Man Experiences Competent Verizon DSL Tech Support

Nick was able to actually get decent Verizon tech support. But to do it, he had to trick the phone system and select “install problems” instead of “tech support” when he called. He writes:

I live in northwest Pennsylvania, an area formerly held by telecom company GTE (GTE North to be specifically I believe?). This has been particularly troublesome to the folks at Verizon when I’d call for tech support. Over the past few years of getting DSL from Verizon when the need would arise to call tech support I would cringe. I *knew* they wouldn’t be able to find my account, it always happens.

I call, get connected to “Verizon East”, they try to look me up, no worky, they transfer me to “Verizon West”. Verizon West looks me up, doesn’t find me, and attempts to transfer me back to “Verizon East”. This nonsense would continue easily for 20-30 minutes before even getting a tech who knew anything about my account.

This was a major source of aggravation for me each call. Each rep would need my telephone number again, transfers sometimes happened, sometimes disconnected me, etc. Major pain in the ass.

However, just a few days ago I needed to call again due to issues in getting a DHCP lease on my DSL modem. I was dreading it…

Much to my surprise, after a short 15 minute wait on hold for a tech, the guy was able to not only look up my account without routing me through east, west or otherwise but he could also perform a line test while I was on the phone. I was stunned.

I was also mentally preparing for the next round of tomfoolery brought to you by Verizon, namely the scripted troubleshooting I knew was coming next (unplug this, do that, check the wires, etc.).

This tech asked me what was wrong. I said “I’m not getting a DHCP lease on my modem, changed phone lines to test it, rebooted, etc.” While my hands were nearly mid flight into unplugging the router and modem per typical scripted requests he interrupted to tell me he would simply release the IP address on their end for the modem to see if it remedied the issue.

Less than one minute later I had an internet connectivity–he had my quickly check verizon.net and time.gov to ensure I was all good and that was it.

So, to recap, Verizon gets some points from this previously extremely fired up consumer. Here’s how they did it:

1) Apparently cut the crap. The reps can see my account without switching between east, west, south and north.

2) Cut the crap some more. The tech didn’t have to go through the bloody script with me and just solved the problem! Kudos!

Now there are still some issues. When I called support due to connectivity issues the automated system ran a line test, saw nothing was “wrong” with the line and booted me back to the main menu–some tech support. I eventually switched my tactics to selecting “Install problems” instead of connectivity problems and was able to route to a human.

Thus illustrating the importance of, when dealing with customer service, going around and trying to jimmy the side doors if the front door is locked.

(Photo: SkyShaper)

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  1. mercnet says:

    Reps should really ask you what your level of experience is when it comes to stuff like this. Clearly this guy knew what he was talking about and the rep realized that and threw the script out. I think having a script is great for non technical people, but when you know exactly what the problem is, they should throw it out.

  2. blasphemy!

  3. B says:

    What’s next, a post about the tooth fairy being real?

  4. SonicPhoenix says:

    @mercnet:
    Work in tech support for a short while and you will quickly realize that the most dangerous user you will ever meet are those who _think_ that they have a great deal of experience but are ultimately lacking said technical savvy.

    That being said, it sounds like this tech was clearly a notch or three above the normal first tier support. My guess is that the tech will probably soon be promoted to a position where he works on larger issues which is both fortunate (for him) and unfortunate (for the people who call in with problems).

  5. rmz says:

    @mercnet: The problem lies with customers who think they know everything when they really don’t.

  6. MDSasquatch says:

    Sort of reminds me of an issue I had with Apple’s OS8; my desktop was all jacked up, someone told me to open my preferences folder and toss the desktop preferences to the trash and restart. Upon a restart, the computer generated another desktop preference and my problem was fixed. After that point I on occasion gave out the same advice; I was no Apple Genius genius, but I was quite good at fixing this particular problem.

    Could it be that this guy has had a lot of experience in DHCP, and is quite useless with real issues?

    This story reeks of the blind squirrel and the acorn fable.

  7. Just cancelled my Verizon DSL last month after weeks of connectivity issues, and I can speak from LOOONNNNGGG experience about frustration with scripted tech support.

    Our home has two separate phone lines, with only one hooked up to DSL. That line pair has only two jacks, and I know both of their locations; the other line has numerous jacks all over the house. Furthermore, I don’t call tech support until I’ve taken all my equipment out to the NID, hooked it up, and made certain that the problem isn’t interior wiring. I don’t call until I verify that the signal is being dropped BEFORE it hits the house wires.

    Not that being so scrupulous gets me anywhere. I still have to talk to India, be hung up on multiple times and follow the zombie script if I want to do something as simple as report a line problem.

    During this last fiasco, in order to make it through the tech support script, I was required to install DSL filters on all phone lines in the house–whether the lines tapped the DSL line-pair or not.

    So what happens after I spent literally hours being bounced around tech support? They finally send out a technician.

    He comes in to take a look at the DSL modem. “Why do you have a DSL filter on this other line?” he asks.

    “I have DSL filters on every line coming into the house, whether it’s the DSL line or the non-DSL line.” I told him.

    “Well,” he says, “you only need a DSL filter on the line-pair that’s carrying the DSL signal.”

    I give him a fed-up look. “I know that,” I say, “and YOU know that,” I add, “but the Indian call center, THEY do not know that. They wouldn’t let me past the script until I swore I’d put the damned filters on every single jack in the house.”

    “Well,” he says, “you can take them off now. You don’t need them.”

    What I really decided, after all was said and done, was that I didn’t need Verizon DSL.

  8. stacye says:

    At one ISP that I worked at, we were offered more money to take on more support queues. You had to take a competency test before getting into extra queues. So, if you did basic and advanced support for cable, satellite, DSL, dial up, connectivity and browser issues, then you were considered a “Master Technician.”

    As a customer, you had a chance of getting a newbie, or a Master tech – it just depended on how you fell in the queue. It’s possible that this guy got a “Master Technician.”

  9. bodah says:

    Unfortunately, this tech probably got written up for not following process when resolving this issue.

    The review probably said something like “Got the job done quickly and effectively, did not follow process, needs retraining.”

  10. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I like my Verizon DSL service. I’ve had it at 3 different places I’ve lived at over the years. But my main gripes are that you can’t easily transfer your service to a new place. And you can’t easily cancel your account. In both instances, you have to call the 800 number and wait in the queue till someone picks up. I don’t see why they can’t automate these two tasks on their website.

    I did have to call Verizon tech support once. I think I was connected to a call center in Texas (I think). The rep was very pleasant to talk to and was helpful. I was pleasantly surprised!

  11. puka_pai says:

    I always make a point of letting the tech know how much I know, in a non-pushy kind of way. “I already power-cycled the router twice, checked my cables, etc.” lets them know you know the script, too. More often than not, the tech is glad to get the BS out of the way and move on to actual troubleshooting.

    Sometimes it doesn’t work, if the tech is new or insecure (hanging on to that script like a life raft) or if s/he lets my female voice distract them. That last has been getting better over the past few years, but it used to be a crapshoot over whether the tech would take me seriously because everyone knows that women don’t do tech. Heck, when I had problems with my DSL last year, the tech actually flirted with me a little while we were holding for another division. He was a little disappointed when I told him I was old enough to be his mother.

  12. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    @mercnet:
    I’m with you there. I just had the same exact DHCP problem as mentioned above just this weekend. Had to call verizon, got the run around and transferred because they dont have the correct numbers listed, talked to some indian chap named Ryan (supposedly) and when he started his script I said “nope, heres whats actually going on” . He seemed shocked I knew what I was talking about, he asked what I did for a living. I said Tech Support and he became quiet and finished the release on their end.

    @SonicPhoenix:
    On the other had I am also with you on your statement. Working tech support I came across the “I have a PC at home I know what an Icon is” people who didn’t actually know what was going on. I just humored them and went about my business. Ohh and she had an iPod too so she was l337.

  13. sleze69 says:

    @mercnet: I used to work telephone tech support during the golden age of pc’s (the dawn of Windows 95). While doctors and lawyers are the worst callers from a social perspective, computer know-it-alls can lengthen the call more than any others because they will invalidly make assumptions as to the direction of your troubleshooting and move ahead.

    In tech support, you HAVE to dumb it down to the lowest common denominator and treat every customer as if they know nothing. You can’t even assume that your fellow technicians are competant (because most of them aren’t), which is why people are made to repeat the same troubleshooting steps every time they call.

    If you get a crappy technician on the phone, ask for a manager and when you get him, ask to be escalated. If you are unable, just be ready with the answers ahead of time when they ask you:

    My network icon has a red X through it.
    The IP address is 169.x.x.x.
    I have released/renewed IP address to no avail.
    My network cable is plugged in.
    My network cable works when I plug it into the router.
    I am ALREADY plugged directly into the cable modem.
    The cable modem is turned on.
    I already turned it off, waited 2 minutes and turned it back on.
    etc.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    I call bullshit. This is Verizon we’re talking about. He lucked out and accidentally stumbled across an installation CSR and not a true Verizon tech support rep because Verizon’s crappy phone tree wouldn’t let him talk to a tech support rep. How is that a competent response from Verizon tech support?

  15. scoosdad says:

    @organizedhome:

    During this last fiasco, in order to make it through the tech support script, I was required to install DSL filters on all phone lines in the house–whether the lines tapped the DSL line-pair or not.

    Well if you knew it wasn’t necessary and just part of the script, then why did you do it?

    There’s a great Dilbert cartoon somewhere in the Dilbert archive where he’s talking to his ISP’s tech support about all three of his home computers losing email access at the same time. It’s obvious to him that the problem is at the ISP, but the tech support person must follow script. The last frame of the cartoon shows Dilbert reclining on his couch with a cup of coffee in hand, saying “OK, I’m re-entering my account information.. hey, guess what? That didn’t work either!”

  16. ChrisGriswold says:

    I’m curious where in NW Pennsylvania this is. I’m from Franklin, and I don’t trust any of the cable or phone companies there anymore.

  17. Dalinae says:

    Actually, Verizon outsources its tech support to a certain company which gives you the underpaid bottom-level service of overseas tech support but with midwestern accents. So troublesome service is quite par for the course.

  18. boss_lady says:

    @mercnet: At least once a week, I get the good old small businessman on the phone, who either calls me “sweetie” or “honey,” or the raging asshole who “knows everything” but has a microfilter on the rj-11 for their modem. Yes, we do laugh at the “I’m a tech, you know” guys. Every single day.

  19. Xeelee says:

    Hey, it’s me again, your good ol’ Verizon L2 tech support guy.

    First off, if you have a DSL that uses DHCP (West Coast, Texas, Florida) Verizon uses MAC address binding to control IP assignment so people don’t use more than one public IP at a time (check it, it’s in the ToS.

    Obviously from time to time this fails and you get stuck without an internet connection. It can also happen if you change the device connected to the modem (if you have a bridging modem) or if you change the modem itself (in the case of routing modems).

    There are two ways to solve this:
    1. Call in, deal with the IVR for 10 minutes, wait on hold 15 minutes, have us release the MAC address binding from our end with the modem off for 3 minutes, then turn the thing back on and make sure you’re back online.
    2. Turn your modem off for 30 minutes while you go and do something other than suffer at the hands of the IVR.

    Which option do you prefer?

    @SonicPhoenix: Could not agree more

    @bodah: If the agent followed the QA procedures, he’ll be fine.

    @sleze69: “tis the Zen of tech support, your statement

    @FLConsumer: I call your bluff. There are some of us who know our stuff. Hell, I’ll even help you with a Linux computer if you’re nice to me. I know nothing of a department consisting of “Installation CSRs”. Oh, and the IVR? I’m currently in the process of mapping out the options, including what you have to tell the computer to get to the department you want.

    @Dalinae: The call center I’m at is not accross the ocean, and I don’t speak with a mid-western accent even though I lived in Minnesota 4 years. So there.

    Now on to more informative stuff… I’m not sure why our guy Nick kept getting transferred from Verizon West to Verizon East and back. Regardless of the tech support queue I’m attending (PC English, Macintos English, Spanish) I get customers from all over the country. If I’m not able to pull up account data is likely because the account was labeled as a *business* account in the billing database. But that doesn’t mean I’ll transfer over to some other agency. If I’m able to look up an account’s details I’ll just try to help you and you’ll never know I had problems.

  20. Dalinae says:

    @Xeelee: That’s why I didn’t say the call center was across the ocean, just that the standards were. I did a brief stint as Verizon support trainee for CallTech in a state many Democrats cursed the last presidential election just before I got my first out-of-school job. I left before I made it onto the floor but that place is seared into my memory.