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How to make a customer want to leave

[UPDATE: I have been made happy. Yay!]

Do ISPs just dislike me? I can’t think why; I do virtually nothing outrageous. I normally don’t rack up much, if any, support costs. What isn’t there to like?

Yet here I am, a little past a year since the last time I had ISP problems, and Speakeasy is giving me grief.

The situation:

I have Business 3.0/768 DSL with 99% uptime SLA with Speakeasy. The “site” is the basement of my house. I try not to say residence because it has a tendency to make techs think, “oh it’s not a business”. But I pay for it. Real websites run on it. I would consider my blog an important part of presenting “me” to the world, a requirement for my career.

Speakeasy had a scheduled outage Monday night till Tuesday 9am. When 9am came and went, I checked the online Speakeasy outages tracker and it said everything was okay. So I went to my servers and checked that the network was down and that resetting the modem didn’t fix it.

I called tech support and got (this is a alias…) SpaceGhost. SpaceGhost tried troubleshooting the problem. I reset the modem multiple times and he ran checks using his tools.

Eventually he decides that something is wrong at the CO. He says I have two choices:

  1. Have a modem sent out next day air tomorrow (will arrive Thursday). If the problem is the modem, I’ll be charged $99. Otherwise I send it back free.
  2. Have a tech show up tomorrow. If the problem is the modem, I’ll be charged $200 but I’ll get the modem immediately.

I double and triple checked that the modem would be replaced, by the onsite tech, if the modem is the cause. SpaceGhost affirms each time.

So, I figure I’d rather have it fixed tomorrow, for certain even if I have to pay $200, than wait for a “maybe” fix on Thursday.

Unfortunately, by the time I’m given this choice it’s too late to send a tech on today. So I schedule a tech to show up Wednesday morning between 9 and 12. I make sure that SpaceGhost knows that I need a phone call so I can walk down to the site and let the tech in.

The next day, nobody gives me a call. At 12:30 I add a note to the ticket. I’m going to wait till 1pm since the window was magically “expanded” to 1pm.

I have to admit, that I do like that I can view all the ticket information on the web. It includes lots of information. The only downside is that I can’t understand a bunch of it since the techs are writing in short-hand a lot of the time. I actually have figured out most of it after talking to SpaceGhost and reading the huge amount of information in the ticket.

SpaceGhost calls to ask how the appointment went (yay! That’s good customer service). I inform him it didn’t happen. Nobody called (Boo! Bad service.)

SpaceGhost goes and checks and is told that the appointment was scheduled for Thursday (what?). This despite the fact the requested appointment time is mentioned multiple times in the ticket. :-/ Since it’s only 1pm, SpaceGhost schedules an immediate appointment. Again, with an explicit note to call me before attempting to gain access to the site.

I wait and wait… Finally, I get impatient and leave work at 4pm. When I arrive I find a little yellow hanger saying that the tech had been there and nobody was there to let them in.

I am livid. It’s Wednesday. I’ve been down for two days now. I scream and rant and am generally pissed off. Robin came downstairs and just watched me spout obscenities. I try to catch my breath and then call Speakeasy. I’ve memorized the various phone-bot combinations by now and get in pretty quick.

I talk to Mr. S. Laughter (another alias). I ask them to send a tech now. At this point it is their fault that I’ve been down this long. Laughter says he can’t do that; but he’ll schedule one for the next day. He makes appropriate clucking noises and I try to calm down. The fact that he says they’ll waive the $150 no-show penalty that the tech applied to my account (you know, since they didn’t actually call me for access as requested) doesn’t actually help me calm down, somehow.

At this point I can’t trust the techs. I ask Robin to stay around Thursday so they can’t pull this again. She agrees, though it means taking time off work. I’m not happy about this but I have commitments at my work that I’ve already had to shift around for all the problems I’ve had so far.

The next morning, Robin calls to tell me she sees the tech in his van. I make a mad dash. When I get there, he’s in the basement playing with the modem.

The tech confirms that my connection to the CO is short and sweet; 2400 ft. of clean wire. He approves of my rewiring to hook the modem up. But the modem is obviously a dud. His modem gets excellent speed.

Alright I say, replace the modem. He looks surprised. I explain that SpaceGhost said he would replace the modem if it was bad. He says he doesn’t think he has a modem in the truck to give me. Either way, he says, he has to call and get an approval from Speakeasy. He calls his point of contact at Speakeasy and they say “no”.

I get upset again. I call Speakeasy and get yet another tech, Waffle. Waffle says they never approve modems but they’ll send it out next day air so I’ll get it by Friday.

I track the package via UPS’s website, so I know when it’s been dropped of at home (I tried to get it sent to the office, but that just got a second one sent a day later).

I rush home, plug it in and finally my network is up.

So lets add this up. My network was down, unscheduled, from Tuesday 9am to Friday about 11pm: 3days and 3hours. I spent about 6 hours of my own troubleshooting and talking to Speakeasy about this. My wife took a day off work. I don’t have an easy way to track the monetary value of my network being down.

So at this point I consider that the only legit expense I have is the modem.

The $150 no-show fee is a non-starter. If they didn’t call, they didn’t show up. Door-hanger notwithstanding.

The $200 tech fee, because it was the modem after all, is also null and void. I agreed to have a tech visit with the explicit understanding that the modem would be replaced there, on site, for no more cost. Did the tech replace the modem? No. Was my network up after the tech visited? No. Basically, the $200 is for services not rendered.

I consider the modem legit because that is all I got out of this, other than a complete waste of time and 3.1 days of downtime.

So now I need to negotiate the fees.

SpaceGhost agrees that the $150 no-show fee is bogus. Great, no problems there.

However, SpaceGhost says he can’t waive the $99 modem fee or the $200 tech fee. He can give me $99 credit, the most he has discretion over, but that still leaves me paying $200 for a tech visit that didn’t do anything for me.

So SpaceGhost says he’ll talk to his managers and call me back on Monday. He doesn’t call. I call him, he says he’ll talk to his manager tomorrow, etc. etc.

A week later I leave a message on the ticket and SpaceGhost calls me. He says he’ll talk to his manager and call me back in 10 minutes. An half-an-hour later he calls back with “The managers all say no.”

I ask to escalate it to his managers. He said a manager will call me back.

And now we’re up to the present. I’m not holding my breath for the manager to call me back.

I’ve already scoped out the competition; they have essentially the same service for just a little less. I’ll have to talk to a person to get them to remove the “Professional Installation” fee; I don’t need someone to install a modem.

I’ll loose the tech-savvy support. But I don’t see what kind of choice I have; I won’t accept paying for non-service.


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