Comcast: "No Internet–Your Modem Battery is Degraded"

Sometimes, I wonder if customer service people sit around making up complete BS answers to customer service questions just to see what we, the customers, will actually say. I can imagine some bean counter saying to the customer service folks “Hey, we’re going to have a contest! We’re going to come up with ‘31 Top Idiot Answers to Use in Place of Admitting Cable Outage’—one for each day of the month! In February, we’ll have 4 answers to use on day 28 to make up for not having day 29, 30, and 31, unless it’s leap year, of course.”  The winner probably got a free mocha latte frappucino chai spice coffee with a cherry on top from Starbucks. 
Well, today, I had an outage, and I got Top Idiot Answer 29.  
So there I was, happily gaming with Trusty Friends Evshell, Robert Oakley, Jureth, and Crist in The Old Republic beta. Around 11:30 pm, just 90 minutes shy of when the servers would go down, my internet sputtered and went out.  My poor Jedi Consular is probably lying dead in the middle of a bunch of pirates at the moment, because it’s Internet Law that you must lag out in the middle of a. a mob of enemies or b. a Boss Fight. Losing an internet connection is not allowed in any rest zones, and is Right Out in cantinas. 
When Skype and Firefox decided not to work, I looked over at my modem. Sure enough, the link light was blinking, indicating that the modem was not receiving a signal from Comcast.  I had learned this tidbit of info the other day when my internet went down and another customer service agent said service was out in the area and that it would be restored Soon ™.  I thought about going to bed, but the siren call of TOR was begging me to come back to the game, so I called customer service again. My call apparently was routed to Eastern Europe, where I spoke with a gentleman with an accent that indicated he was from somewhere in the vicinity of Outer East Bhadislavia. He was quite nice, but the poor guy had trouble understanding my Midwestern accent, and I had to enunciate ‘I’m calling from my cell phone’ several times before he realized I wasn’t ‘calling from (my Comcast cable) telephone’.  After sending signals to my modem, he gave me the verdict: 
“Your battery is degraded and it is affecting your internet signal.”  
Now, it might have been midnight, and I might be female. I suspect he thought both were in his favor and that I would actually believe Top Idiot Answer 29.  I’m sure he didn’t realize I’ve had three years of physics and, shockingly (no pun intended), know the difference between a resistor and a capacitor in a circuit diagram. However, I thought I’d start with the obvious and see what that got me: “Please explain to me how the battery can be affecting the signal when I have the modem plugged into the outlet and my telephone is working fine.” He replied, “It can affect either your telephone or your internet, and it affected your internet.”  
Now, last I knew, batteries don’t send signals out anywhere, unless you happen to be someone whose tinfoil hat regularly beams to the Mother Ship. This is also a backup battery—it doesn’t do anything except sit there until it’s needed when the electricity goes off.  As long as it completes the circuit, whatever it’s connected to is not going to do a damned thing.

Then, I asked him why Comcast would design such a ridiculous thing. He answered that he didn’t know, either.  Apparently, this followup question was not included in the script of Top Idiot Answer 29.

After determining this guy was reading from the Holy Writ of Comcast Bullshit Excuses to Give Customers and that my problem was not going to get resolved, I got the address of the local Comcast office so that I could exchange my modem and ‘degraded battery’ in the morning.  I also  tried taking the battery out to see if that would help matters. Not a signal in the world. At this point, it was 1 am, and the siren call of sleep drew me to bed.
So, this morning, I sat down to continue working on my blog. What did I see? Working internet! Without any battery in the modem whatsoever! Clearly the ‘degraded battery signal’ answer was a complete and utter lie. I’m shocked, truly shocked.
You know, Comcast, if the internet service is down because of damaged wires, I can understand that.  After all, my region got hit with some two nasty storms and an earthquake a couple months ago. I’m not naïve enough to think you’ve given me new equipment, either. I’m sure it’s been in someone else’s house before it entered mine. You might even have cleaned it before bringing it to mine, too, but I never assume these things. In any case, the modem might not be working quite right, too. 
 
If you had just been honest with me, Comcast, I would have actually been rather understanding of the situation. Now, I’ve lost respect for your staff and you for lying to me to cover your butt because you had an outage and didn’t want to admit it.

Update: I spoke with another Comcast customer service agent this morning.  He couldn’t understand the excuse given to me either, and after more testing decided there was possibly a problem with the line going into the house. So, he scheduled a technician to come out tomorrow morning.

Update 2: A technician came on time and replaced the line going from the pole to the house. He confirmed that the line was bad and that was what was causing the problem. He was just as confused about the first guy’s ‘degraded battery’ reasoning as I was. He also took the time to hook up the cable box in our living room, which we had disconnected the day before to move furniture around to a better configuration. It might not have been a big deal to him, but I appreciated the extra touch. The internet has not gone out since his visit.

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Preparing for Hospital stays, Geek Style, Part 1

It’s been a crazy few months for us, and even Geeky Moms have their limits in what they can handle without needing to escape to game, chat with Trusty Friends and fellow church members via Skype/Facebook, podcast about E3, rock out to Skillet’s new album ‘Awake’, or role-play, which is what I’ve done. I’ve played Dragon Age, Star Trek Online, Pokemon (don’t laugh until you’ve tried it. It’s gaming crack, that’s all I can say), and D&D online via Skype. I also role-played in some of the RP stories on Lotus Fleet, did simulcasts with Trusty Friends Lynk and leXX during E3 presentations, and chatted. I’ve learned more about Andorian birthing than I ever thought was possible given that it’s an imaginary alien species from a 44 year old TV show. Still, I had a good time role-playing how my ship’s doctor helped save a pregnant zhen, and the pleasant diversions are very welcome. This may sound totally corny and tremendously Geeky, but some of my online friends are as close, if not closer, than some of my local friends. You all have helped me in many ways with prayers, good wishes, and warm thoughts, and I treasure you all.

My sister’s cancer diagnosis has been rough on the entire family, complete with all the attendant emotional ups and downs that come with such a devastating diagnosis. The good news is that the chemotherapy has been tremendously effective, and her prognosis has improved from ‘about 5 years’ to ‘you’ll get to see your children grow up’.

We’re still dealing with the roller coaster of feelings, and the family dynamic challenges. Trust me, when you get a cancer diagnosis in the family, the dynamics NEVER improve. The best you can do is keep them from going down the crapper completely and creating the family equivalent of Mt. Vesuvius, and/or something that belongs on the latest hot TV reality show.

In more cancer news, we learned a few weeks back that my sister-in-law, Glenda, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They caught hers very early, and she did fantastic in her surgery last week. She had no lymph node involvement on initial pathology results, and we’re waiting to hear for the final results, but all indications are that she’ll have a complete cure. She says she’s very glad to be rid of the cancer.

We have also had the challenge of dealing with my daughter’s ADHD diagnosis and different medication changes associated with that. This is one of the Parental Challenges of the Century. At one point, we were trying a dose of medicine that was way too low and just made the symptoms worse, and by worse I mean, “if the pediatrician doesn’t fix it Right Now, the house will explode.” I told the pediatrician “I don’t know who you’re going to have to peel off the ceiling first–her or me.” I briefly thought banshee training would be of great benefit to her as a career choice. I spoke with the Banshee College of Shrieks, and after they listened to her one time, they determined she’d test out of their PhD program and asked if in fact they could invite her for a guest lectureship. The medium dose of the medication seem to be working better, however, so I think we’ll hold off on any career scream plans for the time being. Just to add to the fun, we also learned yesterday that she’s still allergic to dairy after all, and also allergic to soy. Ever try to find margarine or shortening with no dairy or soy in a conventional store? Good luck with that. Soy and dairy are 2 of the 8 top food allergies. You think some major margarine manufacturer execs somewhere would say to themselves, “Hmm, maybe we should make something without dairy and soy and sell it in major groceries. We could make a ton of money from the people who have these allergy issues.” Nope. It hasn’t happened, though I have been assured by Earth Balance that I can find their soy and dairy-free spread at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market if I am willing to drive 35 miles.

Some good news–we found an absolutely delightful dog at Safe Harbor Humane Society, who we have named Sparky. We missed Lucas, we all needed a new dog in our lives, and the shelter had several available. His previous owner had to relinquish him because he lost his job and had to move to an apartment that wouldn’t allow dogs. I don’t know who the previous owner is, and I’m sure he was heartbroken at giving up such a wonderful dog after having him as part of the family for 5 years. I’m proud of him for doing the right thing and not just throwing the dog out on the street for animal control to find. I just wish I could let him know how happy his dog is with us and how we’re working hard to take good care of him and love him.

Sparky

Sparky is mostly a black Labrador retriever, possibly with a bit of pit bull or boxer in him, since he’s got a massive head, very strong jaw, and quite stocky body. He’s collapsed 3 tennis balls since we got him, so we finally got smart and bought Kong toys, which are much tougher. He takes tremendous joy in playing ‘fetch’, and we now take tremendous joy in playing ‘throw’. He has a very sweet temperament and adores tummy rubs. He did well in his introduction to our cat, Joey. The two now sniff each other often. I suspect they’ll be doing some playing in a few more weeks as they learn each others’ boundaries.

In addition to all that, I’ve been dealing with my long-term knee problem, and I’m actually having a total knee replacement for it next week, which brings me to the actual point of this post–how Geeks prepare for a hospital stay. As a Geeky Mom, this involves multiple things, not the least of which is blogging about it.

First, you’ll be happy to know that not only does my surgeon do nothing but knee and hip replacements, he also has a website, and he’s actually tweeted a surgery. I suspect that actually someone typed for him while he did the surgery. I’ll ask him next week for sure. Inquiring minds want to know.

I have a list of things needing to get done around the house prior to surgery because I’ll be maneuvering on a walker and/or crutches for several weeks after I get home from the 3 day incarceration in the hospital. I’m hoping for crutches, because walkers really make me feel old beyond my permanent 29-ness. In fact, I informed the ortho that I would use it if he forced me, but I would feel the urge to decorate it with visually obnoxious items, such as pinwheels, a loud shiny horn, and neon reflective Jar-Jar Binks stickers.

Anyway, the list of tasks includes:

1. Asking my hubby for the 9th time to please put the back seat back in the van. I have been asking this since, oh, last March. I’m tired of chasing cans of kidney beans around the back of the van when they roll out of the bags. Here’s a hint for those of you guys who hate being nagged: if you do something you say you’ll do the first time, we’ll never have to ask you again to do it. Just a pro-tip for husbands, there.

2. Not killing my daughter when she does her best banshee impression about having to clean up the mess in her room.

3. Playing STO and doing RP in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

4. Creating playlists in iTunes in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

5. Teaching Trusty Friend jovani how to use Audacity in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

6. Making a long list of things I need to bring to the hospital in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

7. Obtaining a raised toilet seat per doctor’s orders. This adds to my feeling of youth about as much as a walker does.

8. Getting the dog neutered and my daughter tested for allergies the week before surgery, because I don’t have enough stress in life, and I’m making the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

9. Mourning over the fact that Trusty Friend N’Eligahn is not going to be hosting a D&D session this Saturday, thus preventing me from making the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute. Never fear, however, I’ll find something to do instead, perhaps play more STO, write another RP post, blog, or jam with the family on Lego Rock Band. I’m very creative in avoiding house-cleaning.

10. Preparing menus and doing a mass cooking marathon in the supreme effort to put off serious house-cleaning to the very last minute.

One of the things I did today was check out the hospital website to get information on my stay there. I found out important things like “as a patient you’ll be given a gown to wear” (more like a half a toga), “no cell phones” (yeah, right), and “we have 24 hour security” (so the psych patients stay in psych). Since I’m going to be an inmate for 3 days, and living without internet is not my idea of A Good Time, I decided that one of the first things I, as a dedicated Geeky Mom, should do is check out internet availability. To my great delight, I found out the hospital has this cool thing called Skylight Access Interactive Patient system. It comes complete with a “wide array of services” such as cable tv, INTERNET, health videos (that’ll put me to sleep for sure), ‘healing music’ (read, New Age interpretations of bad elevator music versions of Simon & Garfunkel songs), INTERNET, the ability to order my meals from the kitchen and extra toilet paper from housekeeping, and, INTERNET. The internet includes a wireless keyboard. My guess on why the keyboard is wireless is Skylight’s lawyers feared that those of us under the influence of Good Drugs might do something with the cord that would involve lawsuits against them. This is in spite of the fact that someone like me will be a. attached to a machine that will move my knee around pretty much all the time, and b. we’re all attached to IVs and assorted other medical things with odd, unintelligible Greco-Roman names.

Now, you may ask why on earth I’d want to be on the internet hours after having chunks carved out of my thigh and leg bones and pieces of titanium hammered into them for my new ‘bionic robo-knee’, as Trusty Friend Dath Max calls it. I mean, we’re talking power-tool heaven for Mr. Fix-It types here. The answer: Because that’s what Geeky Moms do. I may only be online for about 2 minutes the first night, provided I’m not drugged into oblivion by pain killers, and for limited times the next day or two after that, but by God, I actually have the opportunity, and that’s the important thing.

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