Friday, May 02, 2008

Traumatic Tech Support

Ugh, my Comcast high speed Internet connection dropped offline yesterday afternoon. I've gotten to the point of not calling right away, just in case the outage is temporary (outages have become very rare with Comcast.) I finally broke down and called after my connection had been down a few hours. The call ended up lasting 40 minutes and ended up with me really needing a drink. Here is the situation I called with: my Motorola cable modem had Power, receive, and send lights on. Online was not lit, and PC Activity flashed on and off. The rep said that my cable modem was offline. I could figure that out. Internally, my network was fine. My computers could all see each other on my network, so I knew my router was fine. The rep wanted me to connect my computer directly to the cable modem. Her assessment of the situation was this: "because I had a router, (which has been in place for 3 years without a single problem), I lost my IP address." She told me I have to call Microsoft to get another one. After Microsoft gives me another IP address, I can call Comcast back and they'll be able to get me back online.

I tried explaining to this woman how DHCP networking works. I told her that I have an IT degree, and have been supporting my own computers and helping others out as well as working professionally in IT for more than 10 years. I have NEVER had to call Microsoft to get an IP address. I've never had to call Microsoft period. She said something about the OEM has to give me an IP address. I said that I'm the OEM; I built the computer myself (OK, I slapped some parts together and installed Windows XP on it, I didn't manufacture and solder my own chips.) I tried telling her that my router has nothing to do with Comcast assigning an IP address. Comcast's server sees the MAC address of my cable modem and leases an IP address to me. The lease expires and renews automatically and my router has absolutely nothing to do with it. My router has my computer's MAC address cloned anyway, so even in the bad old days when Comcast didn't allow routers they would never have known the difference on their end.

After realizing that I could not get this woman to understand how Comcast's network actually works, I finally allowed her to schedule a tech to visit me so that they can apparently call Microsoft and get me an IP address. As soon as I got off the phone, I called back and got a support person who understands how DHCP networking works. She found the problem right away: my signal was gone. That sounds more realistic. She even found a closer appointment to get a tech out to fix the problem.

Seriously, assuming Microsoft trains their support personnel better than Comcast does, I would have gotten laughed at.

Comcast, if anybody from your corporate training is reading this, I think you are idiots! How can you let somebody on your tech support lines without even the most basic understanding of how your network ACTUALLY works? II don't blame the woman, I blame the trainers. She did work very hard and was very patient with me, but had no clue. Idiots! Do your jobs. Where was this woman's supervisor? I could hear somebody in the background behind her. Don't tell me the entire call center thinks that my IP address comes from Microsoft. I should have told her I'm running Linux on an Apple Macintosh just to see what kind of response I get. Does Microsoft still give out IP addresses, or do I have to get a teleconference with Mark Shuttleworth and Steve Jobs to get an IP address? What if I was running SuSE or Debian? How about my iMac with Mac OS 8? Who do I call in that case (It's actually running Jaguar, and is in my in-laws' basement as we expected our house to be sold by now.)

This happened last night, and I still need a drink. Train your people, you Comcast boneheads. I once saw a job posting for a Comcast training position. Is it still open? I need a solid paycheck, a benefits package, and the authority to flog people.

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