Tech Support Follies


Last night sometime, I can’t be sure when exactly since I was off watching TV, my ISP had a problem.  I found this out around 10:30 when I sat down to write my reviews for the TV Thursday post on my other blog and couldn’t reach my site.  Immediately, I contacted tech support for my hosting company and, while they were helpful, I spent half of the “call” (it was one of those live online agent things) facepalming at how little the tech actually knew.  First, he spent a while trying to convince me that it couldn’t possibly be their problem and not even listening to me, he kept suggesting things that didn’t even address what I was saying to him.  This went back and forth for more than a half hour before he started to get serious and we started pinging sites and tracing paths and I convinced him that there actually was a problem.  Then… THEN he tells me that there’s a known issue with my ISP being able to reach their servers and they’re working to solve it.  Head on desk.  30+ minutes wasted.  I tell him I’ll call my ISP to see what’s going on there.

Phone call #2, this time a real one because I was sick of typing at that point.  I get a really nice low-level tech who gives me the same runaround.  It can’t possibly be their problem but he’ll see what he can do, he just doesn’t hold out much hope.  He, like the tech before him, treats me like an idiot, saying “push this key, type this” kind of nonsense, even after I demonstrate I know more about what’s going on than he does.  He goes to talk to someone else for about 10 minutes and while he’s  gone, I sit down and start running diagnostic software on my end, trying to locate the problem.  Only one of my subdomains resolves at all, Bitchspot, but the traceroute only gets 2 steps before it falls off into 100% packet loss.  None of the others will even resolve.  I start  randomly pinging other popular sites and start noticing a pattern, part of the local backbone is having problems, even sites like Google are suffering various states of failure as I watch this one particular server drop packets anywhere between 20-60%.  So this guy comes back and I tell him my findings.  Now keep in mind that to this point, he hadn’t even asked for a site to test from his location so I give him the IP of the local problematic server and tell him to ping it.  He can’t.  Oh, he concludes, there must be a network problem!  Facepalm!  Off he goes again for another 10 minute talk.  When he finally comes back, he tells me he has escalated the issue to the network technicians, but that it might take them 24-48 hours to even look at it, much less fix it, but if they have any questions they’ll get back to me and if I want, I can call back sometime Thursday for an update.  That’s not very helpful, but since this is 11:30pm, it’s probably all I can expect.  Then he tells me that I’m not even remotely the first one to have reported the exact same problem that day!  I love how nobody ever talks to each other.

I keep my fingers crossed, but the next morning, the problem still isn’t resolved, it looks like things are going to be down for the long haul so I go off to do other things for a while and, when I checked again at random, it was fixed, just about 14 hours after I first reported it.  Bravo!

Now I know that being a tech, especially a low-level tech is a hard job, I’ve done it enough to realize that most people you talk to are idiots who need to be hand-held and walked through everything, but the second that I found out that I was talking to someone knowledgeable, I stopped acting condescending.  The techs at both of these companies didn’t do that.  They both assumed that I was an idiot and even after I proved I knew more than they did, they continued to talk down to me.  In both cases, I had to talk them into doing the things they should have done on their own.  I’m not upset, I know that these are low-paid, generally unskilled techs manning phone banks in the middle of the night, I can’t expect much, but a bit of respect shouldn’t be too much to expect, should it?

At least the problem is fixed for the moment.  It just reminded me how much I hate talking to tech support, any tech support.  Guys, if I could get into your system, I’d fix it myself, I’m only talking to you because I don’t have legal access to your network.  Think about that for a minute before you start talking down to me.

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