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This Entry is Rated:
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03/03/06 | 1:22AM
Phone Hell

At work, I am in the middle of switching our stores over from dial-up connections to a frame-relay WAN. With the first 2 sites - Brandon and Tampa - this has been a breeze. But with our other 2 stores - New Port Richey and Palm Harbor - it has been hell. That's because the 1st 2 are on a traditional frame relay circuit. But, to save money, we went with this "naked" DSL for the other 2 sites. (Yes, that is the technical term for it). The naked DSL maps to a frame relay circuit via ATM, then goes over a T1 to our corporate (host) site. From there, they can either access the GERS server (GERS = retail software/database system) or go out to the internet. At least in theory. I honestly don't think Verizon has figured out how this naked DSL works yet!

To begin with, they sent out Adtran Netvanta routers to me. I set up Brandon and Tampa as one normally would - by doing routing. But New Port Richey would not work. Why? After a VZ technician actually showed up on site to work on it, and after several calls to other technicians, the answer was because naked DSL cannot be routed, it must be bridged. Oh, and by the way, the router at your host site can only route or bridge, but not both. My only options were to either reconfigure the Tampa, Brandon, and host site routers to do bridging, or replace the host site router with a Cisco that can do both. Obviously, it made more sense to replace the one router than to drive all over Tampa Bay to reconfigure 3 routers, with the sites being down during the whole process.

That was last week. The project got delayed while we prepared for the grand opening of the Palm Harbor store, which opened Friday. This morning, with the Cisco router in place and reconfigured, I show up at Palm Harbor at 6 AM to get the DSL going. But strangely enough, the router there cannot ping the corporate router. I call the DSL support line and, after going through some basics, I'm told that someone at the corporate site needs to connect to the Cisco router and see what the traffic looks like there. (Did I mention that I am the entire IT department?). So, I call a Verizon engineer (same one that figured out the whole "bridging thing" in New Port Richey), and he sends out a tech to the corporate office. I ping, he pings. We got nothing. Packets going out.....no packets coming back in. He gets the DSL repair department on the phone with us. We configure the DSL modem. Should be working now....but it's not. An hour and 1/2 later, the DSL Repair department guy gives up and tells us it's probably the DSL modem we're using (a Westell 2200). We really should have been sent a Westell 2100, he says. Call VTP (that's Verizon Teleproducts) and request a new modem overnighted to you.

Simple enough, you say? You say wrong! VTP can't even find my account after I give them the name, the DSL phone #, the main telephone #, the 2nd and 3rd telephone #s....finally we figure out that it's under what used to be the original line #1 of that store, which we did a phone number change on as soon as the line was installed. (And the reason it's under this phone # is because Verizon accidentally installed the DSL on this line instead of the fax line, but that was fixed by Friday, and a whole other story). Unfortunately, VTP tells me, once they found me, that they are not the right department, but they will transfer me to billing (billing?? but I don't ask...) who can help me. Billing can't find me AT ALL. Though I'm not entirely sure if it was their computer system or the below-average intelligence of the person I got in billing. (Hate to be mean, but sometimes you can just tell, you know? When they are reading the script and they mispronounce the word "assistance"...). Apparentally, in "billing"'s system, we don't even exist. But, not to worry, she has the number of the department that can help me! I tell her it had better not be Verizon Teleproducts at 1-888-XXX-XXXX. Meekly: "that's the number I was going to give you." Silence. And more silence. I can tell this newbie is stumped and I've had enough. I tell her that I'm going to call my account rep.

My account rep is taking the day off. Great. I press "0" after getting his voicemail to get to my account management team. I manage to describe the situation I'm in to the account rep that answers the phone. I might add, rather calmly, given the circumstances. Account rep "S" says that she cannot help me there, but, not to worry! She has the # of the department I need: the naked DSL department! There's a whole department just for this! Surely, this must be the right place! I call them and then, for what feels like the millionth time, tell them the whole story. (Because, of course, you can't just request 2 more modems, oh no. You must explain why you need them and how you came to know this). I am placed on hold. She comes back with the news: this is not the right department. The right department is.....(drumroll).....DSL Repair! Yes, the very same DSL Repair department that I spoke to hours ago who informed me that I needed the modems replaced in the first place!! I'm now seeing double and breathing fire, but I manage to stay calm and polite. Because it's not her fault. (And herin lies the problem. There is not one person to blame. The whole organization is just flawed). The nice lady says she will transfer me through the "back door" to DSL Repair. And, if they give me any trouble about them not being the ones to send me the modems, she gave me her supervisor's name and number for the next person to call, if need be.

She puts me on hold while I wait to be transferred. She comes back to tell me that the wait time is 45 minutes for DSL Repair. And that she's very sorry. I believe that she is, but what can you do? I hold. And hold.....And hold and hold and hold....45 minutes later, give-or-take, I get a live person. By this point, I almost forget why I called because I'm so brain-dead, but, I remember and I tell her - it's another nice lady. But this lady tells me that, normally, they do not send out replacement modems unless a technician from Verizon is on-site and confirms that this is something that is truly needed. I remind her that a technician was here with me this morning!!! Luckily, the tech had given me his cell phone number, so she calls it to confirm my story. (THANK GOD I had his number. I can only imagine what new circle of hell would have befallen me had I not!). She gets back on the line, after putting me on hold and calling him. She tells me she can order the modems. And she does. And she even gives me her name, number and extension if they are not in by Friday. I told her to tell her supervisor that she deserves a raise. I hope that conversation was recorded for quality assurance.

I began dealing with the DSL not working at 6 AM. It was then noon. Is this the way things are supposed to work? I sure hope not. Now I just wait on the new modems. And pray they work. Because the way it sounded to me, the original DSL Repair guy was out of ideas and replacing the modems was his last idea.

- Verizon H8er ID: 49BC80

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