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My Day, and Another Customer Service Story

Wow! What a day! I was traveling again today so missed the morning convention session. I've heard from two different sources now that it was a really interesting morning. I'm just glad for replays! SMILE!

Today I was caught in one of the worst downpours I've ever seen. It literally rained nonstop for between 4 to 5 hours, and walking between the van and the buildings was enough to get me soaked on one side; (the side that wasn't protected by an umbrella). Then, to make matters worse, my favorite cane, (a WCIB model which isn't even made anymore), decided to break while I was out, leaving me without a cane. Fortunately for me though, first, I was with a sighted person so it wasn't as essential that I have a cane with me, and second, since I was in Madison I was able to go to the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired to get a new one. It honestly couldn't have worked out better. The sad thing is that the cane was probably about 14 or 15 years old, and one of the sturdiest canes I've ever owned. And, it wasn't too heavy. With my Carpal Tunnel I can't handle the constant repetitive back-and-forth movement of the cane if it's heavy, which really limits my cane selection. I sent two others to the convention to be repaired by California Canes but I was told yesterday that they wouldn't be able to get fixed there. As it turned out, one of them was fixable there after all, so that one is coming back home on Saturday. But now I've got another spare one in case of an emergency. Some of you may be wondering, with all these problems I'm having with canes, why don't I just get a dog and be done with it? And, the basic answer is, I don't want the responsibility. I know that having a dog requires a lot of work and care. I'm not really a dog person, and I find that many of them bother my allergies. So, because of all these reasons, I wouldn't want to bring a dog home knowing that I probably wouldn't give it the love and attention that it deserves. I've seen too many people get dogs that they say are for guides, only to get home and turn them into pets, and I just won't do that. I've also seen some really bad handlers, and those who shouldn't even have dogs to begin with, so when I see, or hear of a good team, I'm happy to hear about it.

Anyway, that's enough of my dog/cane rambling; back to the rain. It finally let up when I was finishing up with my afternoon evaluation, so going back to the van with my laptop and other equipment was a much more enjoyable experience. I found out though that my laptop backpack is at least water resistant, if not waterproof since the outside of it was quite wet but nothing inside seemed to be even a little damp. This is most definitely a good thing considering that although I'd like a newer laptop, I really don't want to get one right away, and I'm sure not going to carry this desktop beast around with me. SMILE!

By the time I got back home the rain had sort of followed us, but it wasn't even close to what it had been earlier. I got back home and decided to try to do a little more research for my trip next month. I had heard that Roadrunner offered dial-up access in addition to their cable services, but the last time I saw any reference to it there was a fee involved. Considering the fact that I am extremely cheap, I wanted to know exactly what I'd be in for, and even if there would be a local access number where I'm going. So, yet again, I picked up the phone to speak to a customer service representative. I am happy to say though that this experience was nothing like the one I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. (Speaking of that Sprint call, I thought you'd all like to know that they sent me a print bill after all that.)

Anyway, so I called Roadrunner. Nine times out of ten I think I've gotten helpful people when I call, but there's always that 1 percent that worries me so I usually try to avoid customer service whenever possible. But, from the time I got on the phone with this guy to the time I hung up he couldn't have been nicer. I explained to him that I would be traveling and wanted to know if Roadrunner still offered dial-up access, and how much it would cost me. He said that they did, and he looked up the price. It was quite reasonable, only costing me $0.00, so I decided to go for it. You can't beat free, right? SMILE! Well, here's where it got a little tricky. He gave me a web site to visit in order to sign up since I guess he couldn't do it for me. That's one major complaint I have about Roadrunner is that many of their services are unavailable to people using screen-readers because they use inaccessible flash content on their site. So, I was a bit concerned, but figured I'd give it a try. The page came up, and although the links were quite poorly labeled, I was at least able to figure out where I was supposed to go. I attempted to sign up, and the first time it rejected my password. Okay, so this was my fault. They wanted my primary account username, which I never use because it's in all caps and I just don't like it), and I had entered the wrong password. So, I tried again, and got yet another error. This time I was told that my account was all ready signed up for the dial-up service. Okay. I hadn't done it, but I wasn't going to complain. As I was working through these screens, (a bit on the slow side because of the poorly labeled links), I asked him to be patient with me because I was blind and using a screen-reader to access the information. I half expected the "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that" response, but this guy didn't even flinch. He basically told me that it was fine and to take my time.

After finding out that I was all ready signed up, he said that the next step was to download the dialer software that would automatically configure my dial-up connection. Now, as a rule, I never download or install any provider software because it's never quite accessible, but I didn't want to get into that with him. I figured I'd download it, get the phone number that I'd need, and then manually configure my dial-up connection on my laptop before leaving. So, he told me to find a download dialer link. Nowhere on that page did I see anything remotely like a download dialer link. There was a link labeled Downloads, but going to that page brought up a completely inaccessible flash page for Etrust Easy Armor software, which I was only able to read with the JAWS cursor. So, first off, this guy was going to try to get a direct download link to the program. Unfortunately though, that didn't work for whatever reason. Finally, he tried one more thing. He had me look at my address bar, and modify the address slightly. This brought me directly to the download page where I was then able to find the software for Windows XP and download the file.

Okay, so now I had the file. I was really beginning to feel incompetent at this point, even though I knew what I was doing; (it was just the web site giving me issues), but this guy was still being extremely patient. I started the installation, and all seemed to go well at first. I got the traditional things about the path where the program should be installed and that kind of thing and went through it with no problems. Then though the program just sort of disappeared. I knew something was on the screen because the usual colors of my desktop weren't there, but I couldn't get to the program. I was able to get back to the program eventually, but it took a little work. So then it asked me for the area code of the place I was going to go. I entered my area code just to see what would happen, and it came up with some numbers. Thinking that they would be in alphabetical order I went to the top of the list to look for the city and state I wanted. I discovered later that they are in alphabetical order, but it's by state, so all the F's weren't in the same place. Anyway, I got the numbers, and they do have numbers in Fargo! Yeehaa! I was amazed actually because they have several thousand numbers throughout the United States. This is of course good to know for the future.

Anyway, the dialer software has its problems, but I labeled the graphics, and I have the numbers, so I think I'm still going to try manually configuring my dial-up connection on the laptop. But, at least I know there are numbers. and, the guy I talked to was a big help, which made me happy. I even filled out one of those email customer satisfaction surveys which I rarely do. Actually, I used to do them all the time with Earthlink, especially after I started getting frustrated with my disappearing email messages, but half the time the submit buttons produced errors so I gave up.

Anyway, I'm rambling again. Oh well, didn't I say that this was a lot of rambling? SMILE! So, all is good, and I have the information I wanted. I don't remember if I said anywhere here yet that I did officially purchase my train ticket so that's good as well. I plan to get a window seat, which will give me both electricity and an Internet connection, so who knows, maybe I'll have to post an entry from the plain. I just hope nobody decides to try to read what I'm doing over my shoulder. If they try, I'll just turn the monitor off and freak them out. SMILE!!!

Well, I think that's enough for now. I'm sure I'll come up with something else eventually, but I wanted to write about my latest phone call since my last one ended up being such a disaster. later!