Not for the faint-of-heart: After one week without a working Internet connection, I am back online. The story has been a nightmare from start to finish. To appreciate the true awfulness, you have to understand the background:
- phone carrier: Bezeq
- modem: Bezeq
- ISP (Internet service provider): Bezeq International (“We’re a completely different company from Bezeq!”)
- incoming mail: Actcom
- OS (operating system): Microsoft XP Professional
- hardware: various
- router: wireless and not installed by the ISP or phone carrier
So my connection dies last week. No biggie. Connections get dropped frequently. But doing all the usual stuff doesn’t help. After an hour of futzing around, it occurs to me that this isn’t the usual glitch. And thus starts the long descent to the very brink of despair.
- I disconnect the router and try connecting directly from the ADSL modem. Doesn’t work.
- I create the same dialer (same username and password) on Gill’s laptop and connect directly to the ADSL modem. It works.
- Aha, I think, this must be something screwed up on my computer. I uninstall and reinstall all network services and devices. I go into the Windows Registry to fix possible Winsock errors. I ping a few known IP addresses from the command line to see if packets are going through. (They are.) No luck.
- I call tech support at Bezeq International. Over the next four days, I talk to five people and log in a total of 4.5 hours on the phone. They claim that the problem is with the OS or with the modem. “It’s your modem,” I say, more than a little frustrated at this point. “Oh, no!” they respond. “We are Bezeq ben le’umi (international)—another company entirely!” Note that both companies use the identical Bezeq logo and corporate colors.
- By now, there are been so many virtual hardware changes that the OS suspects that it is different computer. “You have two days left to reauthenticate Windows!” is the chirpy little error message that pops up. Since authentication is generally done via the Internet, I am a bit flummoxed.
- I call Microsoft. They claim that the problem is with the ISP. Or the hardware. Or the phone line. Anyone but them. While I have them on the line, I get them to reauthenticate the software. I am turned over to some guy with the worst accent imaginable for phone support: he chews his vowels and I am forced to make the poor guy repeat almost everything.
- I call the computer shop’s technician, who picks up the machine and takes it in. “Runs fine over here,” he claims. So it can’t be hardware or software. He gets a connection immediately. He brings it back, even swaps out the network card, and nothing. “You’ll have to swap modems.”
- I am suspicious. If the modem was at fault, how could Gill get a connection on his laptop? It makes no sense. I am also suspicious that Bezeq won’t swap the modem. I’ve had bad experiences before.
- I take the modem in. “We can’t swap it without a signed form from tech support.” At this point, I have logged about nine hours on the phone with different support groups, plus about another ten hours of dinking around. I am holding myself together with great difficulty. Then suddenly, I remember what my friend Laura told me. “Yelling is part of normal behavior in this culture, so Israelis won’t pay much attention if you scream at them. But they can’t handle tears.” Hmmm. Maybe holding myself together and maintaining a semblance of adult dignity is not the best strategy. And sure enough, before I can sop through one Kleenex, the Bezeq clerk is rushing off to get me a new modem. Thanks, Laura!
- New modem is plugged in. No difference. The DSL light isn’t on. I call Bezeq and have then test the lines. Another 40 minutes… I am getting good at doing dishes and puttering around the house with a phone jammed under my chin, but I’ll probably need a visit to the chiropractor when this is all over. They agree to send a technician.
- I forget to call Dave, a former student who is also a bit of a Windows techie, and cancel his visit. He shows up to help me troubleshoot the problem, though so he hasn’t been able to suggest anything that I haven’t already tried. We agree that it is pointless to do anything until the Beqez guy is out here.
- In preparation for the technician’s visit, I try to straighten out the office. The modem gets caught up on something, so I unplug the line to untangle it.
- The Bezeq technician arrives and sees that the modem is unplugged and smugly calls in, reporting that the clueless user didn’t have everything hooked up correctly. I remember how expensive lawyers are and refrain from bashing the knucklehead with a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. “Look, it works fine,” he says, creating a new dialer. “It’s your ISP’s fault.”
- I call Bezeq International. Again. There are probably a few hundred people working on the hotline, and I think I have talked to a third of them. This one mutters a bit as he checks things and then finally gets me a new username and password.
- I’m connected! But when I open Outlook, it crashes. Repeatedly. I uninstall the entire Office suite and reinstall it. I can finally slowly and painfully access mail, though everything is still quite fragile and it crashes every few minutes.
I’m connected. For the moment. No router, but one step at a time. I’m tired, cranky, stressed, and now more than one week behind in work. It isn’t even a cautionary tale, because there isn’t any way of keeping the computer gods appeased.