Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Do you know who I am?”
As if that line would work. So proud. I might try: “Can I remind you that I’m a paying customer?” (One in millions, that is.)
Or maybe that’s the most devastating of customer complaints, “I’m paying for a service and I look forward to it!” immediately followed by throat removal with Yoda -styled placement of “Hmm!”
My recently upgraded broadband just dropped at the moment and I want to raise it. I prepare myself before calling the customer service number. It’s important to get the right recipe: two parts insist, one part petulant.
How brave my home internet service provider was to allow the service to stop providing! Don’t they realize how important it is for the locked world economy to allow me to continue working from home? Were they deaf to the rotting DabbsKlaxon® that surely blanked their offices once there was a glitch in the Matrix at number 60? It’s easy, don’t they know who I am?
I was in the middle of a long video conference when the connection went to TITSUP *. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain; in fact, maintaining the schtum might have been a better option lest my return to the ghastly project update latest – as my sudden unexpected release – proves inconvenient for my fellow meeting attendees. I don’t want to wake them up. With a little luck they didn’t notice that I was no longer there, and I could use the rest of the afternoon outside doing other things – like, oh I dunno, some actual work?
A year ago, when the first COVID lockdowns caused WFH to most of my colleagues for the first time in their lives since graduating, I took up online meetings. They are briefer and have agendas. I have talked face to face with people before I can only get in touch via phone call or email. This means no more cheerful asides, muttering sarcastic comments, non-subject deviation and random peninsula anecdotes of the kind that usually mess up real-life meetings.
Yet here we are a year, and virtual meetings have blossomed into endless gob-churning, lard-arsed fartery. They are now even longer than real -life words. Agents are ignored. Everyone speaks at once, in dumb. So we have to tell them they are mum and then wait while they work for seven billion hours where the same old un-fucking-mute button is (hint: this same place was yesterday, and a the day before that, to infinitum) and allow each of them to repeat their inane bollock again, this time one at a time.
One of my greatest regrets is no longer leaving my office stereo playing in the corner. In the old days, I would just silence it with phone calls. However, for videoconferencing, I don’t have earphones and I often forget to pause the quiet music coming from the speakers before doing so. The earphones were pressed tightly into place, then I participated in a meeting completely unaware of the ensuing noises whispering from the far corner of the office.
My attention was caught on this issue by a few attendees online who asked if there was anyone in the room with me and were they just OK. It was only after removing my headphones did I notice Irene Papas shouts in orgasmic bewilderment while Aphrodite’s Son conducted a primary school percussion class in the background. Not my best time, nor Vangelis ’to be honest – even Irene seemed content with herself.
Props to readers who can listen all the way through to the top track without laughing. Extra props to those sitting through the original, uncut half-hour version with a student high in psilocybin, cheap 70s alcohol and Old Holborn.
However, part of me thinks that not participating in an online meeting can be beneficial throughout the round. You can already, after all, the total negative environmental impact of each Zoom meeting in terms of car-exhaust mileage using it, er, calculator online. Such totals shall be included systematically at the end of each minute of the meeting.
None of this makes me feel unceremonious about being booted out of my own broadband. This is the principle of the matter. “Unreasonably Angry Customer” is ready for action, I phoned my internet provider’s customer services number.
I’m looking forward to it. The music wait is Infinity by Irene Papas and Son of Aphrodite.
About 30 minutes later, five rolls, a small envelope of shroom and a bottle of Blue Nun later, I was placed. Stop everything you do, I tell them. I really care about the customer and ask for satisfaction. I force all of their technicians to re -assign to reconnect with me right away. Can be cross -squeezed. The spice should flow.
“Do you know who I am?” I add arrogantly, after a somewhat surprising silence. Yes, they respond, because you provide your customer’s number when dialing.
They keep confirming to me exactly who I am: an annoying English twat paying nuts for an almost dedicated personal gigabit fiber connection thanks to the daytime used by my technonoob neighbors but apparently just goes mentally because it stopped working within 15 minutes. They also confirm that I chose not to pay for even the most basic of ongoing internet support, let alone an SLA for broadband delivery.
“Hang on, did you say ’15 minutes’?”
Yes, they reply. The service went back online half an hour ago. Didn’t you notice?
“No, of course not!” I shout. “I’ve got this crazy phone!”
The phone you’re calling? One on the same fiber line as your broadband?
I logged back into my online meeting and everyone was still there, still discussing the same things as before when my connection collapsed almost an hour ago. “Bloody internet provides!” I nodded, explaining my absence, and they nodded slightly in agreement. “But please continue.”
They do and I am dumb. I also flipped on the office stereo speakers, bubbling a clean glance at the clean and unpacked 40-meter reel of fiber optic cable that broadband installers had inadvertently left behind since last week. All things considered, I don’t think I would invite them to collect that box afterwards.
They may know who I am but they are don’t know who they are dealing with.
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He wanted to indicate that the above story was not true. When his broadband fiber borked, he switched to his backup 4G access point. The 40m reel of lost-property cable is true, though: we saw it. More than Autosave is for Wimps at @ validabbs.
* Total Instant System Termination at Unexpected Point-in-time