Doing Battle With Your ISP

It started with the new laptop – the one with the network analyst who started telling me every time I lost my internet connection. I knew I had an issue with “dropped connections” but I did my best to ignore the issue. Once I started to count the number of pop-ups from the network analyst, however, it became clear it was time for action.

The first few calls to tech support were not helpful. They assured me that, at the moment we were speaking, I had a good connection – so it became a battle to see if I could get through at the moment of a dropped connection. Luckily for me, I managed to connect with a technician who volunteered it was possible to look back at my connection history, which of course confirmed I was experiencing an unacceptable number of dropped connections. My issue was escalated to “top level”‘ support and I started to wait.

Within a week, I received a voicemail advising the issue had been dealt with – this was in fact true. When I tried to connect that evening, I had no internet connection at all – so the dropped connections were no longer an issue. After a few more frantic calls and another few days, service was restored. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I tested the connection regularly for the next few days – I was starting to think my problems were over.

It was not to be – the dreaded dropped connections re-appeared. Tech support was not that helpful. They assured me I now had a great signal (better than average) – they didn’t seem to care that the strong signal wasn’t getting me an internet connection. Once again, after many calls, I found a technician who concluded that the issue was now my modem so he placed an order for a new modem. I volunteered to pick it up, only to be told that the modem had to be delivered.

It’s my firm belief that hardware instinctively knows when it’s about to be replaced – shortly after the new modem was ordered, it became harder and harder to get an internet connection. Last night, I had no luck at all. I was so distressed that I couldn’t even deal with any of the work I had brought home that arguably didn’t require internet access.

The new modem is supposed to be delivered today. I wish I could be optimistic that things will improve. I’m not. I have already ordered a three month trial subscription with the other ISP in my area (not that I expect it will be any better).

This experience with home internet access has troubled me for a number of reasons. I’ve wasted many hours over the past few weeks trying to solve the issue (without success to this point). I can’t be optimistic that I will be successful. It’s particularly frustrating because it’s not something that can apparently be fixed by agreeing to pay for expert assistance. I asked Customer Support at my ISP if they cared about my business – they assured me they did but there have been no tangible signs of that.

Have I taken all of this too personally? Maybe. Does my life revolve around internet access? The answer to that question is clearly yes. I use internet access for almost everything. It’s helps with work-related activities. It helps with non-work related activities. My husband and teen-age son are in the same position. My son’s school assumes that students will have regular internet access – information is communicated by emaiil and online bulletin boards.

So where does that leave users who can’t get reliable internet access. I wish I had an answer.


  1. What if you had to rely on this access for all of your livelihood? I hear from people who work from home that it is even worse during the day.

    My family was experiencing similar problems, not enough bandwidth for 2 computers on a wireless network (barely enough bandwidth for 1 computer to work well). After about the 3rd call to the ISP, the technician “tweaked” something on the other end, and suddenly we had no bandwidth issue.

    Is it that there are too many of us trying to get access all at once, and the ISPs can’t keep up with the demand?

  2. I have had the same problem. After one inevitably useless call to Technical Support, I write to the person in charge of, say, Sympatico, personally and cc that person’s boss, e.g., Michael Sabia. So far, the results have been very satisfying, particularly when the CEO has just given a speech saying how committed his company is to customer service and satisfaction.