Mother of a problem

Mum rang me the other day.

Mum ringing me wasn’t an unusual event, and I often rang my mother too, but lately there have been a flurry of phone calls announcing the same thing.

The Internet wasn’t working again.

It hadn’t been working for a while, and now she was cranky.

After the saga with the first modem, mum wasn’t too keen now on updating her unreliable prepaid modem to join the ranks of the net-savvy cyber senior citizen with super-fast ADSL2. Better the devil you know than the devil that doesn’t go.

I’d installed this second modem myself the other day, and it was working fine until I rang tech help to get the configurations to set up the email. I knew I was in trouble when the foreign operator asked me to open up Outlook Express in Windows 7.

After a couple of hours with no joy, I was starting to get a sense of deja vu, so I went home. There was no point in beating my head up against a wall any more than was necessary.

Mum got herself organised after she rang me. There was little I could do and no amount of headbanging was going to fix the problem. The next day she rang the second-level tech support and they told her that they would send somebody out to check the line, which appeared to be the only common denominator in this sorry saga.

It was a good thing that mum was home when the linesman came to check the outside line, because he then checked inside and found an old phone plugged into a phone jack in mum’s bedroom.

I remember mum telling me a few months ago that she wasn’t using that phone anymore and had turned it off, so I didn’t give it a second thought. Mum had turned it off alright, she just hadn’t disconnected the phone from the jack in the wall, and as it didn’t have a filter on it, was affecting the ADSL signal coming down the line.

A simple error that had been missed by everyone, including myself. A valuable lesson not to take anything at face value, even if it’s my mother. I could have saved myself, my mother, countless filipinos, and four second-level techs hours of grief,  hair-pulling, and possible swearing with the mute button engaged.

It’s a good thing I didn’t send off that letter of complaint on behalf of my mother to the Telecommunications ombudsman.


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