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Newsflash: Laurel & Hardy work for Iceland Telecom

You wouldn’t believe the farce that played itself out chez YT yesterday.

It all started last weekend when the telephone lines started acting funky. There was this ghoulish buzzing on them, as though some ancient poltergeist was striving to communicate with YT and her kin, sometimes accompanied by a dialtone and sometimes not. Similarly the Internet connection was not working as it should – at times excruciatingly slow, at other times non-existent.

Turns out there was work being done down at the corner on some decades-old wiring. I noticed they had been digging in the dirt for some weeks down there and that a few days ago someone had pitched a white tent over the hole. According to Iceland Telecom they were replacing the antiquiated connector box with a new one. Then on Monday came an announcement: our phone lines [and DSL service, of course] would be inactive from 9.30 yesterday morning onward, thoughout the day.

So, no getting online for our YT yesterday. Which was rather unfortunate, as am in the midst of copyediting a magazine that is approaching a deadline and am constantly sending documents back and forth. Nothing to be done, though, except to keep checking the phone to see if we were up and running. Finally, at around 3pm, it was back on. However, there was no DSL.

At that point I had to go out, and returned just after 6. The first thing I asked AAH on arriving home was whether the DSL line was back on. It wasn’t. So I did the logical thing: sauntered off down to the corner to have a word with the Iceland Telecom guys.

They were just packing up and getting into their van. Two of them.

YT: [arriving at van] Hi. So… what’s the status? I have no DSL service.
Iceland Telecom Guy: [looking ever-so slightly alarmed] Oh? Erm… what’s your phone number?
YT: [gives phone number. ITG makes note as other ITG gets out of the van and makes for the tent. Slowly.]
ITG: [Clearly wanting nothing more than to finish for the day] Erm… have you tried restarting your wireless router?
YT: No, I haven’t.
ITG: Try restarting the router. That often helps.
YT: [suspicious] Really? Will that fix it?
ITG: Oh, sure. It often does. And try restarting your computer, too.

So YT blithely returns home and restarts the router. Nothing. Restarts the computer. Nothing. Gets on the blower and calls tech help at Og Vodafone.*

Tech help: Og Vodafone tech help, how can I help?
YT: […help!]

So Og Vodafone tech help – which incidentally is always supremely helpful – tries everything to get the damn router to connect to the DSL line. Computer settings, restarting, restarting their central services, measuring the strength of my telephone line, etc. etc. Yet curiously, no matter how often I restarted the router, it didn’t seem to be calling in to the central port, they said. In the end, after a futile search for the problem, the Og Vodafone techie guy gave up and delivered to YT the sorry news that the router must be defective.

Just then, who should arrive home but AAH [she’d gone out in the meantime]. Hearing what her mother was up to, she was suddenly reminded of a most intriguing and oh-so significant piece of information.

AAH: We have somebody else’s phone number.
YT: […]?
AAH: Yeah, I called [friend] today and she was like, “Where are you calling from” and I was like “Home” and she was like, “But that’s not your phone number.”
YT: […]

So long story short, Laurel and Hardy down there in the tent had clearly just had a bunch of wires hanging out from the old box and, not knowing where they belonged, decided just to stick them anywhere, hoping nobody would notice.

You can believe that our YT was pretty livid at that point. Which meant it was time to call Iceland Telecom.

Iceland Telecom Tech Help: [sullen voice] Iceland Telecom tech help.
YT: [explains what the geniuses down in the tent have done.]
ITTH: [Laughs.]


YT: [voice like death] I’d like this to be fixed right now.
ITTH: Sorry, that’s not going to be possible. All the technicians have gone home.

[Shall I spare you the details of what ensued? I think I shall. Suffice it to say that I spewed venom for about half an hour. Consider: I had someone elses’ phone number. So presumably someone else had mine. And that someone else could very well have called, oh, say… Japan, and talked for the entire evening. Or even just somebody’s cell phone at the fricking 20 odd-kronur per minute that it costs to call a cell phone with another phone company. For fuck’s sake. I mean, had Iceland fricking Telecom been a proper service company, or been located in, oh, say the United States, they would probably have got someone out there immediately and fixed their own mess. But… no. Here in Iceland, they laugh.]

Surprisingly enough, no amount of ranting could convince those $#*&%* at Iceland Telecom to call out emergency services to fix the problem. Well they could – they very graciously informed me – but YT would then have to foot the bill. [Damn, I get so agitated just thinking about it I could seriously break something!] In the end it was Og Vodafone [my heroes] who came to the rescue and said they would not charge me for any calls during the time that this seriously major cock-up was in effect, and that they would moreover would forward all calls to my home number to my cell phone.

But the best was yet to come. In the midst of cooking dinner, the phone rang. EPI and I looked at each other.

I was the one to pick up. “Hello?”

There was a pause on the other end. Then the caller hung up.

A minute later, it rang again. Again it was YT who picked up.

YT: Hello?
Caller: Who is this?
YT: Are you calling for Anna**?
C: Yes.
YT: [explains situation]
C: Well, I’m Anna.
YT: Oh. Hi. I’m the person who has your phone number now. Presumably you have mine?
C: I have somebody’s number who hasn’t paid their bill, because the number is closed. When I try to make a call, I get a recorded message saying I have to pay the bill to have the phone opened again. [pause] Is your number closed?
YT: [indignant] No, my number is not closed!
C: Well, then somebody else has your number.

Yes, dear readers, such was the farce that played itself out chez YT last night. I was left high and dry without an Internet connection [no amount of jonesing for a signal delivered results, despite there being dozens of wireless connections in the vicinity – all security-enabled] and as I write this, at 10.40 the next morning, it is still the case. About an hour ago I went down to the corner and yelled at some jerk in the pup tent who yelled back, pointing his finger threateningly and shouting, ‘Don’t you yell at me!’ Who knows if I shall ever be able to get online again in my own home [yes I do despair, yes I do] but if I do you can bet I shall be posting this and urging everyone who may be reading this and who is a subscriber with Iceland Telecom to switch over to Og Vodafone right now because Iceland Telecom is shite. Oh and congratulations to all who have managed to get to the end of this rant which I do believe is the longest blog post I have ever written. Oh yes, the weather is rainy and blustery and Laurel, Hardy and co. were looking snug as bugs in their pup tent with a heater and everything. Just like camping. I’m only surprised they weren’t also playing cards and drinking beer. And cooking marshmallows.

* It’s like this: a few years ago, Iceland Telecom was a state-owned company and had a monopoly on all telephone services in the country. When new regulations were passed, new telephone companies sprung up, one of which is Og Vodafone. However, Iceland Telecom still own and are responsible for the basic infrastructure. Unfortunately, as this little anecdote illustrates.

** I had been told the name of the person whose phone number I had. Anna is a pseudonym, though.

NB: Posted at a wireless hotspot in downtown Reykjavík at 15.01 pm. Argh!!