Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Arg, ugh, umm.....

Support calls...
Here is one of mine, with “advanced support” and my ISP…

support: this is Todd, I understand you are having a problem...

me: describe the situation, express my JOY at being out of warranty (given that they keep saying "oh, what, it is working again”, great - talk to you later, no follow up root cause analysis) - so no overnight delivery of new hardware (I’m sure the Christmas holiday won’t delay my two day delivery – oh wait, that would actually be over the weekend – not). Explain how support has described to me how routers normally generate 25MB of traffic every day - they see it all of the time... (umm, no, they do not – but the support guy says “you have to believe me sir, I see it all of the time). Express my sincere happiness with the competency of support overall. I learned a lot of new things from them recently about networking I never knew before.

Then I do say "but it appears to be working right now"

support: no it is not.

me: umm, sure it is.

support: no sir, you are not on the network.

me: umm - I can ping google, sure seems like I'm connected.

support: yeah, but are you on the 'internet'. According to us, you are not on the network, therefore you are not on the ‘internet’ (great reverence for this word “internet”, like it is “special”)

me: well, I'm pinging google, google is on the internet, so sure - I'm on the internet (getting sort of incredulous sounding by now)

support: yeah, but does your browser work (reminds me of the last support call - the guy wouldn't believe I was on the network until I confirmed that my EMAIL PROGRAM functioned - for him, the internet and networking is "email", never mind I needed to have a VPN tunnel set up to work already in order to access email…)

me: (biting my tongue really really REALLY hard at this point) - well, not that it makes a difference (I mean, how could I ping google otherwise???) but yes, I can browse the web too

support: oh, that is strange - you are not on the network... I don’t see how this could be.

Right now, I am less than pleased with my new ISP. We won’t even get into a “quota” discussion right now.

Posted via a reliable EVDO card. It is all about redundancy isn’t it. I have ISP (well, not really, down more than up), EVDO card, Treo with GPRS/edge (workable over the hot sync cable) and – yes, dialup as a last resort. Guess I can always go to Starbucks as well and get a coffee and broadband (T-Mobile, full access to all of their hotspots – dig it).


Blogger Marcio said....

what kind of evdo do you have?

Wed Dec 21, 08:44:00 PM EST  

Blogger Scott said....

I had to explain how "ping" works today. Not the technical details behind the scenes, but the mere fact that if you ping an IP Address, and there's nothing there at that IP Address because that person went home and happened to take their laptop with them, you will in fact, get a "Request Timed Out" message.

- Scott -

Wed Dec 21, 09:04:00 PM EST  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

Well, whilst you're ranting, lets take a look at a "service call" I logged with a certain support service recently:

array fetching with dbms_sql does not work with varchar2 columns greater than 2000 bytes.

To me, well its pretty obvious that the "dbms_sql.varchar2_table" type (which is set to max length of 2000) slipped through the gaps when the max column length went from 2000 to 4000 back in the v8 timeframe.

Support Response:
"This is not a bug, because it has never worked".


So I try a different tack with them - maybe we could "enhance" dbms_sql so that it handled the varchar2 datatype properly ?

Support Response:
"Nope, this is the way DBMS_SQL is supposed to work. We suggest you use OCI"

OCI ? Spare me please.

What's wrong with a little bit of honesty? The problem isn't a major one and can be worked around, but support would have earned a lot more kudos with me if they had simply replied with:

"Oops, looks like someone forgot to update the dbms_sql.varchar2_table when the db went from 2000 to 4000"

but no, OSS have a single-minded philosophy of: continuous denial means less work

There used to be some really good people in support - people that actually had the client interest's at heart, and had a genuine passion for problem identification and problem solving...those days are long gone.

Wed Dec 21, 10:27:00 PM EST  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

Oooh, can I join in?

"We can't look at the problem of DBMS_MVIEW.EXPLAIN_MVIEW erroneously reporting that your MV has a subquery factoring clause, because fast refresh against an MV master table with no primary key is not a supported configuration"

"Erm ... then why are there so many examples in the Data Warehousing Guide based on them?"

"Just because it's in the documentation doesn't mean it's supported".

Back on topic ... I have a dial-up account to supplement my cable ISP. Haven't used it in over a year, but I know that as soon as I cancel it my main ISP will go down for a day.

fnqvdmww? what did I do to desrve that word?

Wed Dec 21, 10:39:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I've had a problem after applying a patch (fixing a bug) with Oracle Certificate Authority lately on an IBM AIX machine. After 2 days of waiting the support engineer came back with following solutions :
- please reinstall the complete infrastructure
- please run OCA on Sun Solaris ->>>> DUH ! I know Oracle is pushing Sun - but hey - this is over the top ;-)

Thu Dec 22, 06:14:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

what kind of evdo do you have?

the verizon kind...

Well, whilst you're ranting, lets take a look at a "service call"

That made its way onto asktom... I got them to change their minds. I hear you.

Thu Dec 22, 08:22:00 AM EST  

Blogger Jeff Hunter said....

"Just because it's in the documentation doesn't mean it's supported".
aka a documentation bug. How dare they put features in the documentation when they don't work.

fnqvdmww? what did I do to desrve that word?
Oh where do I start...

Thu Dec 22, 09:40:00 AM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

I find it appalling that many "technical support" staffs are comprised of technologically illiterate folks who do nothing but follow a script. Companies need to realize that that is NOT technical (by any stretch of the imagination) and it sure isn't support. This seems particularly true for ISPs. One of the MANY reasons I dropped my first ISP, and cling to my current one (even though they are a tad slow on connectivity - yes, I am STILL on dial-up and need to be dragged into the 21st century of connectivity).

Thu Dec 22, 09:41:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

> please reinstall the complete
> infrastructure

That is pretty much the standard response for 9i Application Server TARs. Along with "upgrade to 10g" - which we first heard 3 months after we signed the contract for 9iAS and received the disks. I finally told them that if we had wanted a Microsoft product we would have bought one...


Thu Dec 22, 09:45:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Alex Canadian said....

I totally agree that technical support has gone downhill in many companies.
I used to be fond of Oracle support but nowadays it is not the same anymore.
I hit a bug and the support analyst was in total denial. He did not want to tell me it was a bug and he was questioning me why I was using that feature!
Same with my ISP. I rather not call them. I normally send an e-mail and then I request my money back for the time my isp connection was down.

Thu Dec 22, 10:46:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Then again, what would motivate someone with deeper technical skills working in phone support for ISP for example? :)

Thu Dec 22, 10:54:00 AM EST  

Blogger Katman-Do said....

My ISP is just the opposite of the industry trends. I'm glad when then they send out detailed messages explaining unexpected downtimes and taking accountability.

I like to think of them as the Costco of the ISP because they keep their staff and take care of them. They pay living wages so that the turnover is less.

They were the first ISP in my area and I remember getting UUCP and NNTP feeds over SLIP. I'm happy to continue to pay them for their services.

Thu Dec 22, 11:21:00 AM EST  

Blogger Katman-Do said....

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thu Dec 22, 11:21:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Gary S said....

That sounded frustrating.

On the topic of scripts -- used correctly, they can be very useful. ("Correctly" here assumes that the support analyst does know their elbow from shinola.) The helpdesk at my company uses them and have been able to work through some tough problems (in my estimation) very quickly.

(My verification word was zaplcql ... as in "zap all sql?")

Thu Dec 22, 12:30:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I had an experience with DSL. I had installed DSL for the first time. Till then I had cable modem working perfectly. Installation was quick and easy. Then I noticed that I was unable to access my hotmail account from Outlook. When it went on for three days, I reverted back to cable modem and everything worked fine. The moment I switched to DSL, the hotmail stopped working. So I called DSL technical support. The person checked whatever they check and told me "not our problem". I tried to explain to him but he kept repeating "not our problem". I finally asked him to connect me to a superviser. He said "why do you want to talk to a superviser? I told you it is not our problem". Frustrated, I serached on Google and found that it was configuration issue in DSL router. When I changed the configuration as suggested in the forum, the hotmail started working fine. So much for "not our problem". Same experience with Oracle support. Some times I get a really good support analyst, other times, it is really frustrating. Good technical support is diminishing. Most companies try to sell some kind of premium support so users will have to pay extra for support or extended warranties.

Thu Dec 22, 01:24:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Markku Uttula said....

I personally decided to pay some extra for my ADSL-account, since the ISP that provides it actually has better than average customer support; they know what they're doing and they give the client as much (or as little) information as s/he wants. They also host a number of websites I have as well as provide me with a SMTP-server that supports authentication (so I can use it even when I'm "on the road").

I could've chosen to pay my ISP about 50% of what I'm paying today, but I've tried that approach. When you're poor, you don't have the luxury of buying bad quality at low prices.

On the matter of support personnel using scripts; if they know what they're doing, and know what they can skip in case the script goes wrong big time, scripts can be very handy. After all; they're often built based on knowledge base of thousands of actual service requests (and unless they are, they're very rarely of any use anyway).

Thu Dec 22, 01:25:00 PM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

Gary S said....

That sounded frustrating.

On the topic of scripts -- used correctly, they can be very useful. ("Correctly" here assumes that the support analyst does know their elbow from shinola.)

Just to be clear, I did say "technically illiterate" folks. I don't have a problem with following a script, if the person doing so understands what they are doing and can recognize WHEN THE SCRIPT NO LONGER APPLIES. That's important. I HATE it when I get some doofus who says "Check your modem configuration" on a dial-up conn, when the thing's been working fine for months and I can dial-up another site no problem. They need to learn how to listen and apply what you just said to the darn script.

word verification: bjole
How appropriate! Be Jolly all!

Thu Dec 22, 01:29:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Andrew said....

My rules for dealing with Oracle Tech Support.
1) NEVER open a ticket at less than Sev 2 -- in order to get sufficient turnaround on questions/answers.
2) Always submit alert log (or extract), trace files and RDA report. They are always the first thing support asks for, and you would be amazed at the frequency I respond, 'I already submitted them, please read the whole ticket.
3) When Sev 1 support is the order of the day, consider if it is possible to run the ticket as escalated sev 2. A severity level that is not published -- it is worked as a Sev 1 during normal business hours but is not 'handed off' to the next site. I gues you could say 'aviod sev 1 whenever possible' because the 'overnight' support folks seem to just give busy work -- like asking already answered questions, until they can get you off thier queue and onto the next site.
4) Immediately request the Duty Manager whenever I believe the support I am receiving is not sufficient or correct. Tell the DM you do not believe your support tech knows the subject area well enough and to assign a more experienced tect. Post in the SR 'Please have the DM contact me at [telephone number]'. Then, after 30 minutes, telephone the support number, work your way through the VRU until you can talk to a real person and ask him to do the same thing because you have not heard back yet.
5) Always close the ticket when the problem is solved and thank the support tech.

Similar techniques work with other organizations too, but I have not had quite so much experience with them.

Sat Dec 24, 12:31:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Holger Schweichler said....

Well, this is the major reason why I stick to t-online (Germany) ever since i got broadband - their excellent support. IF something's wrong (which has been less than once a year so far), I can even call them at 3 AM and never get a support experience like you just did...

Holger ;-)

Sun Dec 25, 08:18:00 AM EST  


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