The ADSL Saga

I suppose that it was partly my fault! I did subscribe to ADSL.

All of my friends (at least those to whom I confess to having subscribed to ADSL) keep on asking me whether it is worth it. I suppose it all depends on whether a high-speed permanent connection with limited download is worth it. My answer usually is yes … provided it is working.

We have just suffered our second outage in three months, each of which lasted more than a week.

Before I chronicle the painful saga I need to explain a couple of things about ADSL. In this country ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) piggybacks on to the standard telephone service (Hence the Subscriber Line part). It uses the same cable from the local exchange (central office for our brothers across the sea), as does the telephone.

It all started about one week ago when our telephone service was cancelled. I presume that it was cancelled by mistake, however no explanation has been forthcoming. I noticed that the Sync. LED on the ADSL modem was flashing. This means that there is a connection fault somewhere. I picked up the phone and I received a disconnected tone. Since I was on my way to work I was not too concerned. That night when I arrived home the sync. LED was still flashing but the phone had been reconnected but with our phone diversions cancelled.

We rang our supplier and they logged the fault and told us to ring back the next evening if it was not fixed. This seems to be standard practice with this supplier – we won’t ring you, you have to ring us. We told them the story of the cancellation but I do not think that this was properly communicated from the help desk to the technicians. All that the technician was told was that the sync. LED was flashing. It took more than a week with at least one phone call a day to get it fixed. Each time we rang we received a different explanation.

On the day it was finally fixed I happened to be home when the technician (the second in two days) called. I explained the situation and he immediately guessed that the line had been disconnected in the exchange. Fifteen minutes later the sync. LED stopped flashing and I received a phone call from the technician with the information that the line had been disconnected in the exchange.

I do not like to complain but there are several interesting features about this incident that seems to illustrate the philosophy of much of today’s corporate environment.

The service is not customer focused. The idea of not ringing the customer to keep him informed. The impression that we received (probably not intentionally) was that we were merely incidental and started to become a nuisance when we complained about not receiving a service that we paid for. In fact we were given the impression that we did not pay for a service, just the luxury of having the service if one happens to be available on that particular day.

The help desk was isolated from the diagnosis and repair section. The information that we gave the help desk was not passed onto the technicians that actually fixed the fault. How common is this? This reminds me of the person who took a video recorder to a repair firm with a complex history of symptoms. They described the fault in detail to the receptionist who had no technical knowledge and they simply wrote “Faulty” on the fault docket. It then took many hours and several returns to the customer to eventually fix what was a simple fault all because the receptionist was not trained to properly document customers’ comments.

There are insufficient procedures to properly diagnose faults. They use the GP’s approach. When you visit your doctor with a complaint he says “try this and if it does not work come back and see me” instead of attempting a proper diagnosis in the first place. The diagnosis of our fault seemed very hit and miss.

The provider has come under intense criticism in the media for the level of service. They have blamed the supplier of some of their equipment. It seems to me that some of the blame lies a little closer to home.

I suppose all things considered I am quite happy with the ADSL despite its problems. My recommendation – If you wand a high speed permanent connection it is quite cost effective but do not expect gold plated service.