Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Know What You Sell

I spent just around two hours on the phone with various members of Charter Communications' high speed internet support staff yesterday evening. I spent most of this time attempting to explain to them how exactly the product that they were allegedly supporting worked.

My DNS lookups have been running slowly for the past few months. Really slowly. Several minutes to resolve a single domain name on bad days. Ten to fifteen seconds on good days. Finally, having tried everything that I could think of to demonstrate the problem was happening at some point after the Charter-supplied modem, and not inside my network I called up support to try to get help with my problem.

Two hours, and lots of tedious, time wasting trouble-shooting ("unplug your modem and then plug it back in") and explaining later, I still hadn't managed to get in touch with a single person who knew what a DNS lookup was. This was frustrating to say the least. Nobody could understand more than that it was a "speed problem", and kept asking me to go to their bandwidth testing site. I tried and tried to tell them that this had nothing to do with bandwidth, but it just would not sink in. I finally had to insist that a technician be sent to my apartment this weekend.

How is it acceptable to have nobody available to the customer that has even the most basic familiarity with how your product works? I'm not demanding that the support staff know the intricacies of TCP/IP, but I'd at least like them to know the basics of what happens when you look up a web page, being that their whole business is letting people do that.