Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tech Support Sometimes Sucks

A recent problem with one of my web hosts reinforced my impression that technical support people are either poorly trained or not motivated enough to care about customer relations.

Last week I suddenly lost contact with the ten or so websites located on this host. Nothing I could think of would remedy the problem. It had happened twice before but always rectified itself. Not this time.

This meant I could not work on these sites -- a fairly serious problem since I am right in the middle of rolling out various Linknet products, and the sites need a fair bit of tweaking.

Of course this is one of those outfits that will not talk to you on the phone. You have to submit a "support ticket" and hope they 1) read it, and 2) get around to responding.

Now I'm sure this is a universal experience: the initial response from these guys is always the same: "Looks OK from our end.", "When did the problem start?", "Try doing this, and try doing that." We've all had experiences where support people get you to reformat your hard drive, or reinstall Windows. Hours and hours of wasted time to prove that you are the problem, not them or their products.

After my initial exchange with this particular tech department I was bold enough to make a couple of suggestions. One of them was "Is it possible you have blocked my ip address? Here it is..xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx...Can you check?"

Silence....more silence.... no response.

Either I had offended him, he had died, or the company had gone out of business. Either way I assumed that something as obvious as a blocked ip would be something he would check. So I left the problem and worked around it, hoping it would fix itself as it had in the past.

A week later the problem had not gone away, and in fact I could not connect from two other locations as well. So now I could not get into my sites from any of the three locations I had access to.

Now I was really screwed, and for all I knew the tech department had no idea what was going on. They were completely unresponsive. They had tuned me completely out.

So last night I got serious about contacting these tech guys again.

Finally an email to the Sales Manager got some action. He got a "supervisor" on it, and I actually got to talk to someone on the phone...

Guess what the problem turned out to be. Yup. My ip address was blocked. It took four or five messages and three phone calls to get these guys to actually look at this possibility.

But now everything's working, everybody's happy, and the incident is forgotten...

I don't think so.

P.S. By the way, if you are wondering why my ip was blocked, it is because I tried (unsuccessfully) to access the ftp site at this host several times. You know what it's like remembering those damned logins. At this place, three incorrect tries and you're blocked. I should have known it was related to crude old ftp. Shouldn't they have known it?

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