Sunday, May 24, 2009

Technology bytes!



The blogging door was open so I had to go through it. This despite the fact that the dog needs a walk and countless house projects beckon. C'mon it's Sunday, cut me some slack.

We have issues with our new ATT DVR lately that the stupid thing pixels out every minute or so, to the point of missing some key dialog at points. I decided to take some action on this last week and called 1-800-ATT-ISNOGOOD or some catchy number like that. I got a very nice woman who, bless her non-American heart, was trying her best to be a good technical help, but failed. Now, I had 30 minutes alloted for this call, because I had a meeting to go to, but figured it wouldn't take more than 10 minutes or so. Well, the introduction and contact information exchange took 10 minutes. It's like every time I make a service call they've never heard of me before. Name, address, State, sexual orientation, political party affiliation. Yep, all the same as the last time I talked to you.

The line I like the most though was "What can I do today to make your technical support call a satisfactory experience?". Let's see, world peace would be cool. That and a flat screen TV for my trouble. Oh, and a cool drink while I wait on hold, now that would be sweet!

If all of those are a bit too aspiring, I would settle for fixing my problem. I know it's a small, petty, very 21st century, indulgent issue, but I think for the great sum I'm paying you folks every month, money that would be better spent working for world peace, or at least cold drinks, you could fix what is yours before it hits my TV screen.

Tammy Tech (not her real name) then asks me if I've rebooted the box. Now what's the first thing anyone tries when they're having issues? (Reboot) Not to mention that the box reboots itself unannounced periodically anyways. "Yes, I tried that" I reply.

The first thing she has me try is to unplug the unit and hit the power button to do a complete energy drain, (the box's, not mine though I'm starting to get tired). This sequence of unplug/plug/reboot, takes the 10 minutes that I had hoped the entire process would take, but fails to solve the problem. "Check the TV upstairs and see if it's happening there" she asks. I run up the stairs, try it and it seems to work fine there. She sounds a bit surprised, leading me to believe that I am at the threshold of her technical understanding of the issue. She continues however, thinking that she'd better not tip her hand.

Next she has me try a warm boot, which is what I'd like to do to the phone at this point. A warm boot for those of you who are not technical, is another term for "technical desperation not solved by a cold boot." It is all that a cold boot is not, but less. Hmmmmmm...

Anyhow, needless to say that it did not fix the problem. At this point, I am getting VERY tired of this woman calling me "Mr. Landwehr" and apologizing profusely for my unpleasant ATT experience. I think ATT must practice waterboarding on their technicians, as they all seem very concerned about our level of satisfaction, to the point of annoying distraction. Perhaps it's the threat of the "this message may be recorded for quality control. In any case, it's a disturbing level of concern coming from someone I've never met.

Now it's 30 minutes into the technical call and I'm now at the point where if I don't leave for my meeting I'll be late. I relay this sense of urgency to the tech lady and she rambles on for another minute or two about how she would call me tomorrow at 6:00 and we could continue the troubleshooting (aka, shots in the dark) and that she hoped my meeting would be very successful. For all she knew it was to finalize my divorce or something. Again, a level of concern that was nice, but a bit on the intimate side for a woman from Bangladesh.

Is it any surprise at all that she never called back? No, not really. To further add to the frustration level, I get a follow up e-mail asking me how my call experience was. Thinking this was my sweet chance for redemption, I try the login/password using my att login/password and to my utter surprise, it was not recognized. So I dig up my "Account ID" a 17 number unintelligible set of characters and try that. Still no go. Furthermore, they give you no out at this point. No "forgot password" or "contact us", no nothing.

At this point I figure I'll just reply to the e-mail that was sent. I send a pleading note asking forgiveness for all the bad thoughts I'd had in the past day about ATT and about any future cynical or scathing blogs I might post, and here's the response I get:

".......Automated response to your message.....
You replied to an e-mail survey invitation sent from "'AT&T U-verse Member Care'"
This e-mail address cannot accept incoming messages. If you have comments or questions pertaining to the product or service mentioned in the survey you have completed, please contact that company's customer service department directly. If you are having technical difficulty accessing or completing the survey, please refer to our link to Technical Help below.
http://www.sendyouropinions.com/tech_faq.htm
Thank you for participating in our survey."

Lord have Mercy. Where would we be without all this digital happiness? I cry uncle on this one. I think I'll live with the problem, as it's not near as bad as the troubleshooting process. In fact, I forgot what the problem was. That's why I'm...

Blogging off

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