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Instant Gratification One writer's DSL turns into a SNAFU.

First Person


Several hours of work later (work incidentally performed by my long-suffering son), we can't hook up at all. The computer keeps telling us we have no dial tone. What? The phone jack worked perfectly when we started. Two calls to the Internet company (waiting time only of about 25 minutes each) get the same answer: They can do nothing for us unless we have a dial tone.

A visit from the phone repair service: There's nothing wrong with the phone line. Another call to the Internet company (waiting time only 15 minutes). A courteous technician helps, assigns me a case number (3589-0079.00000) and spends two hours with me trying to locate the problem.

online right away. … Imagine surfing the Net and talking on the phone at the same time." Why wait while the computer dials up the service? Why not be there continuously? Think of the seconds that I could save. Besides, I could get rid of the second computer-dedicated phone line and pay for only one line.

If I order a direct subscriber line — better known as DSL — right away I will get free equipment (a $200 value) and the company will waive fees and send (here is where I first go astray) a free self-installation kit. I like the word free.

But how can I have glossed over that other four-letter word self? In fact, when I call to ask for someone to help with the installation, I am firmly told

At last! We find it. The computer company has programmed the service for my main number. When the phone company has taken out the old computer number, we will be able to use the DSL service I am already paying for.

And, by the way, we will need a "filter" for each phone using the main number — we have five; the starter package included four filters. A trip to Cir cuit City and Radio Shack reveals that they no longer carry the filters, but I can order any I need online at $9.95 apiece plus shipping.

A call to the phone company: It is necessary for me to wait about two business days for them to discuss the switch with me. Promptly at the end of that time, the company representative calls. Of course I can get the line switched in a week — for $80 and for a promise that someone will be at the house for a designated four-hour period.

Bulletin: The phone company doesn't come at that time (computer problems they report) but they will be there soon (confirmation number: 432-707-374). I wonder if any of my friends and family miss all the e-mail I used to send. S

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