All day today my internet connection has been flaking out. I noticed it when I was trying to stream some music. It was choppy. I figured it was the server I was streaming from. So I tried another one, same result. I knew something was up when I tried to stream some video and it just wasn’t happening. Then I decided to check my speed over at Speakeasy Speedtest. The result made me sad.
Speakeasy Speedtest Results
I ran it 2 or 3 times before I gave Charter’s tech support a call. I calmly explained the problem and the tech asks me all the standard questions. There was one in particular that she was having an especially difficult time with. The conversation went something like this:

Charter Tech: “Are you running Windows XP or Vista?”
Me: “Neither, I’m running Linux. Well…Ubuntu.”
Charter Tech: “Excuse me?”
Me: “I said Linux.”
Charter Tech: Silence…..

A few minutes pass and she’s still trying to troubleshoot the problem. She sends me to Charter’s Speedtest to test my connection.
Charter Speedtest Results
Oh wow! They fixed it quick. Now that’s the kind of speeds I expect and pay for. She begins wrapping up the call and I decide to try another speed tester. This time it’s Speedtest’s Speedtest. I’m sad again. Speedtest Results
Interesting. I then explain to her that I don’t trust their results. That the only speedtest that reported good results was Charter’s. Then…

Charter Tech: “Can you shut down your computer?”
Me: “Do you want me to shut it down or reboot it?”
Charter Tech: “Reboot it and hold down the F8 key then select Safe mode with networking.”
Me: “I’m not running Windows.”

We exchange some more words and I calmly try to explain to her that the problem is with Charter’s service and that I’ve already performed all tests on my end and that I’m only calling because it is occurring on hardware outside of my control. She checks for outages in NC. None have been reported. This goes on for a while. Then she puts me on hold while she discusses it with her supervisor. Then…

Charter Tech: “There have been many reports of slow connections in NC. We’ll have to schedule a tech to come out unless the problem has been resolved prior to the appointment. In which case the appointment with be canceled.”
Me: “Ok.”
Charter Tech: “Did you say you were using a Mac?”
Me: “No I said Linux.”
Charter Tech: “Can you spell that?”
Me: “L-i-n-u-x”

These first-line techs are there to prevent common people with common misconfiguration problems from wasting the time of the highly paid second level techs. But there really should be a flag in the customer database that allows certain knowledgeable customers to bypass these techs and go straight to the second tier techs. This kind of conversation is frustrating for both of us. I only want someone to tell me, “Yes, we’re experiencing problems in your area and we’re working on it.” Instead I get someone who only knows to tell me to reboot my computer, router and modem until you hit the right combo or waste enough time that the problem has been resolved. I’m expecting that the problem is magically resolved before the tech arrives on Saturday in which case that appointment will automatically be canceled.

This article was last updated on: 18 Dec 2008