Scripted tech support WTF



  • Don't you just hate when you have to call tech support at your ISP? When you're a geek, asysadmin, and web developer, you kind of have your own checklist of stuff to go through BEFORE you call the guys that you know are

    a)underpaid

    b)don't know jack

    c) won't deviate form their script no matter HOW much info you give them.

     

    Anu Jose:    Hello! Thank you for choosing Road Runner Internet technical Chat. My name is Anna. How may I assist you?
    george: I'm wondering if one of your DNS servers is down. I can get on certain sites, but not others, and have checked/double checked my router settings, restarted the cable modem and router, and tried using a neighbors computer, all witht he same results.
    george: And I CAN access the sites using my Blackberry, which bypasses your NS servers.
    Anu Jose: I will surely answer all your queries regarding issue
    Anu Jose: I'm more than happy to assist you. To resolve your issue we will need to perform some troubleshooting steps together, and I'll be running some tests on my end. Feel free to ask questions along the way.
    Anu Jose: Before we begin, please provide the following four pieces of information for security check and to verify your account:
    1. The account holder's 10 digit telephone number. (xxx-xxx-xxxx)
    2. The account holder's Full Name (First and Last)
    3. Please tell us your name.
    4. May I have your preferred e-mail address? (Preferred e-mail address is the one that you use frequently; it may be different from the Road Runner e-mail address
    <REMOVED> (just the giving info stuff)
    Anu Jose: Thank you for the information. Please give me a couple of minutes to verify the information.
    Anu Jose: Thank you for your patience
    Anu Jose: As I understand you cannot access some sites while you can access others, right?
    george: Correct
    Anu Jose: Please name a site that you cannot access
    george: worldofwarcraft.com
    Anu Jose: Can you name another site?
    george: darkstarllc.com
    george: romaka.net
    george: obsidianordernagrand.com
    george: cnn.com
    Anu Jose: Some sites are working
    Anu Jose: Are you using a router and a modem or just a modem?
    george: aol.com yahoo.com google.com opendns.com oceanic.com
    george: wowinsider.com
    george: router+modem, but I duplicated the results at me neighbors house, as well.
    george: It's not my router settings (shich haven't changed, and were working perfectly yesterday)
    Anu Jose: Is the router supplied by Roadrunner?
    george: no.
    Anu Jose: Do you have a firewall on your pc?
    Please disable the firewall.
    george: You're kidding right?
    george: Firewall's off...
    Anu Jose: You can just disble the firewall temporarily and check if you can access those sites
    george: It's off, still can't access.
    Anu Jose: Alright
    Anu Jose: Please go to start --run--type cmd
    george: Already there.
    Anu Jose: In the black window,
    Anu Jose: type
    Anu Jose: tracert www.worldofwarcraft.com
    Anu Jose: Select the results and paste it on the chat screen.
    Anu Jose: Are you able to paste the results back on the chat screen?
    george: It's still running. 14 hops so far, and all but 3 are timed out.
    Anu Jose: Please copy the results on the chat screen
    george: It's. Still. running.
    george: C:\Documents and Settings&lt;REMOVED> tracert www.worldofwarcraft.com

    Tracing route to worldofwarcraft.com [12.129.242.22]
    over a maximum of 30 hops:

    1 2 ms 3 ms 1 ms 192.168.1.1
    2 * * * Request timed out.
    3 22 ms 23 ms 26 ms gig13-0-2.oahuhimili-gsr2.hawaii.rr.com [24.25.2
    28.225]
    4 104 ms 102 ms 177 ms so-0-1-3.lsanca4-rtr1.socal.rr.com [24.25.224.86
    ]
    5 * * * Request timed out.
    6 * * * Request timed out.
    7 * * * Request timed out.
    8 * * * Request timed out.
    9 * * * Request timed out.
    10 * * * Request timed out.
    11 * * * Request timed out.
    12 * * * Request timed out.
    13 * * * Request timed out.
    14 * * * Request timed out.
    15 * * * Request timed out.
    16 * *
    george: * Request timed out.
    17 * * * Request timed out.
    18 * * * Request timed out.
    19 * * * Request timed out.
    20 * *
    george: Still going
    Anu Jose: That's fine
    Anu Jose: Please follow the steps below at the end of the chat:
    Disconnect the router
    Bypass the router
    Connect the pc directly to the modem
    Reset modem.
    First shut down the System (Except Windows XP and Vista) and unplug the cable modem from the power source (from the wall outlet, not the back of the modem)
    Wait at least 45 seconds.( Wait should not be lest than 45 seconds)
    Leave Computer off and plug the modem back in.
    Once the lights have stabilized on the modem turn the system back on. The PC light may not come on until the computer has been turned back on.
    Check to see if the connection has returned improved
    Anu Jose: if the issue persists,
    Anu Jose: I need to direct you to the concerned department, who are specifically trained to resolve such issues. I will provide you with the telephone number alongwith the ticket number
    Anu Jose: You can contact them along with the ticket number . They work 24/7 and would love to assist you further. You can reach them at
    Anu Jose: 808-643-2100
    Anu Jose: The ticket number is :
    Anu Jose: RQST00060790335
    Anu Jose: Please enable the firewall
    Anu Jose: For your information you can visit this link anytime to get more help and knowledge about the products and services offered by Road Runner : http://help.rr.com and check for online FAQs

    Anu Jose: Have I addressed all your queries for today?
    george: Yes. Thank you.

     

     About one second before the "Anu Jose: Have I addressed all your queries for today?", I started getting emails, the sites that were loading in my tabs came up, and my AV started updating again. I can picture it in me head now. Right after I said "DNS" server, the support tech probably called, yelled, or emailed someone about a DNS server being down, and instead of jsut saying "oh, lemme check", decided to keep doing the usless, redundant script. ARGH. I hate tech support



  • I sincerely doubt it is DNS since you were getting the proper IP address in the traceroute.  Probably just some temporary routing problem on their backbone. 



  • Seems like a pretty standard L1 script to me.  They get a lot of idiots who DON'T know what they're doing but claim to. 

    I'm not convinced that the restoration of service had anything to do with your call.  Then again it might have.



  • Agreed on the issue being routing related rather than DNS related.

    From your tracert output, you're going through the local (Hawaiian) backbone router and then to another router in southern California. Somewhere just after that router the packets are disappearing.

    Chances are that either the next router in the chain was experiencing issues, or that the last router's routing tables were messed up and sending packets to a destination that wasn't responding.



  • Yep, and further on eimaj2nz's point this is why they follow the script anyway. It wasn't a DNS error by your own post, so should they really have taken your word on that?

    That said, ISP's definately need to get known outage listings to their tech support better because I'm sure somebody there knew a router was down. If they'd said to you "Yes, we have a technical error on our network and our technicians are looking into the issue as we speak" it'd have been way better customer service. That's why I always loved Internode in Australia, absolutely no bullshit when you call them. They'll tell you straight that there's an issue in your area and if you ask they normally had some technical details to provide (Those details were scripted, and they couldn't really do more than read the report their techies sent them, but that's still a mile up from "Maybe if you reformat your PC our routers will magically fix themselves" :P)

    So yeah, ignoring the self-diagnosis was not a WTF, but the fact the ISP's support desk doesn't know about their own outages is a WTF (But an all too common one).



  • @belgariontheking said:

    Seems like a pretty standard L1 script to me.  They get a lot of idiots who DON'T know what they're doing but claim to. 

    I'm not convinced that the restoration of service had anything to do with your call.  Then again it might have.

    Correct. And if it had they kept him occupied while scrambling to solve it, which makes most people feel appreciated.
    At least he wasn't put on hold with some nasty "music" for an hour at $1.50 per minute...



  •  >>Right after I said "DNS" server, the support tech probably called,
    yelled, or emailed someone about a DNS server being down, and instead
    of jsut saying "oh, lemme check", decided to keep doing the usless,
    redundant script. ARGH. I hate tech support

    speaking from past experience (and no I'm not bitter...much:) 

    (S)he probably said to themselves "Oh no, not another know-it-all user, I don't care what he thinks he knows, he's going through the script. Twice." Heck, they probably already knew the answer to your problem. Give them a break, this took what, maybe a few minutes of your time?

    Seriously, what was redundant about any part of the script you were so  cruelly forced to follow? Your initial diagnosis of the issue was obviously incorrect (nothing to do with DNS) therefore the tech was 100% right making you do things their way. 



  •  Been there, done that.. these days I just try to go along with it. I find it makes things run smoother. For example my net connection went down recently. I check my dsl router status and apparently I'm connected to the ISP. I reboot the router just in case and then call tech support and ask them if they have some sort of general problem. No, says the tech and starts going through the troubleshooting procedure. I go along with it until it becomes obvious that I can either make a fuss or forget about it. So I thank them, wait half an hour and call back.  Is there some sort of problem there, I ask. Oh, yeah, says the tech, we're working on it. You don't say...

    So the end result was the same and I didn't have to get into an argument. Besides let's face it, it's not like the minimum wage drone is monitoring their infrastructure.

     

     



  •  Belkin support was the same: appearing to be helpful but ultimately not.

    We got a new ADSL2+ modem router that couldn't get line sync. Between my ISP and Belkin we spent a lot of time trying to get it to work. One thing was we limited our port to ADSL only, that got line sync but then it couldn't establish PPP. Next suggestion was to put it into bridge mode (to completely waste the wireless N and extra ports). Belkin support tried to tell me my password was incorrect, even though it worked in my old modem. I eventually got sick of it and connected to a neighbour's wireless network and did some Googling. I found on the Belkin site firmware with my ISP named specifically! I had even told Belkin support my ISP but obviously that is not important. The new firmware works well, at both ADSL2+ and with PPPoE.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @nukeemusn said:

    won't deviate form their script no matter HOW much info you give them.
    The reason, of course, being that the person dealing with your call doesn't know what to do with that extra information.

    It's usually quicker to just do what they ask, give them the answers that they expect (or not) and get through the script as fast as possible and get your problem escalated (or more likely ignored.)

     



  • Worst I had was trying to get my laptop fixed under warranty years ago. It was constantly hanging on the BIOS screen (Turned out it was overheating almost instantly because the fans weren't spinning fast enough). After about half an hour of trying to explain to the person that the reason I couldn't get the command prompt open had nothing to do with not knowing where to find it or having forgotten my password they finally went "Ok, next step is that we need you to run a RAM check through the bios". "I'd love to, but I can't get to the bios"...  another half hour explaining why I couldn't make the computer get into the bios. Next step "Ok, how about if you reinstall windows"... facepalm... Finally managed to convince the person on the other side of the phone that seeing as how the computer locks up before it even initializes it's keyboard their diagnostics weren't much use to me.

    Then to add insult to injury after I finally got it sent back to them when it came back the "q" key was missing from the keyboard and the documentation that came back about what they did said they did "preventative maintenance to the keyboard"... called them again and I think I used a little too much sarcasm cause the tech support guy was seriously trying to explain that the maintenance was actually to prevent damage not to prevent typing as though he seriously thought I meant that. In hindsight I felt sorry for the guy who took that call, was young and pissed off over not having a working computer for over a month and he copped the brunt of it after the missing "q" key even though it wasn't his fault.



  • You don't use terms like "DNS" when talking to an L1.  That won't speed anything up.

    Really, your best bet is just not to bother calling, because the NOC guys are probably already on it.  If it's a persistent problem (like more than half a day) then I normally just say "I've tried rebooting my computer and the modem, no router, no firewall, nothing at all running other than Internet Explorer".  Some will still be assholes and force you through the script, but asserting that you've already followed the script tends to annoy them less than asserting that you know the root cause/solution, which you probably don't.



  •  The real WTF is that you claim to know what you're doing, but you can't discern a routing issue from a DNS issue.



  • @Aaron said:

    You don't use terms like "DNS" when talking to an L1.  That won't speed anything up.

    Really, your best bet is just not to bother calling, because the NOC guys are probably already on it.  If it's a persistent problem (like more than half a day) then I normally just say "I've tried rebooting my computer and the modem, no router, no firewall, nothing at all running other than Internet Explorer".  Some will still be assholes and force you through the script, but asserting that you've already followed the script tends to annoy them less than asserting that you know the root cause/solution, which you probably don't.

    Over here they always pull you trough the "reset modem" action, even if you have done it yourself. Why? Well, it also verifies that you are in the house, at the right modem, as they can see that it disconnects and reconnects. And it solves 90% of the issues. Just not the one problem that makes you reset your modem every day because it crashes on something.



    And, indeed, TRWTF is not knowing a DNS problem from a routing problem (or down router problem) don't call tech support like that again, it ruins it for the people who DO know what they are talking about.



  • @nukeemusn said:

    Don't you just hate when you have to call tech support at your ISP? When you're a geek, asysadmin, and web developer, you kind of have your own checklist of stuff to go through BEFORE you call the guys that you know are

    a)underpaid

    b)don't know jack

    c) won't deviate form their script no matter HOW much info you give them.

    I've got a friend who works for AT&T Broadband tech support. She's got a B.Sc. on CompSci, so she definitely knows a lot of this... but even with this, she's not allowed to deviate from the script; if she does, she will be punished accordingly.

    AT&T has its own tools for doing trivial things like, say, traceroute, ping, and other simple stuff. While she was in training, one of the trainers was mocking her because she didn't know how to do it; she answered, I don't know how to do it with your software, and proceeded to do a tracert from cmd.

    Oh, and they were told that Linux is "out of scope", so even if your problem is only something to do with the router, they can't help you (they'll be punished if they do.)



  • @danixdefcon5 said:

    I've got a friend who works for AT&T Broadband tech support. She's got a B.Sc. on CompSci, so she definitely knows a lot of this... but even with this, she's not allowed to deviate from the script; if she does, she will be punished accordingly.

    AT&T has its own tools for doing trivial things like, say, traceroute, ping, and other simple stuff. While she was in training, one of the trainers was mocking her because she didn't know how to do it; she answered, I don't know how to do it with your software, and proceeded to do a tracert from cmd.

    Oh, and they were told that Linux is "out of scope", so even if your problem is only something to do with the router, they can't help you (they'll be punished if they do.)

     

     Do mind me asking me asking why somebody with a B.Sc in CompSci is working L1 support - I mean that is like perdition, right ? Is her degree from Nigeria or a similar place or did she piss off somebody in Ma Bell's management hierarchy ?



  • @eimaj2nz said:

    Agreed on the issue being routing related rather than DNS related.

    From your tracert output, you're going through the local (Hawaiian) backbone router and then to another router in southern California. Somewhere just after that router the packets are disappearing.

    Chances are that either the next router in the chain was experiencing issues, or that the last router's routing tables were messed up and sending packets to a destination that wasn't responding.

     

    The packets aren't disappearing! They go through 20 something hops.

    The thing most people don't understand about traceroute is that not all routers send back dead packets. Maybe they don't want to generate extra traffic, or maybe they don't want you mapping their routes.



  • @savar said:

    The packets aren't disappearing! They go through 20 something hops.

    The thing most people don't understand about traceroute is that not all routers send back dead packets. Maybe they don't want to generate extra traffic, or maybe they don't want you mapping their routes.

    Have you seen what traceroute does when packets disappear?

    It shows a bunch of timeouts in a row, up to the maximum number of hops, which by default is 30.

    So, yes, it's possible that he's the one guy with 17 stealth routers in his route, or there's the far, far more likely explanation that the packets are getting lost at step 3, which is the case damn near every time you see 17 timeouts like those.



  • I enjoyed this. Mostly because the computer-savvy geek didn't realize what the problem really was, is complaining that they ignored his useless information he decided on - and didn't know how to solve the problem even if it was the issue he thought. If it was the DNS you should have been able to relatively easily set up OpenDNS or something similar on the router. Not that OpenDNS cures stupidity, so even if he knew that much he still would have ended up in that tech support making up some other assumption and getting pissed when they ignore his superior knowledge.



  • @merreborn said:

    @savar said:

    The packets aren't disappearing! They go through 20 something hops.

    The thing most people don't understand about traceroute is that not all routers send back dead packets. Maybe they don't want to generate extra traffic, or maybe they don't want you mapping their routes.

    Have you seen what traceroute does when packets disappear?

    It shows a bunch of timeouts in a row, up to the maximum number of hops, which by default is 30.

    So, yes, it's possible that he's the one guy with 17 stealth routers in his route, or there's the far, far more likely explanation that the packets are getting lost at step 3, which is the case damn near every time you see 17 timeouts like those.

    But which explanation is cooler?  I bet stealth routers are painted black so that even light cannot escape them!

     

    TRWTF is that this thread now contains two very large misconceptions about core networking technologies by people who seem to be at least minorly aware of what they are talking about. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

     

    TRWTF is that this thread now contains two very large misconceptions about core networking technologies by people who seem to be at least minorly aware of what they are talking about. 

    Just because somebody has picked up terms like "router" and "traceroute" doesn't mean they have even a remote clue about what those words mean.



  • @bstorer said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

     

    TRWTF is that this thread now contains two very large misconceptions about core networking technologies by people who seem to be at least minorly aware of what they are talking about. 

    Just because somebody has picked up terms like "router" and "traceroute" doesn't mean they have even a remote clue about what those words mean.
     

    Well, "router" is that thing on the wall that makes the heat turn on, so "traceroute" must involve crawling through the ceiling ducts to find out where the furnace is.  (Also, "ping" is the sound the ducts make when you tap on them.)  Am I close?



  • @cconroy said:

    still confused about hops -- is there beer in there somewhere?

    I can help you with that, the hops are when the air ducts have an intersection going down and you have to "hop" across the gap. Coincidentally this also explains dropped packets (Make sure your pockets are zipped before trying to hop during a traceroute).



  • Bussiness support side of the ISPs is not too great either. I have heard of several stories about Finland's biggest ISPs incompentency. For example, one of my friend's company customers were complaining about the slow speeds on their dedicated 100Mbps line. The ISPs technicans had looked into it several times and found nothing. Well, he checked traceroute to some other place he had access to. Seems fine. He tries from the other side. Now there is an intresting hop near the end... The ISP was routing the return traffic thru the 5Mbps SHDSL backup line.

    In one another case, another friend called ISPs support line to get A-record changed for one subdomain. Of course, he makes the mistake to think the other side knows anything about DNS... After quickly telling them the details of the change, the L1 says "That's a common Windows problem, please contact Microsoft for it". Of course, he managed to convience them to transfer the call to the next guy and got it sorted out.

    I have a feeling there is some special note on my ISPs records about me as I haven't heard the standard script for a while... (of course, the fact that I start the call with something like "Hello, there seems to be some kind of problem with my connection. The net is completly unusable, but normal pings go thru fine. However, if I incrase the ping's size to over 100 bytes, there is a heavy loss. Tried default gateway and a few random sites that accept ping, same result. My customer number is XXXXXX" might also have something to do with it. And yes, that was a real case. It has actually happend several times)



  • @cconroy said:

     

    Well, "router" is that thing on the wall that makes the heat turn on, so "traceroute" must involve crawling through the ceiling ducts to find out where the furnace is.  (Also, "ping" is the sound the ducts make when you tap on them.)  Am I close?

    One of the users I have to support insists on calling it a "re-router".  Or maybe he knows something I don't.



  • @cklam said:

    Do mind me asking me asking why somebody with a B.Sc in CompSci is working L1 support - I mean that is like perdition, right ? Is her degree from Nigeria or a similar place or did she piss off somebody in Ma Bell's management hierarchy ?

    The same reason for which I am the lone survivor of an original team of 4 developers: she was downsized. Call centers are good for keeping the income flowing while you find another job.

    Tech Support's gotta be one of IT's Nine Hells, but at least they're always hiring!



  • @danixdefcon5 said:

    @cklam said:

    Do mind me asking me asking why somebody with a B.Sc in CompSci is working L1 support - I mean that is like perdition, right ? Is her degree from Nigeria or a similar place or did she piss off somebody in Ma Bell's management hierarchy ?

    The same reason for which I am the lone survivor of an original team of 4 developers: she was downsized. Call centers are good for keeping the income flowing while you find another job.

    Tech Support's gotta be one of IT's Nine Hells, but at least they're always hiring!

    Or because (like some companies I worked in) there's a policy that everyone has to do TS for a number of hours per month. The idea is that putting people in the line of fire gives them more appreciation for the implications of their work or something like that.

    Never got around to doing L1 (jumped ship before it got to that) but I've regularly done L2 and L3 is just part of everyone's job description almost everywhere (and L1 sometimes get automatically shunted to L2 or L3 if lines are busy at L1 level).



  • @upsidedowncreature said:

    One of the users I have to support insists on calling it a "re-router".  Or maybe he knows something I don't.

     

    You need a rerouter in order to be able to reroute auxilliary power to the navigation and life-support systems without having to send your chief engineer through the Jeffries' tubes.



  •  ARGH

    /hangs head in shame

    Ok, so I hereby institute (for myself) a one-day WTF cooling period.

    i.e. When I see a WTF, I must wait one day to post it, to ensure the following:

    a) It's really a WTF and not just "the way things work" (l1 Tech support not deviating from a script)

    b) I'm not posting jsut becasue I'm frustrated, becasue, y'know, we all make GREAT decisions when frustrated.

    c) I'm not missing or ignoring something blatantly obvious (like the fact tehat the tracert was returning an ip address for a domain name, which is kinda a DNS servers whole purpose in life. I had noticed this an (/smacks self) even took that IP and tried to navigate directly to it. Shoulda realized that I was out of my gourd).



  • @Aaron said:

    You need a rerouter in order to be able to reroute auxilliary power to the navigation and life-support systems without having to send your chief engineer through the Jeffries' tubes.

     

    That's a popular misconception propagated by the rerouter manufacturers. Everyone should know that you can achieve the same effect by simply reversing the polarity.


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