Sunwave CSR Isn't Rude, He's Offering You An Education

Emmanuel wrote in to share with us an appalling exchange he had with a CSR for Sunwave Communications, the hosting company for his website. After days of no visible progress on an open support ticket, he asked online support for more information. The first time he admitted to not knowing something, he was met with sarcasm. In a fairly short chat session the CSR became increasingly belligerent, until a stunned Emmanuel commented he was at a loss for words. The CSR’s reply? “You are at a loss for knowledge.” Emmanuel is no longer a customer. Read their chat, inside.

info: Please wait for a site operator to respond.
info: You are now chatting with ‘Online Support’
Online Support: Hello :) How can I help you?
Emanuel: Hi, any status on my PHP4 to PHP5 upgrade on [redacted].
Online Support: i’m not the one doing that job, so i can’t give you any information right now
Online Support: i know that it’s underway
Emanuel: can you give me anything?
Online Support: but that’s all i know
Emanuel: its been about 4 days now
Online Support: did you ever check whether your server already had php5?
Online Support: about half of them do
Emanuel: yes
Emanuel: its running php 4.4.7
Online Support: but did you look to see if php5 is also on it
Emanuel: no i didnt
Emanuel: not even quite sure how i would test that
Emanuel: i don’t have a shell
Online Support: umm
Emanuel: php5 at the top of the script?
Online Support: it’s always terrifying to me that people who have no idea what they are doing are ready to install and run scripts
Emanuel: heh
Online Support: there is NOTHING that you can do with a shell that can’t be done without a shell
Online Support: nothing
Emanuel: alrighty, well enough sarcasm
Online Support: your websites all have cgi ability
Online Support: that means you can run any command
Online Support: this is not sarcasm
Emanuel: yeah i could install a php shell and do all kinds of nasty things
Online Support: this is education :)
Emanuel: but why when i pay you for hosting
Emanuel: i dont really need to be educated
Emanuel: i see php4 in the headers
Emanuel: i assume php4 is on the server
Online Support: yes, you really do
Emanuel: wow
Emanuel: you have to be kidding me?
Online Support: the webserver has mod_php 4.x
Emanuel: this is how you treat customers with valid complaints?
Emanuel: er requests
Online Support: it’s not a valid request if you haven’t checked yet whether the software you want is already on the server
Emanuel: look
Emanuel: im at a loss for words
Emanuel: i see php4 in the installation thats what i assume it has
Online Support: you are at a loss for knowledge
Emanuel: why would i think otherwise when you’ve told me twice now that “someone is on the job”
Emanuel: ok
Emanuel: ill take my business elsewhere

Well, at least we can be reasonably sure Online Support isn’t manned by a bot. It takes a real live human to be so snarky. Even if the CSR thought the question was stupid, behaving like a troll only makes things worse. Tech support jobs aren’t easy, but being a jerk only makes life difficult for everyone.


Edit Your Comment

  1. legwork says:

    Wow, online support by the PHP Eliza Ass-bot.

  2. donkeyjote says:

    @legwork: You need a star for making an Eliza comment, asap.

    *le sigh* I miss Eliza…. I wonder, is there an osx version yet….

  3. donkeyjote says:

    Also, blame the “victim”. Never mind the CSR’s attitude when you have someone going like:

    Emanuel: but why when i pay you for hosting
    Emanuel: i dont really need to be educated

    The “”I don’t need to think, that’s what I’m paying you for”” is a bit irritating…

  4. donkeyjote says:

    *Damn lack of edit/trigger-finger posting*

    Also, I didn’t know you could have both php4 and php5 at the same time without a good bit of hackery in getting scripts to run correctly….

  5. donkeyjote says:

    Lifehacker to the rescue.


    Tip 5, PsychoTherapist on Emacs.

    Now if only it wasn’t in stupid emacs…

  6. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    it’s always terrifying to me that people who have no idea what they are doing are ready to install and run scripts
    It’s even more terrifying to me the morons who they have handling customer chat “help” rooms.
    this is not sarcasm
    How about “condescension”? Why not try being patronizing, as this guy is paying your salary.

    Tech support in general is seldom very supportive. Although it does help to keep things interesting.

  7. Kali Mama says:

    @donkeyjote: The support person started out with a SMILEY FACE. I think we can settle this whole professionalism thing.

  8. ShariC says:

    Imagine if a teacher took this attitude when “educating” your kids. People accept information more readily when it’s served up kindly and supportively rather than by someone who is impatient and mainly interested it deriding the other party’s lack of knowledge.

  9. wagnerism says:

    Well I have to take the customers specs to the engineers… well I don’t actually do it myself
    I either have my secretary do it –or it gets faxed directly to them

    I’m a people person! I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don’t have to! What the hell is wrong with you people!”

    -Office Space

    …off to work on my “Jump to Conclusions Mat”

  10. homerjay says:

    He’s probably just some 17 year old loser that spend his entire high school life being stuffed in lockers because he had no friends and wanted to do nothing more than ‘fix’ the school computers while sucking up to teachers. Now he finally has an outlet for all his infinite wisdom.

    Well, until Sunwave fires his ass.

  11. bohemian says:

    This person didn’t bother to go check with anyone on the status of the ticket or if PHP5 was installed. If the CSR had any sort of technical access they could have probably looked this up. Since it sounds like they guy is renting a server from this place, not colocated his there the company owns the server. They obviously manage these since he seemed to know the ratio of machines with PHP5. It sounds like he could have given this guy some feedback but was probably too busy playing WoW or surfing for porn. It sounded like he contacted them on the weekend. The person answering chats over the weekend is probably the anti-social basement dweller nobody else there wants to work with. That explains the chat session.

  12. ARVash says:

    I can tell you from experience with nerds, that this guy is one of them; and he looks like he’s honestly trying to help, while being abit condescending.

    He was right, the user could do anything he wanted with scripts, including screw up his own server. I think he was trying to warn him about that.

    Eh, my 2c

  13. The customer didn’t exactly handle that right… but the CSR was just an outright ass.

  14. donkeyjote says:

    @bohemian: That, or he contacted sales instead of support. Two different staffs with different access (None and most)

  15. donkeyjote says:

    @homerjay: Wow. So much hate. Did a nerd steal your highschool sweethart or something?

  16. sleze69 says:

    “It’s Nick Burns, the computer guy! He’ll fix your computer…then he’s gonna make fun of you…”

    Being a former “computer guy” sometimes you do get frustrated with people over the course of the day. This is an example of a guy who shouldn’t BE a computer guy.

  17. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @donkeyjote: But Online Support wasn’t trying to educate him. OS was trying to “educate” him where “educate” means explaining to the customer that anyone who doesn’t know as much him/her is a complete idiot.

    If Online Support had just told him how he could check it himself I doubt he still would have responded with “I don’t really need to be educated”.

  18. evslin says:

    @sleze69: Yeah, this is a guy who should not only not be a computer guy, it’s debatable whether he should be anything that involves any kind of contact with human beings as part of his job description. Regardless of how dumb/uneducated he thinks a customer is or how dumb he thinks their question is, he’s still getting paid (and is therefore obliged) to answer questions regarding servers which he’s supposed to be supporting with something other than “I don’t know, why don’t you go find out yourself”.

    @donkeyjote: Since the chat log says “Online Support” I’m going to guess the OP didn’t contact sales. That, and “support” sassed the OP instead of asking him to contact tech support instead.

  19. Elvisisdead says:

    Dreamhost, FTW. I’ve been a customer since ’99. They’re always on the job, and directly of relevance is that almost all of their installs can be “one-click” upgraded. []

  20. donkeyjote says:

    @evslin: Most of the web hosts (Nay, any website really) I’ve been on had “online, support, helpdesk, agent, CSR” or otherwise generic term. None had specifically “Sales” in the sale’s rep’s name.

    @Rectilinear Propagation: But the way he replied makes it seem like he already had that frame of mind. I pay you so I don’t have to think….. Just a pet peeve of mine.

  21. katylostherart says:

    @ShariC: i wish teachers took this attitude with a good number of kids. since a lot of parents now seem to think that telling their little brat they’re perfect in every way is the way to go, it would actually be really really great to see children actually have to learn and arrogant parents actually have to shut up and accept that little johnny’s kinda dumb and it’s better that the teacher gets to teach and not pander.

    ps, i liked the eliza bot, it made me laugh.

    pps, people who are bad with people shouldn’t be put in csr jobs. this csr probably wasn’t useful in any other position. too bad emanuel didn’t point that out.

  22. mir777 says:

    I am quite in love with my web server people at – you actually get contacted by the guys who signed the email and run the company. Don’t know if it’s relevant but I felt like saying something cheery.

  23. fluiddruid says:

    Speaking as a tech support employee – this guy’s conduct was absolutely unforgivable. Whether or not he was trying to help, he was rude, condescending, and didn’t even answer the guy’s question. His only answer was “check it yourself, oh wait, you’re too dumb to do it, so you shouldn’t even be our customer”. Shameful.

  24. HOP says:

    i have no idea what any of this is about…….

  25. Okay I can see this from both points of view. I’ve worked in tech support for many years. After that I was a consultant for the same company I did support for.

    I also pay for web hosting. I could do it myself with Dynamic DNS and a web server. I choose not to as I have much better things to do with my time than keeping up on web technologies, and managing another server.

    This agents behavior was deplorable. Not only would I have backed up my data, and taken my business elsewhere I would have called their support lines before I canceled my contract, and escalated this issue.

  26. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @mir777: Alternatives to the company in question are relevant, especially in this case since the OP is probably looking for a new company to use.

    @donkeyjote: Fair enough.

  27. Inu Teisei says:


    I just put them in my “things-to-avoid” bookmark. Thanks to consumerist I
    have my own little crappy companies to avoid list. I recommend if you don’t
    already do this, you might want to start (aka digg, delicious, etc).

    If everyone who reads consumerist kept these stories bookmarked on an online
    service with a tag of avoid, crappy, never get my money then maybe the
    offenders would change. Consider it subversive fighting back because
    eventually company’s marketing bots will find that they are on those lists.
    Don’t forget to tell a friend about your list. How’s that for educating the

  28. homerjay says:

    @donkeyjote: Don’t you try to drag out my repressed memories! Don’t you do it! :)

  29. donkeyjote says:

    @homerjay: Oh, I won’t, but my good friend Eliza asked

    Homerjay: Don’t you try to drag out my repressed memories! Don’t you do it!

    Eliza: Are you afraid of that?

  30. Mike8813 says:

    Perhaps I’m in the minority…

    But I have no idea what the hell their talking about.

    I is computer dumb.

  31. malvones says:

    I don’t really see how there are “two sides” to this sort of thing.

    Unless there is something in the provider’s agreement stating that a certain level of knowledge is required of a paying customer before seeking help from a CSR, this could have been remedied with a short, polite response to the customer. Yeah, maybe it’s irritating to deal with uninformed customers, but that’s his/her job.

  32. richcreamerybutter says:

    My host upgraded to php5 6 months ago! But yeah, I would avoid this company for their logo alone. It looks like something from the Win 95 machine of a “pro-life” zealot advertising for a “pregnancy crisis center.”

  33. thesabre says:

    GoDaddy lets you run PHP4 and PHP5 at the same time. You just have to end your PHP5 scripts with .php5 instead of .php.

    I’m glad this customer got told off. I wish more companies would stop with the “customer is always right” routine and go more with the “most customers are idiots” routine.

  34. trujunglist says:

    It seems to me like the CSR was snarkily offering up information and subtly hinting that the user needed to ask some additional questions and learn how to better use the service. I think the CSR wanted to help him set up the shell and everything, but hey, you do have to ask for help on things that aren’t supported rather than expect them, or worse, reject valuable advice. Like the customer said, it isn’t the CSRs job to educate him… OK, but if the CSR is offering free support for something you’d have to take the time to learn or hire someone for otherwise, I’d say it’s actually GOOD support, rather than bad support. Now if he’d drop the wise ass crap then that company might actually be on here in a completely different light…

  35. Foneguy says:

    The CSR should try turning the server off, wait two minutes, then back on, that always works!

  36. Mr. Gunn says:

    If he’s looking, Dreamhost has always done good by me. PM me for details on a discount.

    Mike8813: The beer thread is the next one over!

  37. Lucky225 says:

    BOFH =)

  38. stapler2025 says:

    Heh, apparently, the owner of this support ticket surfaced on


    Someone else posted it there, and lo and behold, up shows the ticket operator :)