10 Bitter And Sarcastic "Tips" From A Disgruntled Former ISP Insider

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”

(Photo: babyparentingguide)


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.

Bonus tips

  • 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

    Comments

    Edit Your Comment

    1. Haplo9000 says:

      These, for the most part, are not “tips”. These are sarcastic and mean comments from a call center worker. “We know there’s an outage, we don’t need 700 people to call”? How exactly is the average person sitting at home with no internet supposed to know that there is an outage and that the ISP already knows about it WITHOUT calling and reporting it? I thought that a customer telling an ISP that there is a problem, when it started, and exactly what the symptoms are would HELP the ISP diagnose the issue. Silly me.

      Things like “Yeah, I know you’ve been on hold a long time, we have alot of calls, so deal”, isn’t helpful. It’s rude. Much like “I can fix your problem, I just can’t fix you”. Yes, the customer is always the problem.

      Thanks for the post, Consumerist, but frankly I don;t read this site to get slapped around by an ISP phone rep having a bad day.

    2. tmweber says:

      #3, #7, & #8 are kinda shady. I’m calling about the outage because I’m paying $50 a month for internet and it’s not working. I’d like to know when it’s going to be working again so I’m not paying for a piece of coax and a plastic box.

      You’ve been on the phone for hours because its your job. I’m on the phone for hours because my service (again $50 a month), is not working.

      We might call about the slow Chevy because network problems can be hard to diagnose and confirmation that the cable coming is working can help sometimes. No I don’t expect you to fix my network problem, but I do expect you to help me confirm the internet is still working.

      The rest of them are pretty good general tips for dealing with customer service.

    3. cde says:

      I’d hate to say it, but A+ and Network+ are about as complicated as a greeting card.

    4. hubris says:

      Heh, I spent three and a half years working at my college Helpdesk, and while I agree with most of what this dude said, the attitude in which it was written is all wrong. Being a bigger jerk than your customer isn’t the friggin solution. Nor is treating them like they’re stupid.

    5. Karmakin says:

      That one is kinda bad. I agree. The customer has no way of knowing if it’s a widespread outage or not. However, if it is an outage, there is no information you can give them that will help in resolution. Seriously.

      The rest is good advice, and in fact is good advice when dealing with any technical support.

    6. kenposan says:

      4. I can fix your problem, I just can’t fix you.

      I like this one only for the title. I went to a great workshop on communication called, “I’m not crazy, I’m just not you.”


      6. But I’m a PHD, MBA and a CPA!!!

      This one kind of cracked me up. Why is it that people with advanced degrees (yes, I have one) suddenly think they know everything in every field?

      I have heard this in my own work and just shake my head.

    7. l951b951 says:

      What is up with these call center worker vents today? How about real tips instead of complaining about their jobs?

    8. Skylar says:

      Yeah, this basically boiled down to “I hate my job and it’s your fault, stop being so stupid, you have no right to ask for support for something you paid for.”

    9. zolielo says:

      #3 is often critical from what I have seen as for the end user there if generally doubt if the problem is their’s alone or a network problem. A phone bank message about the network being down can save a fair bit or resources.

    10. ericstoltz says:

      My cable service (TV and Internet) from Time Warner went down (surprise!) at 2 p.m. on Monday. Calling in around 5 p.m., I was told it would be up shortly. When I called at 8 p.m., I was told it would be up within four hours. I chose the option to get a phone call when service was restored and read a book. The next morning at 9 a.m. I got a call saying service was restored. Hmm. Still no TV or Internet. So I called the lovely folks at Time Warner.

      Here’s how that call went:

      After verifying my social security number so that no state secrets would be revealed to someone not me, the tech support person insisted the outage had only been since 7 a.m. that morning. Oh, well, whatever. So how come I got a call at 9 and there’s still no service. Put on hold.

      Said tech person comes back with this:

      – Unplug your modem and plug it back in (OK, I’ve already done that, but whatever)

      – Do you have more than one computer? (yes) Can you check the other modem? (they’re connected by a router) OH! Then please plug the modem directly into the computer. (I can’t) Why not? (The modem is nowhere near the computer) Well then I’ll have to schedule an appointment for a service call.

      – I point out that the lights on the modem are not on, and the TV cable box is not working either, so it’s not the router. “Sir, all I can do is schedule a service call if you won’t plug the mdoem into the computer.” “Look, I told you the router lights are not on. It’s not the router. I won’t wait a week for a service call.” She says something something. I say again, firmly “IT’S NOT THE ROUTER. THE MODEM LIGHTS ARE NOT ON.” She says, “Sir, do not yell at me, I’m trying to help. Put on hold.

      – Tech support person comes back and says: “Can you please reboot your computer?”

      Oh yeah, that should get the TV working and get the data flowing through the modem!

      This is the kind of technical support they give, with claims they are “helping” to fix your cable TV service by rebooting your computer. It’s just beyond belief.

    11. ericstoltz says:

      Oops, in above post router lights not on: i meant MODEM lights of course…. I’m not THAT dumb!

    12. formergr says:

      Exactly– I don’t call the ISP to tell there’s an outage. I call to find out if there is an outage or whether something is wrong with my computer or my router.

    13. deltasleep says:

      I swear that is my cat. Where has he been!?

    14. Whammbo says:

      If your modem lights aren’t on you forgot to plug it back in like the nice lady asked you to. :p

    15. Jon Parker says:

      What would be really helpful is to put up a voice mail message for incoming calls saying “We are currently experiencing an outage in the Yourtown, MD area. If you have another problem or do not live in this area, please remain on the line.”

      It seems like it would be a win-win, freeing up the CSRs to deal with other issues and cutting down long wait times just to find out there’s an outage.

    16. rhowan says:

      “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.”

      Funny thing… my service provider doesn’t consider there to be an “outage” and won’t have a technician investigate until at least 10 people in a particular service area have called to complain. Actually it’s worse than that, a call only counts if the customer books an appointment for a someone to come to their house (usually in about 3 days). (A friendlier than usual phone support person explained all this to me a while back)

      Since the company doesn’t advertise how their system works most people think they’ve done their part just by reporting the problem, decline the offer of an appointment, and sit back patiently to wait.

      Now when my internet goes out I check with my neighbours and if theirs is out too we all phone and request a home visit (which never materializes because the company gets up off their butt, looks to see if just maybe there really IS a problem, and fixes it).

    17. spinfire says:

      I had problems with severe packet loss on Comcast a few weeks ago. The problem was clearly on Comcast’s network and it was clearly not related to line quality (modem interface showed excellent signal strength and SNR).

      Since the packet loss was so bad that the connection was essentially unusable, I called Comcast. The CSR insisted that the problem was clearly on my end in the wiring in our apartment. He said they wouldn’t do anything about it until a week later when they could dispatch a tech out. When I asked about the possibility of a wider outage he claimed “we don’t even investigate network outages unless lots of people call them in” and was otherwise rude.

      Well, something funny happened.. less than 24 hours later Comcast called me to say they’d fixed the problem, and indeed they had. I guess it was a network outage after all. To put the icing on the cake, the Comcast tech showed up at the scheduled time a week later even though everything had been working.

      So definitely DO NOT obey tip #3, because ISPs will insist that “nobody else has reported the issue” and refuse to investigate problems unless people call in to report it. I understand it can take a long time to troubleshoot difficult area wide problems. But make sure the CSRs are informed about where problems are so they can be honest with customers! Speakeasy always used to be very good about informing customers with real information.. Unfortunately they are not available everywhere.

      Regarding the classic CSR bitch about “I spend all day on the phone”: You get paid to spend all day on the phone. That is your job. I’m calling because the service which I pay a relatively large amount of money for is not working properly, and there is a good chance it is your fault. Comcast originally insisted to me I had to be home all day on a weekday. Although they fixed the problem before this point, I would have had to sit at home all day, unable to work from home due to no connectivity, losing far more than what I pay a month for Comcast. I’m glad CSRs spend “all day on the phone” since that is their *job*.

    18. FinanceGuru says:

      How is this post about consumers biting back, exactly? No. 3 is perhaps the most asinine paragraph in the history of the English language.

      How do you suppose your customers know that you know there’s an outage, nitwit? Should we go from door to door in our neighborhoods and ask everyone in a three block radius whether anyone has reported it already?

      This one: “7. But I’ve been on the phone for hours. And so have I. It’s a call center, we take calls.” is the first runner up for Most Asinine Paragraph. You even set yourself up for it, although it should read: “It’s a call center. We take calls.” Right. You are in the call center. You take calls. That is what you are paid to do. The difference is that your customers aren’t being paid to call you. Conversely, you are being paid to take their calls. Is there some part of this transaction that is beyond your skills as an MSCE?

    19. dantsea says:

      Good lord, what’s with all the butthurt in the comments lately? You’re getting the insider perspective that this site is famous for providing to consumers. Is it really that awful for you to know that the rep you’re talking to is thinking “die a painful death” when s/he says “Thanks for calling Time Warner Cable”?

    20. SidusNare says:

      @tmweber & Haplo9000

      I used to work for a small ISP in Atlanta, I have dealt with these issues.

      #3 yes, i understand your paying for a service and its not working, the problem is that fact is the first thing you hear when you call in, and you still want to hold on the line, ask why you internet isn’t working and want to complain about it for 30 minutes, while a call queue is building up of other people who want to complain for 30 minutes and somewhere in there is 1 or 2 people with some other problem I could actually help them with and they get frustrated and hang up.

      and an aside: if there is any information you could provide on the issue that would help, it wont be affecting anyone other than you, typically this is a blown fiber card, or downed router, and believe me, unless they are incompetent (possible but unlikely) they know the second it goes down and are working their ass off till it comes back up

      #7 I agree, this is something call center personnel just have to deal with, don’t know why the customer would need to know it, other than its not productive to complain to tier1-3 tech support about, you need to complain to the call center manager if its chronic.

      #8 yes and no, small guys usually only pier with one person, so they cant do anything about it other than complain upwards, and again, tier 3 will pass it to a network engineer (or in my case I would hand it to dan). Bigger companies could do something about it but are less likely, cuz they are bigger.

    21. spanky says:

      3. I really have no idea what the cable company is doing with their equipment. Not maintaining it, apparently. If it bothers you so much to have customers calling to ask about outages, stop having so many outages. And unless you are aggressively prequalifying your customers to ensure that they can tell the difference between an outage on your end and a problem on their end, it’s perfectly legitimate for customers to call to ask or confirm that it is an outage on your end. Perhaps it would be a good idea for your employer to have some kind of notification system at the front end of your phone system, describing the outage and possibly giving general idea of when it will be back up. My ISP, phone company, and utility company all do this. Why don’t you?

      6. Learn to adjust your approach to the specific customer. It’s really not that much to ask. I am very likely calling you because the problem is not here. It’s with you. I already know this. I did do the basic troubleshooting before I called you. I either have a very specific question, or I have isolated the problem and found it is with you.

      All the same, before I called you, I got on a Windows machine, and prepared myself to repeat pretty much all the troubleshooting steps I’ve been through already. I understand this is necessary. All I ask is that, as you are providing me with some bizarre, roundabout method to access the command line, you listen to what I’ve already said. Namely, “I am at a command line.” And when I interrupt you in the middle of your spelling out ‘n-e-t-s-t-a-t’ to ask if you want me to do netstat, please stop spelling. Even if I hadn’t been familiar with it before, this is the THIRD time you’ve spelled it for me. I have had your output since you said ‘e.’

      7. Oh. Sucks to be you. Maybe you should get some other kind of job. I, to contrast, am not getting paid for this. I do have some other kind of job.

      8. Your customers pay a premium to you to manage and deliver services. That means all of the services you deliver, including those through third parties. If your third party is not currently delivering the quality of service you promised, it is your problem. You may not be able to fix it directly, but you’ve got a much better chance than I do. Also, take a gander at your company’s marketing material, please. I can pretty much guarantee you that they offer prospective customers some kind of simple, one-stop solution for internet access. That’s what you’re getting paid for. Deliver it.

      10. SPLUH? You just told us not to call you about outages. What sort of problems should we report? What should we report promptly? And while we’re at it, please define ‘prompt,’ in light of #7 on your list. If your customers are waiting for hours to get through to you, don’t complain if they get out of the queue and call you back at a better time.

    22. SOhp101 says:

      Yet again, another set of lame comments from a sad deadbeat cs rep that Consumerist wants to call tips from an ‘insider.’ I’m not even going to go into detail on the quality of the ‘valuable information’ in each tip.

      But here’s some nitpicking on grammar, since it reflects on this person’s level of ‘professionalism’:
      #2 missing period
      #3 misuse of comma
      #5 unnecessary comma
      #6 use of ain’t, misuse of comma
      #7 should have used semicolon instead of comma
      #8 unnecessary comma
      #9 misspelled frustrated
      #10 misspelled matter

      Consumerist, stop posting this crap. Thank you.

    23. Spider Jerusalem says:

      #3 is a lie. I’ve called in and they’ve put me through phone trees for HOURS that want me to try to bounce my modem and hub. If I do get through to an operator, they deny outage, because I’m usually one of the first to call and they honestly DON’T KNOW YET.

      @SOhp101: THANK YOU! The grammar and spelling were driving me nuts.

    24. Ryan Duff says:

      Am I the only one that doesn’t believe the “F” in RTFTOS stands for “free”?

    25. Havok154 says:

      Crap, hit submit by mistake

      …privileged enough to talk to you. To #3, I’ve called over and over and they always say “gee, there doesn’t seem to be a problem in your area, I don’t know why you have a problem”.

      Overall, this is useless as “tips” since it’s about the same level of “help” I get by going down to Best Buy and talking to a salesman.

    26. ericstoltz says:

      “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””

      This is ridiculous. I’ve been handed that “for entertainment purposes only” when told I’d have to go a week without an Internet connection. So here’s my question: is business service provided through a totally separate network? No. Basically you want to charge me three times the monthly fee so that when you screw up it will be fixed more quickly? So what does that mean, instead of waiting seven days, I’d only have to wait three? Now that’s value!!!

    27. Havok154 says:

      crap again…it posted the first part, but now it’s not there…odd. Forget it, I’m not retyping it all, sorry for the 1/2 post up there.

      Basically, this is just a jaded CSR that seems to suck at his job since he just doesn’t actually care about the customer or helping them. He just hates to be inconvenienced by you making him work.

    28. nweaver says:

      I strongly, STRONGLY disagree with #3.

      There was an intermittant outage on Comcast in Berkeley a few years back, I and several other CS PhD students were affected. I had identified the router(s) in question, and it was IMPOSSIBLE to get tech support to even acknowledge there was a problem, let alone fix it for a week.

    29. brettt says:

      That was not helpful or constructive. You are not going to get much sympathy here, buddy. Instead of the promised tips for getting an outage fixed, you offer complaints because people call you when your crummy product doesn’t work, and then point to the TOS showing that it doesn’t have to work because, while we are paying for internet, we have to actually pay MORE for it to WORK. Nice, dude.

      And here’s 10 tips from a Consumer Insider

      to help you deal with CUSTOMERS, which sometimes happens in CUSTOMER SERVICE JOBS. And sometimes, surprisingly, the customers have varying levels of knowledge about the product you provide, and they, like, call you and stuff!

      1) I can be a respectful customer, but I can’t fix your job. I’m sorry that people call in because they have a problem with the service that you provide and need it fixed. I’m sorry that it is your job to talk to them; clearly you don’t like your job.

      2) If you want to pay me $10 an hour too I’ll be less upset you left me waiting on the phone all day. You get paid to make your 30 calls in 8 hours. And your internet isn’t broken too, so that’s another plus.

      3) I’m sorry that sometimes you aren’t always the true cause of the problem, but I don’t have those prestigious degrees, so I can’t hack into the router through the command prompt. Thus, I call you to do that, and I’m sorry you have to whine about it. Calling you and finding out you aren’t the problem is not like calling Ford for a broken Chevy. It’s like calling Chevy for a broken Chevy and having you saying it’s the road’s fault.

    30. huginn says:

      As someone who had a nightmare of a Customer Service event with a certain com- Err.. ISP company. Including 80 hours over 4months and 3 truck trips, patience is a virtue. They may screw you over by saying they escalated the problem and they promise to call you back and never do, but these are hard working users just like you. Be patient long enough and they will solve the problem.

      and when all is said and done, if you have a legitimate claim on your service for not working, ask for a discount. Even if it is just an extension of your trial rate.

    31. ericstoltz says:

      “It’s like calling Chevy for a broken Chevy and having you saying it’s the road’s fault.”

      Brett, you reminded me of several years back when I turned in a Mazda Miata at the end of a lease. They wanted to charge me $1500 to replace the top because the plastic back window had “sun damage” and that was somehow my fault. My response: they never told me their product could not be used outdoors.

      They still tried to charge me for it.

    32. tigerjade says:

      Not like it’s been said 8 million times already :) but I get enough ‘tude from reps when I call in without having to read it here.

      For #2, I work at home, and was denied access to Roadrunner Business Class; they simply do not recognize that some people work out of their homes full time. All I could get was the beefed up RR.

      And the info for outages, I believe, is incorrect. When I worked at TWC, an outage wasn’t declared until the 3rd person on that node called in; up until that point, it was just another service call. Being declared an outage meant that techs were routed there from other tasks ASAP rather than just showing up next Tuesday. So, in those cases, the first few calls were EXTREMELY important.

    33. ShadowFalls says:

      For #1: It has reason to it, but I have put a 486 machine on broadband. Sure the old thing was slow, but it loaded the pages as fast the pc can bring it up. Ideally a faster pc is a good idea, I was ofcourse messing around at the time :)

      #3 is silly in itself. I had an issue before when I called in and my internet connection was not working. Apparently there was a problem with one of the other modems on the network that was knocking mine offline (probably others too) Since this is cable, that can happen, but not too common. Now, they didn’t know about the problem till I called in. I was just lucky that they investigated the problem and found the issue instead of giving me bs to deal with instead.

      So simply, to say they know everything that goes on all the time, it is a sold lie. They will only know of major failures or when they get phone calls saying of such.

      In then end, this is just more whining from another customer service rep who hates dealing with people and would rather play games all day. Also to point out, those certifications are easy to get, try getting yourself an actual degree, those take time and hard work.

    34. the_senator says:

      I’ve actually worked for 2 seperate cable companies doing tech support. The first company had a customer base about 10 times larger than the current company I’m with, and subsequently the customers hated it about 10 times as much! I remember how strange it felt when I took my first call for the smaller company, and the customer on te other line actually had CONFIDENCE in the fact that I could resolve her issue. But I digress…

      This guy is PROBABLY either a) not supplied by his company with quality tools to diagnose issues, or b) a bad tech…

      Our NOC can submit tickets to Level 3. I’m sure their’s can too. If he doesn’t know how to request this, he probably has a higher tier above his that does. And as far as outages go, if there IS one, the company would have a recording notifying the customer of this before he reached a rep (granted, some people want to ‘make sure’ and stay on the line, but whatever). THIS guy probably doesn’t verify what node people are on, or check his e-mails, or know where to REALLY look to see if someone is being affected by an outage. I know at the bigger company I worked for, they had scrolling outage boards on TV’s thoughout the call center, and they were RIDICULOUSLY vague. However, if you payed attention to information READILY available on the company intranet, you can see exactly how to verify if a cust is really in an outage or just needs to powercycle thier router.

      And one other thing… Probably 7 out of 10 calls regarding connectivity can be fixed by powercycling the router. The larger company I worked for wanted us to have customers BYPASS the router, but that’s rarely necessary. A lot of times customers will powercycle the modem and the router simultaneously, and this will not work because the modem may not synch with the router if you do it this way. DON’T TOUCH YOUR MODEM. Powercycle the router only, give it 20 seconds, and try to pull up a page. If it doesn’t work at this point, and your modem lights look like they always do, then call us. It could be about 100 things wrong with your computer (169, proxy settings, FIREWALL, dns, specified IP, bad NIC, bad cable, cable not plugged in all the way, modem in standby, connected to a neighbor’s wireless, virus, etc etc). Please just put up with all the (seemingly) asinine questions. (Most of us) know the absolute fastest way to find out what your issue is and how to fix it. Everyone here I’m sure is savvy enough to correct issues with thier PC’s, but like the man says, we literally do this 50 times a day. You wouldn’t argue with an air conditioning repair-man that was trying to fix your AC, would you? Anyway, I hope this helps shed some light on the issue, and I can honestly see where the submitter is coming from please, but if he hates his job so much, he needs to find a better company to work for (thank GOD I did)… Oh, and one last thing, just to humor me, please powercycle your router ;)

    35. Pupator says:

      Consumerist is going downhill fast. I agree with the many other who pointed out that these are not tips – these are the rantings of a jerk who seems to hate his job.

    36. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

      And this is helpful how? Ten bitter rantings from a disgruntled employee do not useful information make.

      Yes, working in customer service sucks. Thank for telling us.

    37. Trick says:

      @cde:

      I’d hate to say it, but A+ and Network+ are about as complicated as a greeting card.

      Not only that, this loser has a MCSE and all he can do is answer get a phone tech support job?

      Hey “tipster”, there is a reason why you are in a horrible job. Figure it out, pinhead.

    38. weave says:

      I had a case where I couldn’t reach any 69.*.*.* addresses on the net. I called a few other people I know with comcast and asked them to try and they had a problem too. I tracerouted it and the packets went in a loop inside comcast. Comcast uses some addresses in 69.* as well. OK, so they have a misconfigured router inside the network operations center that handles this area.

      Now I don’t expect the front line tech to understand any of this, but I can’t get them to escalate my call either. I’m sure it sucks having a customer say “Look, I’m a network engineer in my job…” so I patiently try to convince them that I don’t need a service call, that many people in the area are having the problem, that it needs to get escalated to their network ops people.

      Finally I could take no more and told the person my theory about their router and they came back and told me comcast has no routers, a router is something that resides in a customer’s home only.

      I explained it wasn’t just me, and they said they are not showing any outages anywhere.

      I tried to give a list of sites that I couldn’t reach, they all have IPs starting with 69.* and was told “those sites must be down right now.” I tried to explain I could vpn into work and reach them just fine got me a lecture about how VPN is not supported. Sigh…

      So I, as well as a number of other people I know in the area, had to schedule someone to come out to fix it. Er, “trucks had to roll.”

      I had a tech come out and he told me I had to replace my cable modem (I owned it) because all his tests were fine.

      Finally after about two weeks a tech at a friend’s house finally figured out what was going on and escalated it to their network ops and it got fixed.

      So……. Mr. CSR if you want to save your company money and help your customers, recognize when someone might actually know more than you do and escalate the call. I don’t expect comcast to hire technical experts on the front line but damn, they should at least understand when a call needs to get escalated appropriately. The refusal to escalate it caused many trucks to roll for no reason. Thanks for wasting my time and your employer’s money

    39. tobi680 says:

      I must say I have been surprised at the sudden outbreak of elitist class pompous sense of entitlement that has been spewed in recent comments here on consumerist. I’m not defending the obviously jaded lists of “tips” posted by CSR’s, but many of the retaliatory comments posted afterwards are perfect examples of why the field of customer service has so many unhappy employees and such a high turnover rate. The common thread that can clearly be seen from these recent tips is the golden rule. Treat the service rep who is trying to help you just like you would like to be treated. You may very well be more qualified to diagnose the problem than the rep you are talking to, but the rep doesn’t know that. In fact from experience the rep you are dealing with knows that most people think they know much more than they do. If you are one of those highly educated experts with certifications in a field relating to the problem you are calling about, you are the exception, and you are still human. Yes, you are still capable of overlooking something with all your training and education, and since the rep you are talking with does not know you personally just humor them and actually follow their troubleshooting tips. Waiting 1 minute for your modem to reboot makes more sense than getting mad and arguing with a rep for 5 minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me they had already tried the steps I’ve gone through with them over the phone, only to find out there was some small detail they overlooked that was critical to resolving their issue. Most call centers are monitored on the regular stuff like AHT, hold time, and escalation calls. Most call centers also have rules the reps must follow, usually including no long periods of silence, and never interrupt the customer. You’d be amazed how much easier your problem can be solved if you don’t interrupt the rep as well. Don’t assume (you know what they say that makes out of you and me) just follow a clear concise path; give the rep all of the information you have on your issue, and let the rep do their job. Yes, I am paid to take calls and help you out. Realize I am not paid to take a barrage of insults from you. Chances are if you treat me well I will do everything the company I work for allows me to do. That last sentence is important; I work for a company not for you. Unless your name is on my paycheck it doesn’t matter what you want me to do, only what the company tells me I can do. This isn’t my way of saying I don’t appreciate your business, I do understand without you I wouldn’t have a job. This is my way of saying if a rep cannot do what you need, then recognize the rep has done everything they can do and take up a complaint with the company to have the policy changed.

      When I answer your call thanking you for calling I do mean it. If you never called I wouldn’t have a job, just don’t mistake my appreciation for inferiority. I care about your business, not you. That’s not to say I dislike you, but I have many different things to do before you even finish verifying your information. You don’t really want me to care about your dog barking in the background, you want me to open your account in the 10 different applications necessary to complete your request, read the comments on your file, review your billing for any issues, and check your account settings before you say your zip code. If you really think a CSR should have some odd sense of caring about you, then you are expecting some sort of validation you are missing in your personal relationships. I care about keeping your business and fixing your problem, but remember I care about YOU as much as you care about ME. We don’t have to be best friends after a 10 minute phone call, but I do want to fix your problem. You might make more money than me; I may make more money than you. You might have a PHD while I only have a bachelors degree, or you might not have finished high school. Either way you are no more or less important in the grand scheme of things than I am. I don’t agree with many of the sentiments of the recent lists of CSR insider tips, but I can relate to their frustration.

    40. yg17 says:

      #6 is BS. I’m working towards my CCNA (yes, I know it’s the easiest of the Cisco certs, but I’m still in college) and am more than capable of troubleshooting any problem with my computer or home network. And believe me, before I waste my time on the phone with the incompetent fucks at Charter, I do as much troubleshooting as I can and if I find that the problem is not on my end (you don’t even need a Cisco cert to figure that out, you just need to call your neighbor who has the same ISP and see if they have access), I call. I don’t want to waste my time as some script monkey has me reboot everything.

      If I’m calling, the problem is not on my end and you need to get some technicians on it ASAP and get the service that I pay for fixed. Don’t go through the script with me. Rebooting my computer won’t fix anything when the modem’s not getting channel lock.

      I realize some people are idiots and call in and the problem ends up being that they unplugged their ethernet cable, but not all of your callers are idiots. If the caller knows what they’re talking about, skip the damn script. You’re just wasting both of our time. And it’s real easy to determine who’s smart and who’s not. When someone calls in and says “My cable internet connection isn’t working. My router isn’t getting an IP and I checked the modem and it’s not locked onto a downstream channel” or something like that, you know they know what they’re talking about and skip the damn script. When they call and say “My internet isn’t working, when I double click the blue E the web doesn’t load” then go to the script.

      Don’t act like a condescending ass, not all of your callers are stupid. Some could engineer and run the entire network that you offer “support” for.

    41. dscosson says:

      @tmweber: Sure, but you’ve got to realise that the company is usually not going to be able to provide you with an ETA at least until they have a man on-site who has then diagnosed the problem. So asking for an ETA is not particularly helpful or understanding. Most customers I have in outage situations just want to make sure we know about it. After a while we will put a message on the IVR stating the outage is known; the ones that kill me are the ones that stay on the line after they hear that to ask for an ETA, or if their bill will be credited, or to tell me that they need the internet back ASAP because they’re missing an eBay auction, &c.

    42. Firemedic510 says:

      This is the lamest “tips” I have ever seen. This is the whining of some entry level person in tech support. Sucks to be you pal, I been there, and done that myself, knowing I was paying my dues. i didn’t whine about it, i fixed problems. Period.

      You think we really give a shit about your problems? I am paying for 10mb down/1mb up, and i freaking well expect it to be within 5% of those specs. Otherwise, i will go elsewhere.

      As the VP of Information Technology for a retail company, if I ever hear my techs talking like this, they will be looking for a job at your place of business, damn sure not mine.

    43. Scazza says:

      Okay, first I don’t know if this entire post was just satire from some random person… but if not, I would like to address some (read:all) of his posts…

      I know some shit has already been said before.. but I find it nice if I can say all my shit at once.

      1. We have minimum specs for a reason
      You have minimum specs for a reason, but why the hell does a CSR like to use the “Oh, your computer is just running slow…” Yeah, the old core 2 duo is getting on in age, that fresh install clogged up the computer with the old 5 gigs of XP… That could be the problem. Cable can run on anything in the past 6 years easily, its not excuse for shoddy net service or using cheap shit modems and then blaming the customer.

      2. RTFTOS (Read the Free Terms of Service)!!!
      Business class rarely has anything special over residential class, the differences are so minute that almost any small business can get by on residential. Its another excuse of “we fucked up, but your to blame” shit.

      3. Why thanks for calling, there is an outage in your area.
      So then why he hell do we always get the “Oh, it could be you… power cycle your modem” retard CSRs? Its also nice that if an outage happens, CSRs get annoyed when you call in to inquire about the problem, and you should just sit in the dark and twiddle your thumbs…

      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.

      With the absolute rejects cable companies hire to do contract work, I would not be surprised if a printer or something died after an install of cable. There has been MANY examples on this site alone (guy had his HP media center die thanks to a moron).

      6. But I’m a PHD, MBA and a CPA!!!
      Umm, I was given two of those qualifications you have after my first year of college. I have seen six year old “leet speaking morons” who can troubleshoot better than the idiots they hire for CSR. If I tell you the modem is running in diagnostic mode, or has smoke come out of it… and you tell me to powercycle the fucker one more time….

      7. But I’ve been on the phone for hours.
      Pay me $7 bucks an hour (or whatever your off-the-street services are worth) and I will gladly sit there and drone out, make shit up and just be completely dense too…

      8. Don’t call Ford to Complain about a slow Chevy.
      This one makes me laugh. So many times I have called my two ISPs with and start out by saying “Just did a tracert and it shows after like two hops it gets really laggy, and I can read RIGHT HERE that its within your domain”, only to get some “Straight-Outta-Highschool-had-4-hours-of-training” idiot ask “umm, whats a tracert? Perhaps you should powercycle your modem!”

      9. Remain calm
      You would scream too if you talked to you…

      10. Try to call when you are actually having a problem
      Oh, all that mythical technology to tell you if there is a problem at this very moment in time, but it cannot look to the past to see if there was a problem before? Incredible!

    44. Zat_XBSB says:

      #3 – Except for when I tell you first.

      #5 – Except for when I do pay the bill and some
      incompetent moron working for your company
      shuts off the service anyhow. (3 times)

      Oh, and when I say you have an issue with your DNS servers because I can telnet and ftp, but can’t get to any web-sites, please know what I am talking about.
      It’s okay though, I don’t use your DNS servers anymore.

    45. Scazza says:

      @weave: “Customer being right” is not in the script these idiots read….

    46. dscosson says:

      @spanky, re #8: No, absolutely not. ISPs are not, not, not responsible for anything once it is off their network. They are NOT responsible for third parties. Nor can they or should they be. You pay for a connection to the public internet. The transfer rates you are quoted apply ONLY to transfer on the network owned by the ISP. PERIOD. This is stated in your User Agreement, I am sure.

    47. AcidReign says:

      …..Contrary to what some posters posit above, I think these sorts of entries are a fascinating look inside the minds of customer-service folks. I vote that Consumerist continue these!

      …..The best idea, if your having a problem, is to treat these people with exaggerated respect. “Yes sir,” “No Ma’am.” Do what they say (within reason). Reboot the computer, or at least pretend to. Generally, pulling your network cable out of the computer, and putting it back in is going to reset a lot of the network innards that rebooting will…

      …..Having said that, my sympathy for the Comcast woes. I’ve had Bellsouth DSL for 5 years, and as far as I know, the service has never been off. Occasionally (maybe once every three months) the internet will seem slow, and I’ll head to the basement and power down the modem for a minute or two, then restart it. We’re really hoping this AT&T takeover doesn’t bollix things!

    48. dscosson says:

      To all who are complaining about Consumerist posting this as if they were endorsing it… the feeling I got from “Bitter and Sarcastic” in the title is that it’s not exactly a sweeping endorsement!

    49. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

      @Jon Parker:
      Several years ago I called Comcast’s predecessor company in Chicago to find out about an outage.
      The recorded voice went on for a couple of minutes listing outages to single buildings, then this genius said: “All service north of Chicago Ave is currently out”!
      That’s about 30% of the city!
      What an idiot!
      But then the offices were in a former used car lot on the south side.

    50. a says:

      @Ryan Duff: Glad I’m not the only one who thought that! And RTFA means “read the free article,” right?

    51. rekoil says:

      #8 is kinda tricky – what you have to understand is that there are two types of interconnects between ISPs, Transit and Peering. Transit is a customer-vendor relationship – to use this example, cablemodem provider X pays backbone provider Y to pass their packets to any destination Y has a route for. Peering is a relationship where no money changes hands (usually), but each provider can only send packets to destinations owned by the other.

      If the connection is transit, then #8 is bullshit – CableCo pays their vendor, vendor has a bad router, customer notices, CableCo should be getting on the phone with their vendor and demanding that they fix the problem. For peering, this is much less feasable – there’s no customer/vendor relationship, so if CableCo sees a bad router on the other ISP’s network, they can report the problem but can’t make any demands that it be repaired. That said, they should be willing to look at the problem if it’s reported.

    52. Haplo9000 says:

      @blankfaze: Just so you know, blankfaze, the title was changed to “Bitter and Sarcastic” after many of the comments were made. It sure didn’t say that when I first posted.

    53. rekoil says:

      @AcidReign:

      Occasionally (maybe once every three months) the internet will seem slow, and I’ll head to the basement and power down the modem for a minute or two, then restart it.

      This is called “training down”. Higher-frequency signals can’t travel as far as lower-frequency signals – this is why thunder in the distance is a “boom” where a lighting strike across the street is a “crack” – and on a noisy phone line, the DSL modem and the equipment at the provider’s CO will find the highest-frequency (and hence, highest speed) signal that can be reliably passed over the wire. If later on, the line gets noisier, the training process will happen again, syncing at a lower frequency this time, and that’s when your connection slows down.

      The problem is that if the noise is temporary, there’s no “train up” function to automatically reset the connection back to the higher frequency/speed. So your line will stay at the slower speed until the signal is reset from scratch.

      Incidentally, you don’t have to powercycle the modem – disconnecting the phone line for a few seconds will do fine.

    54. lizzzzzz says:

      Thanks for this remarkable insight into the paradoxical logic of the tech support guy. Idiots who think they are smarter than you are unbearable. This unwarranted attitude of superiority provides an excuse for either not helping at all or doing so very grudgingly. Often I have found that they are even more patronizing when the problem is in fact coming from them/their company. And heaven forbid you politely ask to speak to someone else. Verizon DSL must instruct employees to lie to customers, because I was told thrice that there was “no one with any greater knowledge that him personally” only to eventually be transferred to someone with–shockingly–vastly expanded access to information. I was, after literally being on the phone for hours (and losing about $200 worth of billable hours) enduring insinuations of wasting their time, grudgingly informed that the problem was with them, not me. That they were blocking the IP address to my work server for reasons unknown to anyone but the great gods, known to us mortals as server administrators (This was my initial suspicion, but of course I was told at the outset that Verizon doesn’t block anything. Hmm). That there was really nothing they could do apart from transferring me to retention to get a free replacement modem. Lame. Incidentally, this would have happened whether I had a business package or not. This jerk was probably replaced by some offshore worker from a developing country, hence his “former” status. I have to say, I would rather deal with an accent than some long-suffering pedant whose misplaced anger stems from his equally unjustified–but typically American–bourgeois sense of entitlement. The only “tip” I agree with is to stay calm and remain respectful, even when they don’t. Save the vitriol for blog comments!

    55. dbeahn says:

      And this, my friends, is why I will never, ever post a “confessions of”.

      Yes, he was sarcastic and bitter – and right. My favorite is the one where he says not to call about an outage – so many people have commented on it. And yet, they don’t seem to get that we don’t mind if you call about it, it’s that you ignore the computer voice that tells you there’s an outage, then ignore the voice that tells you that due to high call volume caused by the outage the wait time is very long. Then you hold, and ignore the voice that comes on every 3 minutes to remind you that you’re in an outage area for the next hour. Then, when you find out there’s an outage, you want to yell and scream at the call center guy about how it’s bullshit that you had to hold “for an hour” to find out there’s an outage.

      People do stupid things – not sorting through this list for the many *really really* good tips is one of them.

    56. dbeahn says:

      @ericstoltz: “Oops, in above post router lights not on: i meant MODEM lights of course…. I’m not THAT dumb!”

      You aren’t, but I used to talk to a minimum of 3 customers a day that *were* that dumb. “Oh, wait – none of the lights on my link-ski are on! Could that be the problem?”

      Similar note: I don’t care if you have a router, but don’t lie to me about it. “Can you read me your I.P. Address?” “Uh…192.168….” “I thought you said you didn’t have a router?”

    57. spanky says:

      @blankfaze: As rekoil points out, of course they can’t be responsible for the entire internet.

      However, if you read #8, he says the ISP is “just another customer,” implying that the ISP pays Level 3 to deliver a service, which the ISP’s customers pay the ISP for.

      If you are acting as a middleman to deliver a third-party service to your customers, you absolutely are responsible for that service.

      If you have a coffee shop and one of your vendors delivers coffee that tastes like ass, you can’t just throw your hands up and say, “Oh, well. It’s not my fault.” It is. You chose the vendor, and you passed those costs along to me. Fixing it is your job, not mine.

    58. dbeahn says:

      @Scazza: “2. RTFTOS (Read the Free Terms of Service)!!!
      Business class rarely has anything special over residential class, the differences are so minute that almost any small business can get by on residential. Its another excuse of “we fucked up, but your to blame” shit.”

      It’s very simple – with business class (like with anything business related) you pay extra to be absolutely sure that if there is a problem we will have it fixed inside the promised time frame.

      If you’re running a business over residential? You gambled your business to save a few bucks a month and lost? Why should I care?

      All services have business rates – insurance, tax prep, phones, you name it.

    59. AcidReign says:

      …..I like how our local power company handles outtages. (Southern Company/Alabama Power) They have an automated outtage line, you call in, punch in your phone number. If they already know about it, you’ll get an estimated time the power will be back on. When they think they’ve restored the power, the automated system calls you back to check. Considering how many outtages we have, this is a great thing.

    60. dscosson says:

      @spanky: again, no. Level3, or whatever company’s network it is on, is responsible for fixing it.

      Telecoms can only and should only be responsible for the integrity of their own networks.

      Your ISP does not act as a middleman to provide a service; the service it provides is to get your data to and from the public internet/backbone. Period. Once your data leaves your ISP’s network, it has no control over what happens to it.

    61. Bryan Price says:

      I’ve called in reports of outages to only hear that “I’m not showing any problems in your area” and “I can see activity in your neighborhood” (which really pisses me off) and going on about setting up a technician to come to my house *one week later* to fix the problem that is *obviously* on *my* end of the wire, only to have things return to normal a few hours later. Call back later to cancel the appointment to find out there is no appointment. Because there wasn’t one, or did something automatically take it out?

      When I’ve been working on computers longer than the person I’m talking to has been alive, *I* sure as heck don’t like to be talked down to, especially when I do know what I’m talking about.

    62. sifr says:

      Honestly: How many people with cable modem service CAN’T recite the standard CSR script from heart? Is there ANYONE here who calls support before going through the normal diagnostic steps in the Tier 1 script?

      That’s what annoys me more than anything: Repeatedly telling the rep exactly what the problem is, and having them completely ignore me. Last time I called Comcast support, I had to argue for an hour, through three different reps, including a supervisor, to convince them that they had disconnected me at the demarc for the second time in three months during a routine audit, because someone had mislabelled the wiring.

      When I get a CSR on the phone and explain this to them, I do NOT want to hear, “reboot the computer”, “flush your browser cache”, “connect the modem to the computer”, or “reboot the modem”.

      If there’s no sync with the headend, I can assure you that the problem is NOT with my computer. If there’s no signal on the coax, I promise you it’s not the modem’s fault.

      So you’ll excuse me if, as a paying customer of good standing and long custom, I get just the tiniest bit irritated when you ignore every word out of my mouth, even when I inform you that I’ve already done everything you’re about to ask. Even when I walk YOU through your script, explaining how I’ve done each thing in turn before calling.

      If you’re going to so slavishly stick to your idiotic script, they should fire you and replace you with an extended voice-response menu. Because it’s going to be just as useless, just as attentive to my needs, and just as mindless. And it’ll save them money.

      If you want to complain about how much your job sucks, go to a bar, or quit. Don’t come here expecting sympathy, condolences, or comraderie.

    63. Xxxcastic says:

      How can I post as an insider?

    64. sifr says:

      @Bryan Price:

      I’ve had a cable modem support monkey swear they were pinging my modem right that second, when I had unplugged the modem and disconnected the coax.

      This was part of a five-hour phone ordeal regarding an outage that boiled down to someone at Comcast typing the wrong MAC address into my records, thereby invalidating my modem.

      I had to call around until I got someone in Winnepeg who actually knew what a MAC was and was actually willing to listen, read, and — surprise, surprise — verify that the MAC in their records was wrong.

      Five hours, for something that should have taken, at most, five minutes. As soon as that Tier 1 mouthbreather started claiming they were pinging my modem when it was sitting in my hand completely disconnected, I started trying to get them to verify the MAC for the modem authorized on my account. Most of that five hours was spent trying to find anyone at Comcast who could both use a telephone and knew what the hell a MAC was.

      Oh, and I’m not one bit impressed with any degrees or certifications. Hell, I’ve written and launched a certification. A+? Don’t make me laugh. I passed those things cold after a night out drinking, because I had to evaluate their content to see if we wanted to partner with them for the certification we were launching.

      I think I missed one question, and it was because I couldn’t recall some obscure SCSI Linux-ism with the hangover I had.

      I’m proud of you tech support types if you manage to land the job and pass the test. Really, I am. But stop being so full of yourselves and assuming that you know everything there is to know about HFC networks. There’s more common sense and reasoning ability involved in troubleshooting than there is generic “oh, gee, I can past a test!” rote memorization. And common sense and reasoning ability are evidently sorely lacking in Tiers 1 through 3.

    65. leighzbohns says:

      So, all you people complaining about the call center reps bad attitude, I just want to say some things from another person who has been there, done that.

      1) Typically an outage notification is placed on an outbound message, so everyone calling can hear that there is an outage. So, you sound like a nitwit when you call in and say “I heard the outage notification, and I live in the area which the message says is out, am I affected by the outage”. Astonishingly, the answer is YES!

      2) Often the first level support agents you talk to are “Meat shields”. Yes, you’re smarter than them. Yes, you’ve beat all 5 CDs of the internet AOL sends to you, but you still gotta play ball with the guy on the other end of the phone, or else you’re going nowhere. Not all ISPs are created equal, and trust me, you might think that $50 a month is a big bill for internet, but your ISP makes almost no money on you, and every time you call they lose money.

      3) Service Level Agreement. Read your TOS. Don’t think that your $100 a month ADSL circuit is more of a priority to repair than anyone else’s ADSL circuit. If you want it fixed quickly, get a service with a good SLA.

      4) Most technical support is crap, outsourced to the lowest bidder who hires the most wretched losers to read a script. You have a choice: You can pay for good service if it’s available, you can move somewhere you can get good service, or you can write your congresscritter about the current state of the cable cabal and the telecom monopoly, and see if you can change the world.


      Good luck!

    66. sifr says:

      @leighzbohns:

      “every time you call they lose money.”

      Great! Let’s all call them repeatedly until they start doing something to improve the support!

    67. iaced1 says:

      6. But I’m a PHD, MBA and a CPA!!!

      You’re the smart one. Fix the GD thing yourself! We get that all the time. I’m a Sys Admin for a University! These people are the worse ones. They expect you to bow down and kiss their feet. I give them a Kiss My A$$.

    68. The Walking Eye says:

      @sifr: When I lived in TN, I had Charter Comm and they had a voice response thing whenever you called in that you had to go through (I didn’t know of tricks to get past it at that time) that ran through the basic troubleshooting things for both cable and internet service. Cycling the power, checking if it’s out on all TVs, etc. Then, if those didn’t solve the problem, you were connected to a human. The first thing they asked me to do was always, “Cycle the power on XXXX equipment.”

      I would then tell them that I had done that before I called and then also when the autobot told me to, and they’d still insist on me cycling the power.

      So to the “techs,” please forgive me for not giving a shit about your crappy ass job and lousy attitude. I know that some of you are just college kids w/ a part-time job waiting to graduate, but that’s no excuse for being a shithead. After you graduate and get a real job and you need to call CS for something, you’ll appreciate it when people treat you with respect rather than just some asshole customer who’s too stupid to own whatever they’re calling about. You’re part of a broken system, but that doesn’t mean you have to act accordingly.

    69. bokononist says:

      This technician perfectly demonstrates why cable companies (and maybe all large companies) have awful service.

      I had service installed by Comcast at the beginning of April, and I will first acknowledge that many Comcast employees made an extra effort to solve my problems.

      I purchased the ‘business’ class service–so I expected things to go well. I also purchased 3 IP addresses. The technician who arrived to do the install (who did an excellent job) came with one cable modem. He was told by some ‘escalation’ specialist that for 13 IP addresses, he needed 5 modems (!). This is clearly wrong. I didn’t believe it, so I called up Comcast’s tech support to ask why I needed 5 modems. (I’m a system administrator with 10+ years of experience, so I know these things.) I didn’t act jerky on the phone–I just asked ‘how are the packets routed between the machines connected to the different modems. The tech support person couldn’t believe it–she said that it’s absolutely incorrect, and asked me to put the installer on the phone. That fixed the problem.

      Lesson the rude technician who posted this should learn: sometimes, customers do know more than the $10/hr cable company technicians, and perhaps they should listen to them when they correct their mistakes.

      Next problem: severe packet loss. Here’s where some Comcast people started to screw up: they kept sending technicians who couldn’t troubleshoot the problem–people just capable of power-cycling the modem. I called up again to report the problem, and it’s a good thing I did, because it got escalated to an outage.

      Lesson for the rude technician: when customers call in for outages, they should be respected. Sometimes all that ‘monitoring’ equipment doesn’t work.

      Comcast did end up making an extra effort. I reminded one of the people I spoke to that I needed to have the connection fully-functional to run my business. He understood me, and I received no fewer than 3 follow-up calls, and had my problem resolved within a day. (Comcast kept giving me exaggerated resolution times–one was two weeks!–but since they did fix the problem, and were very helpful in doing so, I don’t blame them).

      Finally, the bit about complaining to the cableco about one of their downstream bandwidth providers is really stupid. As a customer, I don’t care that the cableco is having problems with one of their providers–I’m not paying those providers. It’s the cableco’s responsibility to choose reliable providers, and if they fail to do so, they need to handle the trouble calls they get.

      The ‘take home message’ (since the rude phone monkey probably is too lazy to read through all of this) is that he shouldn’t assume all his customers are dumbasses, because some of us aren’t, and there’s a lot to gain from working with us. Just as I don’t assume that all call center people are assholes like him, he shouldn’t assume all us customers suck.

      Perhaps the better ‘take home message’ is a TLA: GFY–Go Free Yourself.

    70. masterdave says:

      sounds like yet another grumpy comcast phone jockey who has an MCSE and A+ and feels like he’s wasting his life being on the phone with people who are clearly dumber than he is and as such are totally unworthy of his time.

      Yes mister grumpy call center superstar, you’re going to just work there for another year or two maybe and then someone at Microsoft or Google will recognize you for your obviously superior efforts. You’ll quit your new job at one of the big companies after a year or two and get in at the top at a Pre-IPO company, work a couple years worth of 16-hour days and once the company goes public you’re totally going to rich and never have to work ever again. So yeah, screw these customers that call and have problems, they’re totally not going to matter in 5 years. This job is just totally the stepping stone that’s really only holding you back from your dreams. Definitely treat it like it’s unworthy of your time and effort at doing a good job and being polite to people when they call. That’s the key to success!

    71. JohnMc says:

      Well I have but one question, for this inpertinent sucker.

      If you already know that the network is down then why in GODS GREEN ACRES DO YOU STILL READ THE DAMN SCRIPT TO US? Couldn’t you just say its down??

    72. yg17 says:

      @blankfaze:

      But if I was the ISP and the Level 3 service I was paying out the arse for wasn’t working properly, I’d definitely want to know about it so I could tell Level 3 to fix it.

    73. priznat says:

      This story reminded me of a similar set of “Do’s and Don’ts” from a snarky fast food employee.

      Makes sense since most of the cable employees I talk to have a similar level of education and skill..

    74. yg17 says:

      @iaced1:

      You completely missed the point. Those of us who are smart and know our shit already attempted to fix it and did all the troubleshooting we could. If I call my ISP, the problem IS NOT on my end because I’ve done all of the troubleshooting already. When the script monkey answers, I want to skip all of the “reboot your modem” bullshit and get straight to having a technician fix the problem ASAP.

      If Charter would let me get into their facilities, I would fix the damn thing myself because their technicians wouldn’t know a fiber optic cable from their asshole and think “Cisco” is a brand of shortening used for cooking. Since that won’t happen, I have to rely on the script monkey to escalate the issue, and I don’t ever want to hear the word “reboot” while on the phone with them.

    75. kerry says:

      @Jon Parker: Earthlink used to do this. Maybe once a year my DSL would go out, I’d call their support number, hear the recording, then hang up. Once I didn’t hear the recording, called, reported my internet outage, the lady in India told me there was no area problem, so we did some troubleshooting on my end. It turned out my modem had overheated, so I had to turn it off, wait until it cooled down and then start it up. The system worked exactly as it should have, and if their prices hadn’t been so high I would have stuck with them when I moved.
      I’m so glad I don’t have cable (internet or TV), though, seems like it goes out all the time, regardless of location or provider.

    76. sifr says:

      @yg17:

      “But if I was the ISP and the Level 3 service I was paying out the arse for wasn’t working properly, I’d definitely want to know about it so I could tell Level 3 to fix it.”

      The cable co. would call the backbone provider, and the backbone provider tech support would tell them to reboot their router and flush their ARP cache. :):):)

    77. castlecraver says:

      Sorry, comment thread = TLDR. Still, felt it necessary to say to the “ISP insider”: if I’m not receiving service, and its not my fault (and I’ll know, as I’m quite a bit smarter than you), you’d better believe I’m going to call. And you can kiss my ass if you don’t like it.

    78. AcidReign says:

      ,,,,,@rekoil: I know that “generally,” network stuff and USB are “hot-swappable.” However, just so I don’t have to keep lists in my head of what is safe and what isn’t, I always power down ANYTHING before plugging in or out.

    79. Killian says:

      I worked for a cable ISP for three and a half years and despite all the shortcomings the job entails, it was actually a very good experience. Many moments of frustration too but it certainly gave me an edge over lots of other people in the IT field. My biggest concern with the article is that it makes it seem like people should know what we know and be able to have the same sense about do’s and don’ts that we do. That just isn’t going to be the case. We as tech support professionals need to take it upon ourselves to be respectful, sympathetic (sometimes even empathetic), and to offer solid assistance based on knowledge and skill. Every tech support place goes through this thing where they try a cookie cutter approach. They don’t want to pay anyone to think so they discourage it. That bit about cutting off customers who are losing propositions really bothered me. Had anyone considered that they might have had legit issues? Items like that were always reserved for those who willfully violated rules (sending spam, etc) or something else in the extreme category. Until the day when people realize that tech support has skill sets that need to be identified and cultivated, then it will still spawn articles like this one.

    80. Slytherin says:

      Another loser schmuck making $6 an hour trying to make him or herself seem better than the rest of us with demeaning “tips”. Whatever floats their boat!

    81. Buran says:

      @zolielo: I once called in to report a problem and the rep said “didn’t you listen to the outage message?” There hadn’t BEEN an outage message. I didn’t need snark. I pointed it out politely (the lack of the message, that is) and the guy was apologetic and I thanked him for his time and asked if he could forward on the “no message” report, if he had a way to, and that was the end of it …

      but …

      If you don’t want 700 people to call and say their service is out, you should actually notify them of the outage.

    82. Buran says:

      @ericstoltz: Yeah, I got that kind of attitude once too. I filed a complaint about the incompetent “support rep”. I never got even an apology which was all I really wanted.

    83. Buran says:

      @dantc: Some things are just not said. These “tipsters” cross that line. That’s why people are upset. Rightfully so.

    84. Buran says:

      @ericstoltz: Fortunately plastic windows on convertibles are just about extinct due to the lack of a defroster and the UV “fogging” you mention. The Miata has had a glass rear window for a generation or two.

      Hopefully, you didn’t wind up paying that BS “we aren’t making enough profit” fee?

    85. mac-phisto says:

      you know, i was wondering where BOFH ended up. now i know.

    86. spanky says:

      @blankfaze: Of course they don’t fix it themselves. The ISP–the customer of Level 3–calls Level 3 and deals with it.

      What is your solution here, anyway? Does the end customer call Level 3, with whom they have no business relationship at all, to fix the problem?

    87. sizer says:

      I like posts like this, if only as an insight into the sort of putz who works support at an ISP. Like #3: ‘Why thanks for calling, there is an outage in your area.’ I must commend you on your acting skills, because the last few time this happened I could have sworn you didn’t have a clue.

    88. dantsea says:

      @Buran: What, exactly, is so unspeakably wrong about posts like this? Why does knowing that the rep doesn’t like you and will probably do more for you if don’t scream at them so upsetting to Consumerist’s commenters? I see a lot of the flip or nasty responses and there’s a visible odor of classism wafting above them. I can almost see the respondents clutching their pearls and shrieking “HOW DARE HE SAY THAT!”

      I think what really rubbed some people the wrong way is that this post, and the other “confessions” post, humanized call center workers to a certain group of people who would prefer the to maintain the illusion that a customer service representative is an appliance to be abused.

      Or is it the feeling of powerlessness? There’s no metric that can be developed or enforced that would require the representative to actually like the person they’re speaking with.

    89. dantsea says:

      @dantc: Ok, I’ll concede my own point and say I can understand why some people might be upset. However, I’d encourage them to pull useful information out of such posts and apply it to their advantage.

      And for my own take on this, stay tuned to the Consumerist discussion boards this weekend for my own post, Confessions of a former AAA emergency road service representative/dispatcher/supervisor. I promise it’ll be marginally useful.

    90. ReccaSquirrel says:

      In all fairness, having done both a banking an internet tech client, I can fully understand where #3 comes from.

      At the DSL provider, an outage would be listed in the VRU system before you could even speak to a representative. “Due to an outage in the 508 area, there is extended delay.” The customer would come through and ask why their was an outage.

      That wasn’t half as bad as the people who call in, stuck in the automated system were it mentions the name of the bank every minute and at the start of the call and still the customer would argue with you because they called the wrong bank and thought they were calling “Chase”.

    91. Buran says:

      @dantc: No, what I am saying is not that techs aren’t people. I’m saying that posting whines and rants about the very stuff you expected to have to deal with when you accepted the job offer, and are paid to deal with, and doing it insultingly is over the line.

      There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, and this is completely the wrong way to do it. The “tipster” is an asshole who has no comprehension of reality.

    92. FLConsumer says:

      With cable internet companies, I’ve not seen ANY difference between “business grade” service and “residential service”. The only difference I’ve noticed is that I get a level 2 tech instead of level 1 script-reader when I call in for tech support, but that’s about it. Still the same lousy support and the constant “we can’t possibly have a problem on our end” attitude from Comcast Business Internet. After a month and a half of intermittent outages and over 16 hours on the phone with Comcast, numerous appointments to have them come out to my building, and after Comcast even re-wired all of the cable TV lines in the building, they finally discovered they had a batch switch back at their headend… which is what I kept telling them the problem was from day 1. I’m still not impressed with Comcast.

    93. holysmoke says:

      MCSE, A+ and Network Plus certified


      the 3 most bogus certifications ever, they do not show competence at all.

      the exact answers for these tests are all over the internet.

      they are called dumps, search mcse dumps

    94. spanky says:

      @dantc:

      Oh, I can’t imagine many people are actually surprised or anything. Most people have probably encountered arrogant, rude tech support people. It’s pretty obvious what they’re thinking when you talk to them. They’re not as smooth as they seem to think.

      And, in many cases, customers are frustrating, I’m sure. But it is also frustrating to be treated like an idiot by default when you’re calling with legitimate issues. I almost never call tech support for anything, but when I do, I know I’m going to spend a whole lot of time walking through things I’ve already done and checking a bunch of irrelevant stuff. That’s fine. I understand why that’s necessary.

      However, when a tech support person takes this type of hostile and condescending attitude overall, odds of getting anything resolved are slim, at least until the problem gets escalated. Customer service people with attitudes like this rarely even make the effort to listen to what you’re telling them. They’ve already decided that everyone who calls them is stupid and doesn’t know what they’re doing. So the only people who get decent support are stupid people who don’t know what they’re doing.

      As far as the condescension, I’ll cop to that. There are few things I relish more than turning things around and patronizing someone who started out treating me like an idiot.

    95. dantsea says:

      @Buran: I can understand if not completely appreciate that perspective. But there’s one thing I’d like to point out — not to hold you as an example, other then as a general one of sentiments expressed by many others:

      doing it insultingly is over the line.

      Agreed, though nowhere in those posts can one accurately assume that the rep is being a prick to the people they’re dealing with.

      In my experience as a rep and a supervisor, the best reps consistently getting high quality scores and customer commendations were also the first ones to make a beeline to the break room computers w/unfiltered Internet access and dump a scathing rant on LiveJournal’s customers_suck community. They’d never let it show on the clock or to the customers, and that’s what counts.

      What we’re hearing now is some of the off-the-clock stuff, and I maintain that many here are startled to hear such a blunt and unfiltered perspective that maybe they hadn’t given much, if any, previous thought.

      In any case, I’m now beating the stain where the dead horse used to be, so I’ll keep this as my last word on the matter.

    96. hop says:

      when i called verizon a couple of times, they would put out a recorded message of the outtages in the area……

    97. MeOhMy says:

      Just because the “residential” service doesn’t have a guaranteed service level doesn’t mean I’m not paying $2/day. It’s not working. I’m paying for nothing. I want it fixed. Is that hard to understand?

      All this insider proves is just how awful customer service is, across the board, in every industry.

    98. tadiera says:

      I think all of you with the “whinewhinebitchbitch this person is so mean and they need to get a real job” need to go a week with NO CUSTOMER SERVICE provided you. None. No fast food. No cashiers. No phone support for anything.

      Then maybe you’d learn to appreciate it a bit more. I hate this fucking “this loser needs to get a real job” bullshit I keep seeing on these posts. Maybe these people are at that job while in college or to gain experience in the technology sector to move on? Or maybe they don’t live in the Silicon Valley or similar and there’s a small offering of technology jobs, but they can’t afford to move / can’t move because of family.

      These points are valid. And I have a feeling those bitching and whining the most are seeing themselves reflected in them and need to make their ego feel better.


      And yes, I’m ready for the responses to my comment of ‘Oh, you must be a loser in a dead-end job also’. Thanks. See, I was a System Administrator for Clear Channel until they laid me off. Unfortunately, I live in a region where good technology jobs are few and far between and who you know gets you way, way further than qualifications. I can’t afford to move. So I work tech support because it pays the fucking bills.

    99. tadiera says:

      @Troy F.:

      Hey. You know me!

      I’m going to explain that, however…

      What the writer means is that there are a LOT of residential customers who call in and go ‘I WANT A TECHNICIAN OUT RIGHT THIS SECOND! I’M LOSING MONEY!’. Any service that sends out technicians usually ends up booking them days in advance. Usually I can get someone out the next day, but the only same day appointments go to businesses. That’s what the writer meant: don’t pay for residential service, then scream at me about how many thousands of dollars your business is losing. If you make that much money, you could afford the higher package… which at my ISP, provides you same day technicians, 24/7 support, among other things.

    100. MentalDisconnect says:

      @tadiera: Hey, well, my disability means those types of jobs are about all I can do. Giving someone their food as they rush to work? Helping a vet care for an animal? Explaining an exhibit to a kid at a science center so he can learn more? Providing service to elderly people? Cleaning up places you never even thought about but would be very unhappy if they weren’t cleaned, such as the gym, or a school? Those aren’t real jobs? Well, no, they don’t take a ton of education, patience mostly. I take pride in my work, as lowly as it is. I dislike this post because it is flippant! I was unhappy in my job several times! Yet I kept quiet about it. It’s not the customer’s job to make me feel better. It’s my job. I either quit, or focus on the things I do enjoy. You know, playing with kittens, free food, playing with the exhibits when no one’s around, knowing I made something better- this person doesn’t need to be bitter! Some good advice, just perhaps phrased better? I’m contacting Consumerist and sharing my side of the customer service story.

    101. firefoxx66 says:

      I know many people have already had a go at number 3 (“Yes there is an outage … We really don’t need 700 people to call.”), but my own story of why I always call when my internet goes out.

      I have a really crappy ISP – ‘Goldentree’ – that really don’t have a clue. They are the only ISP available to my apt complex and provide for the whole complex. A great example of their incompetence is the many phone calls I’ve had that resembled the following:
      (after the formalities of giving my name, apartment complex, etc)
      Me: The internet isn’t working.
      GT: Tell me what the lights are on your modem.
      Me: The power light is on, the ‘cable’ light is flashing. In the past this has indicated a problem on your end. Also, my neighbor’s unsecured wireless network also has no internet, so I’m not the only one with the problem. I think the whole complex is down (again).
      GT: Well, let me check.

      GT: Actually, it doesn’t look like anyone in your complex is online at the moment.
      Me: … Yea, I think that’s because the internet isn’t working.
      GT: This is strange, I’m not getting any response when I try to ping your complex.
      Me: …….. Yea, I think this is because something is wrong, and we aren’t getting internet.

      (Eventually he admits the internet is down and says he’ll work on the problem.)

      So, as you can see, not all companies are as kind as to monitor their internet connections. It takes someone to call up and tell them the internet is down. And on more than one occasion I’ve been the first to alert them….

    102. ericstoltz says:

      tadiera: “If you make that much money, you could afford the higher package… which at my ISP, provides you same day technicians, 24/7 support, among other things.”

      Again, proving my point. The cable company “business service” is a way of charging more every month so that when the cable company screws up, they fix it faster. Hey, instead of paying us $40 a month, pay us $100! That way, if we screw up a few times a year, you might get faster service!

      It’s the same type of scam used by credit reporting agencies: pay us a monthly fee so that when we mess up your credit report, you’ll notice it.

      laced1: “You’re the smart one. Fix the GD thing yourself!” Hey, we would if we could. Example: I’m a Web developer, and one of my client sites stopped working after the host screwed up the MySQL databases while trying to fix a server issue. Despite explaining to tech support the EXACT problem, multiple times, even providing them with links to the online official MySQL reference manual, it still took dozens of contacts and three days until I finally found someone in the SALES department who understood what I was talking about — he was able to walk their tech “experts” through the problem. Well waddaya know, the problem was fixed when I could finally get someone to listen to what I was saying…

    103. manevitch says:

      Just because *you* know there’s a problem in the neighborhood doesn’t mean *I* know the same. So take my damn call, show me some courtesy, and either suck it up or pursue a new career path.

    104. FinanceGuru says:

      @tadiera: You’re the inept, rude CSR apologist. Don’t you get tired of being up there on that cross?

    105. tadiera says:

      @manevitch:

      As many other people have stated… we don’t think the person meant to not call in at all. Every ISP I’ve known will put up a message saying ‘There are outages in the following areas…’, but still hundreds of people will ask ‘Does that affect me?’, when their area is clearly said to be out.

    106. Slytherin says:

      @tadiera: Ummm..ok. *rolls eyes*

    107. Pelagius says:

      In the spirit of these pieces…
      Customer Tips for Customer Service Industry Employees

      1. I pay your company for a reason
      I want a basic service, and I want it provided in a competent manner. That’s why I pay your employer a sizeable chunk of money each month. If I’m not getting that service, I will be disgruntled. If you treat me like crap for asking the company to live up to its side of the bargain, I am going to vent at you.

      2. If you hate working in a call center, quit.
      No one forced you to take a call center job. Go mop floors or join the Army if you hate dealing with people so much. Just be glad your job hasn’t been outsourced to Manila.

      3. Imagine it’s your mom on the other end of the line.
      Maybe you’ll treat your befuddled customers better if you imagine your own not-so-tech-savvy loved ones in the same situation.

      4. But I’m an MCSE!
      Last time I checked this wasn’t a license to act like a smug twat.

    108. yg17 says:

      @tadiera:

      If you’re going to do a job, do it right. I work at a helpdesk for my college. Yes, the job sucks sometimes, yes, some callers are idiots. But I have NEVER been rude to any callers or gotten an attitude no matter how dumb or rude they were to me. If I can’t fix their problem, I make sure to escalate it to someone who can. If their computer is down and they need it working, I don’t tell them it will be a few days before one of our technicians can head over to their office. The second the customer hangs up, I call a technician for that area on their cell phone to make sure their problem gets resolved ASAP.

      This isn’t a matter of customer service not being a real job, because it is. It’s a matter of someone not doing their job properly. Call center reps get idiots all the time, but being rude is NOT the way to handle it. People like the guy who sent in these “tips” are working in a field that they mentally are not capable ofworking in. If you can’t handle physical stress, don’t work in construction. If you can’t handle mental stress, don’t work in customer service.

    109. hateeecs says:

      I’m getting my comcast disconnected tomorrow and can’t wait.

    110. shdwsclan says:

      MCSE and A+, wow, you must be really stupid, cause that means, that you konw the computer is somesort of magic box with 1s and 0s and microsoft is running windows on it….

      The way it should be, is that only the cable company has free customer sever up to the and including the modem. Any hardware behind that, including the computer will cost you extra….
      Since the cable op is the only one that can LEGALLY reprogram the modem…
      Its not hard, but it is complex to get a modem to respond to the ethernet end versus the coax end….thats how people uncap their modems…

    111. Zweites says:

      #7 I’ve been on the phone for hours! … and it’s NOT MY JOB! I think that distinction was overlooked.

      The fact that you deal with THOUSANDS of customers a month is like a proctologist saying they deal with thousands of assholes. Answering phones kind of comes with the job of answering phones…

      Weird, I know.

    112. Lacclolith says:

      Apparently, no employees at call centers seem to know the difference between “You’re” and “Your”.

      Anyhow, I can agree with item #6. When I worked for Tech Support at USC, I’d have professors, administrators and other clientèle who’d assail me with the same kind of logic, but I’d still take the time to slowly guide them through their problems. Why are you so bitter, mi amigo?

    113. rugger_can says:

      Wow…

      People sure hate to be told the truth don’t they. They hate the fact that the people that are helping them often grow to hate them.

      From reading these comments Ive learned one thing, everyone seems to be honestly convinced that its funny that people loose their jobs to overseas call centers.

      Well as a person who worked for multiple companies and lost my job 3 times because of outsourcing that its not all “our fault”. But glad you all have the depth to show some pity on those that have to toil in subordination to help you.

      Kinda funny if you ask me.

    114. MeOhMy says:

      @ericstoltz:

      The cable company “business service” is a way of charging more every month so that when the cable company screws up, they fix it faster. Hey, instead of paying us $40 a month, pay us $100! That way, if we screw up a few times a year, you might get faster service!

      Thus turning the inevitable failure into a potential revenue center. This is done in many, many businesses. You can have guaranteed 24×7 uptime…you just have to pay extra for it. I can’t really blame a business for doing this. The thing is, you’ve got customers who make a demand for whatever reason. They want a higher service level than what you might normally offer. If you want their business, you need to accommodate them.

      Oh and…hi, Tadiera :-)

    115. FinanceGuru says:

      @rugger_can: You and Tadiera ought to get together and put up a site where CSRs can have a bitchfest, because this one’s for consumers. Don’t know if you knew that. Happy to help.

      The point you are either missing or are willfully ignorant of is…

      wait for it…

      it’ll come to you…

      WE ARE THE CUSTOMERS. The CSRs are paid to what? Any clue? Yes, that’s right: ANSWER OUR CALLS. Just like I get paid to bail my clients out of trouble when they do exactly, 180 degrees the opposite of what I advised 42 days prior.

      Does it frustrate me? Yes. Do I want to shake them and remind them that this all could have been avoided if they’d just done like I suggested? Yes. Does that mean I ought to tell them I hate them and think that they’re all morons? Absolutely not.

      You see, cleaning up their messes — as it were — is what I get paid to do. If I didn’t like it, I would be welcome to find other employment.

      It’s not a slave labor camp and nobody’s forcing them to sit in call centers and take these calls.

    116. alterboy says:

      I used to be a tech support rep for a VOIP/ISP company and i can relate to these posts on some level but, I agree that these are unhelpful and don’t win any sympathy points from consumers. In fact with these attitudes you guys come off looking like the ass and you probably deserve the miserable hell you live in. This post wasn’t as bad as the last, but maybe a real explanation or helpful hints on how to not piss off your tech support rep are in order. Maybe I’ll put one together when I get a chance.

    117. iamzombie says:

      Ok… I’ve been reading the consumerist for awhile now, and have finally been forced to make an ‘audition’ for posting. I apologize for the length of this post in advance.

      Let me give you some background, I worked at an outsourced call center (in Canada, not India) as tier 1, and then tier 2 tech support. Clients we dealt with (being the companies you buy from) such as Lexmark, Earthlink, and Bell Sympatico.

      (and, as some have suggested when being stuck in a dead-end job, I quit and joined the military, and am still working as such)

      I had originally responded to this on a point-by-point basis, but this was way too long winded.

      2) Definitely read the TOS. Just because you don’t agree that you should have to pay more for internet access for your business doesn’t change the fact that the TOS are a legally binding contract. It’s a contract, you agreed to it whether you read it or not.

      4) It sounds rude (and was) but it’s true. Don’t expect a TSR for your cable internet service to fix issues you have printing webpages. (I know this wasn’t his example, but it happened to me) Realize that your computer CAN be the cause of many problems while online. Understand that your router can ALSO be the problem. Believe me, the TSR understands it’s a pain to bypass your router, move your DSL modem to another phone jack, however, it’s also part of their job.

      6) Don’t list off credentials to the TSR. They don’t care. You can be Al Gore (after all, he created the internet! – yes I know he never actually claimed this) and they still won’t care. The agent is being paid to follow the approved troubleshooting procedures, regardless of how little sense they make at times. While indirectly you pay their wages, they don’t work for you.

      7) It sucks being on the phone for hours. Yes, the agent on the phone is being paid (very little) for it. The caller, on the other hand, only has to deal with a potential jerk or two (the TSRs) to get their issue resolved. The TSR can potentially have every call in a day be an irrate caller. It’s no fun when a call begins “listen fuckhead”, believe me. Not to mention the crazies who ask where the head office is, and then threaten to blow up the office/shoot people exiting the building. (it happens)


      Overall, there’s a LOT of hostility towards phone agents on this site, most of which is probably warranted.

      However, do not paint all call center agents w/ the same brush. I had meetings with my managers multiple times for disregarding AHT (Average Handle Time) and other metrics, instead wanting to fix a customer’s issue, regardless of the time it took. My RCR (Repeat Call Ratio) was below 3%, while the goal was (I believe) 40%, and I took pride in that.

      Anyone who has never worked in a call center should just sit back and think about how you speak to the agents on the phone.

      While phones detach people emotionally, if you would still speak that way to someone face to face, you are an ass.

      -z

    118. CumaeanSibyl says:

      Okay, for all of you who’re complaining that the techs talk down to you, I have three words:

      “The internet’s broken!”

      I know plenty of people who honestly could not tell you what kind of ISP they have, what brand their computer is, which OS they’re running, what browser they use, or where the control-panel type things like “My Computer” are. There are still people out there who don’t know how to reboot their computers and will sit there doggedly pushing the monitor power button while complaining that nothing’s happening. This is the level of technical knowledge the phone guys deal with on a daily basis. Even the most ignorant commenter here is probably way ahead of the curve — it’s a bad sample.

      And yes, even if you say you know what you’re doing, they have to go through the script. Why? Because those same people who couldn’t find the Start button with both hands and a flashlight are just absolutely positive that they know what they’re doing, and will exaggerate their own knowledge. Others have a preconceived notion of what the problem is and will flat-out lie about what they’ve done (“Yeah yeah yeah, I already restarted it like TWELVE TIMES, I’m telling you the tubes are blocked!”). Some of these people are, unaccountably, employed in IT.

      @iaced1: My husband has a similar job, and the exact same problem. An outsider wouldn’t believe how many Ph.Ds with prestigious tenured jobs are incapable of filling out a simple web form. And they’re such assholes about it, too. It’s as if they think having studied some academic topic for a decade or two means they should never have to learn anything new, ever.