don’t have a laptop, and cannot access one. Look, I’ve checked the cable and it’s fine and I’ve now used two different network cards. Are you sure it’s not the modem?”

“It is not the modem, It is fine from here.”

I bid him farewell and hung up the phone.

 

Chapter Two – Not Without Supervision

At this point I have been assured it’s not the modem. It’s also not the network card. It’s also not the cable. Could it be the network connections on the motherboard or the drivers? Perhaps.

My modem had a USB connection as an alternative to the Ethernet cable. I hunted around and luckily found one in a box somewhere and so decided to try it. I plugged it in and the connection light briefly blinked on the modem. With joy in my heart, I’d found a solution! I could just bypass the dodgy Ethernet and use the USB cable.

Then, Windows 7 decided it didn’t want me being happy and decided that it couldn’t find USB drivers for the modem. Now, normally when you install hardware under Windows 7, you just plug it in and it picks it up and everything’s happy. My modem decided not to play and wouldn’t install. I needed drivers.

Usually when you have no drivers, Windows searches the internet and finds them for you. Naturally this wasn’t going to happen because I had no internet.

Back to Optus.

The next guy I spoke to was also had language difficulties and I explained the story so far and what I’d done. Naturally he suggested everything the other two guys had already done, and made me go through all those steps for another time before he’d stop to listen what I was saying.

They just go through a checklist. Very frustrating.

What I needed was for them to send me some drivers for the modem, either on a cd or even emailed to my Hotmail account. I could then pick them up elsewhere, copy them to a memory stick and try installing them.

That was too hard.

He told me that he had the drivers, but couldn’t send them to me. I asked him why and he told me he didn’t know.

I asked him again if he could email them to me. After asking his supervisor, he could do that and send them to my Optus account. After explaining I actually didn’t have the internet on at home (which was the whole point of the conversation) and it was difficult to access my Optus account from work, I asked if he could just send them to my Hotmail account instead.

He asked his supervisor, who said she could send it to the Optus account, but not to Hotmail. Neither of them could tell me why that was, but it was out of the question.

While I can access my Optus account at work, I hate doing that because work has very nosey security set up. I relented and said that if they could send the drivers to my Optus account, I’d be grateful.

The guy asks his supervisor again if they could do that, she says yes but it won’t do any good because the drivers won’t work under Windows 7.

Each time he asked his supervisor a question, I was put on hold for at least three minutes.

Something broke, inside my brain.

I’d just spend roughly 30 minutes trying to get them to send me drivers, and when she agreed, and it was all about to be done, the supervisor decides to mention that?

Chapter Three – Fix It Free J/K

A few days pass and with work and frustration, I am unable to make any progress. I go back to Jaycar and return the network card.

In desperation, I call Microsoft Tech Support. I explain to the girl what’s happened, and she says she can’t really help and that it sounds like Optus’ problem. She suggests a place called Gizmo, which is an online service where if they can’t fix your problem, you don’t pay.

I get the number from her and call Gizmo, where if they can’t fix your problem, you don’t pay. I know I wrote that twice, but it’s important to the tale that you remember it.

Gizmo’s receptionist tells me there’s two types of service. Phone support is $99 and if they send someone to the house, it’s going to cost you a mere $179. If they can’t help you on the phone, they send the guy over and you don’t pay the $99, you only pay $179 no matter how long it takes. If that guy can’t fix it… guess what? Free, remember?

Figuring I either get it fixed or it’s free, I decide I’d pay the money. The receptionist tells me that a tech support guy will call me back in a couple of days at a specific time. I know. More waiting, right?

Sure enough, the guy calls within time frame and I start to actually have some hope. I explain what I’ve done and so forth, and he tells me a few things to try typing in and unplugging and so on. None of them work.

He says I could get a new network card, but I tell him I’ve done that twice. He says I can try a USB to Ethernet connector, which I’d not heard of, or it seems like I need to get a guy to come around to take a look.

“I’ll call you back and make a booking,” he says. “It’ll just be five minutes.”

While he’s gone, I figure I might as well try the adapter, because if that’s around $50 it’s certainly cheaper than the call out fee of $179 if he’s just going to plug in the same adapter, right?

Gizmo Guy calls back.

I tell him I’m not interested in sending the guy out yet, and I might try the adapter.

“That’s fine. That’s $99 thanks.”

“Wha?”

“Because it was over ten minutes it’s the full $99. Had it been under ten minutes it would have only been $25.”

“But it’s not fixed!”

“No, but we provided you with a solution and you made a booking.”

“Not really, you made a suggestion and then called me back making it over ten minutes.

He goes to talk to his supervisor, then tells me because he provided me with a solution (suggestion) and that because it took longer than ten minutes, it should be $99. However, in the name of good customer support, he’s just charging $25.

Seriously. Stay right away from Gizmo.

Chapter Four – Hide And Seek

I called Jaycar and asked if they had the adapter, and they didn’t. However, another store had one and they could have it sent over in a couple of days. When it was in, I purchased it and rushed home in excitement. At this point it had been about two weeks since the storm. I was starting to get the shakes and headaches from withdrawal.

There’s no patches or gum for Internet Addiction.

The adapter plugged in and Windows detected it, and started installing it. Then, the install failed. It was an ‘Error Code 10’. Using up a crap-load of data on my phone internet, I discovered that Error Code 10 means, from what I can tell, is that there’s something wrong with the drivers. Not what is wrong with them, just ‘something’.

No shit, Sherlock.

I called the place that made the Adapter. Hell, I’d already called everyone else’s tech support, I might as well call these guys.

They guy was quite helpful and I explained the situation. He said they normally just install but didn’t know why it wasn’t working. He asked if I tried the driver disc.

“Driver Disc?” I said, “There isn’t any disc in the… wait…”

In the STUPIDEST PACKAGING ON EARTH was a disc.

OK… This will be hard to explain without pictures, but I’ll try.

You know those packages made from the hard plastic that you have to cut open? Like, they’re heat-sealed around the edge? I think they call it clam-shell packaging. Anyway, that stuff.

Inside that is a bit of card with the logos and so on, but if you take it out and unfold it THREE times, there’s the disc inside a little flap, which is inside ANOTHER flap. Seriously hidden.

Feeling stupid, and actually feeling a little bit of hope again, I thanked the guy and went to install the drivers.

Error Code 10.

I am man enough to admit I cried a little.

Chapter Five – Defeat

It was beyond me. I was defeated. I was a shell of what I was and all my years of computer use had come to nothing. It was time to take it to a shop.

Admittedly, most people would have done this earlier and in hindsight, I should have too. Thing is though, I’m no computer ‘noob’ and most problems I can fix on my own. The information at hand suggested it was the networking connections on the motherboard. It wasn’t the modem, it wasn’t the cable. Everything else should have worked if only I could have laid my hands on compatible drivers.

My computer is also really, really fucking heavy.

I took it to a computer store in town with whom I’ve dealt before. There’s just one guy who works there, and he’s an honest bloke who knows what he’s doing.

I told him what I thought it was, and what Optus had said and so forth, and headed home expecting a few days while he replaced the motherboard and emptied my wallet.

Forty minutes later, he calls me and assures me it’s all fixed.

Shitting myself with glee, I changed my trousers and went back down.

He said he’d replaced the network card with a new one and it was all working fine. I paid him for the card and rushed back home as quickly as the traffic lights would allow.

Plugging it all in, I watched with anticipation and hope as……… nothing happened.

The computer started fine, but the little ‘network connection’ icon down near the time remained covered by that little red cross I now loathed.

I called the shop and asked what’s up. He told me that he had it up and running and if I didn’t believe him to check the Firefox History. Now, it’s not that I didn’t believe him…. But I checked the Firefox History and sure enough, there were the sites he’d been to.

Square One.

Chapter Six – Vanishing Act & Salvation

I had a stiff drink and called Optus again.

I explained what happened and had to go through the checklist for yet another time. I unplugged and re-plugged as I had been instructed and when none of those options worked, the tech support guy decided it was time to listen.

I told him that it had been running at the shop, and the cable was ok and so the only thing left must be the modem.

He assured me that the modem was fine and that he could see it operating from his end. I asked him to explain to me that if the computer worked at the shop and the cable worked, them what was left?

Reluctantly, and after talking to his supervisor (another four minutes on hold) he decided it might be the modem.

I asked them to send me a new one, please, and surprisingly, after talking to the supervisor (four minutes), he agreed.

At this point I had been around twenty days without internet, and explained that two Optus guys told me it wasn’t the modem when in fact it was. I asked for a credit for the time lost.

Supervisor. Four Minutes. Agreed.

They decided to send me a new modem via express post and graciously credited my account the month’s fee. Within two working days, I would have a new modem and everything would be back to normal.

Four days passed.

Sadly, no modem had arrived and so I had to call again and see what was the delay. According to tech support, the modem was delivered two days past, and that I already had my modem.

Explaining to the man that if I did, in fact have my modem, there would be no need to call, he began to understand it had not arrived.

All I can guess is that it had been delivered to the wrong house by the post office, since the address details Optus had were correct.

Optus tech support asked me if there were two houses on my street with the same number. I assured him that would be silly. I think he got the point.

They sent a new modem, which arrived yesterday.

Finally, after twenty-nine days of being without internet, I came back online.

So now what?

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One response

7 04 2011
Mel

I had the same issue with Big Pond when my old modem went. They could not believe that that could possibly be the issue as to why my internet wouldn’t work.

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