Paying attention to the moving parts

This number’s going out to American Telephone & Telegraph.

So for most of Friday, I was without the internet due to incompetence and aggressive sales bullshit via AT&T.  [I’m just gonna come out and say that I’ve had little to no problems with them since 2005, but this past week I’ve gotten what has to be the worst customer service I’ve ever had in my life.  We are planning to leave them as soon as it is technically possible.]

I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that I know exactly what went wrong.  Several things, actually, including:

–Lack of smooth transition.  One would think that going from DSL to fiber optic lines would consist of making sure the wiring was correct, and that your customer has the needed hardware (in this case, the router) before the transition takes place, yes?  In this case, the internet was turned off on Monday morning at 7:30am PT sharp, and the router was not to arrive until late Tuesday afternoon via UPS 2nd Day.

–Call centers with the minimal amount of training possible. I feel for you, call center people.  I do.  I worked in the same position for a year when I moved out here to San Francisco, and it SUCKED.  Not only are you trained minimally, you’re trained to stick to a script (I have no idea how many times I’ve heard the same confirmation questions asked of me verbatim over the course of all those hours).  And when you get a situation like mine, where the script is not going to work, you end up stuttering, trying to steer the conversation back to said script, and the customer will only get more pissed off.

–Interdepartmental conversation consisted of calls cold-transferred and work tickets not cancelled.  After finally fixing the problem after six hours (and talking to far too many people and explaining my issue from the beginning at least twenty times), I got my DSL internet back.

Until Thursday night, when it was turned off again.

The original work ticket to turn off the DSL, which I’d asked them numerous times to be cancelled, was not, and I was without internet for sixteen hours this time.

–And instead of turning it back on this time, they aggressively stated that they could not do so because DSL was going away and I’d need to go to Uverse whether I wanted to or not.  No emergency fix, no admittance of fucking up.  The only reason we gave in is because by that time, we’d signed up for a new carrier (which should hopefully become a reality within the month), and that the both of us needed the internet so we could do our Day Jobs.


So.  Why is this on a writing blog?

Because, dear reader, this is what happens when you force yourself to write passages that are doomed to failure and refuse to admit that the story is Just. Not. Working.  The more you try to force a story to conform to flawed logic, the more it’s going to fail.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the best prose you’ve ever written…if it sticks out like a flaming tire fire, the reader is sure to see it the same way.  And you really don’t want that.

I’m guilty of doing this, I’m sure you are too.

But remember: that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed the entire project.  You’ve just failed in one segment of a much larger plot you may be able to save.  Sometimes you have to fail that one really incredibly frustrating, aggravating time…but that also means that you can now restart from a much safer, much stronger and stabler foundation, and that means that if you’ve learned your lesson and move in the right direction this time, you’re bound to come up with something that will make your story a hell of a lot better than it already is.  Sometimes you need to take that one step back to make the two steps forward.

Lesson learned:  Don’t give up completely.  You did not fail.  And if you can see all the places where you went wrong (just as I can see all the places where AT&T went wrong), then you’ll know exactly what to avoid when you start moving forward again.

Go ahead and get pissed off.  Get it out of your system.  But get back up on your feet, dust yourself off, and be that damned thorn in the story’s side until it works for you again.

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