Broadband doesn’t encourage broad minds

I confess, I’m a bit miffed.  I spend large portions of my spare time online.  Sometimes it simply involves my version of “pottering” – checking out blogs, catching up on news, visiting social networking sites – even just corresponding via e-mail; other times – probably the majority if I’m honest, is spent playing World of Warcraft.  I admit it, I’m a very sad, slightly geeky person.  And I don’t care .  What I DO care about is customer service – and I expect that those who are supposed to provide that service, provide it efficiently and to the best of their abilities, regardless of how they currently feel personally, what the weather is doing, or if their dog has a bad leg.

Recently, I’ve been having problems with my broadband connection.  It starts off okay in the morning, but gradually during the day it gets worse and worse, until later into the evening (you know, that time when you’ve got the kids to bed, you have a bit of time to yourself, and you want to sit down and wallow in t’internet?) suddenly *blam* you no longer have a connection.  Oh .. and then you do … oops, nope, its gone again … ad-infinitum.  VERY annoying.

Most people at this point would naturally contact their service provider and ask what the hell was going on.  But I’m fully aware that the “customer services” of my internet provider resides in a completely different country, manned by people who have very little technical knowledge and can only “help” by asking questions off a help sheet.  You know the ones … like, “is the router plugged in”, “are there any lights on the router” … etc, etc.

I know the path they will take, probably better than they do.  So I ruled out every possibility BEFORE I rang up.  Changed the router, the wire connecting the router to the filter, the filter, the faceplate … unless I was very unlucky, it wasn’t a problem with my equipment.  So then I rang.  And had to go through “the list” with someone from a foreign call centre.  To give them their due, they realised pretty quickly that they couldn’t help, and got me transferred through to some “local” guys (ie, same country as me!), who arranged for a telecoms engineer to come out.

Now I’ve not had the best of relationships with our telecoms people – they got my telephone bills wrong regularly, they constantly overcharged me, they lied to me, they sent me letters containing “facts” that were wrong – they even got the standard “exactly the same amount every single month” line rental charge bills wrong. *mind boggles*.  So I wasn’t best chuffed to have to deal with them again.

First engineer that came out – came 1 hour earlier than I was told he should have, spent a maximum of 5 minutes on the problem, then left.  I suspect he’d noticed the local Fish ‘n’ Chip shop.  Case closed.  No problem.

Second engineer – discovered a problem – major errors on the line, disconnected his equipment multiple times, tried several things to track it down and fix it, failed, ran out of time, left (apparently they are only allowed 2 hours per job – any more and they just leave, job incomplete).  He also nicely “closed” the job so that it looked like it was fixed.

Third engineer – argued for 10 minutes that my internal wiring was completely wrong.  As the problem had been proved both by myself and engineer number 2 to be a line problem OUTSIDE the property, I finally managed to get him to focus on the actual problem, rather than something he didn’t understand.  He finally managed to find a problem and, apparently, what the solution needed to be.

According to Engineer No. 3, my connection to the exchange was shot, and required what he called a “lift and shift” – basically disconnecting my cable from one socket and connecting it to a different one.

Now I’m not particularly technically minded, but I’d worked this one out by the time engineer No. 2 had left, so I wasn’t particularly surprised (after all, No. 2 had found a fault on my pair of copper wires, AND another pair of copper wires running in the same cable – the only thing linking the two other than the sheath around them, was where they were plugged in at the other end).

So he duly reported it to his telecom company and my broadband company, suggesting the fault and the resolution.  Hurrah.  Then my internet provider decided to be clever.  They decided that instead of taking the expensive step of moving my cable to a new socket, and basically committing the old socket to a long and lonely existence (which would cost them money), they would request the telecoms engineers to simply hit the “reset” button on the entire card my cable was connected into.

Apparently this card has approximately 48 cables connected to it, each one being someones internet connection.  When the reset button is pressed, each and every one of those internet connections dies briefly.  The telecoms engineers didn’t like that idea, so refused.

Things get a little vague now, but from what I can gather, it appears that the internet provider guys were thrown into confusion by this refusal, and basically didn’t know what to do – so they did nothing.  They didn’t bother to ring me to update me (as they had promised), and they didn’t bother to tell the telecoms engineers to simply go ahead with the cable move instead.  As far as I can tell, they simply left it and went home.  Bully for them.

In the meantime, I suspect that the telecoms engineers decided “what the heck” and actually pressed the reset button anyway, resulting in almost a full day of rock solid connection.  Well wasn’t that nice.  Pity I was at work for most of it.

The upshot is, once I rang my internet provider for an update, as they had neglected to ring me at the promised time, they now have to start the whole process of asking for the cable move again.  And it’s a bank holiday weekend which, despite both telecoms and internet provider still staffed during that time, means that it would still take at least double the time to fix the problem – meaning my telephone and broadband could potentially be off for 48 hours or more.  So instead I have had to “compromise” (or is it give in?) and wait until Monday evening before they even press the button to get the ball rolling – and then another 24 hours after that before it could be fixed at the earliest.

Gotta love modern customer service.

/rant over

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