Well, folks, I may not have much of my sanity left this week, but by God, do I have a clean house – and not just because of my borderline OCD interest in cleaning this time.

No, it’s because the Internet keeps going down. And when there’s no Internet, ain’t nothing to do but pace anxiously around the house, randomly cleaning things as a kind of frenzied displacement activity, right? Right?

It happened for the first time yesterday afternoon. There I was slogging womanfully through the massive amount of posts about shoes I had to write by the end of the week, and suddenly my computer went on a Go Slow. Each page would take five minutes to load, sometimes longer. Other times, it would time out altogether, leaving me frantically hitting the “refresh” button, because as we all know, THAT HELPS.

I put up with this for as long as I could stand it, which was about ten minutes, then I called Tech Support, who I know simply as “Terry”.

Terry did manage to get things back to normal again, but it took a while, and by the time I was able to get back to work, the house was sparkling, I kid you not. The work situation, meanwhile, wasn’t looking quite so good.

See, we’re going away this weekend. I may have mentioned it once or twice. Even although we’ll only be gone for one night, leaving early Saturday and getting back late Sunday, this trip has taken a helluva lot of arrangin’. I would say this is because we own a business, and it’s hard to go away for a break when you own a business, but actually, I think it’s just me. I am high maintenance. Packing for one-night away will take me hours. Hours. Let’s just say I don’t travel light – in fact, even although it’s one night away and we’re only travelling to the south of England, we’re having to take a suitcase rather than a carry-on, just so I can bring all of my makeup and toiletries. Oh, and the iron.

Anyway, so I’m high-maintenance, I know that. And because I know that, I had set aside all of Friday afternoon for packing. This meant that the work I would have normally done on Friday afternoon and evening had to be done earlier this week. I decided to do it on Wednesday, and when the Internet suddenly decided not to play along, I silently congratulated myself for this feat of forward planning, for I still had all of Thursday to do this massive chunk o’ work! Why, I was one clever cookie, no?

Well, no. Not really. Because today we came back to the office after Neighbours lunch, and the Internet wasn’t working AT ALL. D’oh!

Prompted by my shrieks of dismay, Terry got right on the phone to Virgin Media, who are our Internet providers, hereafter referred to as the Imps of Satan. After a few short minutes, they confirmed what we already knew: there was a problem with the network in our area. Would they be doing anything about it, though? Oh hell to the no. I mean, you must be joking, it’s not like we pay for this you know… oh no, wait. We do.

The Imps of Satan, you see, have a policy. The policy is that when a customer makes them aware of a problem with the Internet connection in a particular area, Virgin Media do absolutely nothing about this. At all. Instead, they wait until other people from that area call to complain. Only when a certain Magic Number of complaints is reached will they send someone to fix the problem. Until then? Nothing.

Now, this is clearly the dumbest policy in the world, ever. I mean, if you’re eating in a restaurant and you complain to the server that hey, there was a severed finger in your soup, they don’t just shrug and say, “So? We’ll wait until we get complaints about the other four before we do anything about that,” do they? No. (Well, it depends where you’re eating I guess.) No, if a customer has a problem, you try your best to fix that problem, you don’t just yawn and say, “Well, yaknow, if there were lots of people with the problem, we’d care, but seeing as it’s just you…”  Or, to put it another way, “Screw you, suckers! We’re not going to fix your stupid Internet until an angry mob beats a path to our door and demands we FIX THE INTERNET NOW.”

Trust me, I was totally willing to arrange this. I’m sure Rubin and I could totally act like an “angry mob”. No, really.

Anyway, that wasn’t the worst thing The Imps of Satan did to us today. No, the worst thing they did was slam down the phone when Terry called them back an hour later to ask what was going on. (And trust me, Terry was perfectly polite to the operator. She just slammed the phone down on him because she was a bitch.) Oh, and they also blatantly lied to him at one point too, just to get him off the phone. This was confirmed by the supervisor he eventually got to speak to after about two hours of no Internet, and another mad bout of house cleaning from me.

After that we gave up and resorted to dial-up. I know! Rocking it 1999 style! It was more or less the same as the day before when the computer had been on the Go Slow, only worse, because by then I wanted to break something – preferably something at Virgin Media.

So, it’s now 9pm, and I’ve only just finished making up the time I’ve lost. I haven’t even had time to think about packing the iron and all that stuff, although I have found time to worry quite a bit about dying a fiery death as my plane plummets to the ground on Saturday, because that whole “Not worrying about the flying” thing I was talking about earlier this week?”  Oh how young and naive I was back then! Thanks for all of the “plane crashing into the ocean” dreams you’ve served up in the intervening nights, subconscious! Is the hypochondria not enough of a stick for you to beat me with? Sheesh.

Anyway. The broadband connection is working again, although for how long, who knows. The work is finally either done or abandoned, because GOD, there’s only so much you can do with slow-speed dial-up, you know?

I have wine in the fridge. And a really, really clean house in which to drink it. And Virgin Media? I am SO coming to poke you in the eye, don’t you forget it…

UPDATE: For the benefit of anyone reading this in the future, as the result of a Google search, I am no longer intent on poking Virgin Media in the eye, and you can read the update to this story here.

  1. One time when my net was running slow to not at all, I called the AT&T customer (non-)support line and a recording said “Some customers in Daly City, Alameda, Los Gatos, Glendale, El Cajon and surrounding areas might be experiencing difficulty with their DSL connections. We are working to fix the problem.” You possibly never heard of any of these places as they are small municipalities. However the “and surrounding areas” clause also means San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. In other words, the ENTIRE STATE was experiencing a net meltdown, but they didn’t want to admit it as such. Cretins.

  2. Amber,

    If you want to e-mail me some contact details I'll see if I can find someone to help.

    Apologies for the inconvenience caused.


    Alex Brown
    Product Management
    Virgin Media

    PS Came up in a Google Alert!

  3. Oh boy! I'll remember this when we move in a couple of weeks and start looking for new broadband providers!

    We had an interesting time last year when Darth Vader took up residence on our phone line, and BT managed to break everything in an attempt to fix the problem (and then proudly claimed to have sorted it all out…!): http://tinyurl.com/5dt2fa

    Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Must have missed all this, I didnt have any problems, maybe I was out when it happened, bummer if you really need the internet and rely on it…havent had a problem in ages with virgin…if its broadband you mean well that's another story…or maybe its just my tv..hope you are now problem free and packing and have a nice wee break

  5. Ouch. I just got re-connected after two months of rubbishy internet service. Mind you, that was the fault of a damaged router and not our service provider (that said, our service provider have a habit of being incompetant idiots who routinely send incorrect bills to wrongly spelled names in *different houses*).

    Having no internet gives you a lot of free time. I finally started putting my clothes away (eight months after moving in).

  6. This should now be sorted Amber, sorry for the inconvenience. John from our complaints office has been in touch I believe.

    Have a great weekend.

    Alex Brown
    Product Management
    Virgin Media

  7. Hi Alex,

    Yes, we have been in contact with the complaints office, who have resolved this enquiry, although they do unfortunately maintain that if the service goes down again, we will have to wait for our neighbours to come home from work and hope they call to complain.

    Hopefully we won't encounter any more hangups or rudeness – we have, however, had another outage this afternoon which has just cost me my Friday evening!

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