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Of Customer Service And Tech Problems – A Rant

paper-messI’m old enough to remember dial phones and a time when research meant going to the library and writing a letter was done by hand or typewriter. I fell in love with computers early on, largely because they checked my spelling and I didn’t have to retype everything over and over again to get it close to right.

I also came to love computers and worked in the industry early on. I wrote for Kaypro which doesn’t exist anymore, was an early Well user and one of the first 30 or so employees at Match.com.

I remember dial up connections and 300 baud modems which might lead you to believe that I know my way around technology. Well, maybe. I’ve only recently gotten a cell phone and I hate using it and won’t give the number out. I don’t want to be called when I’m not at home; I do want to be able to get help if I need it and payphones are almost gone.

When I moved at the end of last year I switched from AT&T for my phone and internet to Cox cable. I’m not sure why I switched but I did and now I wish I hadn’t. Four times in the last 10 days my phone and internet have gone down. I didn’t realize when you have a phone through a modem, when the modem is down callers simply here a message saying something and asking them to call back. With my real land line at least they’d get into my messaging service.

Yesterday the Cox tech arrived, gave me a new modem – it’s even a different model, and did quite a bit of work I totally don’t understand work up the poll. He even had to get his supervisor to bring more parts. I had high hopes.

Well I was talking with a friend and the connection first faded then went dead completely. I reset the modem twice, and while working my way through their damn voice mail system, unplugged it and replugged it in. The customer service guy started to give me some nonsense about new modem problems and I asked for a supervisor.

It took what seemed like forever with absolutely horrid music before the super came on. He seemed to know even less, although he was more honest, and he was able to schedule a tech visit within an hour or so. I’m still waiting but they aren’t late yet.

I don’t know what to do. If  I switch back to AT&T I’m still exposed if the phone goes down. At least the calls would be ‘caught’ so I could call people back.

You’d think this tech stuff would work, wouldn’t you.

Thanks for letting me rant.

How’s customer service in your part of the world?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • You know, Skype is cheaper. And, if the modem goes down, at least you have voice mail.
    .-= John D Carmack´s last blog ..Should It Be Hard? =-.

    • Anne

      John, Skype is indeed cheaper but I’d have to leave my computer on all the time and I don’t like doing that. I mostly use Skype for chat, which is way under using it I know… it’s been a long time since I’ve been an early adapter 😉

  • Ed

    Spike is right that you can’t sleep-walk through any customer service experience. This isn’t the same as being rude or obnoxious to the customer service person on the phone or the installer visiting your home – they are just low-paid cogs in a corporate machine. However, you need to be conscious of your rights and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

    I’ve learned three lessons from bad customer service: escalate, get local and don’t put all of your eggs in one (corporate) basket. The customer service person or installer or simply the first line of interaction and are more cannon fodder for angry customers than anything else. The power to light a fire under a problem is held by the supervisor. I remember spending days calling three-letter package deliver service about a problem. I spoke to the supervisor and cleared it up in minutes.

    The second lesson is try to find the service with the most local roots. This doesn’t mean the local office of the nationwide conglomerate, but the small company where the CEO lives in the community. To larger companies, you may be just one out of millions of faceless customers. For a locally-based service, you may run into the owner at the grocery store.

    But one of the most important lessons is not to keep all of your technology eggs in the same basket – or beware of bundling. Bundling is great for the company; it ties customers together through dependence on a single source, turning your cable provider into a utility that can switch off your tv, internet and phone in one fell swoop. i get my internet from one company, tv from another and phone from the guys down the block. This way, if I have a problem with my network connection, I can isolate that and not worry about debugging my entire living-room or find my phone doesn’t work because I’m late on my cable bill.

    Ed’s last blog post..Chicago Sun-Times Files For Chapter 11

    • Anne

      Ed, you’re right. I work to buy local. Checking local services now for broadband or something close. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll let you know what I find.

  • Ouch. That sucks, Anne.
    As with most places, customer service here varies wildly: on the one hand, there are companies who do it incredibly well. On the other, there’s my bank who still owe me about $1,500 and manage inter-departmental communication in a fashion similar to six people trying to talk to each other in different languages.
    The only thing I have ever found that works to push these people into action is knowing more than them. Then when they say “We can’t do that because of data protection rules” or “I can’t do that in this department”, you can cry “Nonsense!” and force them to do something helpful. They hate it, but it works.

    SpikeTheLobster’s last blog post..12 Reasons Writing Is Better Than Sex

    • Anne

      Lol, right on Spike – unfortunately about all I know in this case is the bloody connection should work! In fairness to them, they have tried to figure it out. Yesterday’s tech, a delightful man with sad eyes spend 20 minutes up the pole, went under the house and said “I don’t know….” I appreciated that… and everything was working. Seems to go off in 40 min. increments…

      Now get on that bank!


  • Brian

    I’m in San Diego (like you?) and we haven’t had any problems with the cable phone from Cox. The internet goes out every so often, but then I just “borrow” the wireless from my neighbor who must be on a different system. It’s never been out long enough that I had to call to get it back on.

    Then again, I don’t use the phone that much during the day, so perhaps it’s out often. Wouldn’t be a bad thing; getting bugged on the phone while you’re working is annoying.

    • Anne

      Hi Brian, Cox came out again yesterday and the truth is they don’t know why it’s happening. If your internet is down your phone is also down if you’re doing digital phone with cox and I don’t think it should go off and on like that. I work at home during the day and it’s getting truly unacceptable. I’m in north park, where are you?

  • Hi Anne. So sorry to hear of your experiences. Actually I took a job outside the home to make up for financially and I am giving out the customer service; I work in a gallery – opening doors for the customers and directing them, etc. But I miss writing so I am coming back to it and still managing to work.

    No problems here with our phone or cable service just the computer being a bit slowish.

    • Anne

      I’ve actually done tech support and customer service and it’s hard work. It’s particularly awful when the company won’t let the CS reps find solutions, but require them to stick to a script no matter what.

  • Most customer service sucks, and then I take my business elsewhere. Apple is great. Canon always was great — I’m having issues with both printers, and I’m hoping we can resolve them quickly. Right now,they’re sure TRYING to help me, but we’ll see if we can get results.

    I got Mobile Me with Apple and it changed my life. Even if phone and internet go down, if I can get to any other type of connection (or if I had an iPhone, I could do it all from my phone), I can access all my info from my “cloud” and run my business from ANYWERE — the library, my car, overseass — it’s amazing.

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    • Anne

      Devon, wonder what the mobil me for pcs is? Or if there is one. I guess if I had some sort of smart phone… sigh… I just don’t have time to figure this out today.

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