George Graham

Life in the Twilight Zone

internetSandra is convinced that I live in the Twilight Zone, and I don’t blame her. I have experiences that defy all accepted concepts of reality.

Today, for example, I got trapped in the virtual world of my internet provider’s “customer service.” My head is still reeling from the experience.

You will recall, if you read my blogs, that I decided to give up on Verizon because it seemed I was spending more time trying to restore my internet service than I spent using it. The provider I chose was EarthLink.

They were offering high-speed service at $29 and some cents a month.

As scheduled, a service truck showed up and a technician installed the requisite cables and modem. The truck had a Bright House logo on it, and the service guy explained Bright House did the Earthlink connections in my neighborhood.

I gave the guy a check for the first month – $29 and some cents.

A few days later, I received a package from EarthLink in the mail, welcoming me profusely and offering me Norton virus protection for an extra $6 a month. I accepted the offer and duly loaded the CD they enclosed.

When I received my first bill, it was from Bright House, not EarthLink. And when I contacted EarthLink, they said I was not their customer because I was “unavailable” when the service man came to hook me up.

Nothing I said would persuade them that I had EarthLink. So I called Bright House.

No, Bright House insisted, I was not their customer. They were simply billing me for EarthLink.

I was getting internet service with no problems so I decided to go on using whatever it was I was getting – EarthLink, Bright House or whatever.

Then this morning a big, red warning sign flashed on my screen. Norton was cancelled!!! I was vulnerable to cyber attack!!!!

I called Bright House and spent what seemed like hours going round and round with their customer service folks. Nothing I said could convince them that I was their customer. I finally suggested they change my account to Bright House since Earth Link didn’t have me as a customer.

Surprise! A supervisor named Marcus told me that internet service would cost me $54 a month as a Bright House customer. That’s the same internet service I am getting for $29 and some cents. The service Bright House bills me for.

I thanked Marcus for his help and went to my EarthLink page, where I was able to chat online with a customer service rep named Sebastian Norcia. I should send a transcript of that chat to the FCC – or perhaps to the TV Comedy Channel.

It’s several pages long and includes exchanges like this:

Sebastian Norcia: You have signed up cable Internet services through EarthLink.

[email protected]: Yes but I get a bill from Bright House. The bill includes $6 a month for Norton. This morning I was notified that my Norton service was cancelled.  I phoned Bright House and they say I am an EarthLink customer, not a Bright House customer. But when I called EarthLink earlier, they said they do not have me as a customer because I was not available when the serviceman came to hook me up.

Sebastian Norcia: No, you are a Bright House customer. They provide you the ISP services, and EarthLink provides you the free web mail at no additional cost.

[email protected]: Is this the Twilight Zone?

After further chit-chat…

Sebastian Norcia: Okay, right now I can see that your cable services and your Norton service are inactive. However you are getting billed from Bright House.

[email protected]: How do you reconcile that? Obviously, I have EarthLink or I couldn’t be talking to you.

Still, Sebastian insisted I should call Brighthouse. I finally persuaded him that talking to Brighthouse again wouldn’t help solve my “issue.”

We went round and round for an interminable time, and Sebastian finally promised to have a “Cable Team” contact me to iron out the issue. Meanwhile, he would arrange for me to get the free trial month that Norton offers everybody.

He didn’t answer my question about the Twilight Zone.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com