Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Remarkable - it's not always AOL's fault

There's nothing nicer than freshly laid carpets tickling the soles of your feet. Certainly an improvement over draughty floorboards.

But back to AOL. Over the past couple off weeks I have been experiencing intermittent connection problems, with my otherwise perfect AOL service. So, decided to give them a call!

Call centres are a wonderful idea, especially when they help to keep costs down, give big fat bonuses to directors and dividends to shareholders.

But one of the reasons they gave for changing from a free call number to their member services desk to a national charge, was to improve the service. It's one thing hanging on for half an hour, trying to get an issue sorted out with your connection, when the call is free. Quite another when you have to fork out 10p/minute for more than 10 minutes.

I, along with many others, resented that change from a free to a charged call, which on average lasted 30 minutes. Especially when they started outsourcing, root and branch.

I have nothing against outsourcing - I'm sure once the recession hits and markets slump, with millions of unemployees milling around chasing pigeons, companies will be flocking around at the hint of increasing profits from the surplus of cheap willing labour. But when you have to repeat yourself 3 - 4 times to get the nature of the problem across, and go through the whole process again when the person can't deal with it and has to 'upscale'; it's no wonder people get frustrated wishing to bang their head (but more likely the member services representative's head) onto the nearest sharp object. Whilst screaming at the top of their voice out of pure frustration!

On this occasion it took over an hour to get AOL to finally escalate the problem up to the Tech II stage, and to do a line test. Which, after the results popped up are poured over, and reveals that there is indeed a problem with the line.

Having been with AOL now for over five years (yes, the term Mug does spring to mind), missing out on the free Laptop Offer, the free year talk time, upgrading to faster package plan meaning I'm stuck in an 18 month contract - without perks. I was all in mind to claim breach of contract and terminate.

But then I started noticing that the fault mainly occurred when someone was walking around. The DSL and Internet lights would go off for a second then the DSL would flash and both would reconnect again.

Looked at the connections? All fine. But perhaps it was the original cable? Original in the sense that the wires were individually wrapped with cloth and encased in lead. So that was changed. But the problem still persisted. Maybe the filters? Swapped them around. Just had the DSL cable and wireless router connected to the master socket without any thing else, and still the connection would go off and on. Could it be the Wireless Router itself playing up?

But that nagging suspicion about movement wouldn't go away.

So, to cut a long story short - even starting to bore myself! When the carpet was put down, one screw was screwed into a carpet holder, which partially cut one of the wires (but still made a connection), but also cut the cloth of the other wire. But, the two wires didn't touch (and thus short-circuiting the system) until there was movement, which happened? When people were walking on the floorboards around that screw.

So as much as I like to bash AOL, this had nothing at all to do with them. Wasn't their fault in the slightest.

However shall be having firm words with the installer; for causing me two weeks of connection misery.

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