Published On: Sat, Jan 25th, 2014

Getting (and Staying) On Line by Nom DePlume

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“I have bad news,” she said when she called me back.  I couldn’t image what could be worse than this.  Had somebody died?  “Your appointment wasn’t for today.  It’s for a week from today.”

It happened on Tuesday afternoon.  One by one the lights on my cable modem went out, and with them all hopes of my blog hitting the intertubes anytime soon.  Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because I was still casting about for a topic, but blog or no blog, living without internet access is sooo last century.  So I decided to pay Cablemas a visit first thing the next morning.  I had tried calling them, but their voicemail system did not accept input from my cell phone (the voice told me to “Press 1” and when I did, nothing happened except for the appearance of a big fat “1” on the screen).

The next morning I disconnected my cable modem and brought it with me to the Cablemas office in Reforma.  I figured that if the modem was at fault (the date on the bottom showed that it was at least 12 years old), they could just replace it without having to pay a visit to my house.  That might well be the case in a parallel universe, but in this one the rules don’t have to make sense.  After spending close to two hours in line to see a service rep, I was told that the only way to change the modem was to have a technician visit and check out the system.  Other than that, the only thing she could do was replace the modem’s power cord.  This made as much sense as replacing the little rubber pads the modem sits on, but we live our lives in the universe we have, not the one we would like to have, so home I went with the new power cord.

As I had anticipated, it made no difference whatsoever, and now I was really determined to get my system working again.  Back I went to Cablemas (what choice did I have?) to wait in line once again.  Mercifully, this time the line was shorter, so my wait was only half an hour (“only” half an hour – note how we become accustomed to delays, so that a half hour wait is a blessing), and the service rep was fresh, not recycled from earlier in the day.

When my turn came, I pleaded with my new rep, telling him that my work depended on having an internet connection.  “Por favor,” I begged, putting my hands together in a symbol of prayer “No puedo trabajar sin internet.”  He nodded sympathetically, and assured me that a technician would be at my house between 9 am and 2 pm tomorrow.  “Mañana?” I repeated for confirmation.  “Si, mañana,” he assured me.

I left the office full of hope, hope that slowly disintegrated the following morning as I waited from nine to ten, from ten to eleven, to twelve, to one, and finally until two in the afternoon.  I couldn’t even call them to complain, so I had to have a friend call them from a land line.

“I have bad news,” she said when she called me back.  I couldn’t image what could be worse than this.  Had somebody died?  “Your appointment wasn’t for today.  It’s for a week from today.”

“What?”  I was beyond flabbergasted.  The camel’s back now truly crippled beyond repair, my mind began grasping at alternatives.  I could close the account and open a new one;  surely that wouldn’t take a week.  I could go back to Telmex, or I could install an antenna on my roof and grab the signal from the nearby park.  But these alternatives all needed time to implement, and that meant more internet downtime.  There must be something I could do right there and then.

Slowly, like a light bulb being powered on by a hand-cranked generator, it came to me:  my blog – the power of the press.  I decided that I would pay yet another visit to Cablemas, but this time I would go straight to the top:  the big enchilada himself, el gerencia.

So back I go to Cablemas.  It’s now 48 hours since my internet went down and I’m feeling the strain.  I march up to the reception desk and announce that I’m here to see el gerencia.  When the receptionist inquires as to the nature of my business, I tell her that I’m writing an article about the quality of service at Cablemas, and that I would like to ask him a few questions.  The receptionist disappears and returns a few minutes later.  “This way please,” she tells me.  I follow her, surprised at the ease with which my plan is unfolding.  The people in line wait for hours to see a service rep, while after only five minutes I’m on my way to see the boss himself.

The receptionist leads me through a courtyard to a closed door, knocks and then ushers me into a small room.  Behind the desk sits an attractive young lady, wearing a disarmingly friendly smile.  Before I make a fool of myself by assuming that she is the boss’s secretary, she introduces herself as the person in charge of customer service.

“I’m Marisol,” she says.  “How can I help you?”

“I am writing a blog about my experiences with Cablemas’ customer service, but I have lost my internet access,” and I tell her the whole story of my adventures since getting disconnected.  I finish with “Do you think the reader would find this story funny?”

Her smile does not waver or change character – it’s still warm and friendly, and still disarming.

“Yes,” she says, “I think the reader would find it funny.  But it’s not very good for us.”

“What do you think we could do to make it good for you?” I asked, wearing my best look of innocence.

“Well, we could see what we can do about getting you back on line.”

“That would be a huge first step,” I tell her.

“Would it be convenient if a technician came to your house tomorrow morning at 10?”

“Of course.  That would be perfect.”

We say our goodbyes, and I feel the hope welling up again.  I can’t help it – I’m an incurable optimist, but after a short while I start to have doubts.  I imagine Marisol and her colleagues sitting around the executive lounge laughing about the pen-wielding gringo that came in expecting special treatment because he’s writing a blog.  “A blog!” they exclaim in unison, slapping their thighs, tears streaming down their faces.  “A blog!”

Two hours later I’m waiting for Mrs. DePlume at a friend’s house when she calls.  “I know,” I say to her.  “You’re running late.”

“Yes, and you’ll never guess why.”

“Tell me.”

“The cable guy just left.  Your internet is fixed.”

Blog indeed.

Mexico Travel Care

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