Connection issues sorted – I hope!

28 09 2007

The Gurus at PC Guru have been a godsend – again! I’ve written about them before, but yesterday they finally got something sorted out that’s been an issue for over a month and that my ISP’s technical support said was a faulty router/modem or perhaps a dicky phone line, amongst other things.

For the past month or so I’ve had intermittent connection problems – some websites (like Google!) wouldn’t connect; I was getting “Access is Denied” messages when I tried to FTP changed web pages to a client’s website and my own; some of my RSS feeds weren’t coming through; and most recently, Microsoft Live Messenger wouldn’t connect. All through this other services worked fine – Skype, email, most websites, VPN, etc.

I had spent hours on the phone with iinet‘s tech support and some time with the guys at PC Guru – mostly bouncing off them the random ideas that the various iinet people came up with. After many days, being shunted from one support person to the next (and having to explain the issues EVERY TIME [don’t these people use a tracking system????] ) and doing pings and trace routes and all manner of things, someone finally suggested that the modem (I have a router) was faulty and that they’d send me a test modem. Another week went by. Then a phone call to say that it’d be another week…

Just over a week ago I got the test modem. And guess what? The problems were the same whether I was using theirs or mine! I did about 3-4 hours of isolation testing and various configurations of phone line, filters, modems, routers, phone cables, servers, PCs, laptops, etc. Frustrating! I was just glad that I’d worked in tech support myself for some years and realised why I had to do all these tests, as well as having enough knowledge to be able to do all this stuff. My husband or my Mum would’ve been way out of their depth, and my Dad would’ve thrown everything in the bin and given up on the internet and computer forever!

Anyhow, after reporting the results of the isolation tests to yet another tech support person at iinet, this one suggested that maybe it was a patchy phone line and that he’d lodge a fault with Telstra. Next day I get an SMS saying they’re closing the call! No fair – it’s not fixed!!! So I call them back and ask them not to close the call. This new person asks about the problem… so again I go through the whole raft of issues. To say I’m heartily sick of telling this story by now would be an understatement. But this time the person I’m speaking to offers up something new – she suggested that Bundle 1 of the issues was different from Bundle 2! Bundle 1 seemed to be fine now, and she said that the Bundle 2 problems appeared to be somewhere between my system and iinet.

So back to the PC guru guys with this latest ‘idea’… (they must’ve been getting sick of hearing me too!). Aaron agreed and said he suspected that something had got screwed in my ISA Server’s firewall settings (no, I don’t know what an ISA Server is either, or how the settings got screwed – perhaps one of those insidious Microsoft Auto Updates??), and that I really didn’t need ISA Server for such a small network and how about we uninstall it? Well, I still had a week’s work to do, so we arranged for him to call me yesterday morning.

Long story short… after 3.5 hours on the phone with Aaron with him doing some stuff remotely on my Server and me doing stuff while the connection was reset, and fiddling with the proxy settings, everything is now working 100%!!!! Yay! This has been a long and arduous journey – I just hope it lasts.

Lessons learned from this:

  • If your support desk has a call logging system, USE IT. Document the issue in detail so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the issue time and again. That gets old real quick and doesn’t give customers much confidence in your tech support. It’s called “customer service” people – and that’s NOT an oxymoron, though there are days when I think it is.
  • Listen to your customers and don’t assume they are dumb.
  • If there are multiple possible reasons why the symptoms are occurring, don’t just insist that only one thing is responsible unless you know for certain that that’s the case. If I’d believed everything the various iinet people told me, I’d have paid out for a new router that I didn’t need, and incurred a Telstra call out fee for a fault that didn’t exist. And I would’ve still had the problem.
  • If you have good people to help you out or bounce ideas off, use them – and recommend them to others. They are worth every cent you pay them. (Thanks PC Guru!!)
  • Thank those who helped you and let them now how things are going a few days later. And also let those who worked on the problem at various stages know how it was resolved – hopefully they’ll add this to your customer notes and to their own knowledge base so they can learn from it as well. (Yes, I’m about to send those emails…)

Oh, and read Pamela Slims’ excellent post on “Your company brand is only as strong as your technical support“. The title says it all really.


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