Has bad service become acceptable?

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posted this on Friday, October 7, 2011 at about 10am.

IT pro

For years I’ve struggled with good support for home Internet. After all these years, I am amazed that I still have issues.

Now, mind you, I recognize that my problems are not the same as the real problems that plague society (like hunger, homelessness or the French). However, I have determined that high speed internet companies seem to hire the least common denominator for their customer support and are not willing to find out how to solve the problems.

Years ago, I decided to leave Qwest because they couldn’t seem to properly support my high-speed internet. Time after time I would call for support and spend the first 20 minutes teaching the person on the other end how my account was set up. They didn’t understand the most basic of things that every internet service provider should understand.

A few years ago, I added Digis to my home. In the beginning it was great. It was very fast service. Then, they started to load it down with too many clients in the area. Our speed began to suffer. After a few weeks of slow service and multiple calls, I found someone that finally admitted that they overloaded the system and they were putting up a new tower to augment the speeds within a few weeks.

After another six weeks, I was so frustrated I called and spent another hour on the phone when someone told me that they were throttling me because I was using too much bandwidth. For those of you who don’t know what that means, throttling is when they turn down your speed after a certain amount of usage.

So, I started my hunt for a new provider. But, no one would call me back… I tried all the providers here in town and they all had awful pre-sales support. I was amazed how often I would leave messages saying, “I’m ready to buy,” only to get no call back.

But, after a few weeks, my speeds returned to their former glory… with no fanfare or notification. I didn’t change my usage. They must have gotten that new tower in after all.

Recently, I had another issue with Digis. I found two different URLs would not pull up on my computer when I was at home. Twitter uses a URL shortener (t.co) and Droplr use a URL shortener (d.pr) and these short URLs would never work at my home. I would not be able to click on those links and find the site they were meant to take me.

I spent a lot of time going back and forth with support via email. They tried to ignore my requests for help my not responding to many of my emails. Finally, I got them to respond with

Our engineers checked all the routing, the ports, and any other information associated with those URLs. Our system is not blocking them. Our network engineers have tested both of these short URL’s and they are both operational. Digis does not block any sites or URL’s and we have have checked our servers and both URL’s are accessible via the servers.

I’m a pretty smart guy. I did everything on my end that any IT guy would do and the problem was definitely not on my end. It was, without a doubt, their issue. But, I couldn’t figure out how to get them to understand that.

This morning, I woke up and happened to click on a t.co link and, what do you know…. it worked. I checked multiple t.co and d.pr links and they worked.

I hadn’t changed anything on my end. Everything was identical on my end. They must have finally found the problem and fixed it.

I wonder if one of the reasons why internet service providers provide such bad service is because it's simply become acceptable. People don't know what their options are and don't know enough to ask for more.

So, when an internet service provider says they can’t help you, maybe you should ask again and again and again until they finally do. I think that we’ll have to deal with bad customer service from internet service providers until one comes along that can really do it right.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

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