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2 posts from May 2008

Incompetent tech support

I'm sure everyone has had the pleasure of speaking to a tech support hotline. You know the sort, outsourced call centre, expensive number, person on the other end who has no idea what they're doing... Yeah. I avoid them wherever possible.

This weekend, I was dealing with a relative's troublesome internet - ever since moving house, they had been unable to get online even though the ISP promised they had changed the phone number and address and whatnot over a month ago. I fiddled all the usual settings, routers, firewalls, passwords, etc., but to no avail. I had little other choice than to ring them up to ask what was up. I was a bit unsure about one of the settings, as it was set to PPPoA on this router but my own one uses a PPPoE connection so I wondered whether this was correct. I'd tried both but they hadn't worked, but there were also other fiddly bits I might have forgotten. Sooo, I decided to brave the call centre and ask them.

Support guy: Hello, you are through to [ISP] support, my name is [name], how may I help you today.
Me: Hi, I'm just having a bit of an issue connecting to your service. I've checked all the settings on my end and they are all correct, so I was wondering if you could help.
Him: Ok ma'am. Can you open up the Internet Explorer.1
Me: ... um, ok.
Him: Go to white box at the top. Delete the text. Type [router IP].
Me: Ok, I've already done that and I've checked all the settings there, they are all fine. There was one thing I was a bit unsure about though - do you use the PPPoA setting or PPPoE?
Him: *Long pause* No, take the CD out. Type in the Internet Explorer.
Me: CD? No, I asked about connection types. Is it PPP-
Him: *Interrupting* Ma'am, no CD. Take the CD out.
Me: ...
Him: No CD.
Me: I'm not using a CD, I-
Him: *Interrupting* Type in the Internet Explorer, [router IP].
Me: ... yeah.
Him: Type in the Internet-
Me: I've done that.
Him: What do you see.
Me: I've already logged in. I checked-
Him: *Interrupting again* Type in the Internet Explorer-
Him: What do you see.
Me: It is showing me the settings.2
Him: You type the username, password, it is [username] and [password].
Me: Yeah.

It carried on like that for several minutes, him just ignoring everything I was saying. He asked me to confirm the phone number on the account, put me on hold, then came back.

Him: Ma'am, reboot now.
Me: What?
Him: You reboot, it works now.
Me: I rebooted before, it didn't help.
Him: No, you reboot, it works now.
Me: ...
Him: You rebooted?
Me: Yeah yeah, it rebooted.3
Him: It works now.
Me: No.
Him: Reboot.
Me: Again?
Him: Reboot, it works.
Me: I'm trying it on another computer right now, this one doesn't work either.
Him: Reboot please ma'am.
Me: I don't see how that's going to help.
Him: It should work, you reboot.
Me: Yeah well, it's not working.
Him: Reboot the Internet Explorer, it works now.
Me: No, it really doesn't.
Him: Reboot, it works when you reboot.
Me: Yeah. Doesn't though.
Him: Reboot again, til it works.
Me: *Hangs up*

And guess what? 10 minutes later, everything worked. And no, I didn't reboot. A reboot won't fix a connection issue unless it was a problem with the computer, and it wasn't. Stupid ISP hadn't switched the phone number over and had the cheek to try and make me think they 'magically' fixed things by trying to buy time by making me reboot. Yeah, I don't think so somehow.

1 And what if I don't want to use Internet Explorer? ^
2 Humouring him now ^
3 It hadn't. ^

Useless tutorials

One of the questions I am asked most is "will you write a tutorial on how to install PHPAskIt?". My answer to this is always no because people need to learn to read. Included in the PHPAskIt zip file is a file called readme.txt. Now I don't know about you, but when I'm unsure of how to install something, the first thing I do is to look at the readme file (if there is one). When a file is called "READ ME" it usually signifies that it should be read, no?

So why am I bombarded time and time again with this question when I clearly explain how to install the script in the readme file? That, I cannot tell you. But what I do know is the internet population appears to be getting stupider. People use known insecure scripts such as Wak's Ask&Answer and CuteNews because "nothing's ever happened to me" and "I like that script"; people take images they have absolutely no permission to use (and they know this) and make website layouts out of them; and as Jem regularly points out with her Pants Awards, there is no shortage of people giving out stupid advice in the form of tutorials.

I came across a site the other day which combined the aforementioned issues. The site owner had been asked "please can you write a tutorial on how to install and use PHPAskIt" and had done just that. They wrote exactly what I wrote in the readme file, just worded slightly differently. I'd link the tutorial but the site's gone on hiatus (how convenient). What was the point of that? So imagine my delight when I found yet another one of these tutorials. I kid you not, this one is even worse than the other one, and assumes the visitor can't read or something (um, redundant much?).

The tutorial basically follows this format:

  1. Download the script!
  2. Upload everything then go to install.php! Yay! Done!
  3. It will say delete so and so files, delete these files: import directory, upgrade.php, install.php


"So and so files"?! So basically you're assuming your visitor hasn't read what's on their screen (it tells them which files to delete) or that the message is too confusing (um, you just wrote it out again, word for word. The point?) or something and that your tutorial is the answer to all that? Get over yourself.

Oh yes, and while I'm in a rant mood... I've noticed someone is commenting around the place using my URL. This person appears to go by the name of "Nancy" and uses my site (or the link to PHPAskIt) as their URL. Thanks for the extra hits and everything, "Nancy", but this site actually belongs to me and I'd appreciate it if you could stop doing that.

If you came here from one of "Nancy"'s comments, sorry to disappoint and all, but my name's Amelie and I've never heard of anyone called Nancy.

Pssst: If you have received a comment from "Nancy" using my details, please contact me as I'd love to see who on earth is doing this. :)