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Tech Support Hell From The User's Side



From Carhop:

So I had an interesting morning one day this week, in the "May you live in interesting times" curse sort of way. My shop opens at seven so customers can come by before work and drop off their cars for the day. This means it's one of the first businesses open for the day in my area. Also, we use a software that works up our labor and prints invoices, etc., as well as helps us look up parts, decode VINs, and generally makes my job a ton easier. This software is reliant on the internet. Thus begins my story.

So on this day, morning setup is done, and we're twiddling our thumbs waiting for a customer. About 730, one comes in for an oil change. Great! Well, it's a regular customer, but a new car. So I go into our software, and a neat trick it can do is give us the VIN by the license plate. I input the license plate, click the button, and...nada. I get a server error. Hmm...

Ok, not really an issue, I'll fiddle with it later, and just manually put in the year, make, and model of the vehicle. (You would be surprised how many people cannot tell me this information. And not just the octogenarians that can reasonably be given a pass, but the twenty and thirty-somethings that just blank. "Well it's a Chevy...") This vehicle happened to be a Volvo. Volvos are my experience. So we always have to be sure we use the right oil (Castrol 5w-40 in general, don't ask me why because I'd be lying) but this time, the software also won't give me the type of oil and amount. Now I'm getting internet connection errors which I know is bull because I had just checked our email ten minutes prior. Well, I manage to scratch up the tech sheet so my guys can get started. Bossman is grumbling about the software not working so I start digging around. We're able to look up parts, since the buttons in the software simply direct to other web services, so that's good. Moreover, the internet seems to be working just fine, I tried a couple of websites, include RHU which I hadn't accessed from work before to make sure I wasn't getting cached versions, but it all works fine. However, anything dealing directly with the software doesn't want to work. Great! I get to call tech support! (Because Bossman doesn't have the patience. Ha!)

So I call up the tech support line. In an effort to be more efficient, this company has done away with "Can you please restart your computer, software, modem, etc.?" and gone to a system where they use Team Viewer to remote into the computer and fix whatever is wrong. Makes it all way faster. So the tech gets into Team Viewer just fine and can remote into the computer no problem. So he starts trying several things, and one is a manual update by transferring the files from the server to our computer. Bingo! Can't even get to the hosting site. He tries another one of their sites, can't get there either. Hmm... "That's weird...we're not having any issues with the servers here, but you can't seem to get to them."

OCTOCAROL 243Lightbulb!

Back in the spring, working in corporate hell, I had a similar issue accessing the payroll website from the office. Turned out some construction worker somewhere south of Dallas had accidentally cut a fiber line. "Hey...since you've got control of my computer right now, can you run a traceroute?" Now, I don't 100% understand the science behind it, but my basic understanding is that a traceroute traces the path from your computer, through all the little web lines and nodules, to a specific destination you want to go to. Tech guy goes "Good call," and runs it. Bam! Six hops in and the signal to the software website and servers goes dead. It can't go any further. (Apparently, this company lives in a cul-de-sac of the world wide web.) "There we go. Thank you, sir, I believe you've done all you can, looks like I need to contact our ISP." Total time spent, fifteen minutes.

Now the real fun begins. I have to work through the robotic maze before I get a real person. And then I swear I get the most inept Level 1 tech support gal in the business. I explain to her what's going on, what I've already done, diagnostic-wise, and that I'm reporting an outage and they need to look into it. This woman, I kid you not, stereotypical valley girl voice, like Clueless or Legally Blond. I'm seriously surprised she wasn't smacking gum at the same time. So first we have to go through all the basic troubleshooting; reset this, reset that, etc. Finally:

Incompetent Tech: "Um...well you're able to get to the internet, right?"

Carhop: "Yes, but not all of it. There is something down somewhere."

IT: "Well...that's not really our problem...I mean, like, you can get on the internet, so your service is working."

CH: "It isn't working properly, I can't get to the one place I need to run my business."

IT: "Well, there aren't any reports of any outages. It's gotta be on their end. You need to talk to them."



OCTOCAROL 242What I wanted to yell: "I'M REPORTING AN OUTAGE RIGHT NOW." I mean, were it somehow possible for me to survey the entirety of the web, I'm sure there would have been more websites I couldn't access, but the only one I was aware of was the one we needed to run our software. Instead, I just got off the phone as gracefully as I could. Total elapsed time with ISP: FORTY MINUTES.

So I take a quick breather and call back the software guys, just to make sure I've got as much information as I possibly can, and all my ducks are in a row and it really and truly is not an issue on their end. I'm on the phone with them for maybe ten minutes, and suddenly the other line rings. Bossman picks up. I don't pay attention to what's going on until he hangs up and interrupts me. "Hey, that was ISP. The issue is on their end; they just started getting calls about it."

I think I may have startled the software tech with how hard my forehead hit the desk.

Luckily it wasn't a cut fiber line this time, someone somewhere just needed to reset something, so we were up and running two hours later, but I swear working with that ISP is not good for my blood pressure.

May work not drive you to drink this week.





McHell Manager

I had to deal with an automated version of this from my ISP. They had an automated line and one of the prompts said "To report an outage, press *number* now". When you pressed it, it would lead you to another automated voice saying "there has been no outages reported in the area. Please call back later" and would hang up on you.

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