Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Internet Connection Woes

We've been with the same ISP for a good 8 years because the service has been great, it's an award winning service.

But my award winning service is broken, sort of limps along slowly. I have the IT disease meaning I cannot call another person in IT without trying things myself first, some call it passion, I think it's a disease...

So like a mechanic listening to a finely tuned engine, I set to work playing with the thing, trying to uncover a problem. But to no avail. Tried the whole box of tricks I could think of...

I reluctantly accept defect (only took me 3 months to admit defeat) and call technical support.

If you've ever worked in a helpdesk or support scenario you will know the routine; we all replay this joke over and over:

Caller: Hi there, I have a problem with X. Can you help me?

Support: Sure sir, let me run through a few basic checks.

Caller: OK

Support: Switch it all off, wait 5 mins, then turn it on again.

(5 mins pass)

Caller: OK. The problem is still there

Support: OK, are you connected directly to the modem?

Caller: No, via wireless

Support: OK, can you connect directly to the modem?

Caller: OK, but this is gonna take me 10 minutes to move stuff. Is there something else I can try?

Support: (pauses). Yep, we can try restarting your PC.

Caller: Sure, but I just turned it on before this call.

Support: I understand, but can we try this to make sure?

Caller: OK

(5 mins pass).

You get the idea.

My call went pretty much the same with my Internet Provider, the usual ritual dance of the helpdesk call.

Even although I know more than enough to get by with networks, it's hard to convince anyone with a script in front of you to set the script aside and listen to the customer. 1 hour into this call, I wanted to reach for the fast forward button!

This is where I reach the point that I wish proper customer relationship management software could actually build a profile of what the customer seems to know - i.e. this one actually works in IT, and actually shows he knows what he's doing. But alas no, I'm in with the herd...

Or what about a proper professional body and calling card we could all share declaring "this person isn't too much of a numpty, they know what they are doing so let's cut to the chase and help them!"

Anyway, light at last! A further 30 minutes later I finally reach the real engineers, the ones who actually wrote the helpdesk scripts to protect themselves from the great unwashed. They are the guys in jeans and t-shirt who work outside the call centre and don't have such scripts and are protected from annoying calls, these are my sort of engineers that can actually solve the issue.

They listen first and try to understand what's happening.

You can guess what happened. I provided my MAC address, he took a look and BAM took 3 minutes to pin point the problem. It's at this point I learn there is a poor signal to noise ratio on the line - "dud router mate, we'll get a new one sent to you to solve it".

"Brilliant, thanks!" says me.

So the long point of this is this: shouldn't IT membership carry some sort of benefits in these scenarios? Or at the very least, IT folk agree some secret handshake to help us identify each other in today's society?

Perhaps I'm being naive. They do after all make money from my call...

And to top this off, guess what? Another 3 months on and the Internet connection is back to a crawl... Grr!

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