Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Do You Wanna Buy Some Tamales?"

So far, all the posts on this blog, with one or two exceptions, have had to do with either poker, or Vegas, if not both.  I really want to stick to those two areas as subject matter.  This story, however, has nothing to do with either poker or Vegas.  I had no intention of writing up this story as a blog post, but when I related this tale to my friends—the same ones that encouraged me to start this blog—they more or less begged me to turn it into a blog post.  So, since as I explained in my last post, I don’t have a poker or a Vegas story to relate, here goes.

Some time back I bought a new router for my home network.  Because the issue is still pending, I won’t mention the brand name of the router; they may still do right by me.  If they don’t, I’ll do a follow up and blast them publically.  The trouble with the router began a few months after I bought it.  Suddenly, it needed to be rebooted rather frequently.  The first few months, no issues, then all of a sudden, every 3-4 days, or perhaps every 9-10 days, I would have to unplug the damn thing and plug it back in to get back online.

This is unacceptable to me for a variety of reasons I won’t go into.  After a couple of times, I called tech support for the router.  Of course, I could immediately tell by the voice on the other end that I had reached a call center in India.  It was therefore a challenge to understand most of the people I spoke to in the course of this saga. 

The first time I called, they suggested I plug the router directly into the wall, instead of through a surge protector.  Second time, they had me change a setting in the router setup.  Third time, they had me do a firmware update.  Fourth time, they had me do a reset to factory settings.  This was after they told me there was nothing wrong with the router, so I knew this wasn’t going to accomplish anything, but this last time I let it go and just hung up knowing that I would be back on the phone with them sooner, rather than later.  Of course, none of these things solved the problem. After a period of time, the router would die and I would have to reboot it. 

So Friday night I was curled up in my bed with my Kindle Fire hoping to surf the web before dozing off.  And I could not, because once again the router had failed.  I let it go for the night and decided to call the company one last time in the morning.

Which I did.  In the past when I called, I had already rebooted the router because I needed the internet and called the company at a more convenient time.  This time I didn’t fix it first.  In fact, just to prove to them that there was nothing wrong with my cable modem or my internet connection, I plugged the modem directly into my desktop and of course, the internet was fine. Although this had nothing to do with my router problem, twice when I was making this connection, I somehow managed to pull the power cord out of my desktop and turn off my computer.  Once I did this before I called them, once while they were “helping” me.  This was not the router company’s fault but it did add to the frustration of the day.

I called again and spoke to another person who had a thick accent and was hard to understand.  I was on hold a lot, and I lost some time because of the my accidentally turning off the PC, and then for some reason, when I reconnected the modem to the router, as per the instructions, the web browser couldn’t reach the router (not the internet, just the router, which it should always be able to do).  I had to continually climb behind my computer desk, a very narrow space, and bend down and squeeze in and climb over things—not a fun experience.  While we were waiting for my PC to reboot, he had me unplug the router, the connection to the modem, the modem, just about everything.  When I connected everything back, the web browser was indeed reading the router and in fact, my internet was now working just fine through the router.  This was to be expected, as I knew that just unplugging the router for a few seconds would give me temporary relief.  But I knew the relief was only temporary.

So when I told him that the internet was up, he said, “Ok, the router is working.  Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Are you kidding me?  He did nothing to help with the problem, except do what I could and had done by myself.  We made no changes to anything, and as I stated at the outset, and as he knew from reading my records, this was a recurring problem.

So I read the poor guy the riot act for about five minutes non-stop.  I stopped short of swearing but I did tell him the router was a “piece of crap.”  As I ran out of breath, I told him I wanted a new router, or a refund, and that I demanded to speak to a supervisor.

Which was fine with him.  But he said I would be on hold for awhile as there was no supervisor available.  I said ok. And then listened to crappy music for the next half hour.  I had already been on the phone with him close to an hour by this time.  I had about a million things on my agenda for this day, so I really didn’t appreciate the lost time, but I waited patiently nonetheless.

Finally he came back and said he was transferring me to a supervisor.  That only meant 10 more minutes of music before getting to a human being.  It was a woman who—you guessed it—had a fairly strong Indian accent.  But after I spewed out my story without taking a breath, she said she would send me a new router.  She gave me the option of sending the router back first and then they would send me a new one, or sending out the replacement first, taking a credit card from me to cover the cost of the router, which would be refunded upon receipt of the old router.

I went for the latter route, and she said she was going to process the exchange.  She put me on hold.  I went to grab my credit card. She came back on and verified the shipping address, the model number, etc.  Then there was a couple of seconds of silence.  Now this didn’t alarm me at first.  Both talking to the original guy and this woman, there were times when there was silence.  Sometimes even during the middle of a sentence, suddenly they would stop talking, I would hear nothing for a few seconds, finally say “hello, hello” and then they’d come back on and apologize for the distraction.  So for a few seconds I wasn’t concerned by the silence.

Let me explain my phone set-up.  I had called them on my land line—yes, I still have a land line, because I’m old—which is a cordless phone (battery powered).  For business purposes, I have incoming calls on the land line automatically forwarded to my cellphone.  This works well for my job, depending on who I’m talking to on my landline, I can either pick up the cellphone call or have it sent directly to voice mail.

So I started getting a bit suspicious that there was no sound on the other end of the phone, and I was just about to say, “Hello, hello?” when I heard the doorbell ring.  I wasn’t expecting anyone, and this was on Saturday morning around 10:30.  I couldn’t imagine who it might be, but the ring gave me a clue.

You see, it didn’t just ring once.  It didn’t just ring twice.  It rang three times.  In instant succession. It was “ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.”  Hmm… me, that smacked of bad news.  You don’t ring a doorbell like that unless there’s something to be alarmed about.  Like an emergency perhaps, either for me, or someone else.  Last time someone rang my bell like that, it was someone asking me if I’d seen their little girl.  Or I was thinking something else…the police?  A warning that there was a gas leak and I had to evacuate?  All sorts of crazy ideas flashed in my mind.  But no way was it an ordinary social call, or even a hated solicitor.  No solicitor would be that rude, right?  A solicitor would politely ring one time, not wanting to aggravate a potential customer, surely.

So instead of saying “Hello, hello” into my cordless phone, I started to get up to answer the door.  And I had a quick thought that I might be taking the cordless phone out of range, and I surely didn’t want to do that.  But then I remembered that I’d taken the phone fairly far outside and not lost the connection, so I proceeded to the door.

Just as I had taken two steps to the door, my cell phone rang!  Are you kidding me?  I’m on one call, and I get another call and a visitor at my door at the exact same time?  Really?

I looked at the cell phone and didn’t recognize the number.  I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately, both from political campaigns and solicitors (despite being on the so-called “Do Not Call” list), so I assumed it was probably something like that.  I rejected the call as I walked to door.  But this is key.  I assure you, I absolutely swear to you, if the doorbell had not rung at that precise moment, I would have answered the call.  I swear I would have.  I’ve done it all week under those circumstances.  But because of the doorbell—the triple ringing doorbell—I didn’t pick up the call, sending it to voice mail instead. 

I opened the door.  Now, I have a fence—locked—that protects my yard, so when the doorbell rings, I just open the door and shout, “Yes?”  And so I did that this time and I heard what sounded like a teenage girl’s voice shout back, “Do you wanna buy some tamales?”

Are you freaking kidding me?  Ringing the doorbell like it’s a goddamn emergency and she wants to sell me some friggin’ tamales?  And who the hell sells tamales door to door?  What kind of a business is that?  Oh and by the way, for those of you who don’t know, I don’t like Mexican food.  I don’t like any kind of Mexican food.  Included in the kind of Mexican food I don’t like?  Tamales.

But I was polite.  I was too busy to offer the (seemingly) young lady—who I assumed lived in my townhouse complex—advice on how to properly ring a doorbell.  I just said “no thank you” and shut the door. 

It was only then that I said into the phone, “hello, hello” but by now I had gotten concerned something was awry.  Immediately after that, I looked down at the phone.  The screen was totally blank.  Not showing the time, as it would if the phone call had ended.  But blank.  That could only mean that the battery on the unit had died.  The cordless phone was completely dead.  I grabbed the other cordless unit to see if there was someway the call was still on the line, but no, that only got me a dial tone.  The call was long gone, my connection to India lost.

I was pissed, but there was nothing to do but call back, go through all the voice prompts, and somehow connect back up with the person I was speaking to.  She had given me her name, but it wasn’t a “normal” English name and I couldn’t understand it.  Before calling though, I suddenly remembered the call that came through on my cell phone; you know, the one I didn’t answer because there was a girl trying to sell me tamales at the door.  I decided to listen to the voicemail that was left.

Shit.  It was the person from India I had been talking to.  To her credit, as soon as my battery died, as soon as she realized we had been disconnected, she called me.  And just my luck, her call came through one second after that stupid girl had rang my doorbell—three freaking times—which is the only reason I didn’t answer it.  If that damn girl hadn’t shown up at that precise moment, I would have taken the call and completely the transaction within a matter of minutes. Talk about a bad beat.

But no, some idiot neighborhood girl decided to ring my doorbell right then to try to sell me a food product I wouldn’t buy if they were being served on Jennifer Tilly’s ample, bare bosom. (Well, ok, maybe in that case…..).


As you might imagine, I was, shall we say, livid.  Before doing anything else, I went over to my front door, opened it, and screamed out at the very top of my lungs, “Tamales?  Freaking Tamales?  Are you freaking kidding?  God Damn freaking tamales???”  Oh, and I can assure you, I didn’t actually say the word “freaking.”

Anyway, I listened to the message, hoping a) I could understand her name and b) she had given me a direct number to return the call—or at least an extension.  No such luck.  I couldn’t understand her name.  But she did leave me a new ticket number to reference when I called back.  Although she read every digit individually, it sounded like she the last “three” numbers were “16-7”  Weird that she would say it that way instead of “1-6-7” but that’s what it sounded like everyone of the three times I played it back.

I called back and went through the million voice prompts and got a human.  I tried to cut to the chase by giving my ticket number.  He punched it in and said, “Josie?”  Huh?  “That ticket number is for Josie ------“  Well that’s not me, I told him, obviously.  But I do have to wonder if Josie was having a problem with her router that day as well.  What are the odds?

Fortunately, he was able to find my records.  It seems that what the woman had actually said was “6-8-7” and not “16-7.”  Language problem.  Anyway, he said from what he could see, there was no indication that an exchange order was to be processed—apparently the supervisor hadn’t entered it yet.  Shit.  He told me I could go online to process an exchange request.

No way, I wasn’t going to start this over.  So of course I asked to speak to a supervisor.  And of course he put me on hold and told me it would be awhile.  And it was. A half hour later, he came back to tell me there still wasn’t a supervisor available and that he would have one call me back.  He assured me it would be within the hour.  So I said ok.

Not wanting to miss the call back, I practically took the phone into the shower with me.  But of course, no call came, not within the hour, not after 90 minutes.  So I called back.  I spewed out my story.  I was put on hold, but not for that long this time.  I got another supervisor, who heard my tale and agreed to complete the exchange order.   Finally.  Done.  Now all I have to do is get the new router, replace the old one, send it back, and see if the new router is any better than the old router.  Only took me five hours of my life, on what was supposed to be a busy day of doing all kinds of really important things.  If I’d had known what I was in for, I would have just said screw it and bought another router, and the hell with the money. 

I can tell you one thing, I’m never eating another tamale again. 


  1. So far, all the posts on this blog, with one or two exceptions, have had to do with either poker, or Vegas, if not both.

    Or boobies.

    1. Seriously, MOJO, the fact is that almost all of my references to "boobies" has been in the context of Vegas, or poker, or both.

    2. Funny! All your reader's reference to boob concerns commentary on the blog's author. Interesting how words can have different meanings.

  2. My company has an office in Pune, India and I often have to take down request numbers when they call me. They often will do strange things when they read me numbers like say 2-2-2 as "twenty-two two."

    I know you didn't say the brand, but with my IT experience I'm just going to go ahead and assume you have yourself a Linksys router there. They're total crap. The one I used to have and the one my mom has needs to be unplugged and plugged back in like 2-3 times a day to correct internet connectivity. I currently have a Netgear router and have had zero problems and it cost half as much as the Linksys.

    1. Thanks, Jeff. I can neither confirm or deny the identity of the router. But I'll remember the Netgear recommendation if the replacement doesn't work out.

  3. Well, I must admit I enjoyed that story. That story reminds me of a nightmare I wake up from and thank God it was just a dream. Do you recall the song they played on the hold? Bali-wood songs perhaps?

    1. I laughed so hard that I have tears streaming down my face and a belly ache! What a story! Somehow, I don't think you'd even eat tamales off of Tilly's supple bosom. I think you have to draw the line .. somewhere.

      If it wasn't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all. How could you get such a bad router, a rude tamale solicitor, a phone battery gone dead, and unintelligible customer service people all in FIVE hours??!!! Sheesh.

      btw, I love tamales, but out of deference to you, I won't eat another one ever again!

    2. Thanks guys, since Luv Malts still hasn't figured out to comment in the right place, I'll combine my response.

      Woody...I think it was unidentifiable instrumental music written just for telephone holds. Sorry.

      Luv....well, given that option, that would be a true test for me, I'd have to admit. And, you talk about everything that happened in a five hour period, but the really horrific timing was my cordless phone dying, the call coming in from India, and the doorbell ringing (from a freaking door-to-door tamale salesperson--who the heck even knew such a thing existed???) all at the same damn time.

    3. I must be really old and not understand the blog world . thanks for being patient on my comment posts! Love your blog and always find your posts worthwhile and interesting. Way to go!

    4. Well, this one appeared right under my response to you, so assuming that's what you intended, you are getting better!

  4. Nice story but do you have something against Mexicans or just the food?

    1. Thanks, Zin.

      I previously did a post indicating that I didn't like Chinese food either. It's just the food I don't like (in both cases), not the people. I judge people individually.

      I'm really just a fussy eater.

  5. Reading your post probably took longer than your router phone calls. : o P

    My guess is that you would do ANYTHING to get at Jennifer Tilly's fun bags. ANYTHING. lol

    1. W e l l


      g u e s s,

      L i g h t n i n g,

      y o u

      a r e


      r e a l

      s l o w

      r e a d e r.

  6. Ummmmmm.....tamales....drool...

    Often it isn't the router but Windows going bonkers.

    There are several freeware replacements for many routers that provide better features and support via forums without accents. dd-wrt is the one I use -- add .com to that if you are also Google challenged.

    With hearing failing, contact with people with accents has become a serious problem for me. I insist on email support from some companies and give points to those who have live chat. Mentioning the "Americans with Disabilities Act" usually gets me what I want.

    1. Thanks, Ken. so far....knock on wood....the replacement router is ok. But if I do run into problems, I'll try the dd-wrt thing. Thanks for the tip.