User:Woozle/blog/2013/01/19/2215/What Happened with MegaPath

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What Happened with MegaPath
2013-01-19 2215

... and the punchline, too.

Early Friday afternoon while we were out shopping, the internet went out. (This was after the power had been back on for many hours; it hasn't gone out again since then.)

I called MegaPath about the problem and spoke to a rep who seemed to be expecting me to start yelling at him at the drop of a hat, constantly inserting little reassurances about how he understood that this was frustrating and giving essentially meaningless explanations of the tests he was doing. It wasn't quite annoying, but it was definitely odd.

We established that they could not communicate with the equipment (meaning, I think, the DSL modem), but that the loopback time didn't change when I unplugged the DSL line.

To my mind, this says absolutely nothing at all; I don't know why the time would change even if the modem was working... but I don't really know the technical details of the test they were doing.

What the rep seemed to be saying was that this meant it was unlikely to be a break in the wire (or equipment failure on their side of it), but still possible... and at that point he informed me that if they sent out a tech and the problem turned out to be the modem, I would be out not just the cost of the modem ($100 -- high, but acceptable) but also $150 for the visit.

I suggested trying one more test -- going out to the telco "network interface" and unplugging the DSL cable to see if that made any difference; he advised against it... and I realized I wasn't sure which of the two boxes was the right one. (When we had two voice lines with Verizon, they had them both in one box, clearly labeled... now there are two, a small one and a large one, both unlabeled.)

So I said I would go get another modem myself ($25-$60) first, and then call back if that didn't work. To his credit. the rep was very helpful in giving me the configuration parameters... but somewhat overemphasized the advantages of having a MegaPath modem, because they couldn't "support" a 3rd-party one.

I'm not sure how "can't support" is different from "we'll charge you $250 to diagnose and replace it", but never mind.

After hanging up, I did some wire tracing, figured out which box was the right one, and checked it with a phone -- even when it was just DSL, there was always some kind of sign of life -- and got nothing.

At that point I changed my mind and decided it was highly unlikely to be the modem. I called them back (I had to try twice -- each time I got to the open-ticket support line, I would get the "this call may be monitored" message, one ring, and then... silence... I thought I had lost the call the first time; the second time I decided to wait a little longer, and someone abruptly came on the line after about 2 minutes) and authorized them to send a tech. I was told someone would call me back within 4 hours to schedule a time.

6 hours later, nobody had called, so I called to check on it -- and was told that they had identified a technical issue that would affect me, and were waiting for Frontier (whose lines MegaPath uses to provide service) to open a trouble ticket and fix it.

In short, there was a good chance that Frontier would fix the problem overnight.

Next morning (i.e. this morning), the internet was (as I had half expected) still out -- so I called MegaPath again.

This time I was on hold for about 20-30 minutes (on a prepaid cellphone), being told every 2-3 minutes that my call would be answered "in the order it was received". (I had to keep suppressing my inner Grammar Nazi as well as my inner UI design expert insisting that they should say how many people are in line ahead of you so you can get an idea of how much longer the wait will be).

When I finally got through to the rep, I explained to her about the Frontier ticket and asked what the status was. She was unclear on that point, but said that they couldn't send a tech out until Monday. I somehow got the impression that the Frontier issue had been closed, but I don't know if she actually said anything to that effect.

So then I hung up and went out and got a ClearWire account, and here we are.

The punchline: soon after I got email working again, I see the following messages from our neighborhood listserv (many of them showing signs of having been sent from mobile phones):

"Just to echo what Jerma said, Frontier is claiming that ours is the only reported outage--despite the fact that at least three of us have called. They are refusing to send anyone out until Monday at 4pm.."


"I got the people in Indiana to agree to give us expedited service "sometime" tomorrow by telling the supervisor there I was calling TWC if they could not address this before Monday. I also spoke with a local service guy, got the number, and left a message with the local supervisor telling him our whole side of the street was out. I told him that we should take priority over any individual issues on their service schedule."


"About one pm the truck was finishing loading the trees at Sally and Lew's when there was a big crash behind my house. I think the cable overhead line btwn 130/132 snapped and collapsed into the trees. Pretty likely the tree truck did it. They left almost immediately afterwards."


"I just left a message for the local frontier supervisor to inform him of Harold's message. Perhaps with that info they can fix us up more quickly."


"I just spoke with a Frontier tech. He was setting up a crew to re-hang the cable tomorrow. Judging the distance from our brush pile, I'd say it was possible that the load was stacked too high and they caught the cable as they drove off. Frontier and the City will duke it out."


"Service went out at our house at almost exactly 1pm. Hope that helps."


"Frontier was putting up anew cable at About 8p. splicing will be done in AM and we will back in business."


"Came in from our wonderful weather and discovered the house is back online, which I hope means everyone else is too."

It was after reading this that I looked up and noticed that the "DSL" light on the modem had stopped flashing and was now on solid, indicating a connection.

...and just now I took a look at the trouble-ticket on MegaPath's customer portal, and I see it's still open with my authorization to send a tech... and a notice that they'll charge me $125 if I cancel it without at least 24 hours' notice.

I suppose I'd better test the connection somehow (awkward...) and make sure it's working so I can cancel that.... because at this point, it looks like I'm being set up to be held responsible for unnecessarily sending a tech out sometime next week.

I think I should invoice them for my time.

cross-posted to Google+