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By jgj ·
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NTL Customer Support

by jgj In reply to Miscellania

Background: I do PC repairs, upgrades, new builds and general problem
solving in and around a small town in South-East England. Most of my
clients are private individuals, a few (very) small businesses.<br /><br />One
Friday afternoon I was in London, seeing a friend off at Euston. I get
a call from a new client - he's just had NTL cable installed but can't
get on the 'net. He does have TV and phone, no internet though. He
really needs me to come straight away. OK, I say, I'll stop by his
place on my way back from London.<br /><br />Got there, get to his
computer. They've rigged a network connection between the computer in
the bedroom and the cable modem in the living room (not an unusual
setup.) What is unusual is that he has 2 operating systems installed on
his computer - both Windows XP. He says that NTL customer service told
him to reinstall XP, because his XP was corrupt and that's why he
couldn't go on the internet. <br /><em><br />/right.<br /><br /></em>Apparently they
talked him through tweaking a series of settings and when that didn't
work they decided XP was corrupt. They also talked him through the
reinstallation process and that's how he ended up with two identical OS
on his computer. He was also pretty upset that he lost some stuff that
was pretty important to him. No, they didn't tell him to back up before
reinstalling.<br /><br /> <em>//ok, so maybe he didn't quite understand what and how exactly they were telling him to do...<br /><br /></em>I
spend the rest of the evening backing up his old files (they were still
there, he just didn't know how to find them), formatting the hard drive
and doing a completely fresh install. At the end of it, still no
connection. I tell them I'll come back the next morning with my laptop
and a network cable and see if that connects.<br /><br />Next day, I set up
my laptop with my network cable. No connection. But, the cable modem
also has the option of connecting through USB. Try USB, still no
connection - although, this time I can see the modem and its IP address
assigned by NTL. Time to call NTL.<br /><br />After holding for what seems
like en eternity, the call is answered by "Maria", who has (I think) a
Polish accent. I explain the problem to her. She proceeds to talk me
through a series of steps, most of which I'd already done. From
previous experience with various so-called customer support services, I
figure, they've got a script, they've got to go through it, so be it.
Any comments of mine are - as expected - ignored. I get the feeling she
doesn't even understand what I'm talking about. Maybe she doesn't
understand my accent.<br /><br />At the end of the process we're right where we started - that is, no internet connection.<br /><br />Here
I've got to recap the situation - we had a new cable installation; two
separate computers could not connect to the internet through it; one of
them running XP, the other Win98 (ok, so it's an old laptop); we do
have TV, we do have phone, but no internet.<br /><br />So, at this stage "Maria" tells me I've got to reinstall Windows. It's corrupt.I
tell "Maria" that I had accessed the internet using the same laptop, at
my home that morning. Through my network. It doesn't matter, she says,
you were probably accessing a normal internet page, we need you to
access a secure NTL site to validate your sign-in as a new customer,
and if you can't, that means your Windows installation is corrupt.
There's a file in Windows that is used only when you acees a secure SSL
site, and it must be corrupt. You need to reinstall Windows. I tell her
I did actually access a secure site that morning, my bank. Ah, she
says, but the NTL SSL site is a special site, which needs that file.
You need to reinstall Windows.<br /><br />I try to reason with her. Look, I
say, we've got two separate computers, one running XP, one running W98.
It doesn't make sense that both have the same corruption, especially
since one of them functioned perfectly well just a few hours before. It
must be the modem, please send your engineer to reconfigure the cable
modem - or replace it if need be. "Maria" repeats that I have to
reinstall Windows.<br /><br />At this point I ask to speak to a supervisor.
She won't put me through. I argue. After a few long minutes of back and
forth arguments, she finally relents and puts me through to a
supervisor.<br /><br />The supervisor's obviously been told I'm a difficult
customer and is very curt. He takes me through the same steps I've been
through with our "Maria". I tell him we've done that and ask whether we
can skip it and move to diagnostics from his side. He loses his temper
and shouts at me. I ask him whether he's irritable that morning and
would he like to pass me to someone less stressed. He calms down and
decides to skip the rest of the steps - after I reiterate that two
separate computers on two separate network cables can not access the
internet and it can't be both have developed the same fault. Yes, he
says, on the face of it, looks like you have a point there.<br /><br />To
cut the rest of the story short, he checked the modem settings from his
side, found where the configuration done by the NTL engineer the
previous day was wrong and reset it. We then had internet connection
through the USB cable, but not through the network cable. He promised
to send an engineer on Monday to check and fix the network connection. <br /><br /><em>The
final end to the story:</em> on Monday afternoon the client called to tell
me that the engineer had come and replaced the faulty network cable he
had installed the previous Friday and they finally could access the
internet through their computer.<br /><br /><strong>So,</strong> the NTL engineer installed
a cable modem and configured it incorrectly; installed a faulty network
cable; did not check either connection; and NTL customer service
steadfastly maintained the customer's Windows files were corrupt and
that they had to reinstall Windows. I wonder, had I not insisted on
speaking to a supervisor and held my ground with him as well - I wonder
how many times NTL would've made these people reinstall Windows before
they decided to check their own cable installation. I also wonder how
many other people had similar experiences with them - and others,
because this is a problem that's not confined to this ISP only.

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