I've checked to make sure, and have confirmed that the CenturyLink technical support and customer service departments are open until 5:00 pm EST, and it's still only noon in Minneapolis. Still, it's not until the third attempt at running the gauntlet of the automated response system that I get through to a live tech support representative, who announces herself as Emily.
"How can I help you?"
I've had plenty of time to rehearse this and know that my chances for success are best if I succinctly and accurately describe the precise problem.
I say: "CenturyLInk is our provider for both phone service and internet/television. But every time the phone rings or anytime we hang up the phone, both the television and internet go dark for 5 to 10 seconds before coming back on"
She says nothing for a moment. Then "yes?"
"Is there something we can do about it?" I say.
"I will put you on hold to find out," Emily says, "Remain on the line, please."
My I-phone timer tells me that 24 minutes now pass before Emily returns to the phone. "My technician wants to know if you have an RF filter installed."
"I have no idea," I say. "The internet service was installed about 4 months ago. Maybe the service guy installed one, but I don't know."
"There really needs to be an RF filter," Emily says, with a note of accusation in her voice. "Also, your phone and internet are listed as two separate accounts, on two separate DSL lines. They really should be just one."
"I thought so too, back when they installed things," I say. "But Century told me they couldn't merge them and had to install them as separate DSL lines."
"That's wrong," says Emily, again with the note of accusation as though I have steered this situation. "You need to call tech support, tell them to connect you to customer loyalty, and then tell customer loyalty that you need these two accounts merged."
"You ARE technical support," I say. "I just called tech support, and I'm already talking to you. Can't you just patch me through to customer loyalty?"
"I can't connect you," Emily says. "You have to call technical support back, and tell the next person you talk to that they need to connect you to the customer loyalty department."
I consider this for a moment. "But Emily," I say again. I've already called tech support, and that's why I'm talking to you. Why would calling the same number again help?"
"Not NOW," Emily says impatiently. "When the office reopens on Monday."