ISP Customer Service a Dead Art Form?

from the lets-hope-nobody-notices-our-screw-up dept

The e-mail and connection reliability of major ISPs frequently leaves plenty to be desired. MIA e-mail is most frequently thanks to botched spam fighting efforts, such as when Verizon customers suddenly stopped getting e-mail from outside the country. Or more recently when BellSouth's spam fighting system was so poorly implemented, people weren't getting any e-mail, forcing them to revert to their previous spam fighting solution. Huge outages thanks to network upgrades or transfers is also a concern, as many of the customers caught in the Adelphia, Comcast, and Time Warner cable switcharoo can attest.

PBS's Bob Cringely laments that there really are no consumer protections for these kinds of outages, and that ISPs are increasingly willing to bumble their way through botched network upgrades or capacity issues while hoping impacted customers don't notice. Users seem increasingly willing to click through mouse-print EULAs that leave them with no room to complain if their service stinks. One obvious solution would be to upgrade to a business line with some kind of reliability guarantee - but if the best solution is to upgrade to a more expensive business line, isn't this just encouraging ISPs to make their consumer lines worse and worse in order to convince everyone to upgrade?

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  1. identicon
    not a tech rep anymore, 3 Dec 2006 @ 6:34pm

    I used to work as a technical support rep for a "local" compay. The bottom line is whether it's local or a conglomerate company you must realize that at some point your access is shared and caps and limits are not just set by the local providers. Technology can only go so far and handle so much so the bandwidth limits are set on cascading levels. If you want uncapped service, you HAVE to go to a T1 line otherwise your uncapped service guarantees all your neighbors locally and on cyberspace suffer for your "gimmee".

    Same thing goes for email. If you want to ensure the mail is yours once it's downloaded, make sure your saving it on your machine (and backing up) and not on the server. If the server dumps...your outta luck, period. If the communication is important, require return receipts and keep a hard copy of your message on your machine! If you are relying on equipment that can frequently break down and you KNOW it take the time to ensure that your life will not be interrupted by unreliable equipment.

    So far as education for the customer is concerned, I tried to handle this for ALL of my customers but while there are many out there who will patiently listen and some even took notes, you would be surprised (or maybe you are one of them) who become abusive and threatening over the phone. I was threatened by a male customer and had to be escorted to my car for a week after being told that he was going to come to the parking lot and wait for me to come out (I am a woman). This kind of behavior is all too common among those who work for an ISP and it makes it very hard to put on a cheerful voice to the next person in line when you worry if the guy you just talked to is serious or not!

    Bottom line is being an educated consumer does solve a lot of problems, but maintaining an attitude of "not everyone understands everything you do" will also help you go far!


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