Monday, August 10


Since we decided to move to the middle of nowhere, we’ve met with a few challenges. Runaway dogs, ticks, getting the shake down over trash cans, but nothing really compares to the whole satellite thing. Since we live miles from the DSL community, although feet away from I70, we can’t get cable. Which was OK with me to a point. I kind of looked forward to moving away from the monopoly of the family-owned cable provided in town that was about as fee-oriented as my waste management friends. I mean, they forced everyone to make the digital switch about six months before it was mandatory. Oh, and they raised our rates because “everything’s digital now!” According to their commercials, they were doing it for us, to prevent a cluster fuck at the actual digital switchover deadline. According to me, it was just another way to F us in the A.

When we moved, we were resigned to the fact that we’d have to get satellite TV. We said goodbye to the Tivo and hello to satellite DVR. At first, it was rough because I missed the bubble sound that Tivo made. When I asked the installation man about the sound, he suggested that I just say “boop-boop” out loud whenever I changed channels. Instead, I have learned to accept the sad low-rent version of my beloved “boop-boop,” which is actually a soft "thunk." Although we’ve grown to appreciate our satellite TV for what it is, we do realize that our inability to access the closest news station will prevent us from knowing a deadly storm is headed our way. But hey, what are the odds of that happening in Kansas?

We found out that we couldn’t get the internets through the television company, but there were a couple of other companies that offered satellite internet services. After looking online, I thought that it seemed a little pricey, but I figured they had us by the short hairs. When I called I got a real eye-opening experience. I’m pretty sure that the people that run the satellite internet company also have a stake in the rural trash removal industry. The guy that “helped” me on the phone was the worst used car salesman-type that I have ever spoken to. I mean, he was worse than an actual used car salesman. I swear that I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the phrase “what do I have to do to get you in this internet today?” fall from his lips. He first explained to me that with internet satellite service space was limited. The service could only hold so many customers at once, so if I didn’t get a spot on the information super highway, I was SOL and would have to wait until there was a space open. Then, to make matters worse, he re-explained it. “See, it’s like a plane. There are only so many seats and if you don’t get on the plane you might not get a seat, see?” When I said, “yes, I understand,” he actually began to re-re-explain it, at which time I stopped him, because I really did understand, and frankly I couldn’t bear to hear him explain it again. Especially since I’m not stupid, and contrary to that crazy person from Alaska (no, the other one) the internet is not a system of tubes that get clogged and prevent my emails from getting through.

Me and my salesman friend went through all the regular stuff and he even congratulated me when we discovered that service was available in my area. Yea! I’m a winner! Of course, not long after my congratulations, all the money talk started. Unbelievably they wanted $200 up front just to come and say hello, OK and to hook it up. But after $98 in fees (man, rural companies sure do love their fees), $25 to have the damned thing shipped to us, because apparently the hook up guys can’t deal with dragging a dish out to the middle of nowhere, and then $80 to hook it up, I was a little shell-shocked. I told Herb Tarleck that I would call back because I wasn’t prepared to hand over $100 right then. Herb smelled blood and went in for the kill “well, I’d hate to see you lose your space. I mean I had a gentleman the other day that waited and when he called back there wasn’t any space left for him…you know, it’s like seats on a plane…” I finally snapped back that I totally understood about the plane thing, but that I didn’t want to give him $100 at that very moment. I decided to spare him my sob story about a diabetic dog, need for new tires and my huge chiropractic bill, all of which take precedence over my ability to access Facebook at home.

After I hung up I was pretty irritated and decided to try and find another company. But it seems as if they are smarter than me. Because every single satellite internet provider is the same fucking company, even though they have different names. So you can imagine my glee when I saw orange AT&T cable flags all over my road. Finally! A reasonable company (you know it’s bad when I consider AT&T a reasonable company). I was excited to call them to inquire about the cable. Did it mean that the Yahoo’s and Google’s were coming to my area? I got online at work (it was lunch. OK it wasn’t), and looked up availability. No congratulations were in order. Still, when a chat window popped up, I decided to take advantage and ask if the telltale orange flags meant that I could tell the satellite people to go fuck themselves. Instead of trying to explain the insanity of my two chats with AT&T, I am just going to let you read them for yourself.

These are real.

Welcome to AT&T. My name is Lewis. How may I help you today?

Lewis: I will be happy to answer your questions regarding AT&T services. I specialize in setting up new phone accounts and High Speed Internet service. To start, could you please tell me what city and state you are located in?
you: , KS

Lewis: Hello! How may I assist you with your online order?
you: You guys do't offer DSL where I live. I believe currently you offer satelitte service through xxxx xxxx, but I've looked it and don't want to deal with them. Anyway, I noticed that all along my road there are orange AT&T buried cable markers and was wondering if perhaps something was coming my way soon?
Lewis: I will be glad to help you with that.
Lewis: First, let me thank you for considering AT&T online super.
Lewis: Do you currently have active home phone service with AT&T?
you: nope, but if it would help me get the internet, i'd get it
Lewis: Just to confirm, that do you want to go with AT&T DSL internet services only?
you: well, if it's available, yes.
Lewis: Let me send you a link to check the availability.
you: i already did that... it said that it's not available. I don't know if having a home phone would change that.
Lewis: Let me send you a fresh link to check the availability.
you: ookayyyyyyy, but as i mentioned, i've already done this.
Lewis: I'm sorry for the delay. I'll be right with you.
Lewis: Click here to check the availability of AT&T DSL services.
you: Our system indicates that our DSL service, AT&T High Speed Internet, is not available at your location. that's why i was inquiring about the cables...b/c if there is a chance to get it later i will wait rather than going with xxxx xxxx, which is priced quite high.
Lewis: In that regard I would recommend you to place an order for a basic phone line to get the internet services.
you: Oooooo... will it be dial up?
Lewis: The basic phone line will be from AT&T services.
you: but if i get the phone service would i only be able to have dial up internet?
Lewis: If you have the phone line from AT&T, you will be able to get the Internet services also from AT&T.
you:ok, i get that, but is it dial up!? :)
Lewis: It is from AT&T. Dial up is a different company.
you: OK I don't want to be dense, but would the internet service be fast or slow?
Lewis: The AT&T DSL internet service would be 100 times faster than dial up.
you: OK it's DSL. Super! That sounds like a plan...
Lewis: Please hold one moment.
you: hold the phone. ha ha
Lewis: Yes, its DSL super.
you: are you being a smart ass?
Lewis: Let me send you a link to check all the things.
you: um, ok. what are "all of the things?"
Lewis: Are you able to proceed with the oreder?
you: i think so
Lewis: If you have any concerns, please let me know, I am here to assist you.
you: you are just going to ignore the smart ass comment aren't you?
Lewis: I will be right with you.
Lewis: How is the order process going for you so far?
you: they're telling me that internet isn't available even with phone servcie
Lewis: Please allow me to send you the link to check the availability.
you: We've already done this. Ok I think that I need to go before my head explodes.

At one point toward the end of the above chat, I was having this chat at the same time while trying to place my phone/internet order.

Samantha: Hello! How may I assist you with your online order?
You: Well, I've been chatting with another representative in regards to internet. We determined that since DSL isn't available at my address that i could get phone service and then internet...does this sound right?
Samantha: Thank you very much for considering AT&T as your service provider.
Samantha: Yes, you can place the order for AT&T Home phone services online today.
You: But I want internet and phone. I thought I had to get the phone to get the internet
Samantha: Whenever the internet is available to you, you can come back online to place your order for AT&T DSL services.
Samantha: How is the order process going for you so far?
You: Ohhh so the internet's not available now.That's not what some agent named Lewis said. I'm so confused
Samantha: Please provide me with your complete address, along with zip code, to check the availability for AT&T High Speed Internet services at your location.
You: it's not. but here you go:
Samantha: Thank you for the information. Please hold for a moment while I check your address.
Samantha: Thank you for the information. Please hold for a moment while I check your address.
Samantha: Thank you for being on hold. Your time and patience is appreciated.
Samantha: At this time AT&T High Speed Internet is not available at your location. AT&T High Speed Internet is constantly expanding its service area, and will notify you when it becomes available.
Samantha: However, you can proceed with your online order for AT&T home phone services today.
Samantha: I can leave my chat window open while you place your order so that if you have any questions I can
assist you.

You: That's OK I was just going to get the phone service b/c Lewis told me that if I got the phone service I could get internet. He was also kind of a smart ass.
Samantha: Please proceed with your online order today. I am right here to assist you in completing your order.
You: Wow, you guys totally don't read these do you? That explains why Lewis never got back to me on my smart ass comment. This has been helpful and incredibly entertaining.

Update: So this a.m. the AT&T workers were out and I asked them about service. I finally got an answer from the Foreman. Although they are laying cable, it's for the next town over. I'm not really sure why they can't break off to the right and give me some juice, but it's not the case. So alas, it looks as if I am doomed, at least for the time being. I wonder if AT&T offers service in my area?

Update II: Man, why didn't anyone suggest wireless to me? After all this struggle all it took was a trip to the Verizon store. Now we have the Yahoo's juice at the house.