Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

December 4th, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Incompetence Incorporated

You might recall my earlier tale of woe about OnTera Communications. These pinheads used to provide digital television, local and long distance, and Internet access. When they made “improvements” to the Internet access, they broke it, and they were so hideously bad in dealing with me, I switched companies. Now my television and Internet service are through Time Warner Cablevision, and my long distance is AT&T. I still use OnTera for local dialtone, because if I want to switch, I have to change my phone number.

But when I was jumping ship from OnTera, I had two phone lines. I told them to terminate the Internet access, long distance, digital television and the second line. That was three months ago.

The television and long distance got terminated. The Internet access and second line were still on my next bill. So I call them up. “No problem” they say.

Dial tone on the second line never goes away. I call them back. “No problem,” says the guy at customer service. “We show that the other line is disconnected.”

“Really. That’s interesting. Because I’m still getting a dial tone on that line. So either I have a free dial tone, or I’m going to get billed for this yet again on my next bill. You care to make a wager which one it’s going to be?”

The guy at OnTera wasn’t a gambling man. He said he’d report it.

Next bill I get, sure enough, still paying for the second line, because it’s still not disconnected. I call them back. “No problem,” they say. “Your bill has been credited for the Internet access and second line charges, and the line will be disconnected.”

Two days later, it’s Friday, and >Conny and I are leaving to visit my family in Massachusetts. I’m pulling up to apartment to pick her up with the rental car. I call the apartment with my cell phone to let her know to come down.

“The number you have reached has been disconnected.”

They disconnected the wrong number.

After double-parking and collecting Conny View definition in a new window, we hit the road, and I call OnTera back. “Get me a supervisor. Now.” I read them the riot act. “You must fix this now,” I tell them.

“No problem,” they say. “We will get the line up right away.”

When we return Sunday night, still no phone service. So I call them up. “Where’s my damn dial tone?”

“There’s no problem,” says the supervisor. “We checked out the number, and it’s not disconnected. I even got your voice mail.”

“You fuckwits. The voice mail is on the line you are supposed to disconnect. That’s the second line. You disconnected the primary line. How many different ways can you screw something up?”

As I was soon to learn, lots.

“No problem,” she says. “We will fix it right away.”

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe you,” I say. I ask for the name of the person the person she reports too, and the number for the corporate offices. She tells me her bosses name, and gives me a phone number.

I call the number. It’s not the number for the corporate office. It’s another customer service number. Smooth. Yahoo finance gets me the corporate number, and armed with a name, I find the guys extension in the directory.

I calmly explain the nightmare I’m living in thanks to the idiocy his company is dispensing to me over the past three months, culminating in total loss of phone service. I emphasize the magnitude of the ineptitude of his firm. It’s so bad, another tenant started a petition for the Public Service Commission to complain. When I signed it, there were already fifty signatures on it, and this was at 7AM. He knew about the petition, and shrugged it off. Then he assured me he’ll personally take care of getting my line reconnected.

And, I’ll say this, I actually got a call back from him later in the day with his progress. Of course, the problem wasn’t with OnTera, but some other company who deals with the switches. Whatever. The problem is with OnTera, regardless, because they are ultimately responsible for my service, not some subcontractor. But Mr. Head Of Customer Service uses that as the excuse, and assures me things will soon be all better.

Next day, still no dial tone. I call up Mr. Head of Bad Service and leave a voice mail. “No service still,” I say. “What are you going to do to make this right?”

A few hours later, my phone rings. I have service again. Mr. Customer Neglect offers a feeble apology. “These things happen,” he informs me. “Sorry.”

Sorry? How much do you want to bet I won’t even be credited for the four days of no phone service? Throw me a frickin’ bone, dirt bag.

I check the other line, and amazingly, it’s disconnected. Well well well. That only took three months and two dozen phone calls.

At this point, you’d think it would be done, but don’t worry. OnTera is creative, and they work hard to find ways to screw up. Some genius decided to move the voice mail from my second line to my primary line. I don’t even have access to that voice mail box, I let >Midori use it and the second line when she stayed here last year. If any messages go to that voice mail, they are lost to me.

So I call OnTera. “Remove the voice mail,” I say. “Now.”

“No problem,” they say. That was two days ago. It’s still not removed.


There was a notice in mail box from the building owners. Seems they are going to terminate service with OnTera there’s so many complaints. Brought a smile to my face.

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