Internet is Crucial, and Other Things I Learned This Summer

“I have internet!” I shouted over the phone to the first person that called. I’m pretty sure it was a sales call, and they seemed unaffected.

Turns out that in 2018 having internet is not such a big deal…most people have it and take it for granted…unless you buy a house in the country thinking internet won’t be an issue because you checked in advance, and the local telecom comes out to install, only to tell you that your house is officially too far from the road to install anything without an actual construction project.

My husband, Marco, is MCSE and an Azure-certified Cloud Architect. He works online 24-7, much like myself, a QuickBooks trainer and blogger. My kids are homeschooled, and many of the materials we use are online. No internet is a BIG problem.

We found out that we were “unserviceable” in late May, smack dab in the middle of a website-update and at the end of our homeschool year. According to the provider, this meant either we couldn’t have service at all, or we couldn’t have service without a construction order being placed (It may be worth mentioning that prior to buying our home we called them no less than 6 times to confirm that we could get internet here, and were told, “Of course! You’ve recently come into our serviceable area.” In fact, during the period of May 18 until July 30th I received at least one mailer a week advertising that we were now a serviceable area and that we needed to call to set up service as soon as possible).

Since internet is pretty much a requirement in our house, we ended up pushing through a number of representatives until it was discovered that we could, in fact, pay them to run line so that we could pay them for services. Total construction co-pay: approx $4600.00 to run cable down our driveway. We overnighted the fee in late May I believe, via check (because credit cards are apparently not allowed for payment). Saying this, I’m not totally sure why checks are encouraged to be overnighted, when nothing happened after that for around two weeks, at which point my calls into them began in earnest.

Dialogue that actually happened:

  • We were asked why we didn’t request a site survey prior to buying the house, when we would have been told it was not possible.
    • 1 – You have to own the house to request a survey.
    • 2 – According to their map/reps/mailers, we were serviceable.
    • 3 – A new customer is not going to know what the heck a site survey is, and will not be able to correct a rep who acts like installation is not a problem. In fact, the installer who showed up originally right after move in, is the one who told us that, in fact, we were not serviceable, contrary to what we had been told.
  • We default all projects out 60 days. This is August 30th for you. (When pressed about why it was more than 60 calendar days was told these were business days because they didn’t work weekends. When asked why they schedule installations for weekends and we see their vans regularly we were met with silence).
  • At some point installation was pushed to September 30th. One rep said it was due to permits being needed. Was told before and after that no permits were actually needed for our project, and we were considered an “easy” project. Turns out it was a contractor scheduling snafu. David eventually got us up and running.
  • We did find one rep who consistently gave us good advice – when we could talk to her. I did consider getting an auto dialer so I could keep calling until someone answered, “Hello, this is Sarah.”
  • I lost track of the number of times that we were told our coordinator or a rep would call with developments, only to not receive any communication until we called a week or two later. To my experience, waiting on a call with this company is not a winning strategy.
  • Their construction team bragged that we should be grateful, because some customers have to wait years for construction to be completed. I’m pretty sure I responded with a completely blank expression. Not sure this is a bragable point.
  • I wanted to write a letter to explain how great Sarah was. Poor Sarah provided an email address, sufficiently delaying this correspondence into the “not worth my 22 gig data plan, has to wait” pile. Also had to laugh, because I had caught myself thinking about buying letterhead to write the letter. I haven’t had executive letterhead since 2013.
  • The poor installer who finally showed up to officially finish up our installation complained that we had no cell signal or internet. My response: Yep. Now you feel my pain. And then I let her toggle off of my Verizon phone data connection.

I eventually did grow flustered with the number of times we were provided conflicting information, and started adding “Call internet provider” to my daily agenda. When asked why I kept calling, I did let them know once my problem was solved I’d quit calling. (I’m a very A type personality, and I live off of lists. They made it to my daily list.). A number of people did express empathy, and I felt like they truly tried to help. Sarah and David will forever be in my list of awesome people, and I do plan to get in that letter, um, email.

As a customer I didn’t like being pushy, or bossy. In fact, I hated it. Every person we talk to in business is a person, and should be treated that way, with their time being respected. However, in our day and age and in the “Gig Economy,” not having internet is a serious problem. Internet-access, in my opinion, has become somewhat akin to phone, water and electricity. While you can live without it technically, you can’t really operate as a member of society without it, or, in our case, operate at 100% functionality in your job.

There were also definite upsides to the situation, however. We had over two months where we were forced to prioritize internet needs to fit within the 22 gig a month data that Verizon would allow us. For me this meant paying bills, pulling reports, running payroll, and billing. I also spent more time on-site with local customers – I had a lot of fun getting away from the computer more often, and spending time with the people that make my job worth while. I learned that I tend to run out of data plan by the 15th of the month, and that further pushed me to prioritize my work and budget my data pulls.

I learned that 3:30-7 pm tends to be the absolute worst time to try to go online via toggling to my Verizon phone, and that if you need big downloads that doing them in the middle of the night is the way to go. I budgeted my time to use the afternoon slot completing farm chores, such as feeding the chickens or working on organizing our workshop, and to do customer followups via phone. I would break my daily agenda into two piles: offline-possible and online-required.

I also had time to reflect on the experience I had with our internet provider. Do I think the service we received was subpar? No, I truly believe it is basically the midpoint of 1800 number service nowadays. Reps shooting to stay in SLA, and to get the current call processed as soon as possible so that they can move onto the next one and keep their data metrics positive. In this new world of data-obsession the tone of the customer is lost, and they are replaced by 10 point surveys that disappear into the abyss (we also use surveys, but I read each and every one, and follow up via phone when needed).

This experience reinforced our commitment to scaling slowly, consciously, and to pushing for issue resolution and understanding. All is well now, and thankfully we are online prior to September 30th. They did, in fact, beat even the original date given, and for that I’m very thankful.

Oh, by the way…Did I tell you I have internet?

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