They say that things, good and bad, and sometimes buses, come in threes. This week the proverbial trifecta of events decided to occur at a time when my stress levels were already through the roof, what with moving house and trying to declutter the impossible tangle of possessions we had accumulated over 10 years, on top of the already excessive amount of stuff we previously owned such as files filled with documents going back as far as 1994 and spice jars with use by dates from another century.
Amidst the culling of clutter, and feeling immensely proud of myself for showing such initiative, I contacted an NBN (National Broadband Network for non-Australian readers) provider well in advance of our moving date to arrange connection. Things seemed to be going very smoothly when they contacted me before the expected two week waiting time was up with the joyous news that my property was now ‘active’. Fab. I checked that our existing modem was compatible and was told that it most certainly was. I was sent a detailed list of instructions on how to activate our old modem and sync it with our brand spanking new NBN connection. NBN nightmare schnightmare I scoffed. Four Corners had clearly rung unnecessary alarm bells. My pride increased. Such affinity with technology, such initiative, and all from a girl who was without doubt the last person in WA to purchase a mobile phone. How far my digital life has advanced in such a short space of time, I thought smugly.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and the longest move in history (we have just moved round the corner so foolishly thought we could do most of it ourselves over a period of weeks while remaining cool, calm and collected) was nearly completed, and modem ready to install. We plugged it in. We followed the instructions. Nothing. We tried again, several times. Nothing. Not a light, not a flicker of cyberspace entering our home. Our blood pressure began to rise, our language deteriorated. My new office was set up, computer in place, ready to create masterpieces of literature, ground breaking blogs, research the net for the latest French news and events to impart to my students. And there was No Broadband Network. No Bloody Network.
So back to the provider I go, but to phone or to live chat, that was the question. I tried phone first, being a traditional kind of girl. After 50 minutes on hold, listening to possibly the most annoying on hold phone music ever, I gave up and moved to live chat. It took a while. Demand was ‘higher than usual, all our operators are currently occupied, but your call is important to us’. Sigh and double sigh. I made a coffee, despite the fact that more caffeine was the last thing my anxious body needed, kept an eye on the screen and eventually up popped Jamila, super keen to help me. Long story short, my modem was in fact not compatible, being not a modem at all but a router. Right then.
‘So I was totally misled, misinformed, and now here I am in my new home office, fingers poised to increase my social media presence and broaden my network from tens to hundreds of willing readers,’ said I – well I left out that last bit – somehow I don’t think Jamila in the Phillipines would have understood my wit and sarcasm – and that’s not racist by the way, merely a statement of fact – I know they are in the Phillipines because Francisco, who I spoke to later, told me so, and it is very difficult to convey sarcasm in live chat, to the Phillipines or anywhere else for that matter.
I expressed my discontent, apologies were proferred, a new, fully functioning modem ordered, to be delivered within 5 working days, and I moved on – well kind of. I had to use every mindfulness technique I know, every yogic breathing exercise I could remember, and lie in savasana for hours on end to get through the next few days.
Four days later the modem arrived. We plugged it in. Held our breath. Nothing happened. Just plug and play we had been told. As easy as ABC we’d been assured. No syncing necessary, it had all been preconfigured. We looked at it, poked and proded it. Still nothing. Much tearing out of hair ensued. Who would contact the provider? Me again.
This time Francisco popped up, polite and eager to help. ‘Our records are showing that your house is active, the nbn is connected, you have the modem, it should activate straight away, so it must be something to do with your phone line.’ ‘Really? No-one ever mentioned phone lines before. Aren’t they already there and up and running?’ ‘Perhaps not’, he said, ‘is it a new house?’, he asked. ‘Oh, you have just moved house, I see, so did the previous owners have a home phone line?’ ‘Well we had tenants before we moved in and I’m actually, um, really not …um … sure if they had a phone line,’ typed I sheepishly, if one can type sheepishly. ‘So I’d better get that checked out had I?’ ‘Yes, you should,’ said Francisco, ‘have I helped resolve your problem today?’ ‘Well yes I suppose so, even though I now have another mountain to climb.’ Francisco closed the chat.
The next day Darren the friendly phone guy arrived bright and early. ‘Oooh,’ he said after much rummaging around in the roof, ‘the wires are all over the place’ (and lots of other technical stuff which basically meant our wiring was fucked and needed a total revamp.) Two hours and $350 later, after several false starts – the internet light on the modem flickered on and then off again, there was much shaking of Darren’s head and sucking in of breath for a very tense 30 minutes – and finally we were on, we had lift off, we were back in the 21st century. Our phones picked up the signal, an ancient ipod sprang to life and picked up BBC Radio 2, my favourite station, my son’s and husband’s lap tops connected to the world. Every device in the house was alive with data beamed in from all corners of the globe with the exception of my computer, which picked up precisely nothing. ‘Strange’, said Darren the friendly phone guy.’ Very strange, but it’s not my area, you’ll have to go back to your provider.’
So back I go to live chat – not on my computer obviously – and up pops someone called Glainys – weird name. Long story short again, and ‘we’ll need to get a technician to call you.’ No one calls for a day. I give in and call them. On hold for ages. Pablo introduces himself. ‘I hear you are having technical issues.’ Very patiently, perhaps sensing that if he is anything other than very patient I will have a complete meltdown, he talks me through several options to try and get the wifi signal to connect. Nothing worked. ‘You’ll need to get someone to come out and look at your wifi card’, he concludes. OK then.
I haven’t done that yet. I’ve resurrected an old Telstra modem we used to take on holiday and I’m connecting through that for now. One day soon, I’ll gird my loins and try to find someone to come and look at my computer. We’ve already had a friend who works in IT look at it and he was baffled. I’m inclined to let sleeping dogs (and computers) lie for a little while, watch the cricket and be grateful for what I have. Oh yes, and for small mercies such as the provider refunding the $15 phone credit I used up waiting for them to answer and adding a month’s credit to my broadband account as a courtesy for ‘all the inconvenience’.
My still unfinished NBN debacle has taken so long, both in the experiencing and the telling, that I have no time left to tell you about the shipment of pavers, due on 1 December, (‘yes, of course you will have your paving done well before your guests arrive and long before Christmas’) that was somehow re-routed back to Sydney. As it stands our guests will be leaving in a few days, Christmas is looming and to the best of my knowledge our carefully selected alfresco pavers are still somewhere on the high seas or perhaps docked in Circular Quay, bobbing gently up and down in the harbour.
Nor do I now feel inclined to tell you about the phone call I received at 8 o’clock last night telling me that the shutters I orderd two months ago cannot be fitted before the New Year because ‘we have been so busy and had an unexpected amount of orders and our fitter simply cannot keep up with the demand.’ OK, so you take my money, assure me that these are the best shutters in Perth and Richard is the best shutter fitter in Perth, if not the world, and then 2 months later I get a call during dinner from someone called Lee who shattered my shutter dreams. It’s all the fault of Christmas apparently. Well, that’s a blog for another day. Christmas. Anyone heard that Monty Python song F*** Christmas? (Sorry God and Jesus and Santa).
If anyone knows a good IT guy, let me know. Right now I’m off to handwrite some letters, send out some smoke signals and attach messages to the legs of some unsuspecting pigeons. Over and out.