Why do people always assume everyone else is an idiot?

Brian's picture

Friday evening. We have been struggling with an absolutely irritating problem for the last 4 months of getting upstream packet dropping on our cablemodem. after 4 technicians (all of whom assumed they had 'fixed the problem') I have been doing a bit of research, checking SNA and upstream currents and finally isolated the problem of being the cable from the house to the junction... kids (and roommates) have been abusing that line for years, shooting it with BB guns, hanging laundry or hitting it with horseshoes (The big heavy iron kind)
So the tech comes out, swaps out a cablemodem again, listens to me patiently explain that we have packet drops about every 5 minutes. runs a 1 minute ping test, declares it 'fixed' and is on his merry way. as he pulls out of the driveway, we lose 15 seconds worth of packets.
Call Comcast
"Okay, well, you have to wait for monday to get another tech out" "But he just pulled out of the driveway" "Yes, but he has another scheduled customer" "But he never fixed my problem." "I am sorry, sir"
So, here I am trying to convince this call center monkey to get someone out sooner (Melissa just bought WoW and wanted to try it out over the weekend) and I explain, patiently, and in great detail what I have done to test the cablemodem.

He says "It sounds like your router has a problem with it's Flux Capacitor (I am not kidding, the guy actually says this.) I of course instantly become enraged and say "WHAT!?!?" "Thankyouforcallingcomcasthaveaniceday"*click*

Okay, finally call like 6 more techs before I finally get one that doesn't automatically assume I don't have a clue how a cablemodem works. The question is this: WHY DON'T CALL CENTERS FIRE THESE YAHOOS???

I mean, the idea of 'tiered' technical support for more advanced users and problems has gone completely out the window. Or is this just a Comcast problem? I know a lot of people that call tech support have forgotten to plug their modem is, but... does it seem like too much to ask to have at least one or two COMPETENT technicians available for asking advanced questions for users that know what to ask?

/end rant
Man, I am tempted to just buy 200 feet of coax and replace the wiring myself.


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matthew's picture

Why do people always assume everyone else is an idiot?

Why do people always assume everyone else is an idiot?

I know I'm going to sound terribly, uhh, elitist here, but the fact is, most people are idiots when it comes to computer stuff. There's a reason why people assume that others who understand how these things work are brainiacs. It's because this crap is actually hard.

It's tough to remember now, but I recall when I was first learning about IP networking. I had been in the business three years before I finally really understood what a subnet mask was, what it did, and why it was important. I'm not talking about "being able to spout facts back at you" understanding, but a deep understanding why such a thing is necessary, and the different ways a mis-configuration will (or won't) bite you.

Then about a year later, I understood the role of MTU in data transmission, particularly over non-LAN lines,and even more importantly over tunneled protocols. Another year, and I finally comprehended PPPOE, and how it's implemented at the central office for DSL providers.

The problem you're facing is that your situation isn't the norm. If I were faced with packet dropping, I'd be right with the cable guy, saying "it's probably the endpoints". You just trust that the physical layer is working, because it's the least likely thing to fail without giving a definite signal. Realistically, "bad cable" is probably stop number 20 along the railroad of troubleshooting.

The issue here is, there's a pool of techs, and none of them can spend enough time with your specific problem to even get to troubleshooting step #20.

My advice? If you are certain your packet dropping is due to your cable, just get a ladder and chop it down, then give some lame explanation like "a tree limb fell on it and damaged on it, an I was worried about being electrocuted". They'll think you're an imbecile, but they'll do what you want them to do, and that's the point, no?

As an aside, though, we have problems with our cable during the summer. The box at the corner has some serious southern exposure, and when the temperature rises above about 100 degrees, the equipment in there ends up shutting down and we lose our cable internet connection. This kind of sucks because we rely on it for phone service, too, but we can work around it.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson

weed's picture

Both Right

I can understand both sides of the argument. When you're a caller who knows as much if not more than the tech support guy on the other end, you wish there was a short quiz they could just give you so you could prove you're worthy of the next level of tech support.

When you're receiving calls from hundreds and thousands of users, it probably serves you well to assume the lowest common denominator and start from there.

That being said, I can understand stocking tech support lines with cheap labor to keep prices down. But there NEEDs to be a way to get quality help once you've proven it's something on their end or extraordinary.

Another thing you could do is that your box to someone else with Comcast, hook it up, and watch it work just fine. Then you can call them and say, "It works here and here, but not my house. Come fix the line I just cut down" ;)

My $.02

My $.02

rowan's picture

A lot of my job is calling

A lot of my job is calling tech support for various companies whose software we use and resell when things go wrong with their products. One magic phrase my manager gave me that works most of the time is "I need to speak with your supervisor."

With many companies (though probably not all, so I don't know about Comcast), a support tech is required to put you through to the floor supervisor if you specifically request it. It's not necessarily an escalation, but it does put you in touch with someone who CAN escalate.

"You of all people should know that plastic surgery can do wonders." --Amber Fitzgerald
"And you're living proof that mistakes are sometimes made." -- Charisma Weaver
[a hlink="htpp://buffydc.com"]DC After Dark[/a]


Brian's picture

Okay, I will admit I made a

Okay, I will admit I made a wrong assumption. I assumed because we replaced the cable modem 3 times and every single time it did exactly the same thing, therefore, occam's razor implies that it's probably not the cable modem.

I was WRONG.

When the tech gets here he says "Look, 3 people nearby have been having exactly the same problem, and have been yelling at me, it's probably the amp for this area" and I nod and sigh, another reason not to fix my cable.

So I remembered reading the night before last about how a bunch of brits were griping about surfboard cablemodems not working on blue. So I asked the technician, "Hey, did the rest of the customers all have surfboads?" and he was not sure and says "This last guy that yelled at me did" so I asked if we could try out a different Model. He said he had an RCA in the truck, so as a last ditch effort we tried swapping it out. It worked, and he couldn't wait around to see if it dropped packets.

It's been 6 hours since he installed the modem, and let me just hit control C here...
Packet Loss. 0%

So is it surfboard modems being garbage, or is it surfboard modems just not working well in this particular area? Only time will tell, but I hope the tech reads this board (I gave him the address and told him to keep an eye out) and finds out it's the surfboards.

Sorry, I figured I should follow up on the story, Now Melissa gets to play WoW.

-Democracy: founded on the principal that 1000 people are automatically smarter than any one person. Excuse me?
-Dictatorship: founded on the principal that one person is automatically smarter than any thousand people. Come again?

-Democracy: founded on the principal that 1000 people are automatically smarter than any one person. Excuse me?
-Dictatorship: founded on the principal that one person is automatically smarter than any thousand people. Come again?