January 29, 2010

Calling technical support

Posted in Lousy Support at 21:35 by frifan

I guess everybody has an experience like this every once in a while. Well, here is yet another one I had just the other day.

I switched telephone service provider for my home IP-phone. The reason was simplicity. Now I would have the same service provider as for the broadband and I less box to configure. The price of the subscription would also drop, but at the expense of slightly more expensive calls. Nowadays, I and my wife, most use the cellphones anyway.

The problem I had was a dead phone since the switch. Utter silence when you pick up the receiver. This story starts with the third call because the two prior calls were before the switch where they told me that they are working on it and a fix would be in place before the switch. Luckily the queue to the technical support of the service provide wasn’t that long.

“Welcome to <censored> technical support, how may I help you?”, a guy says in Swedish.

“Hi! My name is Stefan and my phone isn’t working. I don’t get a dial tone when I lift the receiver.”, I say.

“Ok, give my your account number and I’ll have a look.”, the guy says.

I gave him the account number and he starts typeing away on his keyboard until he finds the remotre connection to my modem, which was provided by them. He glances over the settings and hums a little. To be fair, he might have asked me a question or two, at this point, but nothing that I felt were helping to narrow down the problem. I can be quite forgetful when it comes to stuff that I don’t think is important, so I honestly don’t remember any questions. Finally he tells me that he can see that the modem is working and therefore my phone must be broken.

Astonished, I say: “No my phone is working. Why would it break when switching service provider?”.

“Well the modem is working, I can see that here, so it has to be your phone.”, he says.

“How can you conclude that? The modem detects when I pick up the receiver, so it must be a problem with the modem.”, I say.

“It says here on my screen that the modem is working. Your phone is broken and you have to try another one.”, he says with a hint of irritation.

“I don’t have another phone and I don’t believe that is the problem. Do you know what is supposed to happen when I pick up the receiver? The phone is basically dumb and has no real intelligence. It just plays whatever comes from the modem”, I say with clear irritation in my voice.

“Your phone is dead. It must be replaced.”, he chirps.

I’m starting to become angry and continue to pursue reason. ” What I see, is that the modem doesn’t play the dial tone and we need to investigate why. The phone has got nothing to do with that. It just plays whatever is sent from the modem. There is no intelligence in the phone. It doesn’t understand that we convert the communication into packets of data. There isn’t much in the phone that can break down and it was working fine before the switch. The problem must be elsewhere.”.

I guess my voice showed my frustration, because he tells me: “This isn’t leading anywhere. I cannot help you anymore.”.

“I can tell that you don’t want to find the problem at all and are trying to shift the blame. You clearly don’t understand what is going on and don’t even want to learn.”, I respond.

“I can forward you to someone else, because we’re not getting anywhere.”, he cuts me off as he realizes that I’m quite upset.

“Please do! So that we can find the fault.”, I start before getting shifted back to the switch board.

Some people would probably trust him and get another phone, luckily I’m not one of them. I persevered and got real help from the next support guy. He experimented a little and managed to find a work-around for the problem. It turned out that the modem was faulty and a replacement was sent to me. The work-around, he found, keeps me going until the replacement is installed.

The morale of the story is to listen to reason. Think for yourself a bit. Don’t trust anyone blindly without evaluating their reasoning. At least let them explain what is going on before you decide to believe them. In this case I guess I knew more about VoIP (Voice over IP), and the phone system in general, than he did.