Monday, March 24, 2008

internets nightmares

i haven't been posting much because we've had no internet at our house! since thursday, february 28th. it really sucks. we came home from Iguazu and it was broken. I called FlashCiudad, our internet service provider, and they told me that it appeared to be a problem with our phone line (we have DSL service), and that the telephone company, Telefonica, would have to fix the line. They told me they had submitted a service request to Telefonica, and that we should expect to wait 2 to 5 business days for Telefonica to respond. I told them i couldn't wait 2 to 5 days (ha!) because I work from home and I really need to be connected to the internet in order to do my work. they said there's no way to get it fixed faster, we just have to wait for Telefonica to respond. So we waited two, three, four, five days. I was calling FlashCiudad every day to ask if there was any news, but they kept telling me the same thing. We had our friend Jonathan (native spanish speaker) call for us a few times, but he got the same answer too. I kept calling them and begging and pleading and wailing (in spanish). I threatened to cancel our service, but I actually couldn't cancel it without first contacting the woman who owns our apartment (currently traveling in Asia). I called Telefonica, but they refused to speak to me, saying that they don't offer customer support for internet services, except for customers of their own DSL service, which we are not. They told me I have to go through my DSL provider. Finally, around March 10th, Jonathan called up FlashCiudad again, and insisted on speaking to the manager and said that he would not hang up the phone until they fixed the problem! He talked to a few different people but mostly he was on hold for the better part of 45 minutes. Finally someone explained to him that our problem is probably not going to get fixed, ever. Telefonica owns the phone lines, but we get our DSL service through this other company, FlashCiudad. Telefonica offers their own DSL service, it's called Speedy, and so it's not in their interest to cooperate with competing DSL companies such as FlashCiudad. So they basically never respond to service requests for line problems for customers who have DSL service through anyone but Telefonica/Speedy. FlashCiudad recommends that we cancel their service and just subscribe to Speedy if we ever want to have internet service again. End of story.
Obviously this is infuriating, not only because it's an evil bastard thing for Telefonica to do, but furthermore because I had to call FlashCiudad crying every day for 11 days before they bothered to tell me the truth about this situation.
So, we contact Speedy to order DSL service. They tell us they can't set up our new internet service until we've cancelled our old service, so we call FlashCiudad to cancel. FlashCiudad tells us we'll need to provide the DSL number (national ID number) of the owners of our apartment in order to cancel our (BROKEN!) internet service. It takes us a few days to get it, because our landlord is traveling in rural Cambodia, far away from internet cafes. Once we have his DNI number (and sympathy and permission to change anything we need to change), we contact FlashCiudad again and they tell us oops, actually we need to get his passport number, not his DNI number. So it takes a few more days to get the passport number from Cambodia. We call FlashCiudad again on March 16th, with the passport number, and they tell us that they only cancel services on the 1st of the month and the 15th of the month. Because we've just passed the 15th, we'll have to wait another 2 weeks before they can cancel our broken internet service.
So, now we're waiting for April 1st, to find out what will be the next act in our Internet Hell in Argentina drama. And shaking our tiny fists at the sky and feeling small and helpless and angry.
At this point it's really difficult for me to do any work, I have a laptop but the battery is totally dead so I can't really sit in those nice internet cafes drinking tea and working. I've been working at home, then copying my work to something portable, then running down the stairs to the locutorio on our street to send out my work and find out my new assignment, then run back upstairs to do more work. The locutorio is a giant room filled with old PC's. The lights are always off, and there's always this shock of stale computer heat and some kind of stink when you walk in the door. Usually there are dozens of 11-year-old boys yelling and playing Counterstrike, so it's not the easiest place to concentrate. Last week there was a guy next to me watching exhaustingly graphic porn, full screen, eight inches to my left, for two hours without stopping or showing any emotion whatsoever, while I was trying to concentrate on writing emails and stuff. Fun times.

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