Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2008

die by the sword

canada's conservative governing party went through their first term of minority tenure not by working with other parties, which one would normally expect governments with a weak mandate to do, but by constantly threatening their opponents with the prospect of allowing the government to fall, triggering an election for which none of the other parties were financially or logistically prepared.

the tactic worked well enough for them over two years that they've immediately decided to go back to it as their first order of business since the federal election in october. they even decided to make a rather pathetic attempt at consolidating power by cutting crucial funding to federal parties, effectively strangling the life from any opposition. that said, since their strategy of threatening to take their toys home and call another election is pretty transparent, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that the opposition parties are willing to find a way to work around it.

i sinc…

bellsh*t

i was smart enough to avoid ever getting internet service from bell, but, as you can see, those who decided to give their service a chance can look forward to a slow, grinding future on the internet, thanks to a new crtc ruling on the subject of "internet throttling".

this process basically allows bell to offer different access speeds to customers paying for the same service. more disturbingly, it gives bell, a privately held company with no responsibility to the public, the exclusive right to determine whose internet access will be slowed and when. despite the fact that the internet, as a part of the national communications infrastructure, is supposed to be administered in the public interest, control over whose access takes precedence is left in the hands of a company that already seems to hold its customers (see previous posts "bellderdash", "insult to injury", "the never-ending story" and "end game") beneath contempt, even when the…

my life as an audience

one of the things that you notice about most people who are really dedicated music fans is that most of them either start out as or eventually become musicians. i know lots of people who are into music and almost all of them are involvedsomehowinmakingmusic (and that's an incredibly incomplete selection).

although i won't claim that i've never dabbled my toe in the music-making waters, with the exception of a couple of noise-based experiments and a touch of insanity during my techno-dj years, i've steered clear of actually attempting any proper musicianship myself.

that means that, as energetic and passionate as i feel about music, my role tends to be one of passive receiver rather than creator. that's an odd position to be in with something you really love. i'm constantly evaluating the skills and performances of people whose talents i admire, knowing that, as "informed" as i like to think my opinion is, i could never put my money where my proverbial…

end game

so they called again.

a brief call, this time, to let me know that, without me calling back, they had somehow known to apply the credit from my ontario account to my quebec account. somehow, despite the fact that no one at bell can apparently access information available to any department other than their own and couldn't tell that there was a pending issue on my account beforehand), they knew to do that for me. (i now owe them a grand total of $4.17.)

somewhere, deep in the subterranean labyrinth that is bell world headquarters, there is an alarm that starts ringing every time someone thinks of calling my number.

i win.

the never-ending story

ring ring

hello?

hello, may i speak to kathleen macdonald?

yes, this is she.

ms. macdonald, i am calling from bell canada regarding your past due account.

this is not the number you should be calling, my friend.

really?

look carefully at your screen. do you see a note on there that i am waiting on a credit from you, in order to clear the balance of my current account?

oh, yes, i see that you are supposed to be getting a credit, but it doesn't tell me when.

can you see what my billing cycle is?

oh, yes, it says you'll be getting your final bill on november 14th.

you mean today.

yes

so why are you calling me if you can see that there's an issue with the account that's pending and that i've already spent nearly four hours on the phone with you getting it resolved? i was told that i wouldn't be getting any more phone calls.

well it's an automatic dialer.

why hasn't my number been removed from the automatic dialer?

i guess the last person you talked to didn't do that.

th…

insult to injury

so i'm at home, trying to get some writing done and the phone rings. although it's from the same phone bank as my previous calls from the bell canada billing office, i answer, preparing, teeth gritted, to explain to yet another uninformed moron that there is an issue with my account that they need to resolve and that they will receive their money (which, in point of fact, they have already received, but which has been credited to the wrong account) in due course.

the result? despite the fact that i stayed on the line for some time, repeating "hello? hello?"there was no response.

that's right. faced with the reality that they have made a mistake and that their own bureaucracy has slowed down the process of correcting it, compounded by the fact that their organisation is completely incapable of transmitting information from one branch to another, bell canada has started crank calling me.

bellderdash

no one really likes dealing with utility companies. i don't know why, but they're always organised in such a way as t to make communication infuriating and to make any deviation from normal needs exponentially harder than it has to be. but even among utility companies, there are some that really do seem to take customer service to a new low.

to that end i present: katred vs. bell telephone

to start with, i moved from toronto, ontario to montreal, quebec on 1 july 2008. shortly before that time (the 19 june to be exact) i called bell, my phone company, to have my toronto number disconnected and my montreal number set up.

it actually took them the better part of a month and three technicians to get my phone line set up at all. but that's not what this story is about.

i made payments on my bell bill, from july on, although this was complicated by the fact that i wasn't receiving my bills. i generally paid when i got phone calls at home reminding me that i hadn't, since i …

no denying

well, it's official. i have reached that moment, which always comes shortly after halloween and its attendant air of macabre festivity, when i am forced to deal with the fact that winter is about to stomp on me with its giant frozen boot. (other than ugg boots, this is the only boot that i don't enjoy seeing.)

in this case, there's been a little bit of strangeness. after all, there was snow on the ground for a few days before halloween (abomination! although it at least melted on the 31st). last week, there were several days of spring-like temperatures, where it was perfectly comfortable to walk around montreal without a coat.

but now, there is no denying. the typical november weather, just above the freezing mark, with a sort of pervasive dampness that no number of layers of clothing can ward off, has descended. it's grey all the time and the light, even as the days reach their apex, is feeble. i love the fall, but november is one of those months that forever seems dead…

68 days later

there's an episode of "the simpsons" that i really admire (well, there are several, but there's one that relates to what i'm feeling now), where lisa finds the skeleton of what many in her american every-town believe to be an angel. lisa, bright, logical and scientific, doubts the skeleton's authenticity, along with the existence of angels. she has her sense of righteousness shaken, however, when she finds out that her mother is one of the people who believes that the angel might be real. the pivotal line in the conversation is when marge says to her "if you can't make a leap of faith now and then, well, i feel sorry for you".

i was remind of that line this morning, when i spoke to some people i know about the results of the american election. despite my initial fears that the campaign was going to descend into levels of mudslinging that had never been seen before, i did get caught up in watching the whole affair. yes, there were some pretty hid…