“Hello, sir,” said the guy answering the phone. His accent was foreign. “Thank you for calling the Spectacular Internet Service Help Center hotline. How may I help you today?”
“Yeah, hi. Look, my internet is out, and I just need to get it turned back on.”
“I see. Yes, sir. Of course, sir. Let me begin by thanking you for being a valued Spectacular Internet Service customer. I shall be helping you with this very important problem you face. Do you have access to a phone, please?”
“A telephone, sir.”
“I’m calling you on a phone right now.”
“Okay. Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. And what seems to be the problem today?”
“Like I said. My internet service. It’s not working.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you for your persistent patience, sir. I will be helping you to troubleshoot this inconvenient problem, can you hold please?”
Then, Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”
Then, “Wildfire,” by Michael Martin Murphy.
“Thank you for your patience, sir,” said the voice on the phone. “How is it that I may help you this day?”
“Yeah, It’s still me. Same person. I just need my internet turned back on.”
“Yes, sir. I see. I will be assisting you in this terrible technical issue. Are you near your modem?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Thank you, sir. Please unplug your modem.”
“Look, I’ve already tried this, the unplugging-the-modem thing. I unplugged it, did the whole power cycle deal. Then I plugged it back in and nothing happened. So I tried it a few more times, and still nothing happened. That’s actually why I called you. Something is wrong, and the problem is not on my end.”
“Please tell me when you have unplugged your modem, sir.”
“Okay. I’ve unplugged it.”
“Very good, sir.”
“Hello?” I said.
“I said I have unplugged my modem.”
“Yes. Thank you, sir.”
“Am I supposed to plug my modem back in yet?” I said.
“I’m very sorry, sir. What is this you are asking me?”
“I’m asking if I’m supposed to plug my modem back in?”
“Have you unplugged it yet?”
“Well, I wouldn’t be asking you if I hadn’t.”
“Plug your modem back in, sir.”
“It’s plugged in.”
“Very good, sir.”
“Are you still there?” I ask.
“Of course, sir.”
“What are we doing?”
“Why are we waiting?”
“Waiting? Have you unplugged your modem, sir?”
“I just did that, remember? We unplugged it. And I was waiting for you to tell me to plug it in.”
“I already told you to plug it back in, sir.”
“I just plugged it in. Remember?”
“Very good, sir.”
“So, what the heck are we waiting for?” I asked.
“I am looking for a signal, sir.”
I ask, “Do you see a signal on your end?”
“Please wait, sir. This will take a long duration. Maybe five minutes or more. May I put you on hold again?”
“No. Do not put me on hold ag—”
AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill.”
Burt Bacharach’s “I Say A Little Prayer For You.”
“Thank you for your patience, sir. Have you plugged in your modem as of yet?”
“Yes. Remember, you said you were looking for a signal? I plugged in my modem, and you said you were looking for a signal. Do you have a signal?”
“Yes, we were looking for a signal. Why do I feel like I’m in the movie ‘Clockwork Orange’?”
“Sir? I have no signal. Do you see any lights blinking on your modem?”
“Yes, I see lights all over the place. I see lights up the earhole, but no internet service. No nothing. I have no service.”
“What does ‘Hmm’ mean?”
“Please unplug your modem again, sir.”
“Oh, no. Not again. Please don’t make me do this again. It’s not going to work. Unplugging my modem doesn’t work.”
“May I put you on hold, sir?”
“I am serious. Do not put me on hold again or, I swear to God, I will—”
Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
“Smooth Operator,” by Sade.
“Sir?” said the voice. “Thank you for your continued patience. I am going to transfer you to my supervisor, thank you for allowing me to help you with your issue. Is there anything else I may assist you with today?”
“No, thank you.”
Rupert Holmes’ “Piña Colada Song.”
“All Out of Love,” by Air Supply.
Followed by “Dance With Me,” by Orleans.
Finally. A voice.
“Hello, sir,” a new foreign voice said. “Thank you for calling the Spectacular Internet Service Help Center. How￼ may I help you today? Let me begin by thanking you for being a valued Spectacular Internet Service customer. I will be helping you with this important problem. Let us start by unplugging your modem.”
Dear God, either give me strength or just take me home
oldlibrariansshelf - July 26, 2022 6:42 am
Just think a little about how sad it is that people outside our country are SO very desperate for work that they hold these jobs. Not everyone is as patient as you are with them. Bless you, Sean.
Sandi. - July 26, 2022 6:46 am
Internet problems can cause a sane person to go nutsy cuckoo.
Kathleen Martin - July 26, 2022 6:54 am
This is classic. This is so true to life. Have you had one of the “Help Techs” have a rooster crowing in the background? I have had two of these “Techs” tell me they are on a South Asian island. Dogs barking and traffic (motorcycle, car) noises are also prominent in the background.
Rebecca - July 26, 2022 2:25 pm
My last one with Microsoft was surely running a daycare in the same room where she answered the phone. We got nowhere fast.
Lynn B. - July 26, 2022 7:09 am
You captured it perfectly! X-D
Naomi Smith - July 26, 2022 8:25 am
I pray that American workers could return to these types of jobs! I’m afraid that my prayer is as useless as praying for common sense to return to America.
Steve McCaleb - July 26, 2022 8:46 am
Excellent recreation of the crap you get trying to get a straight answer out of these poop fer brains goobers. However, my sincere congratulations on actually getting to speak to a real (?) person ! All I ever seem to get is R2D2’s lightning struck cousin. My favorite ruse they use is some guy in a packing crate in Outer Bahoogie telling his name is Bill Jones and he’s in Bullsac, Nebraska. Gotcha Bill. The people I wind up finally talking to wouldn’t know customer service if it bit them on the butt and they drug it around for a week. It’s not all bad tho……because of these nice persons I can now curse fluently in 3 new languages ! Where’s the Tylenol?
Jeff - July 26, 2022 9:16 am
This is the main reason I no longer have Spectacular Cable TV. I do still have the Spectacular Internet and luckily my son is a maintenance technician for said Internet company. I call him…he speaks the same language as I do…fluent southern redneck. And he knows better than put dad on hold. And if he does, at least it’s Lynyrd Skynyrd or Hank Jr.
Ed (Bear) - July 26, 2022 9:33 am
I believe internet support comes in tiers. And the first tier is only qualified to help you if you don’t have a serious problem. The bulk of customer issues are probably due to modem computer memory cache traffic jams and unplugging/plugging the modem from power resets the cache and clears the jam.
Painfully funny column today! I hope your internet got fixed. I liked some of the music!
Debbie - July 26, 2022 9:54 am
We have all been there. Augh.
janet - July 26, 2022 10:05 am
It would be so funny if it wasn’t so true!! Thanks for a good morning giggle!
Ann Thompson - July 26, 2022 10:16 am
Customer dis-service. Waste of so much time!! Do you think song writers ever imagined having their song fill time waiting recordings when they wrote them?
Hope it’s working.
Sandy Nicholson - July 26, 2022 10:22 am
Absolutely perfect!! Been through this so many times.
Barbara - July 26, 2022 10:43 am
Too true to be funny …
Beth Fenn - July 26, 2022 10:58 am
Nail on the head! I have cried in the same rabbit hole!
Evelyn Foreman - July 26, 2022 11:02 am
Soooooo typical!!!! And infuriating!!!!!
Paul McCutchen - July 26, 2022 11:17 am
I walked into a local service station and heard an argument similar to yours only in the native tongue of the customer service rep. I couldn’t understand what was being said but the facial expression were the same as I had when my internet quit working. That showed me that, just because you can speak the language, help is still a long way off,
Cheryl Newsome - July 26, 2022 11:22 am
I know when I call Spectrum, the first question will be – “Have you tried unplugging your modem and plugging it back in?” So I always respond to “How may I help you?” with “HI, I’ve unplugged my modem and plugged it back in TWICE and still don’t have internet–what do I do next?” Almost always, I’ll get–“Let’s try that one more time.” ARGH!
Barbara - July 26, 2022 11:23 am
You nailed it
Sally Johnson - July 26, 2022 11:30 am
Patricia Collins - July 26, 2022 11:31 am
I feel your pain, I say if you don’t understand my language or don’t understand what you’re doing, you should not be on the other end of my phone call !! And putting me on hold is just a delaying tactic!!
Bill Edwards - July 26, 2022 11:45 am
I spoke with same guy in Mumbai, with the same script, last week. Frustrating.
sjhl7 - July 26, 2022 11:54 am
So familiar … so frustrating!
Pilgrim Jax FL - July 26, 2022 11:56 am
That’s so real it hurts.
Trudy - July 26, 2022 11:57 am
I talked to a woman yesterday from India. I could only understand about half of what she was saying. I had to keep asking her to repeat herself. Frustrating for both of us. I finally gave up.
Te - July 26, 2022 12:05 pm
I hate it when they farm out customer service to foreign countries when there are so many here in US who would love a job! Many are paid by the number of calls they answer. Hence the waits and repetition. We’ve all ground our teeth over this one. We feel you, Sean.
Marilyn - July 26, 2022 12:11 pm
I am thankful for my smaller. local service provider. They speak my language and are most helpful with any problem I may have. Even though there is the enticement of a “good deal” from a Spectacular Service, I know better than to switch. My present service is prompt, in my language and always courteous. However, I do feel your pain…
Donna W - July 26, 2022 1:07 pm
So stinkin’ hilarious. And absolute truth. I get it, I’ve been there. How many times have I felt like throwing my phone against the wall…..
toni - July 26, 2022 1:07 pm
Makes me wonder if your internet company is Fr*nt*er
John - July 26, 2022 1:22 pm
Deacon Nick - July 26, 2022 1:09 pm
I just fired Spectacular internet service $80 per month for internet only; and replaced them with T-Mobile 5G internet, $50 per month. So far so good.
Molly - July 26, 2022 1:10 pm
I feel your pain!!
Gayle Bailey - July 26, 2022 1:14 pm
M.A. Gallerani - July 26, 2022 1:23 pm
THIS!! I am crying because I am laughing and because I have lived this so many times!! Hope you walked away and the internet poltergeists turned back on your service when you weren’t looking.
Helen De Prima - July 26, 2022 1:24 pm
Oh, yea! That’s why we’ve used Apple/Mac’s only since 1985 — still have our Apple II-e. Great tech support and no playing the hardware/software blame game.
Sean of the South: Customer Service | The Trussville Tribune - July 26, 2022 1:27 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
Glenda - July 26, 2022 1:28 pm
Just reading this makes me want to take that little nerve pill in my medicine cabinet. I think we ALL can identify with this situation. Thank you for sharing yours
jachanin - July 26, 2022 1:29 pm
How perfect! I have spent three days and probably eleven hours trying to get help from at least seven agents from “Spectacular Technical Computer Service”! Thank you for empathizing!!!
David - July 26, 2022 1:32 pm
Boyce Miller - July 26, 2022 1:33 pm
David Britnell - July 26, 2022 1:45 pm
I know we can all relate!!
Jacy - July 26, 2022 1:48 pm
Firsthand experience many times. Perfect replay! It’s a exercise in patience and seems they hope a person gives up early in the process.
Tim Peace - July 26, 2022 1:57 pm
You described it perfectly! You name the service…the problem…the company…this is EXACTLY what we deal with. Like chivalry…good old fashioned customer service is DEAD!
Betsey - July 26, 2022 2:03 pm
So familiar with this experience!
Haygood Sims - July 26, 2022 2:10 pm
You must have AT &T
Terry Snell - July 26, 2022 2:18 pm
That’s hilarious and spot on. Unfortunately, it’s not just the internet where that occurs
Susan Marler - July 26, 2022 2:18 pm
Oh, you’ve been listening to my phone conversations! I have found one solution. Ask for a representative in the United States. It actually worked. Once!
virginia westlake - July 26, 2022 2:21 pm
I’ve been there! Fabulous!
Christina - July 26, 2022 2:30 pm
Yeah, it wouldn’t be a bad time to be ruptured.
Anne Arthur - July 26, 2022 2:38 pm
Hilariously sad. They do this all the time, every time, every darn customer service, no matter the company. I once spent 4+ hours straight with Jetblue trying to rebook a flight, only to hear one idiot after the other asking me to use their website…which didn’t work…thus my calling them. I was near a heart attack.
susie gilley - July 26, 2022 2:33 pm
I feel your pain. Happens to me all of the time. Just the other day I was on my phone talking to someone about an issue and then they asked me if I was near my phone. Really!!! They have script cand can’t deviate from it! My blood pressure goes up after every call.
Sue Adams - July 26, 2022 2:34 pm
B.e. Blue - July 26, 2022 2:39 pm
(Who’s On First?) >> I Heard It Through the Grapevine that you’re All Out of Love for a Smooth Operator so I Say a Little Prayer for You.
Ron Pfeiffer - July 26, 2022 2:52 pm
This is amazing! I believe you talk with a clone of my last call to a tech company. I am an ole guy with hearing aids and with that problem, an accent I could barely understood and total incompetence I gave up and tried later. Same results. I then purchased a new computer and trash the old one.Customer service is either fantastic or terrible. Not much in-between. the best customer service is from smaller companies–especially owner operated companies.
Billy Moore - July 26, 2022 3:08 pm
Is there any sound more disheartening than that East Indian accent when you have internet issues? You absolutely know you are going to be aggravated and frustrated to death if you talk to them but also know it is one hoop you have to jump through to get actual service. You absolutely nailed the conversation and experience. Hopefully, the next time I hear one of those voices on the other end of the line I will think of your column and laugh instead of mumbling bad words.
Jayne - July 26, 2022 3:10 pm
This is hilarious! It’s always fun when I am asked “How is your weather?”
youngatheart49 - July 26, 2022 3:26 pm
Been there, done that
Krista - July 26, 2022 3:27 pm
Phyllis Forrest - July 26, 2022 3:36 pm
Did the exact same thing the other night trying to help my 89 year old mama get her home phone working. After speaking with 4 CSR’s and each time they transferred me to their supervisor, I was disconnected. On my 5th attempt, I asked my mama to step out of the room for a moment. After putting every ounce of my southern belle upbringing in my pocket, I let loose on him. Amazingly, he understood and fixed the problem. I removed my southern upbringing from my pocket, thanked him, and hung up. I then asked mama to bring me a drink of her night time toddy! Bless their hearts!
Nell Thomad - July 26, 2022 3:53 pm
Phyllis- That is what it takes sometime to get it done.
Fleming Straughan - July 26, 2022 3:38 pm
Been there done that.
Hope the problem resolved itself by itself
Maybe this is God’s way of helping us gain patience….
Naomi - July 26, 2022 3:48 pm
The Mark of the Beast–666-world wide web.
Nell Thomas - July 26, 2022 3:50 pm
Honestly y’all- This man- Mr. Sean Dietrich is not exaggerating. I experienced the almost same- word for word- scenario just recently.
It is not only the internet service, but almost everything you have to deal with on a daily basis.
Debbie g - July 26, 2022 4:02 pm
Phyllis. That’s why they call us steel magnolias!!😂😂😂😂😂😂very funny Sean. Love to all
Nancy Carnahan - July 26, 2022 4:07 pm
I try to be friendly and talk to them (my Southern Belle upbringing I suppose). I ask them how they are, WHERE they are, how’s the weather, and chat a bit. I don’t have as much trouble as I used to. We live in the mountains/forest and don’t have much choice of carriers. We have to have a hard line because of health issues. We have AT&T and I’m quite happy with them.
Beverly - July 27, 2022 1:02 am
Nancy, I’m like you… very chatty & make them laugh..I’m 87 yrs old & I tell them I don’t have many years left……..so let’s try to solve this asap… but, it is frustrating…. I try to be patient because I know where ever they are … it’s an important job for them & probably very low pay…, & no matter how bad their English is… I admire them for being being bi lingual… most people in our country speak only one language & sometimes that one not very well..☮️❤️
davidpbfeder - July 26, 2022 4:26 pm
Hah! I read this immediately after going through the same thing with my Internet provider, almost verbatim. That said, they did eventually reboot my internet, but this is close to the bone, Sean!
Donna - July 26, 2022 4:32 pm
I feel this one to the very core of my soul. God save those poor idiots when we finally uncover the secret of teleportation.
Sue Rhodus - July 26, 2022 4:59 pm
YEESSSS ! LAWD LAWD !!!!!!
Carolyn - July 26, 2022 5:01 pm
Pamela Williams - July 26, 2022 5:13 pm
Dude. I started feeling angry and anxious just reading your account of this. Just like real life. Hope your interwebs are back up and running. 😉
Cyndee - July 26, 2022 5:14 pm
Love it! Have we not all been there! You were nicer than I would have been !
Cordell Lawrence - July 26, 2022 5:16 pm
I have felt your pain far too often.
Bill - July 26, 2022 5:18 pm
Don’t you just wonder sometimes what’ going on?
Linda Moon - July 26, 2022 6:03 pm
Aaargh! This all sounds way too familiar! I assume you got service and then posted all the music titles you heard….one of which pleasantly played in my head: Dionne Warwick’s prayer. And apparently God gave you strength for your purpose in life – which is to to use the Internet to send your posts to all us readers!
mollytoddmcc - July 26, 2022 6:05 pm
Perfect description of my latest nightmare (awake, though)! I finally said, “Look, buddy, my modem is located under my desk and it’s nigh ’bout impossible to get down on my hands and knees to plug and unplug the (damn) modem! Finally they did something on their end and I thanked them (through clenched teeth) for their help. What is wrong with these companies!?!
Lynne Pickens - July 26, 2022 6:12 pm
So true to life!
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - July 26, 2022 6:49 pm
Woe is me! Happens all the time. I also hate the computer voice at doctors and drug stores. I just want a real American, English speaking person who knows how to fix my problem.
pattymack43 - July 26, 2022 6:50 pm
Sadly, soooooooooooooooooo very true!!!! Thanks for having the courage to say it!! Keep on writing, Sean. Your public needs you, now, more than ever!!
Jeff - July 26, 2022 7:15 pm
so true…..and I hate the canned ….”thank you for being a customer….” It’s so programmed and insincere.
Mary McNeil - July 26, 2022 7:33 pm
Ah ! I have FrontierLand Internet Service, but I also have Spectacular Cable Tv, which denies me access to the only channel that broadcats the local baseball team’s games. FrontierLand Internet obviously employs the same service department. In fact, I’ll bet they all do….
Rebecca Souders - July 26, 2022 7:43 pm
If you think you are frustrated now, just wait until you try to cancel them! Ugh.
CELIA . - July 26, 2022 7:47 pm
I, too, have had the magnificent experience of conversing with the awesome spectacular internet service. I’ve decided this is where we learn patience and the use of superlative adjectives.
Karen - July 26, 2022 7:55 pm
All I can say is Amen.
Carla Howard - July 26, 2022 7:59 pm
Gloria Van Nostrand - July 26, 2022 8:19 pm
Made me cringe just reading this. Who among us has not been on this evil ride from hell? Over and over and over again. And it’s even worse, if you can believe it, if money is involved.
Hope you finally got back your service after an Act of God.
Lawa - July 26, 2022 8:43 pm
MAM - July 26, 2022 9:03 pm
Been there, done that, innumerable times. And patience is NOT my forte. I want machines, even computers, to work the first time and all the time. Is that really asking too much? I could tell so many stories, but I won’t bore all of you readers, much less you, Sean. You absolutely nailed it, Sean, and we love you for sharing your too familiar stories. They make us feel less alone.
Mary M Berryman - July 26, 2022 9:59 pm
I went through this same scenerio a few months ago, The Alabama Power Arborist had been out trimming brush and trees along the power lines and cut my line. I went through the whole plugging and unplugging the modem while on a call with the AT&T guy who said I needed a new modem and they would send me one pronto! I said that’s not the problem, the Alabama power guys cut my line!! New modem arrives – also does not work. Another hour on the phone with the unplug and replug the modem again until at LAST the service guy said he would send someone out!!! It took TWO different AT&T repair techs to get it fixed. The first one told me that my line had been cur – DUH???? And that I had another problem and he would send a “more qualified” tech out later to fix the problem. To his credit the second tech arrived around 6:00pm and promised that I would have internet before he called it a day. He was as good as his word and was still parked in my driveway when I returned home at 9:30 that evening.
Kathy - July 26, 2022 11:06 pm
So true. So sad. I called our TV service provider for help. The first person barely spoke English, and we could clearly hear chickens clucking in the background. Hmmm. Asked for a supervisor. He also barely spoike English, but he tried, and no chickens. He transferred me to another person who helped with the problem.
Hoping you got the service back! Ah, technology companies!
JS - July 27, 2022 12:06 pm
Back in 2003 my company outsourced their IT services to somewhere in S. America. The lady spoke very good English, but like you, I was shocked to here a rooster crowing in the background… I’ll never forget that. After that my personal internet provide had the usual Indian help line, it really difficult to not break out in your best Indian accent when talking to these folks.
Joan Mitchell - July 26, 2022 11:51 pm
Mumbo jumbo rhubarb rhubard, with an accent. I feel your pain!
Anita B Denney - July 27, 2022 2:41 am
I FEEL YOUR PAIN! I once “CRIED” after going through THREE people…..they didn’t know what to do with me!
Slimpickers - July 27, 2022 2:50 am
Sounds like you were on an episode of “Crank Yankers”. You should call back next week and just make up a problem and jerk them around for an hour or two.
Donna R Taylor - July 27, 2022 3:17 am
I cracked up! I mean this modem thing has happened to me. Foreign voice as soothing as sandpaper after 3 minutes of niceties!
mauldin carter - July 27, 2022 12:49 pm
How dare you complain!!! At least you had music that you could karaoke to. I need an interpreter from on high and a 6 pack! I keep a case of 24 just for such tragic occasions!
Carol - July 27, 2022 2:44 pm
Everyone who owns a computer can relate and is rolling on the floor! Thanks for writing it all down, Sean! Loved it…
Suzanne Mcquiston - July 27, 2022 2:45 pm
You nailed this! I laughed out load because it’s SO true. Thanks
NancyB - July 27, 2022 4:21 pm
My internet went down a few weeks ago. After going through a five minute, robot driven phone tree, the call to the service center went something like this: (A canned recording telling me) “Thank you for calling SuperDuper Technologies. Our customers are very important to us. We take pride in providing fast, effecient service for all your technological questions. Most of the problems our customers experience can be answered by logging on to our web site at SuperDuper.com. (Remember, I don’t have internet service. Cannot log on to anything!) If this doesn’t help with your problem (No, it won’t help. I don’t have internet service!) please hold for our next available representative. Your approximate wait time will be 97 minutes.” (Guess your website isn’t helping very many today!)
Karen Snyder - July 28, 2022 10:17 pm
Nail on the head, Sean! I’ve been known to do without some service for a period of time, hoping against hope that someone else, similarly afflicted, will complain and obtain resolution of the problem. However, when it’s the internet service that connects me to friends, family, banking, yadda yadda, it’s usually necessary to grit my teeth, say a little prayer, and just go for it. Broadband is under construction in our neck of the woods, and it cannot come quickly enough.
Roseann Romans - July 29, 2022 2:05 pm
SO FUNNY!! If you have internet, you’ve been there. We are helpless when it comes to these “customer service calls.”
Thomas C. Roberson - July 30, 2022 12:45 am
Some might think this something you made up but I know from personal experience it is not!! It can drive you up the wall. I finally saw a truck and a technician working in my neighborhood and he helped me get the internet up.
Thomas allen - July 30, 2022 6:31 pm
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - August 8, 2022 11:20 pm