Last weekend, during the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, our internet connection provided by Qwest went down.
Off and on, and off and on again until I was near tears.
We use an internet connection to run our credit cards, and to have no way to pay their tabs, we had people walking out.
I called Qwest, and after a 40-minute wait on hold, was transferred to someone else and continued to hold for another 10 minutes. This is all, of course, while we’re super busy and people are lining up to order food.
I was told by the person who finally took my call that my area was using “too much internet right now” and that they were aware of the problem and should have it “fixed by July twenty-third”.
As if the internet were a tangible thing, something to 86 on a menu when you sell too much of it.
I explained that our town of 10,000 people was hosting a very large motorcycle gathering, many of whom were in my restaurant wanting to pay their tabs via our internet connection, and was told that there was nothing she could do. She suggested that the bikers were probably using the few ports that we had and causing them to crash. As if it were our fault…
Too much business.
I printed off a quick notice for the front gals to leave at the counter.
48 hours before this event, I wanted to fill my propane tank for our grill and instead of going to my usual gas station, I decided to patronize a new locally-operated station on the other side of town. They had just re-opened, and also manage another station near our restaurant that we frequent often for a quick stop to grab milk or fill the delivery van with gas.
When I arrived, I was told that they were unable to take any debit or credit cards; their computers were down. I saw how stressed out they were, turning away sale after sale as people pulled in for gas only to leave and take their business elsewhere. I offered to pay with cash, and the gal behind the counter smiled.
“Thanks,” she said. “I can just write down what you buy and make change and ring it up later. I just can’t give you a receipt.”
But finding someone trained to fill my propane tank proved to be a problem, too. Everyone looked at each other with wide eyes until three people went outside together to try to figure out how to fill my portable tank. I wasn’t in a huge hurry, but needed to get back to work. After 15 minutes, I began to get anxious but still hung out inside the store, making small talk with the ladies who were obviously having a bad day, telling them that I completely understood how stressful computer problems were, and especially having to turn away customers because of it. One of the ladies pulled out a manual credit card imprinter (you know, the ones that you set the card in and physically *chunk chunk* the slider across to get a carbon imprint?) and said that she finally gave up using it. I didn’t ask why.
My tank finally filled, I also purchased a quart of vanilla ice cream so that my folks could try my pork belly brittle that night, and I wished their crew good luck. I couldn’t help but notice that I left the station 25 minutes after I had first pulled in.
My thoughts turned to that manual credit card imprinter, and I looked up the gas station’s phone number. After introducing myself as the owner of Paizano’s, and mentioning the problems we were having, I asked if we might be able to use their imprinter since their computers were back up and running. The woman on the phone was empathetic, and said she’d have to ask the owner and get back to me. I thanked her and waited for a phone call.
Minutes later, I was told that they were unable to help, that the owner didn’t think it wasn’t a “good idea”.
You can draw your own conclusions as to how I was feeling at that point. Or even why I found the time to blog on this.
My frustration level hit the maximum, and I just couldn’t fathom telling another locally-owned business (let alone one that I do so much business with) that I wouldn’t help them with something so easy to fix.
I cried. Like a child, alone in my office, not-so-shocked that a big corporation let me down but just feeling kicked after being told no by a neighbor.
I put an SOS call on my personal Facebook page, and one of my other neighbor’s helped by borrowing a manual swiper from someone for us. I’ve kept it for the entire week, just in case the bike rally this weekend caused the same problem by using too much internet.
Today’s the last day of the races, everyone will go home, our internet will be back to it’s shaky normalcy, and we can catch up from another busy weekend.