Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

February 1, 2004


Telephones and computers may cause migraine headaches


          Recent medical studies indicate that our doctors remain uncertain about the cause of migraine headaches. Perhaps, they tell us, there may be problems in the brain that generate this agonizing pain.

            While medical experts continue their search, I offer my own explanation. It just may be that telephones and computers are causing migraines.

            Recently I decided to follow the example of my sisters and switch to Road Runner as my server for e-mail and the Internet. The cable is so much faster, they said. In addition, your phone line is not tied up while you are on the computer.

            I was convinced. I will switch. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is not simple. I called the cable company, whose name in our area is Bright House, not Timer Warner. Soon a bright (sorry; I could not resist it!) technician knocked on my door. Within an hour, I had cable service. And believe me, it is fast!

            The technician’s advice: keep your Earthlink service for a few days, until you are sure you will not need it; then cancel it. Now I had two servers – Road Runner and Earthlink.

            Since both servers cost me a monthly fee, I decided to cancel Earthlink. Believe me, the company is not “user friendly” when you want to cancel your contract. First, you learn that you cannot cancel by e-mail. You must use an 800 number to cancel. Be sure, however, that you fix a sandwich and a glass of tea before you sit down to call. You will be on the phone for a while.

            Dial the 800 number and you listen to eight options. I listened carefully to all of them twice, trying to figure out which one I needed. I risked number six. The recorded voice then gave me six options. Again I was not sure which one to select in order to cancel my contract.

            Number two seemed the one, so I punched it. At last the music began and I was told, “All of our representatives are busy with other customers; please hold for the next available representative.”  I took a bite of my pimento cheese sandwich and began listening to the music. No option was given me for music; I had to listen to their choice of music.

            Several minutes later “Jenna” asked if she could assist me. I told her I wanted to cancel Earthlink. “Oh,” she said, “You will need to talk with one of our Senior Representatives. Hold on while I switch you over.”

            Next, “Carol” came on the line and asked if she could help me. I told her my name and asked her to cancel my membership with Earthlink. “I will be glad to do that for you,” she replied, “but please tell me why you want to cancel.”

            I explained that it would save me money. What she said next surprised me. “Did you know that you can keep your Earthlink address, stay on Road Runner, and save money?” “How is that possible?” I asked.

            She said, “Earthlink and Road Runner have a partnership agreement, and you would actually pay less for this service if you kept your Earthlink address.”

            The time had come for me to explain more of my reason for giving up Earthlink. “AOL blocks all my messages to my friends who use AOL; that is the main reason why I want a new server,” I said.

            “Yes, AOL does block Earthlink messages,” she replied. “However, AOL does not block Mindspring messages, and Mindspring is owned by Earthlink. So we could give you a Mindspring address, keep you on Road Runner, and save you money.”

            All of this news was overwhelming. All I wanted to do was cancel Earthlink and now I find that the company is in a partnership with Road Runner and they want to save me some money. I decided it was worth a try.

            Within seconds I had a new Mindspring address. Now all that remains is for you to call the cable company, ask them to hit a switch, and you are set up. By now I was impressed with Carol; she was moving with the speed of sound to solve my problem and save me money.

            What happened next, while I ate the rest of my sandwich, began to cause a migraine. Carol informed me that she would have to switch me to someone else to complete the deal. A man came on, whose name was unclear, so I will call him “Al.”

            Al asked me a few questions, then informed me that I would need to call the Timer Warner Web Site, which he gave me, and told me good night.

            I decided to wait until morning to call Time Warner. My brain will suffer an infarction if I have to listen to another recording giving me14 more options. (Four days later I had still not called Time Warner for fear the problem will only get worse.)

            Turning to my computer I discovered that now nothing seemed to work right. Even the phone had quit working. What makes it worse is that I caused this trouble by not telling Carol to cancel Earthlink because I could save money.  Now I have scrambled service that is not working correctly, and I still owe monthly fees to Earthlink, for my Mindspring account, as well as the fee for Road Runner, which is actually in partnership with Earthlink.

            To make matters worse, my cell phone treats me as if I live in a swamp. I can hardly ever make or receive a call before it disconnects, as though I am calling from Montana.

            If I can manage to get Carol back on the line, I am canceling Earthlink and Mindspring. My fear is that by the time I get her on the phone AOL will have bought out Earthlink, Road Runner will have become Road Wreck, and Congress will have passed a law forbidding me to switch servers.

            If you know what to do about all this, do not call me. I am taking the weekend off to nurse my migraine headache. + + + +