Explanation

A big apology is due to all readers for my sudden disappearance last week. While parents, friends and readers alike were busily writing my obituary, I’ve spent the last week and a half in a game of tag with Primus Telecom trying to get them to reconnect my phone.

Being a child of the digital age, I communicate with friends and colleagues primarily by email, online chat programs or SMS. For that reason, I’ve never been big on checking the real life mailbox. Unfortunately, most businesses still bill by snail mail, even (inexplicably) ones like Primus who offer internet connection as one of their core businesses.

So what happens when you dont check the mail for a month? You don’t realise you have bills to pay and they disconnect your goddamn phone. For a desperate net addict like me this is a very serious problem.

Apparently, when you don’t pay your phone bill in time, Primus has a policy of keeping it connected but disabling the ability to call out on the phone. You can still receive calls, you just cant ring any more charges up. They call this “barring”. If you still dont pay it within the specified period, they fully disconnect it.

Being that I rarely use my land line for anything except ordering pizzas, I was unaware that it had been barred at all. My internet connection is always-on ADSL which doesnt entail a local call charge like a dialup connection would. Thus, I was unaware there was a problem until the phone was completely disconnected and I couldn’t log on to the internet.

Obviously, as soon as I realised the phone had been disconnected, I got in touch with them and paid the bill and asked for it to be reconnected. No problem.

Or so I thought.

The guy who I had waited 45 minutes to talk to informed me that once my payment had cleared, the phone would be back on within a couple of hours. I went home and took a nap, then woke up and tried it again. Nothing.

At 4pm I drove back to the payphone to ring them again and find out what was going on. After a another good half hour or so on hold, I finally reached a customer service rep who told me that the first person I talked to thought I was merely barred, and had acted to remove the bar. This wasn’t particularly helpful since my phone was completely disconnected.

I was transferred through to the reconnection department, which promptly informed me that 4pm Western Standard time was outside of their business hours and that I had to call back between 9am and 5pm EST.

On Friday I went down to the payphone at about 2:15 and tried again. Unfortunately for me, all their customer service representatives were on other calls (how unlucky eh?) and it must have been a particularly big backlog, because it took until 3:10pm for me to get through. That’s 55 minutes standing at a payphone only to again be told that I had to call back in business hours.

Since that would mean Monday at the earliest, I was significantly pissed off at this point, and let the operator know. Not a lot she can do about it from the call centre in Bangalore though. All in all, it was Wednesday just gone before I finally got the phone reconnected, and another 2 days to get the ADSL codes re-entered by Telstra to reactivate my broadband connection.

And here I am. Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I was hoping that ChrisV would have kept the home fires burning while I was away, but with no non-internet related way to contact him, he probably had no idea what the problem was anyway.

So has anything interesting happened since I was away?

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