Category Archives: Teaching

Continuing with the Internet Crusade

So all of a sudden during a Tuesday morning class, neither internet was actually providing internet service. I had to put in an emergency absence form for the second half of the shift. The satellite internet hadn’t been working since late afternoon on the day before, so I had gone into the class knowing I didn’t have the backup. Then the Blue Communications internet just sputtered and died.

Unraveling this mess took more than a week. Beginning with the satellite internet, our regular monthly payment day is the 26th of the month. We normally pay it a day or so beforehand, but this month one thing after another kept us from actually paying it until the 26th. When we called to see why it wasn’t working after our payment, it seems that the contract had been signed on the 24th even though it hadn’t been installed until the 26th. Thus, the company decided we were delinquent in our payment on the 25th of this month and shut down service. Whatever. We were now current and on the 27th, we had satellite internet again.

Now for the Blue Communications internet story….

After trying to log in to the company site, we received an error message stating our SIM card was not functioning. This internet service uses a modem that uses something like cell phone signals to provide us internet way out in La Yacata. So since this was a SIM card issue, we took the modem to the office in Moroleon. We explained what the problem was and they started shaking their heads. We would need to call the technical service number for assistance. They couldn’t do a thing. The installer did plug it in at the office and verified that it wasn’t working correctly, but that was all. We asked whether they had another modem in the office in case the one we had couldn’t be fixed. I was assured that they did. I should have asked them to show it to me though.

Anyway, we went home with our modem and had my son call technical support. He was to be our representative in this matter for several reasons. One is my husband hasn’t a clue on internet/computer related gadgets. Secondly, though I do, I have difficulty understanding Spanish over the phone. So our teenage son took up the gauntlet.

Tuesday afternoon, he was on the phone over an hour doing troubleshooting. You know, move the modem here, press this button, now log in and tell me what it says. Nothing, ok, now reset this and reconnect that and tell me what is happening. Anyway, after all that, the tech confirmed that there was something wrong with the SIM card. He assured us that a report would be filed and that within 1-2 days, it would be resolved.

On Wednesday, the internet was still not working. So my son called again. He spoke to another tech person who said that no report had ever been filed on Tuesday. He assured us that the issue would be resolved in 1-2 days.

On Thursday, he called again. This time we instructed my son to say that it either gets fixed or we cancel the service. After being referred to a manager and then referred to that person’s manager, the cancelation request was finalized. I’d receive an email in 1-2 days to confirm that our contract had been canceled.

Meanwhile, on Friday we went to the office in Moroleon. We requested a new modem and a new contract. Now they didn’t have a modem for us. Huh! Go figure. If we would come back in the afternoon, they should get delivery by then. Meanwhile, they had a 5 MBPS modem that they could rent us. The owner had gone to the U.S. and didn’t want to let the contract lapse.

I told them that I wasn’t interested in that modem. Our modem had 10 MBPS and while it wasn’t consistent, when it worked, it worked well.

We returned that afternoon. Nope, no modem. Try back on Monday. On Saturday, the internet was working as well as it ever did. Good for a time, then dropping, sometimes coming back, sometimes not. So my weekend classes were not a bust after all. Plus, since the satellite internet was working again, I could do the ol’ switcheroo in the event one internet lost its signal.

On Monday, my husband went to check to see if the modem had arrived. The lady in the office gave him a hard time about canceling the previous service and trying to set up another one. I don’t understand why. We have no contract with Blue Communications. It’s set up on a month-to-month plan. The modem we bought outright. However since that particular modem was tied to that particular month-to-month service, in order to get a new modem, we had to cancel the old one.

Anyway, she told my husband to try the rental 5 MBPS modem out and see how that worked. So he brought it home and I used it to teach. It worked about as well as the other one. Only I still didn’t want to “rent” the modem. What happened when the owner decided to come back to Mexico? We’d be out of a modem.

My son called the support line again. He said that the person he spoke with this time apologized for the problems we’d been having as well as for her co-workers who didn’t seem to be able to figure out what they were supposed to do to file a report. Of course, no report of the internet outage had been filed for our account, nor any cancelation request sent through. As long as we paid our monthly fee tomorrow, the service would continue uninterrupted.

So we went back to the office in Moroleon to return the modem. We requested the deposit for the new modem and monthly contract back. Of course, they didn’t have the money.  The lady suggested that she could apply the balance to our monthly fees, which would pay us 3 months and change in advance. Well, it’s not what I had planned for that money, but I guess it would do. She gave me a piece of paper with words to that effect. 

Despite all of our precautions, the last day of our monthly plan, our internet service was cut off.  We learned an interesting tidbit. Once your account has been deactivated, you can not access the customer service line by entering your account number. It’s like blocked or doesn’t recognize it or something. So since we couldn’t get ahold of anyone by phone, we went back to the office in town. They said that our payment had been made and gave us a receipt. When I asked whether someone could call and find out what was wrong with our account, the service technician told me to send them an email insisting our service be fixed.

Umm, if I don’t have internet at home, how would I send an EMAIL which requires the INTERNET? Go to the Cybercafe and wait there for a response? So that was completely useless advice in my opinion.  Anyway, since the backup satellite internet was still chugging along, I had my son log on to the company website and chat with a representative. She told us that there had been no report made for service repair but there was a cancellation request. Válgame dios! (Oh my god!) She asked if we would like to reactivate our account and the next day we were back in business. Well, as much as we ever were with this internet provider.

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Filed under Economics, Employment, Teaching

The Internet Saga Part 3

That comment the satellite installation guy made about an antenna for the BlueComm modem put a bee in my bonnet. I checked the modem we had and most models came with those rabbit ear antennas–ours didn’t. They weren’t expensive, less than $20, so I thought I’d order some from Amazon.

Well, the company that sold them didn’t ship to Mexico. Ok, I’d have them shipped to my friend in the US and she could send them to us. It would be a small package, no big deal. Boy was I wrong!

She tried Fedex. She had added a few things to my care package, including makeup and a cloth quiver for my son’s arrows. She was told that anything manufactured in China cannot be sent to Mexico. Both the quiver and the antenna were manufactured in China. Then that personal items like makeup also could not be sent. She said she felt like I was in jail and unable to receive items. Sure enough, cosmetics are prohibited items along with Garbage Pail Kids Cards, you know those awful cards from the 80s with ugly drawings of children like Pikey Nose Marge. I was unable to find anything specific about imports from China being restricted although technically the antennas would fall under the electronic equipment category I expect.

My friend then tried the DHL office. This time she tried to send just the quiver and antenna, no other “personal effects.” Sure, they’d send it but it would cost $140 USD. Holy crap! (See DHL import guidelines)

The offical USPS site doesn’t list cosmetics or things made in China as prohibited, so that was her next attempt.  Success! The package with the antennas and quiver would cost $22 USD and be here in 4-6 weeks.  Well, of course, that doesn’t figure the gas shortage in large portions of Mexico. So I expect it will take longer. 

In the meantime, I’ve had to cancel my online classes. The unseasonable rains have affected both internet modems. I’m trying not to dwell on that lost income.

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Filed under Economics, Mail Service and Shipping in Mexico, Teaching

The Internet Saga Continues

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Remember how one of the ladies that makes tortillas for my sister-in-law said that Los Amoles, the community WAY up the mountain had internet service. She gave my husband the contact number one day and we called. It took two days for the salesperson to return the call, but he did and I set up an appointment for him to come out and visit us the next day at 11 am.

He arrived at 11 am which was the last time he arrived on time throughout this entire agonizingly long process. We were ready to sign up immediately. It was satellite internet, via Star Go,  not wireless internet. It was designed to be used by banks and other institutions so there was always steady internet. It used the Hughes Network System, which has been around a while.

We had to be approved of course. So we gave him a copy of our property certificado (ownership certificate) and my husband’s IFE. There was some holdup at the main office because there wasn’t a street address but we explained that the certificate does list the block, lot number, and fraccionamiento (neighborhood) so the appropriate address would be domicilio conocido fraccionamiento La Yacata. (Known address Neighborhood La Yacata). Plus the salesperson sent the GPS coordinates of the house. With that, we could proceed.

We waited another week for a copy of the contract. Every day we contacted the salesperson who called the main office where he was told the office lady was busy and hadn’t gotten around to our contract. He called us the following week to tell us we should be receiving the contract, sent via email, that afternoon. We didn’t. Three days later, he came out to the house and called the main office from here. The office lady said that my email didn’t give an address–What on earth did that mean? No email gives our address. We went back and forth with the salesperson about this. So the lady at the office asked if I had an alternate email address. I did. The contract was sent. When I checked the contract, the original email was misspelled. That was the problem.

So, I entered a virtual signature just like I do for my taxes and sent it back. Nope, not good enough. We had to go to a cyber cafe to print the 10-page contract out and sign it, scan it and send it back via email. Nope, not good enough. Each page of the contract needed to be signed. Another scan and sent. Nope. Each page has to be signed on the right side. Another printout, sign, scan and send. Nope. It must be signed in blue ink, not black.  HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! Another printout, signed with blue ink, scan and send. Finally!

The installation would be scheduled in about a week. So we waited. By this time, we’d lost any enthusiasm we had for this internet service. A week later, the installation guy came. He unloaded his equipment and started swearing. He had forgotten the antenna. He asked if we really needed it installed today. He had driven from Leon. Yes, we wanted it installed. So he made some calls. About an hour later, he tracked down an antenna here in Moroleon and went to pick it up.

Installation took about 3 hours. The installation guy said that the service would be bad for about 24-48 hours as it calibrated. Fine. He also mentioned that the internet we already had would work just fine if we had an antenna. Hmm, I’d have to look into that.

Over the next few days, we were further disappointed with the service. Even though I was very clear that I needed enough Mbps to teach online, the package only came with 3 Mbps. So we called the salesperson again and asked if we could increase the service to at least 5 Mbps. He said we would need to call the main office. So we did. My son asked about the high ping–more than 300. The service technician said that since it was a satellite service, it would always have that ping, making it usable for online gaming and Skype calls. We decided to up our service to 5 Mbps anyway.

The service technician sent me a list of requisites via email. Among them was a picture of the modem and router numbers. No problem. I even typed the numbers below the photos. The pictures were not clear enough. So we took another set and sent them. Nope, still not good enough. Ok, a third time. After those too were rejected I decided to cancel the request. We’d manage with the 3 Mbps.

And we are. The satellite internet works for everything but classes and gaming. It’s stable, reliable if a bit slow and extremely expensive! The amount of internet we use for other activities means that we don’t have enough for the full month, about 3 weeks really. Then it becomes even slower, rendering it useless for most things. 

We’ve discussed trying to get out of the 2-year contract, but for right now, we’ll let it stand. Something is better than nothing right?

 

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Economics, Teaching

Internet Saga

i-dont-always-have-a-slow-internet-connection-23899039

If you remember, after quite a quest, we managed to get internet service at our house in La Yacata. The first month, it worked like a dream. Thus, my decision to move my office from The Little House in Sunflower Valley to La Yacata.

Then came the time to pay for the second month of service. We headed to OXXO, which seems like it just might make banks obsolete, to pay the bill. And the next day, our internet service tanked. Instead of getting upload/download speeds of between 8 to 10 Mbps, they hovered at .08 or less. Nothing would load.

We thought perhaps it was a one-day deal. Maybe there were some adjustments being made to the service. Maybe a glitch in the system. After all, the month before had gone without a hitch. Only, the bad stats continued and continued and continued. I canceled a week of classes.

We called the service support line. After all sorts of “troubleshooting” that we had already done, the service representative hung up on us. So the next day, we tried again. This time the service representative admitted that since we were officially outside the coverage area, there wasn’t really much he could do to help us.

So we went to the place where we had bought our modem and requested a service technician. We were told he’d be out around 4 pm to check things out. I canceled my classes again. At about 4:30, the service technician called and said he thought the problem was that our payment hadn’t been processed. I knew that was a bunch of hoo-ha since I had received an email confirmation of the payment. He said he’d look into it and call back. He didn’t bother to come out to La Yacata.

So if the service technician wasn’t interested in coming to us, we’d take the modem to them. The next day we boxed it up and went back to the office. Their solution was to wait for the service technician to come from Morelia and have him take the modem home with him. Moroleon is officially outside the coverage area. The fact that the internet works in certain areas is apparently a fluke that this office was capitalizing on. So in theory, connecting the modem in a coverage area would “reset” the internet and allow us again to have usable service.

It took two days for our modem to take its trip to Morelia and back. The result was that yes, for a while it did what it was supposed to do. And yet, there were sporadic outages and low service periods which unfortunately often coincided with my teaching hours.

Some research on the company shows that overall the internet service only rates 3 out of 5 stars and that even though they promise nation-wide coverage, that’s not necessarily the case. There had to be something better out there.

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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Economics, Employment, Small Business in Mexico, Teaching