How To Waste 150 Minutes With ISP Customer Support

by Klaus on October 9, 2009

in Personal Blog

Sad PandaThis has got to be the worst customer support experience I’ve ever had – ever!

Pull up a chair and pop some corn, it’s story time.

Basically the story goes like this. A co-worker calls me up saying his Internet doesn’t work. Well, I’m the CTO so I offer to go and help him after work.

I check all the settings for the wireless modem/router thingy, everything looks okay. Firefox can’t connect to any websites, ping doesn’t work – not even to an external IP address. Seems to me, either DNS is fubar or there’s simply no outgoing connection. Tried the OpenDNS servers too, no luck.

Called up the Melita/Onvol (ISP here in Malta) customer support at 19:13.

“Yeah, hi, my name is Klaus. I’m here with a computer that can’t …..*beep, beep, beep* “.   Okay, apparently Vodafone doesn’t have very good cellphone coverage right here, so my iPhone had a bit of an issue.

19:15. I try again. Same thing, 1 minute call only.

I borrow another phone with a different cellphone provider to call the customer support.

“Please go to control panel, network settings. Double click on your wireless connection and connect to wireless. Do you see your ONVOL wireless in there?”

… I don’t know why they want me to re-connect to wireless, I already told them that I had perfectly good connection to the wireless and I could easily tinker with the modem’s configuration page.

So she moves along – basically it goes like this:

“On your modem configuration page, please go to wireless – security – and enable WPA-PSK. Save the key that it generates for you and hit apply.”

Okay, so now I switched from WEP to WPA-PSK. It’ll be interesting to see how that will get me back online…

Surprise – didn’t help.

*beep, beep, beep*.

melita_onvol_support_callsDamn, the phone I used was prepaid and it was out of credits. Didn’t even give me a warning.

I disabled 3G on my iPhone to try and get better coverage and called in again at 19:28. I got to talk with a different person that basically went through the same process again – but when I said I already changed it to WPA-PSK and that didn’t help, he told me that I had to restart my computer and then Internet will work.

Again, I was excited to see how restarting the computer would have any effect on changing wireless encryption settings – I had already re-connected to the wireless network using WPA-PSK just fine.

So I restarted – while he was on hold and that computer is soooo slow, it took forever. Still didn’t work – and since we thought we didn’t have any network cables, to connect without using wireless, he told me to go and disable wireless encryption all together. I did that and then the computer wouldn’t even connect to the wireless any more – at all.

“You need a network cable in order to configure your modem.”

Okay, I don’t have that, guess we’ll try again tomorrow, I said, and hung up.

Turns out – we did have not just one cable, but three cables (they were just well hidden).  But after a computer restart, I was able to re-connect to wireless without any encryption. Decided to use the network cable anyway though and disabled wireless on the computer.

Time to call them up again, it was now 20:07, almost 1 hour into the party and I think we just opened up our 2nd can of Cisk Lager beer right about now, each.

Finally I got to speak with somebody who wanted to reset the modem from his end – sounded like he understood that the problem wasn’t with the computer(s). The other supports just said “connection looks fine from here”. This guy told me to turn off both computers in the flat and re-connect to the modem in about 5 minutes.

I waited around 20 minutes, just to be sure. Still didn’t work.

Called them up again at 20:46. Supporter asked if I could hold on for a “moment”… 4 minutes later the call was dropped.

20:51. I called again and the call dropped once more. I gave up.

Then we decided to call in from Skype, as one of the computers were able to connect to somebody’s unencrypted wireless in the building and then use the 2nd computer to configure the modem and whatever else was necessary to do.

That didn’t work out well. Apparently the supporter had troubles hearing me and I could only understand 1/4 of what he said because he was breathing into the microphone so heavily and the lack of Skype quality probably didn’t help either… after 10 minutes or so, the call dropped. I suspect it was the supporter who got tired of me. I was tired of him too.

Time for the 3rd beer can and along with it came a great idea. “Let’s log on to the cellphone provider’s website and add some credits to the cellphone”. So we did and I called again from the phone with good coverage.

After waiting in line for 10 minutes I got through to somebody who wanted me to put the modem’s static IP address into the LAN IP address of the computer (I was still connected using the network cable at this time, just to make sure it was not the wireless screwing something up). As expected, that didn’t work either.

At around 21:302,5 hours later – they told us a technician would come by tomorrow and have a look at it.

2.5 hours gave me not much more than three free cans of beer – and a story for my blog.

Next time I call in for tech support, I’m going to tell them as the first thing that I’m a CTO and I know just a tiny bit about computers and network stuff so please don’t try to explain how I connect to a wireless network or that the reason for me not being able to ping an external IP address (that I just happen to know from memory) is because not having restarted the computer after changing wireless encryption settings…

I’m sure it’s not an easy job being in customer tech support either, not knowing the level of skill from the customers calling in and dealing with all the weird stuff that I imagine people are saying if they know absolutely nothing about computers.

Today didn’t only bring with it a poor experience with customer support – I also had a great experience (bad, at first, but turned out great in the end) with NetEller support – which you can read all about in this blog post: How To Use Twitter To Get Through To Customer Support In A Jiffy.

Update, the day after: So the technician came by to have a look at the modem and configuration and concluded that this modem was not able to work with a static IP address. But for some reason, it had the settings to do it – and it had been working just fine for a year now, but now it can’t work using a static IP address any more. I guess that makes sense…. or?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

christie October 9, 2009 at 03:45

Oh what a hellish evening! Yes, customer tech support most likely gets a wide range of people 🙂 but you’d think they’d realize and be happy that you knew what you were doing. Glad you enjoyed some beer with your coworker anyway.
.-= christie´s last blog ..Study: Your confidence in your own thoughts is affected by your posture! =-.

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Brad Ney October 14, 2009 at 22:38

I love when they treat you like a complete idiot and are surprised when it doesn’t fix the problem. Way to waste my life, tech support. 🙁
.-= Brad Ney´s last blog ..BradBlogging’s 2nd Anniversary Makeover With A New Design and Mindset =-.

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