In mid-March an AOL Watch reader reported on AOL's customer service...

Has anyone told you about AOL currently having TCP/IP problems? Here's my story in a nutshell...

Approximately 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon (EST) my wife was on-line, and poof! She was "punted"! The exit screen read "lost TCP/IP connection"...

No problem, just re-connect, right? Wrong !! We would get an error that read "(TCP/IP) Unable to resolve host address [] through Domain Name Server" (after staring at the "Step 1: initializing TCP/IP" screen for a few minutes).

This continued for a couple hours, and my wife was going nuts. She needed her AOL fix; this problem must be resolved sooner than immediately... [You know how addicts can get? :>) ].

Anyway, seeing as how I had oral surgery yesterday and wasn't in the mood to try to talk with an AOL "tech", she decided to call [even though she doesn't know much about computers] and get this problem fixed.

Call #1: "Well ma'am, it sounds like you need to re-install your AOL software". Their standard answer for everything. Did she ask why? No, she just did it. Did it help? Nope, not a damn bit.

Call #2: "Well ma'am, it sounds like your TCPip.ccl file is corrupt, you need to re-install your AOL software". She states that she just did and the "tech" replies with "use a different installation disk this time. I think it's corrupt on the installation disk". So she once again re-installs [while I sit on the couch about to climb throught the phone and smack someone]. Does it help? Nope. [I did a file search, and still haven't found that file]

Call #3 [approximately 9 p.m. est ]: "Well ma'am, the problem is definately your ISP, since we had a minor crash last week we've gotten a few calls regarding TCP/IP connections failing. Your ISP has to re-enter us into their computer in order for your software to be able to find us". Well that sure got her off their backs for the night because the ISP is closed and she has to believe the "tech", what they weren't expecting was me.

It is now the following day, and I can talk, novacaine and what-not has worn off :>) I call my ISP and asked them when they last restarted their name server. They ask me why, I tell them, we laugh hardily, and they re-start the nameserver again, just for me. Does this fix the problem? Nope.

I call AOL to talk to the next "I know less about computers than you do, but AOL gave me a book and now I'm a tech." [That explains why I say "tech" huh?]. "Mike" gets on-line after 7 or 8 minutes of bad music, gets my info, reads all the other "tech" notes and starts to tell me that my ISP's name server needs to be restarted. I tell him it was just restarted less than 20 minutes prior.

He then tells me I need to re-install AOL...... I blow a gasket at this point ......... I go postal.

"Mike" puts me on hold for about 30 seconds and comes back to admit that he has never heard of a TCPip.ccl file, and he don't know why my wife would be given such information. He puts me on hold for another 30 seconds and comes back to say "I now see some reports of TCP/IP problems starting last night, and I assure you that we are working on them."

I ask "If the reports started last night, why does AOL feel the need to blow smoke up my wife's ass for over 5 hours and waste her time?"

He puts me on hold for another 30 seconds. [See a pattern here? Talkin to his boss maybe?] He comes back to apologize for wasting my wife's and my time. He then asks if I could fill out a 13-question troubleshooting form. I say "sure", he asks what my e-mail address is, I give him my e-mail on my ISP account. He doesn't want to send this form there, "what's your AOL e-mail name?" he asks. I reply "why would you want to send a troubleshooting report to an account I can't access? Are you that stupid? Or do you actually expect me to pay the surcharge for dialing into AOL so i can read your mail and fill it out to help AOL fix their problem?"

"Mike"'s reply almost killed me.... Ya ready for this one? "I'll try to send it to your ISP account, but at the moment we are experiencing some small problems with internet mail and I'm not sure it will go."

That was at 1 p.m. EST. It is now 2:50 p.m. EST and I still haven't received his mail or been able to connect to AOL. Oh yeah, when I or my ISP do a "tracert", AOL can't be found. Maybe it's my remote location in the world -- about 20 miles from AOL's main office.