Coffee heat rising

Customer Service(?) at Cox

Computer will not connect to the Instacart website. Try several times. Give up.

It will not connect to the sites of the retailers who deliver if you dork around long enough to upload an order…

wtf…I figure Cox is down.

Call our honored Internet provider to ask how long this outage will last, and am told (by a machine) to prepare to wait till the cows come home if I hope to speak to a human. Turn on the squawk box, set the phone on the kitchen counter, prepare a substantial midday meal.

Just setting the chow on the table when a person who sounds very young comes on the phone. Her exotic accent, while charming, is so thick I can’t understand about a third of what she says, and it soon becomes evident that this is mutual. But that’s OK — I’m happy to finally reach a living being.

Explain what’s going on. She doesn’t understand what I’m talking about. Explain again. She proposes to send me “a signal.” She wants me to close out of everything I’m doing…I’m in the middle of a LARGE beastly complicated project for a client and y’know, I don’t wanna shut down file after file after file in Word and Excel right this minute.

She still doesn’t seem to quite understand what I’m talking about. She evidently thinks it’s an Apple problem, but I’ve been around the block with Apple so many hundreds of times that I do recognize an Apple issue, and this ain’t one of ’em.

Finally I give up, tell her “thank you,” and disconnect.

Annoyed, I pour a Kiltlifter and stare at the effing screen. Somewhat calmed, I give up and close out of all the client’s files. Reboot. This works. I order a week’s worth of goods from Instacart, then get back to work whilst finishing the can of beer.

Cox? What’s their excuse?

Cox the Feeble…America the Disconnected?

Live-Blogging in the Disconnect Mode…

Along about 6 p.m., a little rain started to sprinkle. I’m playing with the computer, my usual pastime, thinking I should get up and turn on the PBS Gnus by way of catching up with the day’s antics in Washington. In passing, as the drizzle begins, the lights blink almost off and back on, so fast and so subtly it’s barely noticeable.

This is the second time it’s happened in the past few days. Nothing much ensued the other day, but it’s something I take note of because the house has aluminum wiring. Anything electrical that’s even faintly unusual makes one itch.

But as before, nothing bursts into flames. Yet.

LOL! You think I exaggerate? One of DX-H’s law partners and his wife went out to dinner and a movie one night. After a pleasant evening they came home…to a slab and a pile of ashes.

No joke! The house had burned completely, altogether to the ground.

So electrical glitches elicit some interesting imaginative scenarios.

The laptop has developed a few glitches of its own, of late. So when its Internet connection suddenly went down, just as I was about to pack it in and go turn on the big iMac for the purpose of “television” viewing, I didn’t think much about it. Rebooted. Still offline. Ohhh wellll…I needed to call the Apple Service people for something else, anyhow.

Haul out of the easy chair and away to the office. Fire up the iMac and…yup. DEAD. It, too, is offline.

Clearly, what we have here is another goddamn Cox thing.

Call the Cox 24-hour service that I subscribe to expensively…or try to, anyway. When I pick up the phone, instead of a dial tone I get buzz buzz buzz buzz… Busy signal???! Whaaaa!

Fortunately I happen to have quite a few minutes available on my cell phone. Dial up Cox’s expensive service, from whom, after a couple of transfers, I learn there’s an outage in our area. They expect to have the service back up around 8:00 p.m.


This is classic Cox. Every time it rains, Cox goes down. And it’s not even raining very hard. It’s barely sprinkling out there.

We have only two residential Internet choices here: Cox and CenturyLink, the ghost of the late not-much-lamented Qwest. CenturyLink has a reputation for being even worse than Cox – in fact, by comparison Cox looks good.

 So…if you live in Maricopa County and you imagine that someday you may need to dial 911, you’d bloody well better have a cell phone.

I now have two of the damn things, neither one of which I know how to work. Managed to figure out how to dial a phone number on the new Walmart purchase and got through to Cox’s alleged service department. That would be where the 8 p.m. estimate came from.

To make the present event even more infuriating, the Macs are showing, with their little “radio” icon, that the wi-fi is on. But it ain’t.

Or…lo! Maybe it is!

Yes. It is on. For the nonce.

Knowing Cox’s fine reputation for reliability though, it probably won’t be for long.


Oooohkayyyy…. Yes, the connection is reestablished. But now the iMac WON’T ACCEPT MY PASSWORD to sign back on. God DAMN IT but I hate loathe and despise the techno-dystopia that we live in. Now I’ve got to try to call up Apple on a phone line that may or may not keep working and try to get my computer to come back on.


Lo! It’s up. And now we’re watching Hari Sreenivasan holding forth about the Pensacola shooting, reporting in awe that the Saudis who shot up the naval base…oooohhh! watched a shooting video before going on their rampage. Imagine that!

Y’know, Hari’s cute. No: handsome. He emanates smarts. He’s probably the best thing on PBS News. But…really…wouldntcha like to have Walter Cronkite back? David Brinkley? Chet Huntley?

PBS seems to me to be the best news show that’s out there, on the air or in the stream. But dayum! Truth is, the wackshit conservatives are right. It’s politically correct to the point of doctrinaire. It’s surely better than anything else we have these days. But it’s NOT objective. It doesn’t even try to report the news objectively.

{sigh} We live in hopeless times…

…from Worse to Hilarious?

DATELINE: CHURCH FRONT OFFICE. Okay, okay. I give up whinging about the endless stream of bad luck, minor hassles, major headaches, and downright disasters that have infected every damn day here for the past six weeks or so.

This is no longer terrible, horrible, and downright deplorable. It has evolved into…



Nay, uproarious!

Just when you think nothing more could possibly go wrong…the ENTIRE CITY goes offline.

So we’re told, anyway. The Apple techs and the Cox tech who spent four hours trying to help get my email working were swimming against the stream. Little did they know…even the Cox tech!…that Cox is down over the whole City!

Apparently the degree of down-ness varies by district. From my house, I could at least get Firefox to cruise the Internet. And the phone was working.

I get down to the church, where I cool my heels for four hours once a week, and find that EVERYTHING is down:

The wireless
The outdgoing and incoming phone lines
The in-house phones

Holee ess aitch ai!

The pastor has gone home in frustration, after having tried for quite some time to accomplish his work on his smart phone and about put his eyes out for his trouble.

Other staff are hanging around, filling time with various small manual tasks, except for the musicians, who are giving lessons or practicing.

Hilariously, the Cox tech I spoke with for something over an hour this morning had no idea there was a Cox outage here. And given that some are saying it covers the entire city, that’s quite the little secret to keep from your customer service employees, isn’t it?

Apparently, the extent of the outage varies by district. At my house, MacMail would come on, in a spotty way, though it was operating so slowly that some functions simply wouldn’t work. Yet I had no problem opening web pages, and indeed wrote and published a post for Funny about Money this morning. I thought what was out was the Apple Mail function.

Here, the office is offline, but one of the priests just came in and said she was online at the school, and so was the teacher whose classroom she was working in.

That notwithstanding…the phones and the computers are absolutely positively not working over here, a hundred yards away.

Chortle! I wonder if this is an attack…the Russians strike again. Or the Koreans? The Saudis?

Hmmmm… Will the burglar alarm system here be online? With no phone system operative, how will ADT get the message if the Burglar decides to stroll in and make himself to home?

At any rate, Korean sabotage or not, I’ve about had it with Cox. If they can’t even let their CSRs know about a major service outage, they are not worth the price!

My plan now is to get an iPhone – though one of the staff here was telling me about something called Great Call, designed for old folks who can’t figure out these contraptions. Apparently it has a mode that’s pretty simple to use. But it operates with Samsung. The last time I tried to use one of those types of cell phones, I never could figure out how to work it. Finally just gave up.

Apple is giving classes at its stores. Get an iPhone, and you can go over there and take lessons until you finally get it into your head how to work the damn thing. This is likely to take awhile, because I really don’t want to know how to work such a thing. My head is full of ENOUGH clutter, dammit. But I guess I can’t put it off any longer.

The advantage of an Apple device is that it connects seamlessly with other Apple products – notably MacMail. And I’m told it’s relatively easy for old people to learn to use, which sure isn’t the case for Android devices. Also, they apparently have a highly entertaining robocall blocker, which spoofs a human and makes a live caller truly miserable. That concept, I like.

Get phone

Either from TracFone or from a more conventional provider.
Compare costs.
Also, can you use TracFone to connect the iPad?

Learn to use phone. Ask at Apple store if you can get some lessons before you sign on and transfer the phone number. Or check on Internet for simple lessons on how to use the thing.

I think they’ll let you use a floor model or an extra to sit in on the classes and learn how to operate things.

Sign up and transfer my number to the phone.

Practice a lot at using it. Decide what functions are needed

Call blocker app
Access to Web
Access to Mail
Camera would be nice

Call Cox and cancel the landline

Confirm that it REALLY is true you can call 911 from a cell phone if it doesn’t have minutes or a connection that you’re paying for.

Buy 6 clamshell phones, charge them up, and have them around the house

Remember to recharge the car phone, too.

Look into Earthlink and Great Call.

How reliable are they?
Do they have customer service?
What does it cost?

Sooooo… My VoIP-ish phones were working when I left the Funny Farm. But if the system is by now as thoroughly down there as it is here, when I get home I, too, may have no phone service. I do have a clamshell phone in my car. And a couple of old phones whose recharging cords I’ve lost… 😀 So if I bring the phone into the house at least I’ll have something to use in an emergency.

An hour and a half to go. With no client work to do, I tend to count the minutes when I’m here. Which is weird…was never a clock-watcher when I had a real job. It’s just that…well…it’s awfully quiet here. And really, there’s nothing to do.

And, I think, the computer and other fine features of Our Modern Dystopia infuse a kind of gestalt into everyday life. You don’t sit and just do a single task or series of tasks from beginning to end anymore. You’re either interrupted constantly or you interrupt yourself with the Internet (out of restlessness or curiosity), so that you become accustomed to doing things in tiny, staccato intervals.

Plus it must be admitted that I failed to appreciate just how inconvenient it would be to have a four-hour slab sliced out of my life every week. I did tell them that I didn’t want to do this gig on the same day as choir practice…but ended up here on practice day anyway. So I have to race home, tend to the dogs – one of whom is still pretty sick – grab some food for myself, bolt down dinner, and then turn around and come right back down here.

True it is that I knew this schedule would be a PITA. But…the hectic turnaround really isn’t the issue. The issue is the four hours taken out of the day – and the week. Which is odd: I really didn’t think I had all that much to do. But apparently I do.

Cassie the Corgi seems somewhat better, actually. I suspect she’s about as much better as she’s going to get…and chances are, that itself is a temporary state of affairs. She still coughs occasionally – Valley fever? cancer? But she can bark again (this dog is nothing if she can’t bark!), and she’s eating cheerfully. Haven’t tried to take her for a walk since all this horror story came down – nor has Ruby had a walk. This means their claws are getting so long they can barely dodder…which tells you something about how long our little horror story has been going on. Tonight, of course, I won’t be able to take them out. So…maybe tomorrow morning? Probably not: some workman is supposed to show up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

An hour and seven minutes to go. {sigh}

The longer I’m not at home, the longer some crazy new thing can’t happen to me! 😀

Your megacorporation “values” your business

Why do faceless corporations work so hard at being faceless? And why do they veil their facelessness behind messages that claim to “value” their customers’ business? The fact is, if they valued your business they wouldn’t treat you the way they do.

For the second time in three months, Cox has failed to send a printed statement. When you call, the customer service rep gives you a scripted story: “We printed it on the 26th of last month. If you didn’t get it, you need to talk to the post office.” Understand: they’ve already wasted a significant slab of your time and tortured you by forcing you to listen to the most hideous Muzak turned to high volume, and now they want you to waste even more of your time trying to get through to an even larger and even more understaffed bureaucracy, the U.S. Postal Service, whose fault this clearly is not!

I will say, they’re better than Qworst. At least you can get through to a human being, and at least the human being has a sense of humor!

Customer: “You know, your bosses need to know that real musicians actually make real music, and they record it. You can get real music to put on the phone.”

CSR: [laughs] “Well, if it’s any comfort, sometimes we have to listen to it, too!”

Customer: [laughs] “You poor kid! What an awful job!”

[CSR and Customer laugh at Cox’s unholy treatment of its customers and employees.]

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, it’s possible to get your hands on the names of living, breathing executives of faceless corporations, and on the addresses of their corporate headquarters. Ergo:

Jimmy W. Hayes
Chief Executive Officer 
Cox Enterprises
6205 Peachtree Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30328


RE: (666) 123-4567 
Acct. No. 098-765-432101234 


Dear Mr. Hayes:


Once again, no statement from Cox has arrived this month. This is the second time in three months that a Cox statement has supposedly been sent and “lost.” I mailed your company a check for $71.65, the amount your spokesperson says is due, but of course in the absence of a statement I have no precise understanding of what I’m paying for or whether the bill is accurate.


I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy your customer service rep’s canned line that it’s all the Post Office’s fault and that because you guys didn’t send the statement I have to go waste still more of my time (it took over 10 minutes of listening to truly painful Muzak to get through to a human today!) by hassling the postal service. All my other bills appear on time. None of them ever goes missing. It seems highly unlikely that the U.S. Postal Service has something against Cox Communications and so is failing to deliver Cox’s statements and only Cox’s statements.


What seems more likely is that the statements aren’t being sent as a way to trap customers into missing a payment and being gouged unfairly with a late fee.


Please ensure that your staff sends statements in a timely way. The reason I asked Cox to send paper statements rather than dorking around online is that I’m getting on in years and do not remember things well. And I can’t afford extra dings on my bills for late payments.


Thanks for your consideration.


                                                                        Sincerely,  (etc.)

The “go talk to the Post Office” line is an obvious runaround. Even though these companies have monopolies or near-monopolies, you’d think sooner or later their customers would either find other ways to get what they need or simply abandon that service or product. Really. Will I die if I don’t have high-speed Internet? (Hmmm… Probably.) Can I get high-speed Internet somewhere else? (Evidently: a Google search brings up seven competitors on the first page!) Do I really need a land line? (Nope.) Can I get cell service with some other provider? (Indubitably!)

What is the matter with these companies that they can’t spare a little common courtesy for their customers?

Snail-mail vs. electronic payment

Are there bills that you refuse to pay electronically, or am I the only maverick running loose across the range?

These days, I pay all monthly bills by EFTs, except the phone bill. I never trusted Qwest, which in the past was prone to sending incorrect statements full of phantom charges. But because they had been OK for several years and because I no longer make many long-distance calls, I opted to let them engross money from my checking account. That was a mistake—it added even more aggravation to the late, great Qwest saga. So, when I switched to Cox, which after all is just another giant squid of a telecom corporation, I decided to keep its tentacles out of my bank accounts.

Cox’s statement hasn’t arrived this month. It’s usually here by now: last month I wrote a check on the 6th, meaning the bill would have been sitting around the house for several days by then. The bill actually isn’t due for another couple of weeks, but they claim you need to get the payment to them ten days before the announced due date, to ensure it posts on time. So I had to call them on the phone, navigate the infuriating punch-a-button system (is there any question why so many Americans have high blood pressure?), then find out what’s owing and what their mailing address is.

Snail-mail is so passé that the employees don’t even know what the company’s address is. It took the human I finally reached two tries to find what she thinks is the correct accounts receivable P.O. box.

There are some corporations, IMHO, that can’t be trusted. The phone company is one of those: I want to see the bill before there’s even any possibility of money being released. Ditto that for credit cards. I never pay credit-card bills electronically: I do not want Visa or American Express to have any access of any sort to my bank accounts, other than through a check. I want to be able to see and confirm each charge in each billing cycle before sending money.

A credit-union rep once remarked that it’s not a good idea to pay insurance companies electronically, either. I do: long-term care and life insurance premiums are EFTed to the relevant companies. But I don’t pay the annual homeowner’s and auto insurance that way. Too squirrelly: you never know when they’re going to run amok with the premiums, so I want to minimize potential hassle if I decide to switch insurers.

What bills, if any, do you pay the old-fashioned way?