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An Outrage of Outages
(Bell Canada does it again!) 1
(but see Footnote #3 for how they compensated)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I’m getting mighty sick of it.  Our phone line has been dead since last Friday.  Again.  This time, it’s been four days and counting.  All through the August Long Weekend.

Worse, phones are down throughout the region, so I can’t walk over to one of my neighbour’s cottages and ask to use their line to report my problem.  The only way to report it is to drive ten kilometres over gravel roads to where there is a cellular signal, and then try to call Bell from my Rogers cellphone!  There is irony, of some sort, in that scenario.

Anyway, who wants to spend a good chunk of a day away from our beautiful lake in an endless forest on a sweet summer’s day, just in order to give Bell Canada a dressing down?

So, no phonecalls from friends or family, and no access to the Internet.  You are reading this because I managed to post it, either by going to town and sitting in a coffee shop with free wi-fi, or because the phones finally started to work again, 2  but as of 11:57 PM, Tuesday, August 6, the phone line to my cabin is dead, silent, lifeless.

The really intriguing – but upsetting – thing is that the outage is actually intermittent!  The line woke up for a while on Saturday, and again Sunday afternoon.  I thought things were fixed yesterday afternoon, because there was a dial tone for quite a while.  But then it went off again.

On Saturday I used the briefly functioning line to call Bell Canada and they said that the problem would be fixed “by Monday at 10:00 PM.”  I figured it had something to do with the weekend – being unwilling to pay workers overtime to fix the phones of a bunch of cottagers – but yesterday, 10:00 PM came and went and the silence on the line continued unabated.

This morning, however, it came on once more!  My sister-in-law Diana called from her cottage exulting, “The phones are working!”  I immediately connected, and got some email, including something fairly important for Heather from Troy, regarding her former clients, but no sooner had I answered it, than the deafening silence resumed, and has been continuous for the rest of the day.  Well, not totally continuous: Heather got a phone call from Nicholas, thanking us for his time at the lake, which pleased us both mightily.  But that was nine hours ago.  It’s been complete silence since then.

How I wish to talk to those folks at Bell!  But on the one occasion that I did connect with their repair department, I only accessed the maddening computer voice.  It smugly told me, “Your outage had already been reported, and it will be fixed by Monday at 10:00 PM.... click.”  How do I get to tell them that the problem is intermittent???

Worker:  “I’m testing the line, and there’s a signal.”
Manager:  “Good.  Report the problem fixed.”


So, I did what true old-fashioned deep-woods cottagers always used to do in the days before electricity and phone became standard features of “cottage” life: I did chores – mending, fixing, digging, and repairing.  This old bod sometimes complained, because I tire rather quickly, but I enjoyed the exercise.  Tomorrow I’m going to get out the chainsaw and cut a few more lengths off the trunk of that huge tree in our parking lot.

And when I wasn’t physically at work, I did some creative blogging.  These pages are much expanded, with a brand new entry for July 19, complete with some photographs, and some amusing little links.

All of which is enjoyable, but I still need my phone back!

Consider: we arrived at the lake this year to find our phone dead, because workers in the forest had nicked our line with a power saw.  Then the tornado hit, causing us to lose hydro for five days and phones for two.  Now this.  Heather has numbered the days: since we got here thirty days ago, we have had full utility service for a total of sixteen days.  In effect, almost half the time something has been out of service. 3

I think an “outrage of outages” is quite a suitable word for all of this.

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1  We frequently have troubles with Bell – Eastern Canada’s largest phone service – the worst of which was in 2006.  I wrote it up in this blog, and I still delight in referring to the saga.  Would you like to read a “shaggy dog” story that is totally frustrating?  Click here.
Click here to get back to the narrative.

2  The phones came on briefly in the early morning of August 7, and were soon dead again, but not before I had managed to post this rant.
Click here to get back to the narrative.

3  I am happy to report that when I finally did reach Bell, they refunded me $56.06 for this year’s series of outages. (August 8, 2013)
Click here to get back to the beginning of the article.   |   Click here to get back to the text that was footnoted.

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