When access to the Internet is a matter of life and death, Adelphia fails it

I write this hasty note from a friend’s office in Colorado Springs. I’ve been in “the Springs” for going on two weeks, and I hope to get back to my home in Massachusetts some day. I’m staying with my brother and sister-in-law and their young children, trying to help them through a rough patch. Without going into particulars, both parents are fighting for their lives. Think, transfusions and blood counts. Think, paralysis, wheel chairs, emergency rooms. You get the picture.

Last Wednesday, the day after a storm which had knocked out the electricity for ten hours, a technician from Adelphia knocked on the door. “Tech #6” was his name. He informed me that he was going to check things out outside the house. His visit was a little mysterious, since we were having no problems with any service provided by Adelphia, but I said, “fine.” Shortly later he left, after first informing me that he had detected no problem. Ten minutes after the departure of Tech #6 I noticed that the Internet connection no longer worked. I had been working on the internet when he arrived. Everything had been working just fine until then.

Well guess what, friends, the Internet still no longer works at my brother’s house (although cable TV still does). I’ve spent about fifteen hours trying to solve the problem with Adelphia, most of that time spent on hold, and when not on hold, getting conflicting information from Adelphia customer-service people about whether or not there was an outage in the neigborhood, and when we might expect to have our service restored. I’ve been promised “call back within 24 hours” and “call back within the hour” five times. I’ve talked to supervisors and their supervisors. This has been as effective as talking to the wind and its supervisors. We have received no calls back from Adelphia. I’ve explained that there are disabled people in the house who cannot use the telephone and who rely on the Internet for daily consultation with their doctors. I’ve explained that loss of Internet connectivity was coincident with the uninvited arrival of Adelphia Tech #6. Evidently these considerations mean nothing to Adelphia. To borrow a line from Ernestine the Operator, “They don’t care. They don’t have to.” Or as Harold Feld might say, “being a monopoly means never having to say you’re sorry.” Every promise they have made has been broken.

Meanwhile, the loss of Internet connectivity has not only made caring for my brother and sister-in-law downright frightening, it’s made it virtually impossible to keep up with my day job. But, no time to lament that now. The kids will be coming home from school soon, and I better scoot to make sure everything is OK back at the house. But once things get a little bit back to normal, I’m going to investigate what this “filing a complaint with the FCC” business is all about. I hope that it provides a little catharsis, anyway.


  1. Hey, go look out where Tech #6 was fiddling around and see if you have a shiny new one of these:


    installed in your coax. (Either a band-pass or notch filter that is blocking the ‘channel’ that the internet is on.)

    Y’know, Adelphia was just split by Time-Warner and Comcast, and I’m betting the left-hand sent Tech #6 out to get your attention by disabling your internet, and the right-hand does not know that. I can speak from personal experience. If this is the case, in about two weeks a different tech will come out and tell you that the problem is that someone installed a block on your cable and that is why you don’t have any internet service. In my case, they were trying to tell me that I needed to bring my modem in for an upgrade, which the second tech did for me for free…

  2. Our friend PTW hit the nail on the head. It seems that Tech #6, evidently a “loss mitigation” subcontractor, installed just such a filter. Without telling us.

    The reason to install such a filter, the nice guy from Adelphia told us today, was to prevent “spikes” that backflow from some TVs onto the net. But there was no such spike coming from my brother’s house.

    So, in other words, an univited person, identifying himself as “from Adelphia” came to our door, told us he was going to “look around”, installed a filter that disabled the internet without telling us that he had done so in order to solve a problem that was not there. My subsequent fifteen hours on the telephone with Adelphia customer service people produced no reasonable information, lots of bogus information, and 7 broken promises of a “call back.”

    The Adelphia guy today apologized profusely. He diagnosed the problem, after we told him the story, in about 1 second. Too bad none of the incompetents on the customer service line knew about these filters.

    So give the technician who came here today an “A” and every other person associated with this company an “F”. Overall grade for their handling of this incident is, I’m afraid, “F”.

    In other news, on the front page of the Colorado Springs Gazette this morning, a story about a move to provide municipal wireless. I’m not sure that this isn’t a corporate stalking horse masquerading as a muni wireless, however. If I can find the link online I’ll post an entry about it so that Harold can read between the lines for us.

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