Posts Tagged ‘telephones’

Over the last few weeks we have been having problems with our internet connection. For some reason, without warning, we’d lose connectivity. Just like that. And it was often as I sat down with a cup of tea after work to catch up on all my blog reading. As you can imagine, I was less than amused.

After re-setting our router hundreds of times as per the limited trouble-shooting options in the accompanying manual, I even unplugged all the telephony filters, blew into them knowingly, re-plugged them but even this piece of advanced technological DIY had no positive effect. Banging the table with a clenched fist didn’t work either.

Things became so bad last week that after much weighing up of the situation, I decided to take action. Now, I deliberated because taking action meant that I would have to telephone our internet provider, BT. (British Telecom) and I’ve been down that unfulfilling path before.

When a company has ‘British’ attached to its title, one is lured into a false sense of security that you’ll be dealt with by a team of dedicated, polite and efficient customer care advisors who really do sympathise with your plight. In the same way as flying BA (British Airways – the world’s favourite airline, according to their advertising), one expects a certain superior level of service but these days this is about as far from reality as me getting to grips with long division using the chunking method.

So I ‘phoned and got through to the automated numbered instruction routine. After keying my telephone number into the keypad as requested about fourteen times I was still no nearer to speaking to a human being. There has to be a quicker way to do this, surely. I was getting madder. Patience with telephone answering systems is not my virtue, especially as one of the messages informed me that I could get help by looking at their website.


In exasperation I slammed the receiver down, tried the internet connection again – unsurprisingly, no change there. I paced the kitchen until a bright idea began to emerge. Why not telephone the BT sales team? I was betting that they would be available to chat about all their wonderful offers right away without all this ‘press one for Bill, press two for Direct Derrick’ (whoever he is) etc. I bet the good old sales team will be right on the money.

I scavenged around in the home file to find an old phone bill and yes, hallelujah, a direct line for the sales department. I was on to something here.

Without too much preamble Sales very helpfully put me straight through to the engineers (there’s a tip for the rest of you BT customers out there …) where I spoke to an actual person. A well-spoken, Queen’s-English-sort-of-a-person, who talked me through a simple procedure involving the unravelling of a wire paperclip and its insertion into my BT Home Hub (router).


Hidden at the back of the home hub is a tiny, barely visible  hole, into which I poked said paperclip. This apparently resets something that the engineers can then use to change its frequency.

The reason we were losing connection so frequently was because so many of our neighbours were using the same wavelength at the same time. Not any more, thanks to my trusty paperclip.

Where would technology be without them?

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I’ve invented a new game. You can play it on your own, but you have to be in the right frame of mind, or in a certain sort of mood. Son doesn’t reckon it’ll catch on, he says I’m just being embarrassing but I like to think of it as a game we grow into as we age. I’m naming it ‘Beat the Sales Call.’

old Ericsson phone -picture from Wikipedia

old Ericsson phone -picture from Wikipedia

Even though I signed up for the Telephone Preference Service, which is supposed to block unwanted calls from companies trying to flog their solar panelling (with the summers we have – are they kidding?), or charities attempting to sign you up as a direct debit donor, we still get plenty of nuisance calls. Usually at the most inconvenient time.

Occasionally however, I’ll answer and engage with the hapless souls who are trying to sell me something, the game being that I’ll waste so much of their time our number will be put on some sort of blacklist and we won’t be bothered in the future.

Now, regular readers will know about the love-hate relationship I have with my mobile phone. I still regard it as a device to be used in an emergency and not as something to have welded to the side of my face as do most of the people who hog the pavement space on our narrow high street. Or use loudly in restaurants as if the rest of the clientele are remotely interested in hearing their one-sided conversation. I receive and send minimal text messages and hardly ever use it to have a conversation, so when it rang yesterday evening, (just as Son and I were about to unwind with a cup of tea in front of a mindless TV comedy show), I answered it automatically, thinking it was an emergency. It wasn’t. It was Brendan. And poor old Brendan had stumbled unwittingly into my new game.

 So, to give you an example of ‘Beat the Sales Call,’ here’s a transcript of last night’s conversation.

“Hello there Jennifer, how are you today?”  (Jennifer? Whatever happened to good evening Mrs Pellett, I hope I’m not disturbing you? And incidentally, the only stranger I’ve ever not minded calling me by my rarely used full first name was the midwife who delivered my son. She could’ve called me anything)

 “Fine, thank you.”

 “Well, er, good. This is Brendan here, from Yodafone.*  How has your day been so far, Jennifer?” (Give me strength. Full of argumentative stroppy teenagers, actually. I’m so ready for you, Brendan).


“Good, good. Perhaps I can make it even better for you, Jennifer. This is just a quick call to see if I can do something for you today.” (Well, there’s a dishwasher that needs emptying, supper to attend to and about a hundred Christmas cards to write, Brendan, but I don’t suppose that’s what you have in mind).

 “Okay, so what are you trying to sell me then?”

 “Oh, no, no Jennifer, this is to look at the tariff you’re currently on and to see if we can help you out with a few discounts today…”   (Yeah, right)

 “Which I‘ll have to pay for.”

“I must just remind you Jennifer, that all calls are recorded for training purposes.”  (Oooh, goody. I wonder what they call staff trainers these days? Human Resource Furtherment Facilitators? – don’t get me started on that one).

“First up, Jennifer, I see you don’t have a four digit pin number set up.”

“Why would I need one of those?”

“So that I can talk to you about your account, Jennifer…”

“But you are talking to me about my account.”

“Okay, so we don’t need to set up a pin number Jennifer; if I could just have your date of birth and post code then.”

“Why do you need those – you phoned me, remember.”

“It’s just for data protection, Jennifer, I have your details on my screen.”

 “Whose protection are we talking about then? You phoned me, – how do I know you are who you say you are? I can see that if I phone say, my bank, I‘d expect to have to identify myself somehow, but you phoned me, Brendan. So what is the point of this call?” (Note that I’m beginning to sound like Brendan now).

 “Well, Jennifer, as I said, this is to see if we can help you save money on your tariff by offering you discounts.” (I’m beginning to feel sorry for Brendan now. He has such a lovely voice).

 “Yes, but to get to these so called discounts, Brendan, I’m ultimately going to have to spend more money, aren’t I?”

 “In all honesty, Jennifer, yes you are.” (Chuckling good naturedly, bless him).

 “Nice talking to you Brendan, goodbye.”

Of course, there are other ways to deal with unwanted sales calls. You can answer the phone, put it down and walk away or you can just not pick up at all. But neither of these options are nearly as much fun.

*Not a typo

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