Monday, December 3, 2012

Large companies don't care, part 89228

In Texas, for a while I had an Internet service provider called OpLink, a very small company. They cost more than the alternative (AT&T), but had very competent customer service and gave me four static IP addresses. When, during initial setup, the DSL modem wouldn't register signal, some head honcho immediately drove over to my house to diagnose and fix the line.

CenturyLink is nothing like that. I just managed to live a week without Internet at home, thanks to their lack of care.

Last weekend I was out of town. When I left, the Internet (through CenturyLink) worked fine. When I returned, the DSL modem was displaying a red LED over the "DSL" part. After power-cycling the modem a few times, I immediately called CenturyLink and told the customer service rep that something's broken on their end. (I know customer service people don't enjoy the hoi polloi diagnosing the problem themselves, but come on, I have an M.S. in computer science and own an IT consulting company. That has to count for something. I didn't point this out to him, however.)

The customer service representative, as always, tried to convince me that the problem is with me and my apartment. He had me power-cycle the modem again. He asked about DSL filters. He suggested that I reboot my PC. I repeated that none of my devices work, and importantly, the DSL light is red, so how can it be my devices! I kept suggesting to him that maybe while I was out this weekend, someone modified the wiring for another customer and accidentally broke mine in the process. Sounds reasonable and matches the symptoms. Not to the rep. Instead, he wanted me to move furniture, unplug the modem, and plug it into a different phone jack in the apartment. This led to an exchange only one of us found amusing:

- Sir, would you please find another phone jack in the apartment? We need to find which phone jack has signal.
- We know which phone jack is supposed to have signal. It's the one the modem is plugged into.
- We need to find out which jack the DSL is wired to.
- .... I've had DSL for over a year with you, and the DSL has been wired to the jack I am plugged into. Tell me, under what possible circumstances would DSL be now wired to another jack?
- There can be a number of reasons.
- Oh really? Like what?
- <Something incoherent rooted in a lack of understanding of reality>. So we have to try.
- Ok, I will try. For you. But I just want to let you know that you're wasting your time and mine.
- I appreciate that, sir.

The DSL light didn't appreciate it, however. Even sipping from another phone jack, it remained red.

So the customer service guy scheduled an appointment for me. A week from that day! I couldn't believe it! I couldn't believe that CenturyLink would let a customer sit without their service for a whole week! (And don't think that the customer service rep was just trying to get revenge for me arguing with him. I believe in the inherent goodness of people, as evidenced by myself.) In any case, CenturyLink are not a monopoly in my area. I was very tempted to cancel the service, if only out of principle.

 I called back and talked to another person who offered to move my repair date to even later, but under no circumstances earlier. I talked to a supervisor, who said the same. Finally, fuming, I simply asked for a credit for the time my service is out. They transferred me to someone who actually gave me half-price (a savings of $25/mo) for a full year! After kneeling at her altar in thanks, I asked if her awesome powers extend to moving my repair date up. Alas, that power is unattainable by mere mortals.

A week later, I received a phone call. It was a CenturyLink repairman. Turns out that in the process of wiring DSL for another customer, a previous repairman accidentally miswired my line.

No shit.