Just the other week, I bumped into a good mate of mine inside a local supermarket as we were perusing the fruit and veg’ aisles and he dropped a bombshell within the first couple of seconds of our meeting: he’d just signed a new 18 month contract with BT for their new “Infinity” broadband service. After my incredulity began to subside, he went on to explain that one of their technologically-lacking cretins had promised unlimited downloads instead of the ten gigabyte cap he was now limited by and a connection speed increase from an already healthy 6mbs to a pretty blistering 15mbs.
As I’m stuck on BT Broadband myself and despise everything relating to this money-grabbing, contract-altering company - see "BT Broadband: welcome to the dribbling trickle" for more details - I found it disappointing that my mate had succumb to their dangled carrot after all of our shared fury regarding their ineffectual service in the past.
I asked straight out, “Oh Jesus, why have you signed with BT for another 18 months?!”
“Look, I’m downloading more and more, so I’m being charged more and more for going over my monthly limited,” came his response, albeit in a defensive tone due to knowing how I felt about the company in question. “So now I’ve signed for this new BT Infinity thing that they’ve rolled out in my area, I get unlimited downloading and they’re bumped me up to over double the f**king speed I’m on now, 15 megabytes a second! I mean, that’s as quick as shit through a Goose and not something you can’t turn down!”
His excitement had grown as much as my disappointment had bloomed. “I mean, you’d snap their hand off if you could have that in your flat, wouldn’t you?” came his final deflating statement.
He was right of course: I would sign up for a 15mbs download speed without anymore thought than whether Lucifer would be buggering me for eternity after I scrawled my moniker due to the fact that I use the internet for my job and as such, need a fast connection every day of my existence. This is something BT has failed spectacularly in delivering to my abode due their insistence that the cabling is too old in-situ, that I’m too far from my local exchange and most offensively of all, I’ve limited myself to a 1mbs download speed due to having signed a contract stating this many years ago. The thing is I know these three things stop me from getting a faster connection speed, regardless of whether I sign up for a new paradigm with a future-sounding name such as “Infinity” or despite the banality BT’s automatons may piss down the telephone line into my skull, so my broadband frustrations are always exponentially growing.
I had to admit defeat, “Yeah you’re right, I’d snap their hand off...” slithered from my mouth, half-heartedly.
There was a slight, uncomfortable silence, and then my mate piped up. “How fast is your connection again...?”
The knife had plunged but further twisting would seem to be needed in a game of broadband speed one-upmanship. “It’s one meg’...” came my hushed reply.
“How much, one megabyte did you say...?” said my mate, barely able to contain his laughter in the face of my despondency.
I glowered at his red, ballooning cheeks as he tried to contain his mounting glee. I finally snapped. “YEAH, ONE F**KING MEGABYTE AS YOU WELL KNOW!!!” His face contorted and then exploded in laughter as I expunged my annoyance via rage. “That’s right, lap it up... I’m a dick for living in a place where I’m stuck with a shitty connection...!”
Needless to say, my vocal expression had attracted the attention of virtually every shopper within the vicinity of our fruit and veg’ aisle and they all stared at me. I began to feel as paranoid as a dick who’d just screamed connection speed obscenities at the top of his lungs during a visit to his local supermarket...
I watched his convulsions of hilarity slowly dying off with a straight face; eventually, with his energy expended, he continued. “Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself, I mean it must be f**king bad to be stuck on a one meg’ download -“
I cut in, “Yeah it is, there’s nothing more annoying than rebooting your modem to watch a YouTube clip, I can tell you...”
“Yeah, I bet,” he said as he pulled his mobile ‘phone out and held it out towards me. “Here you are, use my ‘phone if you want...?”
I looked at his ‘phone, then at him. “Er, what for...?” I asked, confused.
His mouth began to twitch again in the corners, “To watch your YouTube clips on - “
At this point, with my head shaking side to side, I turned and began walking off, too annoyed even to give him the slightest rise he so desired. I could hear him trying to shout through his cackling laughter.
“ONLY THING IS, I’LL HAVE TO CHARGE YOU BUT STILL, IT’LL BEAT USING YOUR CONNECTION!” rang across the supermarket. I disappeared into the toiletries aisle without bothering to look behind towards his humour-creased form or to glance at the multitude of shoppers now following me with their eyes.
One-nil. Well done, you got me.
This performance was gradually forgotten about over the passing weeks but then, just a couple of days ago I received a ‘phone call from laughing boy, although humour was the last thing on his mind this time judging from the tone of his voice.
“Alright mate, what’re you up to?” came his feverously barked question down the line.
“Er, not much...” I answered, “why, what’s going on?” In the background I could hear something, much like a radio or TV playing at an audible level, “what’s that noise...?”
“I’ve got my other ‘phone on speaker, trying to sort this out with a right set of pricks who know f**k all!” came as a blast of pure fury, from which he tried to address me at a more settled rate of speech. “Oh f**king hell, I’m having a nightmare with this computer, I’m telling you!” came the response, “listen, I need you to pop ‘round and sort it out ‘cause I’m f**king lost here.”
Then, he was off speaking towards the other ‘phone. “Right, right - listen, I’ve checked everything and it’s your fault, alright?!” A pause, followed by a raised voice, “You’re talking right out of your arse, pal... look, I don’t care if the call’s being recorded, couldn’t care less...”
As I usually do fix his PC whenever there’s a problem with it, this statement didn’t come as a surprise. What came out of his gob next however was a surprise.
“This is all BT’s f**king fault, the lying c**ts!” sprayed forth and conjured up the image of a psychotic madman, spittle stretched across his mumbling lips, ready to cleanse the world at the drop of a hat.
I proceeded with caution, “What’s happened? Is it the computer or not?”
Implosion was imminent judging by the sound emanating from my handset. “No, it’s not the f**king computer!” came the barely-contained answer. “It’s the broadband connection, isn’t it?! Those BT bastards, 15 megabytes a second my bollocks!”
Suddenly, I was having to bite the inside of my lip in order to keep my mounting giggles at bay in the face of this farcical situation. “Your connection? Why what speed are you getting now?” managed to leave my mouth without any vocal trembling giving away my enjoyment.
A maniacal laugh came first, then the voice of a broken man followed. “Five, I’m getting just five as a download speed, that’s it!” and he broke away from our call to address the other ‘phone and the BT engineer on hold, “THAT’S ALL I’VE GOT, FIVE... ARE YOU LISTENING, EH?!” My mate’s voice tailed off from a high-pitch screech, edged with a seething, almost sobbing howl.
“Five megabyte’s not too bad, still better than my connection” I said, wondering why he was so annoyed at still having a speed five times better than mine. The answer back was not what I expected.
“NOT FIVE MEGABYTES, FIVE HUNDRED F**KING KILOBYTES!” cascaded into my ear and I found myself fumbling with my volume buttons to turn down this incoming diatribe. “I’M RUNNING AT THE SPEED OF A F**KING DIAL-UP MODEM FROM TEN YEARS AGO! WHAT THE F**K - ARRGGHHH”
The rest of his meltdown continued unabated and was aimed at the poor BT engineer on the other line, but I was too far gone in my laughter to care. Gradually I composed myself and realised we had an electronic silence on our call lines.
“Are you still there?!” finally came his query.
I answered with barely-contained delight. “Do you want to pop around and use my connection?! I mean, it’s slow but Christ, it’s quicker than yours mate!” I swear I could hear escaping brain steam hissing in the background as I delivered my coup de grace, “I mean, I’ll have to charge you to use it but - "
Needless to say, I was greeted with the sound of the ‘phone being smashed down on his side, accompanied with a pained warble resembling a dying Covenant Elite from the video game, Halo: Combat Evolved and this signalled the end of our conversation. It took a while for me to compose myself but I eventually called him back to organise a trip around to try and help out with his connection problem, which unsurprisingly turned out to be BT Infinity’s fault all along. Like a child with its eyes bigger than its belly, my friend had over-indulged and paid the price: it took nearly another week to sort out his connection problems but finally things have settled down now and his speed is right back to where it started at 6mbs, only now he’s tied into a new 18 month contract. As the old proverb says, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” - never a truer set of words spoken!
Our piss taking ended with a draw score of one-one a piece, so who knows how the decider will play out? I just know BT will be involved somehow...