DSL Hell Nevermore

What a difference a few years makes, but I finally got to use my Linksys router. Back in April 2006 I went through DSL hell trying to connect my wireless router to a DSL modem. It’s January 2009, and when we went back to cable internet, I installed the software, went through the configuration (a couple times) and it worked.

I’m writing this now because it’s the calm before the storm. I want to remember a time when things worked. Next week I’m moving to a new house and getting a new cable setup. I will go through DSL hell nevermore!

Event Horizon or the Infinite Verizon or D S Hell

I know this title is a play on words, but it is a great description/title for the story I’m about to tell.

If you envision the simplest three-dimensional geometry for a black hole, that is a sphere (known as a Schwarzschild black hole), the black hole’s surface is known as the event horizon. Behind this horizon, the inward pull of gravity is overwhelming and no information about the black hole’s interior can escape to the outer universe. – author unknown

I can now say that I’ve experienced telephone hell!

Let me bring you back to a nicer time, when everything worked, and I was a fairly satisfied customer. Picture it, November 2005, I was feeling fat, dumb and happy after Thanksgiving and Verizon DSL was offering 128kb up / 768kb down for $14.95 per month. I went to the local Verizon office and ordered it and got a “Service Ready Date” for about 10 days from that date.

The SRD comes up and I was ready to go because they had mailed me a Westell 6100 modem in those 10 days. I plug everything in, install the software, and away we go. Now the fun begins – we see some rocks in the river.

I made my first call to Verizon technical support around December 1st, 2005. I wanted to connect a Linksys router inline with my Westell modem. It sounds simple enough. I mean I had just come from Cox Cable High Speed Internet service, and their modem accepted my Linksys like it was part of the family. Well, it turns out the Westell modem isn’t as friendly. I think I had to call Verizon tech support a second time to actually get it to work.

I wish I had started this blog back then because that was the last time I had to change settings on the Westell and it actually worked. It was that one technician who was willing to help – that knew what the problem was – that got it working.

He (and I) performed some magical surgery involving bridging connections and IP masquerading and MAC cloning that I still don’t understand to this day But, once it was over, the modem worked, my Linksys router worked, my little LAN was cruising.

Now fast forward 6 months to May 2006…I see bigger rocks in the river and – what’s that? – some mist/spray on the horizon.

In late April 2005 I went to the Verizon Online web site and placed a move order. A few days later they emailed me another Service Ready Date of May 10, 2005. I thought “Great, I can live without internet for 5 days while I move and unpack.” So May 10th came, I plugged everything together and got zero. Hmm. I called tech support, and they could not find a service at my new address. I was told to wait a few days and call back. I did. Again, I got no resolution, just that there seemed to be some trouble with my line and that they were working on it.

It was here that the time line gets a little fuzzy because I would call every couple of days after work and get pretty much the same story. I did this for about a week. Finally, they said it should be working and my new SRD is May 20th. Well guess what. May 20th comes and goes no service. It was time to call you-know-who.

This time I was told that the service had not been disconnected from my old house. Huh? What does a Move Order for DSL mean? I thought it ment that I’m no longer at one address but that I moved to a another address. All they could tell me was that they would notify me when things were working; no need to call.

I think a week went by before I got an email with another SRD around June 20th. The day before I got that email I ordered Cox cable internet (now suddenlink) again; old faithful service. I needed internet and I learned my lesson with Verizon DSL – something about believing it when you see it.

Of course June 20th came and nothing. This time I wasn’t so eager to call tech support. I had my cable internet running with a new Linksys wireless router and life was good – expensive – but good. I let Verizon slide until July 11. I was doing this that and the other thing and I figured I would need some time to sit down with tech support to straighten this mess out.

After work on Tuesday, July 11, I called Verizon tech support. I was able to plug the computer straight into the Westell 6100, but I got nada when the wireless Linksys router was inline. Verizon tech support told me I would have to call Linksys support to configure the router and they were only open from 8am – 8pm EDT.

Now I know what that mist was – a waterfall! Here we go boys and girls. It aint going to be pretty.

After work on Wednesday, July 12, I called Linksys tech support we did some magic and MAC cloned the computer MAC address onto the Linksys router. Then I needed to call Verizon again to bridge the modem connection. I called Verizon tech support. Long story short – about 3 hours, 3 beers, and 5 cigeretes later – a “Tier 1″ technician told me she couldn’t make it work and that I should get Verizon to send me an ActionTech wireless modem/router to replace my Westell 6100. But, the only people that could do that – Consumer Solutions – are only open from 8am – 8pm EDT and it was after 10pm.

After work on Thursday, July 13, I called what I thought was Verizon Consumer Solutions. The tech that answered politely made a note in my account that I called and then told me I would have to call Billing – they are only open from 8am – 6pm EDT.

During work Friday, July 14, I called Billing they said only Tech can replace ‘defective modems’ and I was transfered to Tech. Tech said, Sales does modem send outs, so I was transfered to Sales. Sales said they only do new sales. I have to call another number and go through a specific sequence to get the right department. I called and the numbers didn’t match what he said, but I tried my best anyway. The “no name” department said only Billing can get me a new modem. So back I went to Billing.

Finally, this lady on Billing said yes we’ll send you a return address label, send us the Westell and we’ll mail you the ActionTech.

My head is spinning, but I think we made it out of the waterfall in one piece. Five (5) people it took. Five! The good thing about Billing though is that I got $38 credit for “time served” but not online and a free wireless modem. Good thing, ’cause the wireless Linksys will be an expensive paper weight.

UPDATE:
Their new wireless modem wasn’t free after all. My next month’s bill was about $150! It’s not as easy to connect or as strong of a signal as the Lynksys (paperweight) but it is working now.