Dealing with US West in 1997

This has been a year to test the patience in dealing with US West. Here's the tale:

October 20, 1997:
I've had nothing but problems dealing with US Worst since I moved into their service area in 1991. I admit I am a bit of an unusual customer, running a small ISP out of my home, but I'm constantly running into problems where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, much less the fingers and toes.

A couple of years ago, I tried to help the situation by getting a trunk line run into a channel bank, but can't afford to keep that up --- it's silly that they charge more for a trunk line, which uses fewer resources than individual pots lines. I switched back to pots lines (a process which took from March to October, and which, to their credit, they have credited me over $4000 for the delay). The switch changed my phone bill from $1200+/month to about $600/month. Since I did so, user complaints about line noise have increased dramatically --- to levels above what I had before I put in the trunk line (and they never went away, even with the trunk line and running twisted pair right up to the connecter going into the modem).

None of this comes close to the run around I've gotten the last few days. Two of the lines aren't working out of the 23 I have in the hunt group. To start with, they can't even figure out which phone numbers are associated with the lines: they sent out one guy Thursday morning; he couldn't figure them out, so he bumped it up to another group. I waited all day for him (taking the entire day off work, instead of just coming in late as I'd planned) --- he finally showed up around 5 or 6 and he couldn't figure it out either. He called in a whole new trouble ticket to be worked on Saturday in "special circuits" division. I waited all morning Saturday without hearing from anyone, and finally called in around 1pm or so to check status, only to be told "we fixed that yesterday --- it was a cable problem". They hadn't even called to tell me or even left a note! I checked, and of course, the two lines were still dead. She put in another ticket for Sunday and I managed to get a few errands done before the whole day was wasted. I was generous on Sunday and waited until 5:30pm to call in, as it had a 6pm due time, and got "oh yes, they're still coming". Not. Monday morning (today) I got a call on my cell phone from a tech saying she needed to come in --- I said I was at work in Hillsboro and couldn't be there until after 5pm and she said she'd notify the later shift. When I got home a little after 5, as promised, there was a message on my home answering machine --- at about 2:20pm saying to call back by 4:15, even though the earlier tech had called my cell phone. I called the repair center to check on the status, and they said they couldn't get anyone out tonight, it would have to be tomorrow. We'll see...

The above report, with some minor changes, is basically what I sent to the PUC by email on October 20.

November 5, 1997:
That Tuesday, October 21, their tech called and said he didn't think he could make it, would it be ok to do it Wednesday morning. As I was coming down with a cold and expected to stay home Wednesday anyhow, I agreed. I've forgotten the exact details of what went on, but by Wednesday afternoon, they had indeed managed to get the two lines working. By Saturday, October 25, however, I had noticed that 2 *other* lines hadn't received any calls on them. I checked, and sure enough, they were dead. I called in a trouble report and was assured that on Sunday, by 6pm, they would be fixed. As usual, no one showed up. I knew what sort of run around I'd get if I called in again, and debated what to do. Monday evening when I got home, I had a call on my answering machine from the PUC, asking for some additional information. After a little phone tag, I got ahold of them on Wednesday, October 29. He just needed my business name and the phone numbers in question, and said he'd see what he could do. I decided to bite the bullet and see about moving agora to another location, where there are people present during the day. While not optimal, it presented the least difficulty for me and still gave US West a last chance to provide reasonable service under more traditional circumstances. It could only be done, however, if they waived the installation charges. Today, I received a flat out rejection of that offer. At the same time, 8 months after ordering the new lines, they try to claim I've got both flat rate and measured business lines here (apparently a no-no). These 23 lines are the only business lines here, and they're all supposed to be measured. There are flat rate residential lines here, and I've told them I won't fight them if they want to make them all measured. As is their plan, I'm sure, it's just too much to fight all at once, and it'll probably end up saving me (and the other people who have lines here) even more.

In the meantime, the PUC must've done something, as yesterday, November 4, I got a call on my cell phone from a US West tech to see if my problems had been resolved. I said no, they hadn't, and arranged to meet him here a little after 6pm to work on it. He determined that the cable pairs for the two phone numbers in question did not go to the terminals marked with those phone numbers in my garage. Further, as with all the other techs, he had no way to figure out which phone numbers really did appear there. I suggested that the only option was to get the cable pairs for all 23 numbers and map it out from the other end. I don't blame him for being reluctant to do that, as apparently, they don't even have access to a terminal at the office, but have to use a painful voice menu interface to get cable pairs sent to their pagers. As he'd already been working 12 hours, and the central office staff were leaving, he got a supervisor on the line and we arranged for him to come back Saturday morning, having mapped out all the cable pairs so that it would be quick work to fix things then. At least that's my understanding. I have a suspicion that they're going to wait until Saturday morning to try to map things out and it's going to end up taking all day.

I seem to have never gotten back to finishing this report; they did manage to get all the lines working again, but the hunt group's carefully arranged order was all screwed up, and further, was no longer predictable, as it had been before. By this time, I didn't want them to touch things again and left it be.