Dead dongles and tales of the unconnected


Those who follow us on Twitter will be aware of the unprecedented catalogue of crises to have befallen the Frockers over the past week as a consequence of BT discontinuing our telephone line and, to add insult to injury, losing us our high speed broadband in the process. We were not amused by this failure to follow our simple instruction (to disconnect our second phone line), which apparently cannot be simply reversed, even in these technologically advanced times.

The story gets worse as our broadband provider (not BT) is in the process of ‘migrating’ its customers elsewhere and so we had to re-order our service with a lead-in time of up to 14 days. Pleas for clemency fell on deaf ears (there was nothing they could do after BT ceased the line) and the only silver lining is that the new contract will be considerably cheaper, but we were still left last week without a reliable internet connection, which is not a good thing for an ecommerce business.

There is a limit as to how useful an iPhone alone can be in such trying circumstances, so rather than decamp to McDonalds or our local Asda cafe which offer free wifi, the chief frocker dashed to Dundee for a dongle last Tuesday evening. So far so good, and we were able to work into the wee small hours catching up, all thanks to Three’s mobile broadband.

It was of course too good to be true and by 7am on Wednesday the dongle was as dead as John Cleese’s parrot, unable to raise a single bar of network coverage. The chief frocker thought she had broken it (such a scenario has been known in her previous dealings with technology), but Danny diagnosed the network as down and out, while pronouncing the dongle to be in possession of its almost full complement of (now inaccessible) data faculties.

So we waited and waited for any sign of life, and consulted Three’s Facebook page, and followed @ThreeUKSupport on Twitter, where we found a sizeable cohort of Forfarians who were all as sick as parrots about the lack of connectivity in the DD8 area. The responses from Three were painfully patchy and frustratingly inconsistent, but they eventually declared it to be a problem with not one, but two masts serving the Forfar area. Pressed by one especially tenacious tweeter, the estimated timescale for said mast or masts fixing was said to be “as soon as possible” (like the length of that piece of string) and, later, “by 14th February”.  By then the disconnected of Angus had collectively had enough of Three’s dismal service (and we frockers considered ourselves relatively fortunate only to be lumbered with a non functional pay as you go dongle, rather than being locked into a phone or internet contract).

Frustrated beyond measure by now, another dash to Dundee on Wednesday evening  clocking up another 30 miles in the old Merc secured us a new dongle, this time on the Vodafone network, for another £25. We were feeling smugly optimistic until the ‘plug in and play’ promise failed to materialise and it took Danny the techie frocker over an hour to bring it to life.

So since last Wednesday night we have been operating exclusively by iPhone and dongle, and it is admittedly a bit slow, but at least we are connected. Danny now even has his own personal dongle.

As of today (Sunday) the Three network is still stone dead in DD8 with no explanation as to why it should be taking so long for the masts serving our local area and hundreds of unhappy customers to be fixed. It may have been simpler to scale the Sidlaws ourselves with a screwdriver  to remedy the fault!

On a positive note, our broadband should be up and running again this week and we won’t be taking it for granted after this unwelcome experience akin to re-living the old days of dial-up. Indeed we are already looking forward to fibre optics arriving at the box we can actually see across the road from Frockery HQ. We may be lovers of vintage and slow fashion, but high speed broadband is a necessity in the modern age.

The Frockery Eco-Fashion Challenge 2014 started yesterday, but we feel we have already run a marathon in the form of our own Techie Challenge!

By the way, did we mention we had a new phone number as we lost the old one? We (or more usually our answering machine) can now be reached on 01307 468372, but please email us if you have an urgent query as we are often out and about or in the depths of the stock room and can't always answer the phone.