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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

No Phone or Internet for 12 days

Imagine it - being cut off from the entire cyber world for 12 days and, even worse, being unable to receive telephone calls or dial out. The only lifeline to our outside world was my mobile - Mrs Bluelights does not have one or even want one being a bit of a Luddite.  We take communications for granted these days, don't we, and it is only when we have none that we realise just how much we depend on them, particularly the telephone.

Until recently our service provider was TALK TALK and they have been distinguished by their deplorable service during the entire month because we had two phone/internet breakdowns and each time I had great difficulty restoring the service on our British Telecom line on which TALK TALK provides it's service. The first occasion was when BT dug up the pavement across the road to repair a fault for one of my neighbours.  Result, our telephone did not work properly but the Internet did because the line was not totally dead.  Next morning, although we still could receive no incoming calls I did manage to dial out on a very weak line to TALK TALK's fault line, feeling confident I would soon be able to report the fault and get it resolved quickly.  Little did I know just how difficult was the task which lay before me.  I had to go down an automated voice route and the choices on the menu did not match my situation exactly and all I wanted was to speak to a human being.  Oh no! - not possible!  I did eventually end up at the right place and this android lady asked me to key my telephone number onto my key pad including area code followed by the hash key.  I felt this request a little odd because I was actually talking to their organisation and being a company specialising in communications I thought it not unreasonable for them to be able to recognise my telephone number which was actually live on their system.  By hey ho! I duly obliged and keyed it in but was horrified to hear this alien female voice informing me that they did not recognise that telephone number!!  My mind blew and my forehead was getting hotter.  Had I had the luxury of actually speaking to a real person I would probably have said, "What! This is nonsense!  I'm speaking to you on this number you silly cow, how the hell can you not recognise it!".  Instead I was baffled at their next utterence! "Thank you for talking to TALK TALK, please be assured we are striving to improve our service and would be grateful if you would answer a few questions for our customer service department grading your replies from 1 to 5, good day".  With that they left me dangling listening to some horrible head bashing music which was carefully chosen to raise my blood pressure even higher.  How the hell did they expect a decent score when clearly they would be lucky to get 0 because I had not even been able to report the fault?  I slammed the phone down and had a cup of coffeee.  I then proceeded to go through the whole palarva again striving to find a way of reporting the fault.  The result - exactly the same!!  In desparation I thought the only was to reach a human being may be to go through to their sales department.  I tried it and . . . . . bingo!! . . . . . a member of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.  But wait a minute, I could not understand him!!  The call centre was in an eastern country somewhere.  I asked him to speak slowly and clearly so I could understand him and he promptly informed me that his English was 'velly, velly good and he was top of his class'.  I told him I was trying to report a fault and got total nonsense from a mechanised automated voice and wanted to speak to a real person, hence my call to him and would he kindly transfer me to someone, anyone, who may take my call to get an engineer on the case. "Velly good, sir, I give you this direct line".  I said thank you and tried the number . . . . . and frustration upon frustration . . . . another series of automated voices, but this time a menu choice seemed to fit my situation better and I managed to reach . . . . . . . a human!!  Hooray!!  An oriental lady asked me for my telephone number!  I resisted temptation to call her a silly cow and shouting . . . . "I'm speaking on it! you blethering idiot".  After a lot of questions I was transferred to . . . . . you've guessed it . . . . another automated voice which promptly asked me for my mobile number but before I could answer with this vital information so they could contact me she said, "Please put the phone down so we can start some tests which should last up to an hour. Thank you for calling TALK TALK."  . . . . . silence.

I was left wondering, what am I to do now?  I am left dangling in mid air!.  After another cup of coffee and 2 hours later I rang the number again and was asked by yet another automated voice, "Please key in your telephone number including your area code, followed by the hash key."  "Here we go again!" I said to myself, and yes, the reply was, "I am sorry, we do not recognise that number, thank you for calling TALK TALK!" Call ended . . . . silence.  I rang the sales department yet again and reached another male overseas voice, equally indistinct.  I reported the incident and he gave me a different number which I tried.  This time I was informed that this android actually recognised the number but there was a fault on it and it had been reported to the engineers. "I know there is a fault on it, you cretin! - I REPORTED IT!!!", I felt like saying!  The voice asked me for my mobile number which I keyed in and promptly the line went dead.  No explanations, no reassurances, no apologies . . . . . nothing!!  I had had enough by now because I was totally stressed out. Not good for heart or blood pressure.

I received a text message informing me that there was 'an issue with my phone line and the matter would be rectified withing 72 hours'.  "WHAAAAAT! 72 blooming hours!!!  I replied, "This is totally unacceptable",  and sent my text reply.  Result, my reply failed!! I tried again and it failed again!! I tried again . . . . . failed. 

I received yet another text message saying they hoped to resolve my line issue in . . . . . yes, you've guessed it . . . . . . 72 hours!"  I did not know whether to laugh or cry!  Surely they're taking the piss!

Two days later, after, several frustrating calls, the line was restored to normal . . . . . thank God.  I received another text message informing me that they considered the fault had been repaired and would I kindly reply by text FIXED or UNFIXED and they would take the appropriate action.  I tried several times to reply FIXED but each time my reply failed.  For a communications organisation I am utterly amazed that their entire communications ethos is such an enormous pile of crap! Next door's cat would have made a better job of it.

Well I did say there was another fault LOL . . . . . . . and there was . . . and this time the story is much more complicated and far harder for me to resolve.  I look forward to telling the story next time.  A must read. It is a total riot looking back on it.

Meanwhile, it is so nice to be back on line.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Get Three People Across River For $5 Conundrum

Here I am with my famous thinking hat LOL.
This post is another 'oldie' maths problem on which I am putting a modern day slant, plus a well known older version (famous at least here in the UK).  The problem is based on two incredibly stubborn characters, one of whom we met last time, the stingy Mr X with moths in his wallet and the nice one, non other than Eddie Bluelights himself! Why? - because I am writing it, of course! LOL. Three people have to get across a river to a party and Mr X has a rowing boat and insists on charging $2 each to row them across. "Extortionate", says Eddie, and he will have none of it.  He says the most he will pay is $5 for the three, himself and two attractive ladies (why? because I am writing it, you silly Gumbos and it makes the problem more interesting having such nice companions). Both ladies are tall, one has long jet black hair and the other is a fiery red head.  Unfortunately there is no room in this story for a blonde lady this time . . . she might step on my toe and break it, so I will leave her out.  Mr X will not budge so the three have a pow wow as to the best way of solving the problem of paying just $5. "Eddie, dear!", said the brunette, that man reminds me of someone who lives in a haunted house, quick let's give him the slip. I'd rather walk than get in his rowing boat!".  "And me!", said the red head.  "That's it!", said Eddie, "we'll walk half way and then I'll go back for the boat.  With him not doing anything and me doing the rowing I'm sure he will agree to $3. Then I'll and row myself back, pick you up, drop you off and row back and ask him to row me across for $2 - making $5 in all and not $6 he he."  "You clever man, you, and hey if you manage to pull it off I'll show you my Zydeco."  "And I'll show you my Jitterbug", said the red head. "How can I resist?", said Eddie, as the three started walking into the river.  Half way the two ladies were completely out of sight, but Eddie knew they were alright because he was holding their hands.  He floundered back to see Mr X who agreed the price of $3 since Eddie was rowing.  Eddie, pulled on the oars as fast as he could back to the middle of the river and fished the ladies out. They looked like two red faced shrimps but he landed them unceremoniously into the boat and rowed them across.  He indeed rowed back and Mr X rowed him across for another $2. Sorry ladies, you got a bit wet there - perhaps you should have tried swimming. "Well done, cher!"

Anyway, this story has been told before and in 1933 Marriott Edgar wrote a monologue recorded by Stanley Holloway, called "Runcorn Ferry".  This time the three people wanting to get across the river Mersey in Lancashire, were Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom and their son, Albert.  The two towns are Runcorn and Widnes, where I was born . . . and in the monologue nobody wants to visit LOL.  Mr X's predecessor is old Ted the boatman, who used to row folks across for, "Tuppence per person per trip! . . . . or per part of per trip."

Of course both the rowing boat and the transporter bridge have long gone but I do remember the old transporter bridge and travelling across it as a boy.  The river Mersey certainly does not look inviting for a walk across so I would definitely have gladly paid 6 pence for three LOL. Enjoy the monologue. Oh! and the Zydeco and Jitterbug are two types of dances . . . . just in case you wondered.

I am still very busy outside Blogsville but could not resist this one LOL. With all the work I am doing my face is as red as a shrimp as well LOL.

Oh! and there is a feature about the Royal Wedding on my other blog, Plato's Procrastinations which contains some rather dubious footage. There - that's grabbed your interest - see HERE for a laugh.