Next time your internet connection turns to sludge, consider these ten tips from a former ISP insider.
1. We have minimum specs for a reason
We have minimum specs to be able to fully use and enjoy the service. If your computer is held together with chewing gum and duct tape, or the last time you upgraded Cheers was in it’s first season chances are your computer isn’t going to be fast enough.
2. RTFTOS (Read the Free Terms of Service)!!!
There is a reason business class service costs more than residential class service. If you depend on our internet service to manage your business, trade stocks, or connect to your company, then you really need business class service. The residential class service agreement says, “For Entertainment purposes only”
3. Why thanks for calling, there is an outage in your area.
Yes there is an outage, you don’t think the cable company put hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment in your neighboorhood and then not monitor them? We can usually tell where there is a failure before the first call comes in. We really don’t need 700 people to call.
4. I can fix your problem, I just can’t fix you.
I have been trained in troubleshooting products we support. However if you called us because your printer quit working after your internet was installed, you are barking up the wrong tree.
5. Pay your bill.
I know this sounds simple, but if you get behind we disable your modem. It’s that simple. I really don’t need to argue with you about that. Make a payment over the phone and I’ll be glad to turn it back on. I don’t care if you have the next child prodigy who is 6 and writing a thesis and you need it turned back on for a few more hours. Funny thing is people who pay their service bills, have fewer problems with their service.
6. But I’m a PHD, MBA and a CPA!!!
Hey, you called me for help. If you don’t want to follow the troubleshooting steps I’m giving you, then solve your own problem. I am a microsoft MCSE, A+ and Network Plus certified. I may not be a CISCO CCIE, but I ain’t stupid. I will help you to the best of my ability, within the policies of the company.
7. But I’ve been on the phone for hours.
And so have I. It’s a call center, we take calls. In fact we take LOTS of calls. I took between 30-40 calls in an 8 hour shift. Most calls are short 10-15 minutes. Some of them take a couple hours to solve. In an average month I take thousands of calls.
8. Don’t call Ford to Complain about a slow Chevy.
Just like you, we rely on other carriers to transmit your internet packets to their destination. We can fix problems on our network, but once it’s off our network and on the public internet (like Level 3 for instance) there is nothing we can do. Often if a customer calls in to complain about slow speed, we have them run a TRACERT which shows the path the packet takes to reach it’s destination. So if Level 3 has a slow router which is causing a bottleneck, causing your game ping to spike, there is nothing we can do about it, because level 3 is not our network. We are just another customer to them.
9. Remain calm
Your frusterated, I understand. However, if someone is screaming at you at the top of their lungs, are you really going to be able to help them any better?
10. Try to call when you are actually having a problem
This also sounds simple, however quite a number of people call and say, “About a week ago I had a problem, what was the mater?” I don’t know I haven’t been provided with a time machine to go back in time. It is very hard to troubleshoot a problem that is intermittent, and it is always best to call when you are actually experiencing the problem.
It takes quite awhile to solve an areawide problem. Sometimes things break, and it slows everyone in an area down. Yes we know about the problem and we are trying our best to fix it. However, given that there are hundreds of miles of cable, associated equipment and stuff, as well as dealing with vendors of that equipment to solve a problem. Sometimes it can take days, weeks or months to bring an issue to a resolution.
However, if you have become an “unprofitable” customer: IE many many truck rolls to your house, spending hours of tech time on the phone, you are likely to get a letter in the mail from the company attorney that you are getting the best service we can provide, however we can give you discount, or we encourage you to seek an alternate provider, but there will be no additional truck rolls. In some cases, they fire the customer totally, cancel their service and refuse to provide service to that residence again until it has a different occupant.
Are you an insider with helpful information? Join Whistleblowers Anonymous by writing to us at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER