Tuesday, May 20, 2008

That's the Way the Cookies Crumble

For literally months now, my internet connection has ranged from sketchy to non-existent and, at times, the frustration has worn my patience uncomfortably thin. I've spent quite a bit of time on the phone with my internet service provider. In the process, I have become intimately acquainted with the hierarchy of personnel dedicated to "handling" customers in need of technical support.

The first tier consists of individuals armed with a scripted manual from which they are forbidden to stray. The manual tells them exactly what to say and exactly how many technical hoops the customer must jump through before they may be passed along to a tier-two guy.

Tier-two guys are the real techno-wizards. Seriously, they are. Through a series of "ping tests" (think, The Hunt for Red October, but digital) they can determine whether the problem being experienced is the fault of your computer or their equipment. These guys know things that tier-one guys have only seen in movies. They know exactly how many "packets" of information are being lost between your computer, their satellite dish, and the actual satellite orbiting the planet. They even know when and from what location that satellite was launched and about how long it will accommodate the customer load that is increasingly being oversold. Yes, I said oversold. Anyway, these are smart guys and I'm thankful they're on my side.

The only problem with the tier-two guys is that they are usually parked in an office about 800 miles away and are not really able to do very much about the problems they diagnose, but they can talk about it and sympathize with your plight. While that may not sound like much, sometimes it's just comforting enough to keep you from disconnecting your service altogether. Hmm.

Then there are the tier-three guys (see photo). Tier-three guys know everything that the tier-two guys know, but they actually have guns, will travel. Well, not guns, but techno-wizardry stuff. And, as you see in the photo, they do it all under rather challenging circumstances. These guys travel from village to village, sleeping bags in tow, not knowing when or where they will lay their heads for weeks at a time. I appreciate that. Really...I do.

All those boxes in the photo look impressive, don't they? I was certainly impressed. In fact, I was thrilled! I thought surely my internet woes were coming to an end. Surely, with of all those boxes, a techno-wizard would be able to work some digital magic and...POOF!...my connection would be decent again. Visions of checking email without hitting "refresh" six or seven times swirled through my mind. I was practically giddy with anticipation.

What wasn't initially apparent was that those boxes had nothing to do with residential internet connections. And, although the tier-three guys were aware of the problems occurring with residential service throughout the village, they didn't have a work order to address those problems at this time. No work order, no work. No exceptions.

So it turns out the problem with tier-three guys is that they have to have permission to do stuff. Just knowing what needs to be done and how to do it and being in the actual location where it should be done isn't enough. Someone has to say, "Do it" like a director on a movie set. The props are all in place. The actors all know their lines and cues, but no one makes a move until the director says, "action." I guess that would take a tier-four guy. I haven't had the pleasure of speaking with one of those and it's not very likely that I ever will.

I have no doubt that the tier-four guy stays very busy...busy not writing work orders...maybe even busy enjoying a reliable internet connection...like the one his customers pay for every month, but still don't have.


Steve said...

Very well done!!

High frustration under control.

Kimberlee said...

Thanks, Steve. I think you are very kind to respond to my ranting in such a positive way! Nothing can push my buttons like modern inconveniences. :)

lesle said...

Sounds like it's about time to start naming names!

kimberlee said...

LOL! You might be right, Lesle! The reality of the situation is, being in a remote bush village, we don't have much leverage and they know it. Unlike the larger cities in Alaska, where people can just switch to another company if they don't like the service they are getting, in the bush you have to sort of take what you can get. We have ONE choice for telephone service and two choices for internet service. This is the service that I SWITCHED to. Great decision. So, now I'm thinking about switching back to my original provider, but paying $50/mo for dial-up just isn't very enticing.