Tag Archive: ISP

(With all due respect. Please forgive the 15 second preceding commercial)

So, Friday started with me flooding the Internet with unwanted spam. As of yet I have not worked up the cojones to attempt to turn on that faucet again.

While I do offer Internet services this comes at a price. I maintain a business-calibre level of data throughput. My ISP has an average priced package for this. It is “Average” in my opinion insofar as considering the cost of service compared with the speed of the connection compared with the quality of service and support. Actually, putting it down that way may make me have to reconsider my rating.

Part of this package includes a strip of static IP addresses. Most people with Internet get dynamic addresses. What this means is that you have whatever address you are allocated and that’s fine. The reason for Static is because you need a permanent address that people can get to. This is why you can get to Google or Yahoo, but people can’t necessarily find you when you’re on a chat client.

One of the problems that I’ve been suffering is slow download speed and intermittent download “drop-out.” This sounds horrid for my customers, but their download is my upload. My upload has always worked as good if not better than advertised. This download issue has basically been presenting itself as getting 40-60% the download speed I’m paying for.

I had a tech come out early last week. He was running late. No one called to tell me. This was a bit of an annoyance. I do run my business out of my house; so it’s not like my IT department is meeting with the CEO randomly. It does however mean that 3pm – 5pm cuts into my toddler’s dinner when you show up an hour late to start. (Without calling)

45 minutes later. The line looks okay but the speed problem must be internal. “Shrug” says the tech and shuffles off. On Friday another tech shows up to swap out my DSL modem. Normally this will only create about 10 minutes of downtime. He says it might be 15 if the tech in the home office in Kentucky doesn’t do his job quickly.

Actually, the tech in Kentucky does the job in 5 minutes. Of course now my internal network has to be reset. This of course is my bailiwick so I send the tech on his way. Now, the nifty part of this is that my publically served sites are on external static IP addresses. Anything on my internal network shouldn’t affect them.

This is about the time my wife tells me that the internal network has failed. I explain that I have to reset it. Thirty minutes later it’s not working. Internally, I have a DNS server. The internal network is effectively one of my static addresses served via secure WiFi via NAT. For some reason, the WiFi Network has stopped talking to the DNS server altogether. I can ping the server. I can even do NSLOOKUP on the server. I just can’t get the network to do the resolving.

This situation also inconveniences my wife who’s trying to get information and files from our server for her web site and for an art project she’s trying to muster the energy to do for a colleague. The network is frustrating her and in turn really p*£&ing me off! I’m getting short of patience because I just don’t know why things aren’t working.

This disaster proceeds to burn the better part of 3 hours. I reset all the WiFi devices at least 10 times. I reboot the server (3 minute down times) at least 3 times. I finally change all the internal IP addresses and in doing so, make a bizarre mistake. I let the main WiFi unit choose it’s own address. DNS starts moving. But there’s a problem. Now the web server won’t come back up. Ah, there’s a conflict. The WiFi has decided it WANTS one of my served domains. (My wife’s gallery and blog)… Fine… I give her domain the old WiFi Address. Web Server is coming up. DNS is working. Another hour shot to hell.

It is now about 3 pm. I still have no clue what went wrong. I put my wife’s IP address into the server but that takes at least 30 minutes to propagate for me. I go to see if it’s propagated and I can’t hit the site. The network refuses to let me go to the server. (This is a situation we refer to as ITWTF) Then it hits me. I ping the domain’s IP address (this is effectively a “Knock knock…anyone home?”) The ping cannot go to the address. This address does not resolve.

Oh for heaven’s sake. I proceed to ping every one of my Static IPs. Of the n addresses I control. I can ping the first n/2 – 1. So, if I had for example 25, I can now reach 11. The mis-provisioned my account and dropped half of my addresses. I’ve killed the past 4 hours diagnosing a problem that one idiot tech screwed up by transposing ONE DIGIT.

The saving grace is that I prioritize my sites. The paying customers are on the lowest (smallest) IP cluster. As a result, those servers never even blinked at the networking mis-configuration. Some of my personal and favour-domains… those got knocked off for the better part of 4 hrs. I called up my ISP’s ‘elevated support center.’

I have access to the elevated support center because I have a problem that’s been open for the better part of 2 months and I mouthed off on Twitter about the problems I’d been having. When ESC (an ironic acronym) heard about the mistake and the amount of time both my wife and I lost… they were QUICK to fix it. They also offered me a token credit on the bill for the month.

Since then I have put all the IP addresses back where they are supposed to be. My internal network is still ‘renumbered’ because that wasn’t the problem and I just don’t want to put it back again yet. (Maybe later in the week) Less-Than-Humourously, the original problem still exists.

On the upside… on Saturday and Sunday despite this entire disaster happening, I picked up a new hosting customer from GoDaddy who’s been VERY happy with the level of service since joining my server.

Hopefully, I can bring in more paying hosting clients while I’m at it.

EDIT: had posted an image instead of a link. That was annoying. Fixed that. Sorry.

I just got off the phone with my ISP. Last week someone got onto my network and ran a peer-to-peer downloading problem. I discovered the next day that my network had gone to hell. I disabled the ability for such programs to be run on my network. (Without certain firewall precautions).

Well, it turns out the networking issue was unrelated. I called tech support at the ISP. They checked the line and told me it was obviously my hardware. (As always while trying to evaluate my hardware the tech started with, “Go to your start menu” At the mention of the accursed word “Macintosh” he sighed and said, “Oh.” Then he advised I call my manufacturer.)

After several internal tests, it was obvious that it wasn’t the computer or the ethernet cards. I figured, maybe my 5 port switch had gone to hell. Several tests suggested that it too was fine. Then yesterday I tried to open a video chat to the ever lovely, fiannaharpar. Insufficient bandwidth. I scratched my head and checked.

I have a business DSL line. It is provisioned at 5MB/768KB, I am told to expect (due to location), 3MB/768KB. As of yesterday’s check I am running 1MB/20KB. That’s right. I am pushing out 2.6% of the data I’m paying to deliver. I called my sales representative. I explained that tech support doesn’t work on the weekends. (Far be it for an internet business to work on the weekend) and the quality of service I’m receiving. Agog, he promptly credited my account and asked me to keep him posted.

The downside of living in a remote town is that net services are still not an automatic thing. A small town may have _one_ ISP. No choice, no debate… that’s it. You get what they maaaay be able to deliver to you. The only way to assure service is to pay for the laying of a T1 line. This usually amounts to about $2000-$3000 for set up and about $500 per month. Unless that is a line item on your business expenses… it’s not worth the cost for a startup.

I discussed with the sales rep that the quality of service and lack of weekend support makes me question exactly what I’m really paying for since a residential service can get the same ‘provisioned speed’ and the same ability to request static IP. He agreed wholeheartedly and said, “he’d pass it along.” Those who’ve worked in any service related business know exactly what I mean.

I suppose the one good thing that came out of it was the fact that at the end of the conversation he said, “I can understand your frustration” (Standard sales kiss-a&$ speak) and then ended with, “I hope the rest of your day is a bit better.”

This last comment actually meant something positive to me. I have a huge gripe with service company representatives who have conversations like this:

    Me: So, there’s not a thing you can do to help me. You can’t fix my problem and I’m pretty much screwed.
    SCR: Yup. There’s not a damn thing we can or would do. Is there anything else I can do for you?
    Me: Apparently not.
    SCR: Okay, have a nice day, thanks for being a valued customer.

Now, before anyone goes off on semantics. No. This is not the wording I use on a phone call. I am always professional and polite to a point. When I have been given the run around I will climb through wires and eat people, but in general I am polite, even when I make making thinly veiled threats… That said…

If you as a representative have not made every effort to help me with my issue and this includes passing me up the line to your supervisor. You have NOT assisted me. Asking me if there’s anything else you can do, is not only inappropriate, it’s downright annoyingly hypocritical.
Hi, I have a problem
Yeah, but I’m not gonna help you with your problem, wanna find another one instead?

But the one that gets me livid. The one that makes my blood boil. Is when an unproductive conversation ends with Have a nice day

I know fully that customer service is the fine art of making the customer blindly happy with as much pablum as possible. That being said… if I have just spent a phone getting more and more agitated because you are not living up to business promises and making less and less attempt to provide service; a sudden smile and vacant wish of happy day really gives me the impression that not only didn’t you fix my problem, you absolutely don’t care about how I feel about the company anymore.

Sadly, for most of the customer service industry, we have hired in mindless automatons who follow scripts and data paths to solve basic problems and then have the words to perform stupidity when the problem takes effort.

Another side comment, I would not be surprised if there are readers in Customer service who take complete offense at what I say. Well, on one hand you should and on the other, don’t. The average person who has a life (someone who is not an NPC for a living) actually tries. The really awesome waitress, the CSR that actually tries, etc. But in all honesty, what happens is that the company burns them out or they become viciously frustrated because they are not receiving support or recognition for the job they are doing.

An example: One nameless company that I know of that is somewhere on the planet Earth, Linked into the internet used to have a huge CSR division. It worked this way, “You are to process as many calls as possible as fast as possible. Get them on, make them happy, get them off. Offer them freebies to make up for problems.” One friend of mine in the order worked for them and honestly wanted to help them with their issues. (Go figure). He was constantly chastised by his manager for low productivity. He didn’t take enough calls. He spent too much time on the phone. Who cared that he had 95% satisfaction as opposed to the 45% which was the median goal line for the department? Eventually, he left in a huff. When I first went to work for that company he warned me that if I actually cared about the work I did, I would probably wind up leaving in a huff. I explained that I don’t do CSR (anymore) and it wasn’t likely. On a side note, I don’t work for that company anymore and the entire CSR (over half of the company’s 5000 employees) were outsourced to India. Having assisted in the scriptwriting of training for Outsourced support, I know exactly what the solution path script looks like.

In general, I look at sales agents and CSR like I do at any other bait or trap you’d get at the local hardware store. They have a job. They do their job. Their job is to give you as little of their company as they can. Their job is to dazzle you and make you feel good about how little they are giving you. And if they can’t make you happy, their job is to shrug and go away. It sounds cold, but in all honesty, if you haven’t done your homework going in, you really get what you deserve.

It sounds really kinda dark, cynical and jaded. But in all honesty, it’s also uplifting in a way. The truth is, the term customer service means that the customer is serviced. Most companies, take the approach of a badly dressed pimp, abusing their chattel of most of the money they earn. If you have to deal with a company, learn as much as you can. Be prepared. And most importantly, learn their game. Nothing throws a game player more than being good at their game or perhaps better. Be professional, know that you can always call for a supervisor, and that they are their to do work for you. They are charging you for a service and if they don’t deliver, they may be in breach of contract.

In my (not so humble) opinion. Once the customer learns his or her rights and learns how the system works, the power shift occurs. Then maybe we can live in a world where the standard elevates from caveat emptor to caveat venditor (Let the vendor beware)