Should I Laugh or Cry?

What do you do when the people who are supposed to be helping you make a situation worse? Not knowing what else to do, I resorted to writing this letter out of frustration.

July 27, 2019

To Whom It May Concern:

I can’t begin to express my frustration adequately for the ineptitude and outright dishonesty that we have dealt with over the past two weeks.  When I decided to write a letter (something I rarely do) to express my anger, I couldn’t even find a place to send it.  All companies have to have some way of contacting them to express a complaint or concern, but this has been extremely challenging.  Today I’ve searched online, called several phone numbers, and tried “live” chat.  (This feature wasn’t live as it just gave automated prompts.)  Even the people I spoke with on the phone could not find an HR department for me to send this letter.  I’m bringing it to my local provider in the hopes that this will eventually find its way to the correct party.  I do want to state that all of our issues were finally resolved today by the first competent and helpful technician that we encountered. His name was Brian L. (Eureka, California) and he deserves full credit for leading us out of this nightmare which we should never have had to experience.

Historically, we have had quite a few issues with loss of services, (primarily television, but also phone and Internet) with Suddenlink.  It happens so frequently that we’ve gotten quite used to calling the number.  90% of the time, the problem can’t be solved remotely, and we end up having a technician come out to our home.  In some cases, this can take more than a week.  This situation seems ridiculous when it comes to being without cable, phone, or Internet service for that length of time, but sometimes that is the only answer we get.

The latest fiasco was so awful that I have fully documented it so that you can see how horrible and unprofessional this entire experience was:

  1. We lost phone service sometime during the week of July 15th.  We called the Suddenlink number, went through the guided prompts, and were unable to resolve the matter.  An appointment was set up for July 21st (Sunday) between the hours of 8:00-12:00 to resolve our phone issue.  No one showed up, and we did not receive a phone call.
  2. The following day, July 22nd (Monday), we called Suddenlink again and were told that our technician would be coming out to help us that day between the hours of 1:00-5:00.  We would not have known this without our call because no one had bothered to contact us.

We learned upon the agent’s arrival that he was acting as a subcontractor for Suddenlink.  My wife noted that he had a Minnesota license plate on his vehicle, and she asked him about that.  The gentleman said that he had come out to California along with ten other people to work for Suddenlink.  Unprompted, he began badmouthing Suddenlink for not keeping their promises to him.  He went on to say that it didn’t matter if he helped three or six customers a day; he would receive the same pay either way.  He was angry about this.  It was completely unprofessional on his part to tell my wife about any of this.  He added that he was going to be quitting at the end of the month and going back to Minnesota.  None of this pertained to us; we only wanted our phone service restored.  He worked on the phone, but he was unable to solve the problem.  He called one of his supervisors who also came out to the house to assist him.  The two gentlemen felt that our home alarm system had somehow disrupted our phone service.  They were able to restore our phone service, but they indicated that there might be a short in the alarm system, which was causing the phone problem.  They recommended that we contact the alarm company to have them come out to check the alarm.

Two minutes after they left, I tried to utilize my computer and realized that the Internet was no longer working.  We called Suddenlink (there is no local number to call) because we were hoping to have the men come back to remedy this problem. They had created this situation by not hooking the line back up correctly.  The person we spoke to over the phone tried to correct the problem remotely (impossible, since we later learned that the subcontractor had caused the issue.) Rather than having the technicians come back then, we learned that the soonest someone could come out to help us would be Friday, July 26th. That was a full five days later!  Coincidentally, this was the same time that we had scheduled the alarm company to come out.  We were upset that we would have to wait five more days to have the Internet, but at least both parties would be here to resolve the matter.

I was traveling on July 26th, and my wife waited for both parties to show up.  The alarm company’s representative showed up right on time and checked the system.  He indicated there was nothing wrong with the alarm (no short as the Suddenlink employees had deduced).  We had to pay an unnecessary service charge to have them come out.  (My wife thinks it was $70 or $75, but we’ll find out when we get the bill.)  For the second time, no Sudden Link technician showed up or called to indicate he was delayed or not coming.  At this point, we had no Internet since July 21st, and our phone service had been intermittent.

After the allotted time had passed, my wife called Suddenlink again to see where the technician was.  The agent on the phone said that the service call was still pending and didn’t know where he was.  Even more frustrating, our television service had now quit workingIn summary, we went from having just a phone issue to not having any of our services five days later.  No service after the “help” that we received. My wife called Suddenlink again to set up another appointment for Saturday, July 27th, and we learned the agent would come between the hours of 1:00-5:00.

My wife was understandably upset with all of the delays and decided to go directly to the local Suddenlink office in Eureka to find out what was going on.  The person in the office on Friday (July 26th) was new and said that the technician should have come out.  My wife asked to speak to his supervisor to get more clarification about what was going on.  The supervisor would not address my wife directly but talked to his employee who relayed the notes from the technician.  We learned that this was the same person who came out to our house once and failed to show up twice.  The technician’s notes included two outright lies.  He indicated that he had come to our house to provide service, knocked on our door, but nobody answered (Lie #1).  He further stated that he had called our number to let us know that he had attempted to provide service (Lie #2).  Our phone was not working at all on the 26th, but when service finally resumed on the 27th, there was no indication of any message left.  My wife also checked her cellphone, and there was no sign of any phone call from him.

At this point, we had invested at least 15 hours on the phone or waiting for a technician who failed to show up twice.  We started with a phone issue and nearly two weeks later with the subcontractor’s “help,” we had no phone, cable, or Internet.  Also, we are going to be billed $70 or $75 from the alarm company (Advanced Security) when we called them out based on your technician’s (the subcontractor) diagnosis.

Finally, a local Suddenlink technician, Brian L., arrived on July 27th (Saturday) and addressed all of our problems (phone, cable, and Internet) in a fast and courteous manner.  He indicated that the subcontractor had failed to hook up our Internet correctly, which was why it wasn’t working. I’m not sure why the subcontractor had to deal with this in the first place regarding a phone issue, but you guys are supposed to be the experts.  These issues added a lot of unnecessary stress on us; we haven’t been receiving services we’re paying for.  It is particularly aggravating to learn that your representatives caused the bulk of the problems instead of remedying them.  We sincerely appreciated Brian’s professionalism and expertise and wished we had him the first time we encountered an issue.

At the very least, I feel that we are owed a massive apology from Suddenlink along with payment ($70 or $75) for our unnecessary service call to the alarm company.  This whole experience has been very inconvenient and frustrating.  I don’t think it’s too much to expect competent help when we encounter problems. 

I look forward to reading your response to my complaint.

Sincerely,

Pete Springer 

Added Note (Not Included in Letter)

The technician who came to the rescue (Brian L.) had somewhat of a familiar face.  After he fixed everything, in under an hour, I asked him if he went to school locally.  He stated that he graduated from Arcata High (my alma mater, coincidentally).  I told him that I taught thirty-one years in elementary school in nearby Eureka.  He asked me where I was a teacher, and suddenly we remembered one another.  I taught him for part of his second-grade year, as he transferred during the school year.  We got a kick out of our reunion, and I shook his hand vigorously and thanked him again for helping us out.  He had the funniest reaction.  He said, “I just want to apologize for the person I was in those days.” There was nothing to apologize for.  He was a typical second-grade boy, full of energy and excited to learn. 

Because I live in the same city I taught in, I have had this situation happen many times over the years.  Typically, I recognize my former students (who are now adults), and this wonderful feeling never gets old.  I know my retired colleagues will agree that these encounters are one of the delayed rewards of teaching.     

29 thoughts on “Should I Laugh or Cry?

  1. Your footnote is a much more enjoyable read than the content of your letter, Peter.
    What a frustrating situation. I hope you get some recompense but it is unacceptable to be without services these days. Our lives are totally depended on them. Your letter would be a good model for teaching others how to write in the genre.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 2, 2019 — 9:43 am

      It really is a hopeless feeling, Norah, especially in this day and age when we rely on these services. Yes, having my former student bail us out was almost (not quite, wink) worth the price of admission.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Pete. I’ve just spent the weekend without email. Grrr. Fortunately it took only one 30 minute call to sort it out. 🙂
        PS I had a look at your book on Amazon but it is not available for the Kindle. Do you have any plans for it to be available as an ebook? Other than picture books (and even some of those) I tend to do most of my reading on my iPad or through audiobooks now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor August 4, 2019 — 8:38 am

        Gosh, it’s frustrating when we can’t access the things we’re accustomed to using as part of our daily lives. I hope you don’t have a repeat performance with your email. In regards to my book, I am going to make it available on Kindle soon, and thanks for looking into it. I wrote it without any kind of long-range plan, but it’s clear now that I can’t let my naivety get in the way.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m excited about a Kindle version, Pete. Please don’t leave it too long. I’m looking forward to reading it. (My email is playing up again – another phone call needed tomorrow. *sigh*.)

        Like

  2. What as horror story. I had to Google Suddenlink, never heard of them and now I want to forget them. Luckily, our service is Cox–a bit pricey but pretty good. Glad the problems are solved!

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 2, 2019 — 9:47 am

      How is this for a coincidence, Jacqui? Our cable company used to be Cox before Suddenlink bought them out about fifteen-twenty years ago. They are the only game in town—unless we want to get a satellite dish for television.

      Like

  3. How lovely that something good should come out of an intolerable situation, Pete…What a catalogue of errors.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 2, 2019 — 9:51 am

      Absolutely, Carol! That was the best part of our horror story. I’m one of those people who get along with everyone, but I get pretty fired up when I feel I’ve been wronged.

      Like

  4. They must be the twin of Comcast “we don’t care, we don’t have to.” My total sympathy.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 2, 2019 — 1:33 pm

      Ha-ha! I’ve never heard that slogan before. Did you create that, Elizabeth or is that common vernacular used by Comcast users? I may invent a book of slogans for all the companies who have never heard of customer service. My favorite comment (I literally laughed out loud) was when the poor person on the phone tried to help me find a place to send my letter. She searched for five minutes, came back on the line, and told me, “I don’t think we have one of those.” (about who to contact in the HR department)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I made it up as far as I know. I love the absence of the HR department! Just read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the concentrated effort businesses are using to see how much customers will put up with before they bolt. It was as sinister as you might suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pete I so enjoy your writings keep it up. Norma

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 2, 2019 — 8:45 pm

      Thanks, Norma. It feels good to have reconnected after all these years. You are an inspiration!

      Like

  6. Just terrible! I would have been tempted to call the local TV station, as they will often run a news piece on horror stories like this. The good part was connecting with your former student. I love it when that happens!

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 4, 2019 — 8:52 am

      It isn’t in my nature to stir up trouble—we just wanted access to the things we use daily, especially since we’re paying for them. Human nature is a curious thing, and how in certain situations, we’re apt to respond in more vociferous ways. Would any of us not say anything in a restaurant if we ordered one thing, but we’re brought something different?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said, Pete. This was so blatantly wrong it needed your voice.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Although I feel your frustration and wish this had gone better for you Pete, I also feel a slight sense of relief that life in the USA is not 100% perfect. It makes my own situation with ineffective service seem a bit less of a South Africa problem and a bit more global. Have a good week and I hope everything stays working.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 4, 2019 — 10:41 pm

      Likewise for you, Robbie. Our country has far too many problems. Perhaps the most concerning these days is our society is filled with so much violence and rage. It seems that blogging is my small civilized way to communicate with people around the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Boy, can I empathize! We have a monopoly here in NC, so when things go wrong we may or may not get help within 1,2,3,4, you name a number of days. Sometimes the technicians know what they are doing, sometimes not! We finally bought an Ellipsis Jt pack from Verizon – cost us $20 month but worth it, like our generator, because we never know when we will lose the internet or power. So grindingly frustrating.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 5, 2019 — 7:45 pm

      Sorry to hear about that, Noelle. Competition is the one thing that can improve customer service. Meanwhile, I’m pining away waiting for an insincere apology that will probably never come. Ha-ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh wow Pete, you have certainly been caught in the chasing circles web of Mercury Retrograde when all communications are snafued. Sounds like the nightmares I sometimes have to deal with my communications providers. So glad you finallyyyyyyyy found someone competent. 🙂

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 5, 2019 — 7:32 pm

      Right, Debby. I’ve been reading (notice I didn’t say enjoying) about all of your craziness lately. It’s like we’re having a competition to see who can have the worst day. Hey, I’ll let you win this one. Better luck to both of us moving forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cheers to that Pete. And it aint over yet, stay buckled my friend! I’m just about to put out a post on a weekend full of more craziness. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Brian sounds like a professional with great customer service – and bonus that you went to school together! How frustrating about the issues with that particular company though. Not only should they pay for the alarm service fee but also your time without the phone and services should be taken off of your bill! When I lost home Internet service before, I asked my provider at the time to deduct the time it was off. A quality company will read your letter and take action to rectify things for you. If they do not, I hope there is a competitor locally for you who can step up and be the service provider that you and your wife deserve!

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor August 13, 2019 — 7:01 pm

      Not a peep from them thus far. Although since Brian came to the rescue, we haven’t had any problems. He’s on my speed dial.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a frustrating experience. I don’t blame you for writing to them.

    Like

    1. petespringerauthor September 8, 2019 — 9:59 am

      It’s been weeks, and they are still ignoring me. Does anyone like to be ignored?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mm… Last time that happened to me, I found out who was at top of the hierarchy and let the storm rain down. I found it rather enlightening.

        Liked by 1 person

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