Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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You know that brain teaser about the wolf the goat and the cabbage?

...Well I've been playing wolf/goat/cabbage with our phones for the last few days.

It wasn't until Wednesday evening that we realised that we had a problem with our phone. I'm phonophobic and tend to use my mobile to call the offspring and G doesn't phone all that much. Anyway, outgoing calls weren't really affected, apart from rather a lot of white noise on the line, it was incoming calls that, well, weren't incoming.

I was supposed to be being interviewed about my attitude to maths by a fellow student on the BA Education course. She'd postponed a couple of times and we were running up to the deadline when I checked my email to find that she'd been trying to call yet had repeatedly got no answer. How could that be? We had been here all the time. I tried phoning our number from my mobile. Deadly silence from the phone, even though it sounded as though it was ringing with my ear to the mobile. Oops!

My first thought was that we had a problem with the phone, so I dug the ancient one out of the cupboard. We normally use one with a mobile handset, which we can use more or less anywhere in the house, but I still keep our original phone, the sort with the curly wire, in case we have a power cut, at which point the newfangled phone gives up the ghost because it needs electricity to work.

I phone our number again. RRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNG, goes the phone. Now it should go, Brrrr-brrrr, brrrr-brrrr, brrrr-brrrr. It should not ring continuously like an alarm bell.

But at least it rings.

So eventually U phones and we do the interview.

Oh, before this, before I knew we had a problem with incoming calls, when I still thought it was just noise on the line, I'd ordered a new microfilter for the ADSL. Never mind, it was only a few pounds and it's neater than the one we've been using. :)

Anyway, I report the problem to BT the following afternoon. (Thinking that an engineer might have to come to the house, there was a bit of frantic tidying, hoovering and dusting to make things presentable.) "I'm sorry," the woman says, "The system is down at the moment, I can't log the fault, but I'll take your number and get back to you."

I give the woman my mobile number as I don't trust the phone to tell me there's an incoming call. (Oh, strangely, the broadband is still working through all this.)

No one gets back to me.

I phone again this morning. This time BT's automatic phone answering system tells me that they're very busy and there's a long queue of 10 to 20 minutes. My heart sinks. But then the recorded voice tells me that if I give them a phone number, they'll call me back to save me waiting in the queue. I give them my mobile number.

And they do phone back this time! And it turns out that it's a fault underground somewhere so they don't need to come to the house and an engineer will be on to it today. And he was, and I received regular texts updating me about progress and it's now all fixed and we have properly working phones and no horrible hiss on the line. Hurrah for BT!

Wait! What was all that about goats and wolves and cabbages?

Well, the first time I tried to report the fault, I used the ancient phone, the one I'd left plugged in because it would at least make a noise to tell us someone was calling, even if the continuous shrilling was hard on the nerves. I dialled the number, BT's automated system answered and asked me to give the number of the phone which had the fault.

Er, right. And how do I do that? The ancient phone is so ancient it doesn't have a tone pad. It does have a number pad and not a dial -- it's not quite that ancient -- but there is no way to enter the number. I hopefully speak the number, just in case they have voice recognition. They don't. There is no way to speak to a human being. So I disconnect, plug in the new phone and re-dial. This time I can enter the number and report the fault though of course due to their non-working system, I had to go through the palavar again today. I momentarily thought I'd use my mobile, but remembered just in time that 0800 numbers aren't free from mobiles.

So I had a phone that could talk to the BT system and a phone that would make a sound to indicate someone was calling but no phone that would do everything, apart from the mobile, which would have cost money and at the time, I didn't know about the call-back system to avoid hanging on in a queue and running up the bill. So I was swapping phones around like mad for the past couple of days. But all is now well again.

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