And so it came to pass, in the dark times called Telecom, that the marketing wise men said: "There shall be light!" And lo, out of the darkness there was a spark. And the spark, the wise men decreed, wisely and with great financial reward, shall be called Spark. And so it then came to pass, after a rather baffling advertising campaign, that the spark became Spark.

And no one actually noticed or cared - until the weekend the internet died.

The weekend of Friday, September 5 to Sunday, September 7 was a dark weekend at our house. Two teenagers and at least one adult with teenage tendencies being deprived of unfettered internet access, on a random and unexplained basis, meant that our usually peaceful house became a virtual Lord of the Flies. There were accusations of parental neglect of the sacred internet system; there were demands to change internet provider immediately and with immediate effect; and there were dark conspiracy theories about Watercare Services somehow severing our link with the outside world when they were fixing a water leak on our street - made somehow more plausible by the fact Watercare Services had failed to fix the actual leak.

Eventually stories began to emerge, allegedly explaining the cause of the near-mutiny at our house. It was evil foreign hackers, apparently. Or maybe it was because we were all, as a nation, every man and woman, perving at pictures of Jennifer Lawrence. Then, amid layers of geek-speak that I will not even pretend to understand, it seems that the whole near-Armageddon situation was brought about by bad people who, for inexplicable reasons, found open DNS resolvers on 138 modems and did dark internet stuff to bring a nation to its knees - and frame J-Law in the process. 138 dodgy/vulnerable modems? Is that seriously all it takes to extinguish a Spark?


By Monday the hackers had got bored and something about a UDP port had been blocked so the Dark Weekend of the inter-not was over and the teenagers went back to their caves and that was the end of the matter. Or not.

This week Spark sent me a message. Well, they sent me an email informing me that my monthly bill was due and I owed them money. For all the vagaries of the internet, somehow this is the one message that always gets through.

So I decided to send them a message back. This is not as easy as you would hope because Spark, as a communications company, wants you to communicate with them only on their terms. This means avoiding actual human interaction via, say, a phone call, in favour of having me search a complicated series of online menus for something that vaguely resembles "Total Internet Failure".

Eventually I stumbled on a box that enabled me to send a message to Spark politely asking if there would be any compensation, in terms of a reduction in the many dollars I must pay to them, for the weekend when the internet didn't work. They sent me back a message with a very long Transaction Number attached that made it seem like either my question was very important to them; or that I was part of a very long queue.

And then I waited. And I waited some more.

I'm sure there was something in the message Spark sent back about them getting back to me as soon as possible, but I guess we work in different time frames.

So after a fair degree of waiting I went back to the website and clicked randomly until I found something called Live Chat. This I figured, naively, would bring me one step closer to an answer. Live Chat, however, was offline. Maybe the Spark Live Chat line was one of the 138 dodgy modems.

So I went back to waiting. A night passed and I awoke the next morning, rushed to the computer and checked the inbox: nothing. I even checked the spam box. Lots of spam had ended up there but none of it was from Spark. At least the internet was working - which is something, I suppose.


Eventually I could wait no longer. The thing about writing a column is that there are deadlines that must be met, so as I write these final few words the answer to my question remains a mystery to me.

And so it came to pass that I sent a message into the darkness, searching for a Spark, and not a glimmer of light was shed on anything and everything. I don't really care about any compensation, I was simply interested in what the answer would be; to see if Spark actually cared about its customers enough to jot down a few words of explanation. I guess, in that sense, I do have my answer.