Should vendors have an express queue for people who have a clue? What passes for support today?

It's good to see some airports that have queues for people that travel frequently and know what they're doing. But I'm left thinking that IT vendors need to have something similar.

Bigpond (part of Telstra) in Australia have recently introduced new 42MB/sec modems on their 3G network. It's actually just a pair of 21MB/sec modems linked together but the idea is cute. Around most of the country, they work pretty well. In the middle of the CBD in Melbourne however, at present they just don't work.

Having more patience than myself, my wife (who also has one) called their support line today. The symptoms were:

  • The data connection works fine till around 8AM. 
  • It works fine again after about 5:30PM.
  • At all other times during the day, the connection strength shows a full signal and connections happen instantaneously.
  • During the day, a ping to the default gateway is returned after about 3 seconds about 1 in 100 times. All other pings are lost.
  • No DNS names can be resolved at all.
  • No IP traffic can move at all.

Now, let's see what you think about the suggestions from the "support" people:

  • It must be a problem with your computer configuration. (Interesting that it works fine outside those times without change)
  • It could be a problem with your browser cache. Please clear it. (Hmmm, well there goes the useful cache)
  • It might be a problem with your username and password. (But how does it work without change the rest of the day?)
  • Please manually connect to the Telstra 3G network instead of the Telstra network that we connect you to by default. (No change occurs)

And then they get scary:

  • Please reset all the security zones for all sites in your browser. That might be the problem. (WTF???? What outstanding advice!)

At what point do companies ever begin to think that this sort of nonsense is acceptable?

Do you have different levels of support for your customers, depending upon their knowledge level? If so, how do you decide who can use the more advanced support? How do you control access to it?

3 thoughts on “Should vendors have an express queue for people who have a clue? What passes for support today?”

  1. I feel your pain Greg, believe me.
    On the other hand I used Gearhead the other day to help me with a malfunctioning Netgear router and was actually quite impressed by the service. Somewhere out there, there *are* knowlegable support technicians, you just have to hope you get one of them.

  2. I experience support like this, in my own employer!  Here's an example.  We have multiple datacenters at various geographical locations.  I, as the DBA, VPN at all hours of the day for support.  I found out that flr one particular datacenter I cannot connect to any of the named SQL instances via SQL Browser.  I can however connect to those named instances via SQL Browser from my office, or from an RDP session to another server in another location.  The network team so far has told me that the issue is the configuration of the SQL Servers at the datacenter.  It's not that the VPN client or something on the network between the VPN endpoint and that datacenter WAN link that is blocking UDP 1434.  They don't care that I can connect to those SQL Server named instances via server,TCP port (assuming I go look up that port number, or create a policy that named instances are configured use specific ports and I then document those configurations).

  3. I hear you on that one, coincidentally from this mornings dealings with a hardware vendor who shall remain nameless, but rhymes with bell.
    I understand the need for them to step through the script but when you have already done the troubleshooting for them and just want to get to the bit where they replace the part it gets a little boring

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