Saturday, May 29, 2010

Modern life is rubbish

I've felt very disconnected this last two weeks, and we are far from back in the land of the living.

Our sorry technology saga began when I got fed up with our TV digital recorder box crashing. It's always been a flimsy bit of kit. It has failed to record programmes for the kids, so we bit the bullet and ordered cable from Virgin. Please note, the primary purpose was better TV and a more robust digital recorder. Our order was processed from a call centre in Manila and there were some awkward linguistic ticks but all was well.

They came and installed the TV, when they said they would, but not with a V+ recordable box, they also installed a phone line. When I realised this would disconnect BT, and thus our wifi connection through Orange, I asked them NOT to switch our BT connection, but to install it as an additional line. They messed this up. As did BT, who cut us off anyway, despite saying in a letter that all would still be connected until the 28th of May.

The TV is great. I love that it has BBC iPlayer and a few other things like that. But the one thing I actually wanted I still don't have. Now a Virgin customer I was told from Manila that it was my fault that I didn't have a V+ recordable box because I didn't order one. I said I thought I did, wasn't familiar with their product names, but would certainly like one now. £99 please.

Once it was clear, last weekend, that BT had cut us off I asked them to get me back online. Some people were helpful, some were useless, but none could answer my query. Someone in Scotland acknowledged a mistake in the cut off date, someone else said there was a SLAM system that could have us back in 24 hours. This involved speaking to people in India, Scotland, Liverpool and somewhere down south. Eventually I was told this would take two weeks. And that it was my fault for switching providers.

So, our home phone number is now with Virgin, something we didn't want, but have accepted. The only problem is there's only one phone socket on their connection into the house. So, we got our mate Anton Koropisz to hook them up while he was doing a few other wiring jobs around the house.

Patience duly snapped we canvassed opinion on the best alternative and Virgin's broadband came highly recommended. In for a penny, in for a pound, I called them again. A lovely lad called Kevin, in Manila again, put a decent package together for us. I asked for the V+ and a new channel package.

A lad came and plugged in the modem this afternoon, he also left us with a box to install the wireless router ourselves. I'm not wholly convinced this is working terribly well yet and reserve judgement on whether we have been well served. He told me I had "customer not happy" on his call sheet, so I expected a bit better to be honest. He also bypassed an installation stage when our name and postcode wasn't recognised. And there was no V+ box again. Computer says no.

As I sit and compose this the kids are trying to connect their Wii to the household network I think I've installed, but it has parental controls still set up from the previous person who owned it (we bought it 2nd hand).

It's also exposed how crap our home PC and the wireless dongle I attached to it. This is also going to cost us, but genuinely I think we're better off.

I find myself getting annoyed and stressed about this sort of thing not because this is a vital part of our lives, but mainly because it actually seems quite unimportant; quite ephemeral and a bit of a whimsy.

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