atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#498: Adventures with STUPID tech support

Last night around 1:30 AM my internet connection went down: "just died", with no error or explanation given. I did the usual thing and reset the router; when that didn't help I reset both router and modem. That didn't do it, either. I pointed my browser at the modem and ran the diagnostics, and saw that it couldn't establish a PPP link. Specifically, the modem diagnostics reported that "authentication" failed, and in the technician readout, it said "fail" next to "Test Authentication with PPP Server". That looked like a server-end problem to me, so I took a shower; afterwards I had another look and saw that it was still down. Thinking it might be a service outage, and wanting to go to bed anyway, I hung it up for the night.

This morning it was still down, so I called tech support.

The level 1 told me to eliminate the router. I wanted to know why; the problem wasn't with the router. I could connect to the modem just fine; the modem self-diagnostics reported that it couldn't establish a PPP link, which meant it was having trouble logging onto SBC's servers.

He argued with me about it and I asked to speak to his supervisor. What I should have done is asked him to let me speak to a level 2 support tech: "Hi, you don't know as much as I do about computers, so please let me speak to someone who actually knows more than I do." Anyway I had to leave so I just hung up on him--something I normally do not do; I was raised better.

Anyway, when I got home from my errands I called tech support again. I hooked my laptop directly to the modem and called them.

"Go into your Start menu and click on 'Internet Explorer'."
"I'm in Netscape; what do you need?"
"We use Internet Explorer."
"Tell me what you want to do. I probably already have a link for it in Netscape."

He wanted me to connect to the modem. Guess what: I had a link for that in my Netscape bookmarks. (*sigh*)

...I'm not going to reiterate the whole thing here. But it was all like that. He was reading a script written for people like my Mom, for crying out loud. I had to disable my firewall for him, I had to do this, I had to do that--and everything he started with, "Do X and do Y..." and I would interrupt and say, "Tell me what you want done."

I understand that I am in the 99th percentile of all computer users in the world. Most people don't know what an IP address is and wouldn't care if you explained it to them; they just want the magic box to bring them porn and videos of people blowing themselves up, and phone tech support is geared for the lowest common denominator. But it annoys the crap out of me when I have to tell someone six dozen times that all he needs to do is tell me what he needs, not how to get there.

I mean, for Christ's sake, the connection was working fine last night, and then it just died without me changing so much as a single bit of my computer's configuration. It was clearly a problem with the modem, so why did I have to spend half an hour dicking around with software on the computer?

So okay, it wasn't a problem with the computer. What fixed the problem, you ask?

He had me hit the reset switch on the modem.

The call took 34 minutes. After all that bullshit, a five-second press of the modem's hard-reset button--the one that restores factory defaults--fixed it. It took him longer to read the "closing statement" of his script than it did to do the one thing that actually fixed my problem. It took me longer to look up the freaking tech support number than it did for me to press that button.

At least my internet connection is working again. I suppose I should count myself fortunate and leave it at that. But it's still annoying.

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