This is not the column I intended to write today.
I had very ambitious plans for today and the remainder of the weekend that would have involved elaborate posts with lots of embedded video and cool photographs. But I can’t bring them to you because Suddenlink is experiencing some kind of slowdown of their service and my current internet speeds are slower that dial-up.
I understand that our area is in the midst of severe weather conditions and that those are most likely the cause of this unexplained internet slowdown. But it would be nice to have some kind of confirmation from Suddenlink that this is actually the case. Their website currently says that there are no outages in the area. Their online tools tell me that my modem is working perfectly. A phone message mentions some non-specific weather-related issues, without any hint of when they may be resolved.
Meanwhile, the internet speeds that I currently have are disgustingly inadequate. I can’t even look at my newsfeed on Facebook. I uploaded a photo to Facebook this morning, a small photo, and it took twelve minutes.
This column is not intended for me to be whining about the fact that my internet is impaired. I realize there are people in this area who don’t have access to roads. I realize that having any internet at all is more than some people have. However, I have spent a total of three hours on the phone with Suddenlink this morning on hold without ever getting the chance to speak to a live operator who could simply tell me when I might get my normal internet service back. I would just like to know what’s going on.
So this column is not about my lack of internet service. It’s about Suddenlink’s insultingly moronic telephone answering system. One of my Facebook friends this morning remarked that he’s had cancer and Suddenlink, and Suddenlink customer service was worse.
The problem is, when you call, you get an automated voice response system. It asks you why you’re calling. Actually, that’s what it used to do. Now you have to listen to a commercial for their new high speed internet service, the recent upgrade that gives you 50mps download speeds.
This is not what a customer wants to hear when they’re calling to complain that their current download speed is less than 1/1000th of that speed. My current download speed is 0.04mps. It would be nice if there were some way I could convey this information to a human being at Suddenlink. Unfortunately, that is simply not possible today.
Instead, folks wondering why they aren’t getting the service they paid for are treated to an endless loop of radio commercials for Suddenlink. Many of these commercials heavily promote and tout the wonderfulness of the very services the customer is calling to complain about. This is not wise.
For example, when I’m calling to complain about having the slowest internet speeds I’ve ever seen measured on the planet, I don’t want to hear about how Suddenlink offers the fastest internet speeds available on the planet. I know that. It’s what I’m paying for. It’s not what I’m getting.
Another problem is that while Suddenlink is playing this endless loop of commercials, every couple of minutes they interrupt it with an audible click that sounds like you’re being switched to an operator, but instead, is simply a recording playing a different announcement.All this does is get the caller’s hopes up that their long wait is finally over, only to have them dashed against the jagged rocks of reality.
I do not need to hear instructions on unplugging my modem and plugging it back in seventy-three times when I already tried doing that before I called the first time–and it didn’t work. I do not need to hear how wonderful your telephone service is because my late uncle had it and I know how awful it is. I do not need to hear about how wonderful your cable television service is, because I got disgusted with it over a year ago, switched to Direct TV, and now pay seventy dollars less a month and still get all the Viacom channels.
When you have a customer on the phone waiting to discuss a service problem, only a total freaking idiot would think that this is the best time to try and sell them more services. If you can’t make my internet work as promised, why would I even consider choosing your company to provide phone, television, or home security services? Hell, if you have your phone through Suddenlink and your service cuts out, you have no way to call and complain about it.
Maybe that’s the idea.
So my beef today is not that my internet is impaired, because I understand that’s probably due to the weather. My gripe is that Suddenlink has the worst automated phone system, which is the doorway to their customer service, of any company I have ever dealt with on the planet. It was easier signing up under the Affordable Care Act than navigating Suddenlink’s phone system, which I am fairly certain is the primary means of communication in the lower levels of Dante’s Inferno.
I can’t stress enough how utterly against all human decency it is to exploit an incoming service call to try and advertise your services. If an automobile company issues a recall when they send you a postcard telling you that your car has been recalled, they’re smart enough not to include an ad to buy a new car from them. I mean, save the hard sell for people who aren’t horribly upset with your level of service.
I was thrilled last week when the FCC declared high speed internet to be a utility. Normally I’m not a huge fan of the FCC but in this case, this is an action that is long overdue. The United States has some of the slowest and most expensive broadband internet in the civilized world.
We’re getting ripped off. We have to have some sort of recourse.
I will raise holy hell with Suddenlink to get a refund for the amount of time that my broadband service has not been “high speed.” Hopefully, now that the FCC has declared high speed internet to be a utility, I may have some legal recourse other than simply staying on hold for four hours so I can yell at someone who’s probably getting paid minimum wage and doesn’t understand what they’re talking about anyway.
I apologize for the ranting tone of today’s PopCulteer, but I’m looking at the very real possibility of being unable to update this blog in the manner my readers expect for several days. Suddenlink may fix everything in an hour or two or it may take forever. I don’t know. They haven’t posted anything on their Facebook page or their website and I could probably get a prank call through to Vladimir Putin before I could get a living customer service representative on the phone.
So please bear with your PopCulteer as he struggles with this first-world problem and looks at a giant backlog of really cool stuff that he’s physically unable to post at the moment.
Stuff To Do
I’m doing a truncated Stuff To Do this week because some of the events may be cancelled due to the nasty weather, but if these events happen, they’ll be cool. Plus, it’s taking me forever to upload graphics.
First off we have a discussion of the political cartoons of Herbert Block at the Charleston Branch of the Kanawha County Public Library Saturday afternoon. Stop by the Kanawha County Public Library during March to view a special exhibit of the works of political cartoonist Herb Block. On Saturday, local artist and entrepreneur Mark Wolfe will talk about “Herblock’s” work and its influence on him back in the 80s as the political cartoonist for WV State’s newspaper, The program begins at 2 p.m. in the John V. Ray Room on the 3rd floor.
That’s it for this week. Cross your fingers and hope that Suddenlink restores your PopCulteer’s normal internet speed so that he can bring you his regular features in the coming days.