Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dead Zone

My internet connection went dark yesterday evening and this morning when I woke the darned thing was still refusing to cooperate. Stuck in the Dead Zone with no access to news, blogs or anything. Like being in prehistoric times I suspect. I tried a few things myself to see if it was a problem on my end but everything checked out. So, I called my ISP's technical support. They were less than helpful.

After explaining the problem- my router was picking up the ADSL line but could not connect, and when I switched over to modem it dialled the line but there was no answer on the other end- the trained monkey suggested I turn the router off and on again, is it connected to the socket, what lights are on? Blah, blah, blah. I explained two or three times that I knew what I was doing and, yes, it was turned on and plugged in. He then proceeded to tell me that it was a line problem, the ADSL wasn't working- nothing he could do, call back tomorrow. I explained- again- that it wasn't. My router, for example, has a indicator light to tell you if its picking up ADSL and another for when its connected to the internet. He argued that, no, the ADSL light was to show whether I was connected and so it must be a line fault. Call back tomorrow, no help here. I gave up on him and phoned back later. Before I did though, I went so far as to check my router manual just to make sure I wasn't imagining things- and I was right about that light. That infuriated me even more.

Normally, I'm quite a reserved character- but technical support people like this flick a switch somewhere deep in my brain. Especially when they are conditioned to treat everyone they speak to as complete idiots who can't be trusted to find the "on" button and don't listen to what you tell them. Three or four times I explained to the next tech support that, no, I was picking up the line- my modem was dialling but not getting a response. I even have a little utility on one of my machines which monitors the line- when there's no ADSL, it shows a little red light- and won't dial and wait for an answer. Would this one listen? Not a chance.

What's worse than the not hearing anything you tell them is the "have you tried unplugging it?". No matter how you answer (i.e. I've tried two different PCs, one with modem, one with router- same problem, my system's are working fine) they still tell you to unplug it again. A while back I had issues with a router- it stopped functioning completely. Wouldn't even turn on. No power light, nothing. It was an ex-router. The idiot monkey told me to turn it off and then on again- I told him I'd checked it out already, made sure everything was plugged in, etc, etc but he kept saying it. Over and over. I refused on the grounds that it was a pointless exercise- "It won't turn on at all. There's no power light at all. It's not working in any way, shape or form." Response- "Turn it off and then turn it on again. What lights are coming on?" He refused to do anything until I obeyed his instructions. First time I've ever had tech support cry out and hang up on me. To my ISP's credit, when I complained about that incident they sent me new hardware immediately.

Anyway, back to today- late in the evening I tried again and it dialled up and connected. But no pages were displayed. Information was going out and coming in, but no joy. I tried to ping an address and the result came back positive. After a few attempts at disconnecting and reconnecting, everything suddenly started working again.

Thank goodness- the world is at my fingertips once again and I don't have to shout at some poor, unsuspecting tech support drone tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I have found that the first line tech support people are usually clueless. They know their script and are unable or unwilling to deviate from it.
I am an old time geek and generally know what I am talking about. When the first line types stop listening, I immediately ask to be escalated to the next level. (Or ask to speak to the supervisor.) This frequently works.

Jim Gwyn

Jay.Mac said...

Every time I phone tech support I can't help but think of the guys from the Channel 4 show The IT Crowd.

I know that they have to deal with people who have no idea at all about how computers work (I used to work repairing PCs and I have personal experience of that) but it's the refusing to deviate from the checklist that really aggravates me. I don't think some of these people could pass the Turing Test to be honest.