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Writers Depend on the Internet

March 17, 2009 8 comments

Continue reading to discover what happens when a writer loses access to the Internet (through no fault of her own), and you'll also learn why I've been absent.

It all began toward the end of last month. That evening I sat down in front of my laptop to begin work, but when I opened my Firefox browser, I discovered a "Page cannot be found" message. I called tech support to see if my ISP (Internet Service Provider) was having trouble with the DSL in my local area. The gentleman reported no problems in my area. He went on to say the problem was that my Internet had been temporarily disconnected. Huh? I knew I'd recently paid the bill, so why did they disconnect me? I couldn't call the local office to find out the answer to that question until the next morning (it was after business hours).

I called the local office the following afternoon for answers. When the lady answered, I explained the situation and let her know what tech support had told me. She said the reason my DSL had been disconnected was because I didn't have a landline with their company. I told them when they installed my DSL and turned it on over two years ago they knew I didn't have a landline. The lady then informed me that the FCC guidelines now state that they can't run naked DSL without the customer having a landline as well. I proceeded to let her know that my job requires me to have Internet access and without it I'm losing a lot of money. When she refused to reconnect me, I said, "That's just not right," and then I hung up.

Soon after I ended my call as a VERY unsatisfied customer, I spent the rest of the afternoon phoning other ISP providers with the hopes of finding access within 24 hours, because I had a deadline approaching that I needed to meet. I found two providers who could help me: Verizon and Alltel. Since my husband and I have cell phone service through Verizon, I called them first Unfortunately, Verizon only offered limited Internet access, and since I spend several hours a day on the Internet, I needed unlimited access. My next call was to Alltel. Alltel was able to help, but it cost me over $400 and once I gained access to the Internet that night with their wireless Internet, I was unable to stay connected, and when it did stay online for a few minutes, it was VERY slow. I ended up having to cancel Alltel and couldn't find another ISP in my area. I even called DirectTV and Dish Network, but they couldn't get service to my area either (I live in a rural area, which is 14 miles South of the nearest town). Honestly, if anyone would have been able to successfully connect me that day, they would have gained a possible customer for life and a glowing review that I would have given them permission to use in all their promotional materials and on their website.

On the fourth day, I gave in and called my previous ISP back. I wasn't a happy customer and didn't want to take them back, but at the time I needed to pay my bills, so I had no other choice. I gritted my teeth as I called back and told the lady who answered that if they'd just turn my DSL back on so I could meet my deadline that was approaching and get back to work I'd take their landline, and they could install it whenever they get to it. To make an already long story short, I was told I had to drive over 14 miles to the phone office to fill out the application and pay the activation fee, and then after they installed my phone, they would turn my DSL back on. Yes, she said "AFTER" they install the landline my DSL would be turned back on!

Despite everything, I did as instructed and approximately one week later my landline was installed and they reconnected my DSL. From what I understood, they turned my DSL back on sooner then they usually do after installing a phone, so I did thank them for giving me Internet access back on the same day as they installed my landline.

I guess you're wondering if I was able to meet my deadline and what I did without Internet. Well, I drove to my mom's and borrowed her computer and Internet so I could meet the deadline I was worried about. After I met the deadline, I checked my e-mail and discovered that I had a couple of e-mails from companies who wanted to hire me to write for them. I wasted no time in responding to them, but they hired another writer because I responded late. I understood why they had to hire someone else, but I could have had two new clients if my ISP knew the definition of true customer service.

Finally, I was able to catch up on some personal projects, and one of those projects was an affordable writing course that I've had plans to launch for a while now. That said, if you'd like to learn how to write for profit, check out my first writing course entitled Freelance Writing for Beginners.

There is one big lesson I learned from this whole mess: we writers don't realize just how much we really do need the Internet until it's gone. I hope you never have to go through what I just did.

Photo credit: Lane Erickson

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8 comments: to “ Writers Depend on the Internet so far...

  • Lillie Ammann 12:41 AM CDT
     

    Misti,

    What an experience! I can't imagine life without the Internet. There have been a couple of times when my server was down for a few hours, and I couldn't access my e-mail or blog, and that was bad enough. To be without the Internet for days would be really tough.

  • Anne 9:52 AM CDT
     

    Now that's news to me. I know a lot of people in my area that have "naked DSL" (that's DSL without a phone line) and there's been no word of being cancelled. I swore I recently saw a AT&T commercial for that too. Me thinkith that your phone company just changed their policy but decided to blame it on the FCC.

  • Misti Sandefur, Christian author/freelance writer 4:33 PM CDT
     

    Anne, believe me, it was news to me as well... shocking news! Both hubby and I believe that since many folks are switching to cell phones for a cheaper phone bill, this is my provider's way of getting customers back. In fact, hubby told me I should have told them I wanted to see the FCC rule they referred to, but since I needed to be back online to pay my bills and feed my family, I didn't argue too much; however, they knew I wasn't a happy customer, and I'm pretty sure I was a memorable one.

    I'm still searching for a high speed Internet provider, and once I find them, my current provider will lose a customer. I have thought about Hughes.net and know I can get them, but there's two problems with Hughes: You can't play online video games or watch movies as well since it's Satellite Internet.

    Lillie, it was very tough, and I lost quite a bit of money. I hope it's something I don't have to experience again.

  • Michele 11:24 PM CDT
     

    How awful!! :-\

    I know what you're going through because I'm now living on an Amish farm -- without electricity!! -- and so I'm using the Verizon USB modem and have no choice but to traipse to the coffee shop for free wi-fi when I need to do a lot of uploading or downloading, etc.

    Is there a coffee shop near you?? That's worth checking out!

    Also, maybe you could consider getting dial-up (just in case!). You'd have that if something happened.

    Too bad you lost those two clients but Spring is here, so there's lots of fresh opportunities!!

    *smiles*
    Michele

  • Irreverent Freelancer 9:27 AM CDT
     

    ARGH! That sounds horrible. I too live in a very rural area with limited options, so I can empathize. How long were you actually without an Internet connection? I can't even imagine. I get withdrawal when I'm on vacation for a few days!

  • Misti Sandefur, Christian author/freelance writer 9:02 PM CDT
     

    Irreverent Freelancer, I was without it for almost two weeks, and believe me, I was having withdraws, but I was more worried about losing my current clients than not having access. I enjoyed working on some personal projects that didn't require the Internet, but I still needed access to pay the bills.

    Yes, living in a rural area stinks. I wish they had more choices for those of us from rural areas, and because I live outside of town, I don't have the option of wi-fi unless I want to drive into town and that's too much with gas prices nowadays. Also, because my mom lives in town, I just spent the night with her and used her computer and Internet to meet the deadline I was worried about.

    Regarding Michele's statement on dial up. Dial up requires a landline, and since that's the reason they shut my DSL off, I did not have a landline and was trying to avoid the extra expense. Furthermore, dial up is just way too slow and not worth the money.

  • Michelle Kafka 1:44 PM CDT
     

    So sorry to hear of your experience.

    We have a cable connection and experience problems only rarely but nothing like you described. I couldn't imagine. I'd be so lost without the Internet.

    Hope you don't go through longish problems again.

  • tarascribe 1:34 AM CDT
     

    Hi Misti,

    Yes, the Internet has given us plenty of opportunities to express our love for writing, and earn money from it.

    Cheers!

    Tara