SBC Yahoo DSL Support
17 January 2004 - Her Veo web camera has never been a good play toy because her DSL provider, SBC-Yahoo. Unlike my Comcast Cable ISP, which has been a stable WAN IP for months now, her service changes the public IP address every few hours. We had considered using DynDNS to give us easy access to the house, but that requires an always-on PC to run the DynDNS client. Poking around on the web I found that some routers have built in the DDNS client. Perhaps a firmware upgrade would get us to nirvana. Not so.
I did find new firmware at the LinkSys site. Upgrading took just a few seconds. They really do a good job at that. Unfortunately, the upgrade wiped out our PPPoE settings. She looked and looked and looked, but in the piles that are her filing system they were no where to be found.
When we first installed SBC Yahoo we got excellent phone support. I foolishly expected the same this time. Ooops, I think customer support has now been moved offshore.
My first clue came as soon as we started the call...
"I've just upgraded the firmware in my router and it lost the configuration for SBC Yahoo DSL. I'd like you to help me get it back up."
"First, Sir, let me apologize to you for the difficulty you are having in using our DSL service. It is our intention to provide you with the best service possible."
Well, that just isn't the American custom. It would have been fine to apologize if they had made the mistake, but since I had just admitted that the problem was my doing, I did not expect him to apologize. I wondered if I was speaking to India? Maybe.
"Sir, let me assure you that I am competent to handle all manner of PC problems, but I am not a router expert."
I figured this must be a new guy and I would work with him.
"Well, I understand the router very well. I am missing a few pieces of information that are the same things you would tell people to configure the PPPoE client on their PC. I think that if we work together you will be able to quickly help me get my connection working again."
"I am not a router expert, Sir. Hold on one moment please."
The long and the short of it - we went around and around. I explicitly asked for the PPPoE domain name, host name, logon, etc. He kept saying he would try to help, but he didn't know about routers. I tried not to be exasperated, but good Lord, could he just give me the answers to a few questions that didn't involve routers at all? Apparently not. Eventually he said,
"I understand that you are having trouble configuring your router to work with our service. I am sorry Sir. I have another phone number that you may call to help you."
Ok, I'm willing to call another place. He gave me an 800 number and closed the call with,
"Now that I have correctly understood your request, I have satisfied your need by referring you to the correct department that will be able to handle your request. Do you agree?"
At this point I'm sure I'm working with India. This kind of bureaucratic close and the tone of his voice made me feel that I was dealing with an overly officious government agency.
I hung up and called the 800 number. It was the LinkSys customer support line. HE HAD REFERRED ME TO LINKSYS! Oh man, LinkSys doesn't know what to do about SBC Yahoo service. I was sad, let down, and a touch angry.
I was immediately back on the SBC Yahoo DSL customer support 800 number. This time the person answering the phone had a Texas accent. I explained my problem in about the same way as before. This guy said,
"The host name doesn't matter. The domain is sbcglobal.com. The user name you're using sounds wrong to me..."
In 60 seconds - no exaggeration, it was really that fast, - he had me up and running. I clicked the connect button in the router and it failed to connect once. I tried another of the standard passwords she uses and bingo, it was full on DSL again.
"My last case, was that handled in India?"
"Ha, ha, ha. Now why would you say that Sir?"
I explained my past few frustrating minutes on the phone. He apologized and said he would provide feedback. He never actually said it was offshore. I got the complaint email address from him, thanked him for the time, and hung up.
Boy, I am pissed at SBC Yahoo DSL service. I understand the cost cutting that has pushed customer support offshore. I know that my desire for low cost services are part of the driving force of this. However, I will not accept bad support as part of the tradeoff.
So I sent this message off to SBC Yahoo:
Date: 01/10/2004, 6:41 pm
Rating: Not at all
Comments: I lost the configuration information for my YahooDSL PPPoE account. I called the telephone support line (case 39093624) and got terrible support. The technician refused to help me with this because I was "configuring a Linksys router." He closed the call by providing me the Linksys phone number. I know *how* to config the router, I did not have the information to do so. He was very bureaucratic and un-creative. When the 800 number turned out to be LinkSys support I went nuts. I called back the 1-877 number and subsequently got case (39094038) who understood what I needed and solved my problem in about 60 seconds. You should fire the first support representative and give his salary to the second one. The second rep was 4 times as efficient as the first one.
If customer support is going over seas, it had better maintain the same high quality of service. If not, I'll take my business to another service that provides good customer support, even if it costs more. In my life I have sworn off many a restaurant, personal service provider, manufacturing company, and other businesses that have failed to deliver on Total Customer Satisfaction. Every dollar I spend is a vote to keep some company in business and I'll be damned if my votes (and I do have many, many votes) will go to support mediocrity. (Unless the product is soooo cheap, it is almost free. This SBC Yahoo DSL is $50 a month. It is certainly not free.)
The email support people are on their toes. The next day I received this response:
Dear Jim Schrempp,
Thank you for contacting SBC Internet Services.
We thank you for your valued feedback and welcome your suggestions about our products and services. However Please [sic] be informed that we have received similar feedbacks [sic] recently from other members as well. We have forwarded these feedbacks [sic] to our analyzing Team [sic?], so that they could [sic] look into this matter. We value your membership and are committed to bringing you an Internet experience that is much more in-depth, personalized and organized. [ed: hmmm?]
Your feedback and suggestions are important to us. Feel free to drop us a line and let us know your suggestions so that we may create an even better user experience for you. [ed: a bit awkward]
Please refer to the case number 39094833, in any future contact related to this correspondence.
If you have further inquiries, please dont [sic] hesitate to review our online support pages at http://www.sbcis.com. Here you may find answers to many of the most common questions asked by our members. You may also contact our Live Chat Support at http://help.sbcglobal.net/ by clicking at "Online Chat" under the "Contact us" section between 9 AM and 1 AM Eastern Standard Time.
Your contact with our office is appreciated.
Thank you for informing us of your concerns.
xxxx xxxxxx [ed: removed]
SBC Internet Services Customer Care
Now, given the number of grammatical errors and awkward phrasings in this email I have to ask: was this email answered from India too? Wouldn't it be interesting if the same company that got the outsourcing contract for the customer support phone line also got the contract for the email feedbacks ;-) service?
I ask you, the SBC Yahoo DSL senior managements, if your
Indian subcontractor handles all the emails complaints and also the customer
services phones line, then how will you ever know if your services sucks?
Answer: you won't.
Woe is American business.
January 2005 -
Hi Jim, just read your rant on line. Whew. I got exactly the same spiel Wednesday. My problem was I got a message on my ibook that said: searching for PPPoe server. And, we had no Internet service. Finally, about midnight I reached someone, in India, of course, who spoke ok English. She pinged our line and found surprise! No response. She said she would send a report "to repair'' and gave me a long, long case number. She also said they would contact me before 9 a.m. Thursday. Of course, no one called. I tried to reach a live person, but kept being bounced back to India.
So finally, I took the option they offer for Spanish speakers. Wound up talking to a guy in Mexico City who helped me. Turned out the [rep] in India had simply sent in a blank work request, not stating the problem.
The guy in Mexico City did his job; sent in the right info and before noon, it was fixed. What I'm looking for is a real number for the SBC Global DSL tech people here in Northern California. They must have one. Gotta have it. Cannot deal with this situation any longer. So, post this if you wish. [snip] Keep up the good work.
--- William B., Oakland, CA
Wow, very interesting idea. Next time I'm having trouble with an online support line I'll try asking for Spanish language support.
Feb 2005 -
I received the following email...
This is a Technical Support Executive from India. Just went across postings on your website, I understand that you are very upset with the Indian Tech who handled the call and also very pleased with the Tech from Texas.
Buddy, Let me tell you that from One such experience you cannot use degrading language for the complete Outsourced Support Industry. If the experience was as bad as you feel then the Projects would not have stayed out of your country for such a long time.
People here work in odd hours, I am not giving you reason why the Support is so bad, rather just trying to explain to you that you should consider things at times. Nobody can provide you 100% satisfactory Support. There are many Support Engineers who solve the call in few minutes and your fellow countrymen praise them for their work, also send good feedbacks.
But if by Customer Support Industry you mean that the Support Exective will Suck Your Penis, "Forget That", we will rather kick your Penis in such a way that Your Penis will hang on "Statue of Liberty" and balls will replace your National Bird Eagle's Eyes.
Bye for now.
I guess I can let this correspondent speak for him/her self.
March 2009 -
I received the following email...
Funny thing, I googled and found your January 2004 post on trying to get help with host and domain name from ATT for a router. The exact thing just happened to me (no help, just the Linksys 800 number) Really unbelievable, HUH? 5 years later. Your feedback was VERY important to them.:-)
I guess support is still lacking. Thanks for the note!
Jim Schrempp is a sometimes freelance writer (only Vanity Press will publish his work) living in Saratoga, California. His writings have appeared on numerous pages on his own web site. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else (although Jim wishes more people shared his opinions)