back to article Reg reader casts call centre spell with a SECRET WORD

Is there anything worse than a contact centre operative who just will not help you, even if you've told them there are metaphorical flames licking around your feet, and no matter what their script says they really need to help you out? NOW!? Reader Alan hit just such an operative when, back in the day, he tended a 4.5Mbps …

  1. Christoph Silver badge

    And if that doesn't work, try 'shibboleet'

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      I wonder how many reg readers there are that saw that word and were reminded of something else very similar. You will know exactly what I mean if you do ;-)

      1. himoverthere

        I did read it a couple of times as I thought it was something else

  2. Martin-73 Silver badge

    With Slime Warner, this does not work

    They simply hang up on you. They're instructed to do so.

    I would call them bastards, but they don't deserve that honour

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: With Slime Warner, this does not work

      So you have recorded/videoed this actually happening and then posted it on Facebook etc so that all the world can see this for themselves?

      Have you sent it you your lawyers so that they can be let loose on Sprint?

      If not why not?

      Customer (Dis)Service like this should not be happening on 2015. Companies that behave like this deserver (IMOH) to be named, shamed and if needs be sued into oblivion.

      Yes I have worked on a support desk. One of the reasons I quit was for just this sort of thing. We were told to hang up on certain customers when we had a Sev 1 call from 'more important' customers in progress.

      1. JimC Silver badge

        > Customer (Dis)Service like this should not be happening on 2015.

        You jest, of course. Don't you? With offshored services, script driven call centres, staff who are literally scared for their jobs if they deviate from the exact letter of the rules (Carphone Warehouse employees, does this sound familiar), escalated renewal prices as a matter of policy in my experience actual customer service is at something like an all time low. Certainly the worst its been for about 25 years.

        Talking about customer service but not actually giving any, yeah sure, that's a priority...

    2. tony2heads

      Re: With Slime Warner, this does not work

      Another candidate for a douchebag icon

  3. stuartnz


    An oldie but a goodie,

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Shibboleet

      ... as posted by Christoph 2 hours before you, though it would have been easy to miss, what with all of 2 other comments to search through!

      Though, I suppose you'll now tell me that the original post was stuck in pre-moderation, making me out to be a right tit!

      1. stuartnz

        Re: Shibboleet

        Yes, my original comment was stuck in moderation. Made just minutes after the article went live, it would've been the first had it not received the special treatment. A comment I made in reply to Cristoph about that did not survive moderation, sadly, and will be honoured in a private service later today. :)

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Shibboleet

          Well there you go then....

          I'm now officially a right-tit!

          1. 080

            Re: Shibboleet

            "Well there you go then....

            I'm now officially a right-tit!"

            Well, you should have left-tit be. What a pair you make.

  4. streaky Silver badge

    Lawyer magic word...

    Doesn't work.

    Most companies, especially ones with tight procedures like large call centres usually have rules about what to do when somebody uses a word like "sue", "lawyer" or "court" and that's to terminate all contact and pass the case onto the legal department. If you're in an emergency and need to get things moving this is absolutely not the play. Words like that should only be used if the situation has broken down so that the only option left is to actually do it - if you're planning on using your lawyer to read through contracts or actually sure you need to either use better to use more neutral language to state that (we're going to need to pass this onto the board and/or legal department to consider our options if this isn't fixed asap or something similar) and/or just if you think you're going to court surprise them with it rather than declaring intent like many people do.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Lawyer magic word...

      Automatic termination of contract because someone said lawyer? I don't think so. They probably hear it a thousand times a day and further termination of the service in that instance would just get them into MORE trouble if they're already failing to deliver on their contract.

      It's a matter of using it carefully, not just empty-threatening.

      As someone who took the offered £50 compensation from a car insurance firm, and used it to initiate the small-claims court action for much more than that that I'd been threatening them with, I can tell you that crying "Lawyer" doesn't get any more action than usual, in fact. What gets action is that little document with your name and a court letterhead dropping on their Head Office's doormat. Until then, it's just a customer and empty-posturing, unless you have an incredibly large account with them.

      But if you truly want a response (not really something you can do in a massive hurry), just send a recorded delivery or couriered letter that they have to sign for. That kind of shit has implications of "Shit, this guy's serious and our response to this will be read out in a court". Not hugely useful in the cases like this, but the only alternative is to set the lawyers on them personally but even a lawyer will tell you - phoning up to threaten the company, even their legal department, won't do shit unless they are co-operative by default (in which case you won't get that far anyway), or the paperwork lands on their desk.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Lawyer magic word...

        "Automatic termination of contract because someone said lawyer? I don't think so."

        He wrote contact - presumably meaning the phone call!

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Lawyer magic word...

        "Automatic termination of contract because someone said lawyer? I don't think so. "

        He's saying that when a call center schmuck hears threats of lawsuits or lawyers, they're probably instructed to say, "Let me transfer you to the legal department, then," and patch them through. The only thing worse than a threat to sue is to get the threat called by a whole damn legal team.

      3. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Lawyer magic word...

        When somebody implies there's some sort of legal action in the offing there's nowhere for the discussion to go. It's not a case of striking first or cancelling contracts but if you're sane you're not going to talk to people when they're talking about that.

        Like I said, either look for a better solution or just do it.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Lawyer magic word...

          I suspect the actual situation is something like this:

          It's not economically feasible to staff front line support with people skilled and/or empowered to deal with everything so for a lot of stuff they depend on escalation.

          Weekend escalation teams are on weekend rates which makes them more expensive so that there are few of them. Consequently the first line are under orders to escalate to the weekday team if possible, otherwise more weekend teams have to be added at greater cost. Note that turning it over to the legal team counts as escalation and having legals on weekend rates is going to be very, very, vvvveeerrrryyyy expensive indeed.

          At the point where the customer threatens to go legal the front line does a quick triage to find out what the possible costs are. If it's a domestic line or a small business, say a restaurant taking phone bookings it's probably well enough to say "see you in court". In this case the customer falls into a category potentially putting the company on the hook for loss of customer's business during the outage, compensation to the customer's customers and loss of reputation. Maybe also there's an SLA being breached. Maybe even the loss of the phone company's billable traffic is high enough. Whatever, it now becomes clear that it's cheaper to turn it over to the weekend escalation team than to fight it.

          It's just money - whichever's the cheapest response.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lawyer magic word...

      "pass the case onto the legal department"

      The story bypassed that one. Note that he said he was going to call the owner & the owner would contact the lawyer. Neither the call centre nor their legal department was going to get to speak with the owner.

      I rather suspect that the agent guessed that if this went legal there'd be enough ordure around for some of it to spill back on her.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lawyer magic word...

        The agent could still have transferred it to the legal department so that they could "strike first". At the very least, they could leave a direct-contact number for when the owner's lawyer comes calling. I don't know of a lot of things that could defuse a lawsuit threat better than some form of the phrase, "See you in court." (Meaning they're not afraid of lawsuits)

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Lawyer magic word...

          Stop giving them ideas.....

  5. Lee D Silver badge

    I have actually seen the bursar of a very exclusive private school on the phone to an ISP using the words:

    "Look, what do I have to pay to get it put back on? No, seriously. I don't care what the problem is, I just need it back on. How much?"

    Unfortunately, the ISP in question were far too thick to understand the question. It turns out that they'd installed two ADSL2 lines for the school years back. And then one day they just cut us off. When we phoned up to enquire (thinking it was just an outage), we were told "You're using more than your data allowance." When it was pointed out that we were a school, they said "Yes, sir, but you're using more data than an ordinary residential household, so we've had to cut you off."

    After a long argument back and forth about the definition of business vs residential, that we were paying for business-class service, that we've been paying for business-class service for years, that we've ALWAYS been a school - even when their engineers took our credit card number, came and installed the routers, etc. we were a school then and we're a school now - and, OF COURSE, with several hundred kids we will be using more than an average grandma on residential broadband, they just said "Yes, but we don't do any package with higher allowance, even for business."

    Obviously the worst kind of cheap-shit reseller that was buying BT lines at residential limits and selling them on as business lines to people. That was when I got bored of them and handed them to the bursar, who then proceeded to argue for forty minutes including the above phrase several times. They didn't understand at all. They insisted that they weren't CAPABLE of upgrading the line and that was their best "business" package (for reference, we'd done a few hundred gigs in a month, which isn't at all bad for a school). No amount of money could get us off the data limit block, back up and working, with them.

    So we immediately cancelled all lines. The bursar never paid another penny on the contract (schools like that have very expensive lawyers who are perfectly aware of the phrase "breach of contract", so he ended up getting a lot more back too). We spent two weeks on 3G sticks that we bought from the local shops, plugged into our normal Linux router (which we had to tweak to up the caching, downgrade image quality, etc. to reduce bandwidth as much as possible), and nobody really noticed any difference apart from the morning of shouting down the phone.

    Two weeks later, a BT engineer called, switched the lines from that ISP back to BT and we had business-level broadband back up again. Six months later, after much digging of roads and planning permission, we had a Virgin leased line because I'll be damned if we were going to stay on dual-ADSL2 after that, especially with BT.

    When your customer is saying "How much to put it back on?", get a figure. Because, damn, who'd really be THAT stupid as to say "We can't do that". Hell, put in a business line JUST FOR THEM but don't tell them.

    In the end, however, T-Mobile and the local Argos profited from the sale of an awful lot of 3G sticks and SIMs with limited data that we swapped every 24 hours...

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    A very non-IT example

    Many, many years ago I remember needing to pay the deposit on the flat I wanted to buy on the day contracts were to be exchanged. My solicitor told me to pay 10% of the purchase price from my Building Society account (which I'd never ever taken money out of before - I had already checked that I could withdraw the amount needed and I was told emphatically "no problem").

    So I went into the Building Society and said "I'd like a building society cheque for £2400 (this was a long time ago) made payable to x". The teller thumbed through the ancient passbook I gave her and she said "I'm sorry sir, but I can't, the signatures don't match."


    I've got to exchange contracts today!

    She repeated the mantra. "I'm sorry sir, but I can't, the signatures don't match."

    Show me. She showed me the signature.

    "Well I'm not surprised the signatures don't match, that's my father's signature. If you look at the first deposit that was made (in guineas) you will see that I would have been 8 year's old at the time."

    Funnily enough, that did the trick and after a quick consultation with the manager the teller did the cheque.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dog eating dog

    It always seems strange to me when someone who is an IT worker, even at a high level, gets that kind of s**t from some (low level usually ) other person also in the IT world.

    But it seems to happen a lot.

    I've listened to my network guy on the phone to the network person at our copier provider and being given a whole pile of the brown stuff. Despite the fact that our guy had a masters degree and could really talk the talk he still was getting told stuff that was obvious nonsense even to lowly me.

    You know that there is a solution.

    They know there is a solution.

    They know that you know there is a solution.

    You know that they know...... etc.

    I've tried to think of any other industry where this might happen.

    1. Mark York 3 Silver badge

      Re: Dog eating dog

      My colleague who sits adjacent to me now does all the plant equipment IT & I do the standard stuff here & at other sites. Had a recent phone chat with our "Highly Paid" contract representative about the fact it took upwards of 90 minutes, + photos & event & supplies logs, coupled with answering the most pointless of "troubleshooting" questions before we even got a tech on site, who would then have to order up all the parts requested at the outset as the fault fad already been diagnosed.

      He was stunned to listen in to a conference call to demonstrate the 40 - 60 seconds it took to log a typical call with we "CAN bOok you in Now" call desk.

      I have now a set piece of speil to at least cut it down to 45 mins from our contract wording....

      We have the right of first refusal, the equipment is in a production area which cannot be taken out of service unless pre-booked in advance, there is a expectation of the troubleshooting procedures to be taken in advance & I have the event, supplies & configuration logs along with any photo's ready to be emailed up to the tech support representative.

      Even so the tech still turned up with only half the parts on Friday, returning on Monday & even phoned in a second repair for the other printer ticket I had while on-site.

      My colleague has another less subtle approach once he is sufficiently riled & that doesn't take long.

      "Do you know what we do here, the normal printer guy you send out is of the same ethnic grouping as you (from your accent), send him with the parts I want fitted so the printer is up & running after his first visit & he gets out asap, unless you & he want the pleasure (& presumably later experiencing the wrath) of multiple visits walking through a floor with various body bits of your gods as they are being slaughtered & turned into something tasty."

      There's usually a pause & a quick call to action.....

      The icon is chosen purely for it's tag on selection....

  8. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Ee are the same...

    I remember being sent a new router of their's so I thought I'd give it try since the WiFi in our flat was crap.

    Cue the damn thing overheating and cutting out (alot) plus being slower than our 8 year old wanadoo box (3rd party routers didn't come with the voip 2nd line with free calls abroad).

    I finally hung the phone up on the tech support after he asked if I'd installed any new anti virus on my computer... To which I pointed out I've get three on different os's plus a couple of phones but he still insisted that an anti virus package was to blame...and this was after explaining every bloody thing I'd tried gone over and discounted.

    Oddly the vdsl router we've got know had been pretty rock solid plus some nice advanced features for a supplied box. Shame the dynamic dns bit doesn't work but I've got a script on my server to sort that out instead.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Ee are the same...

      That's one of the most maddening things about these sagas.

      When you can describe the specific error, the circumstances it occurs, the steps you've taken to isolate it to a specific programme/item/circumstance, the number of times you've switched it on and off again, turned off the AV etc. They'll still make you go through the same non-related steps that they would go through if you haven't told them anything before they will either come up with a solution or, more usefully, escalate it to someone who knows what they are doing.

      A special mention here for Virgin Media who have a long tradition of not telling their front line guys ( or putting information on their web site) about what is going on in their network. So that they will take you through the whole cycle of resetting and testing and what have you when it eventually transpires that the entire locality has no broadband/TV/Phone.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Ee are the same...

        Same with Charter here in the States... after you wait on hold, you talk to "Boob" in the overseas call center. Even if you tell him the tracert info, they want you to reboot everything... then you bring up tracert again pointing out that their server isn't responding. They then tell you that your TV is working fine.. WTF? Finally, if you scream a bit, you'll get transferred to the "supervisor" who wants the whole thing gone through again. At that point, I usually demand a real tech and not another "Boob" or "Sylvia"...and get one. A few minutes later, either it's fixed or they have escalated the ticket.

        It would be nice if their script included some tech words to indicate the that caller knows what the hell they're calling about and got escalated to someone who can actually do something beside read the script in bad English.

        1. Curtis

          Re: Ee are the same...

          I'll be happy to accommodate you if you prefer that I read that script in Bad Jersey, Bad Philly, or Bad Valley Girl.

          Of course, if you know the magic phrase I'll stop pretending to be "Peggy" (yes, I even do the accent) and fix or escalate your issue.

          That magic phrase is "Multiple boxes, multiple OSes, I've already hard reset and reconfigured the modem" and be able to convince me of that (as opposed to just saying to to try to bypass valid troubleshooting)

          In defense of the ISP, you would not believe how many "network admins" i have calling me who don't know what TCP/IP, IPv4, or DNS Resolution are

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Ee are the same...

            Anyone here had the experience of tech support accepting that you've done all the steps, then got flustered and started back at the start of the script again?

            It's happened to me.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ee are the same...

              Had a fault on the BT line with an intermittent dial tone. Another symptom of the problem was if you managed to dial 1471 you heard two simultaneous messages giving different "last caller was..." information.

              Disconnected the extensions' feed and used a dumb phone in the master socket to be sure it was between me and the exchange. The Help Desk made me bring every single phone in the house to the master socket before she would book an engineer's visit. The logic that they were all disconnected did not cut any ice.

              Next morning there was the sound of drilling. A neighbour's water pipe was leaking and had filled the BT junction box with water. My cable was corroded so they dug up the garden to replace it.

              Their tests from the exchange showed my line was ok - so job done. Except the intermittent fault was still there.

              So I recorded the 1471 "echo". I then insisted on an engineer coming out - even with their threat of charging for a wasted visit. He heard the recording - went away - shortly rang to say he had fixed a leakage between two lines in the exchange. That really was the fix.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Ee are the same...

            "In defense of the ISP, you would not believe how many "network admins" i have calling me who don't know what TCP/IP, IPv4, or DNS Resolution are"

            I've encountered several ISP helldesk operators who claim to have IT degrees yet somehow don't know what these are - or even how traceroute works.

            If you word it right you can reduce some of them to tears when they realise they're not going to bluff their way out of it.

            The fun part is when they claim that your recording the call is illegal and they'll file criminal charges against you for telling them that you plan to make the recording publically available (This is common with TalkTalk CSOs but also happens with various bank operatives within the UK)

            1. Andus McCoatover

              Recording illegal???

              How so, when I often hear "Your call may be recorded for your protection, or for training purposes."

              Sounds like they just gave me permission! "May be" is too loose a term. Record away!

              (Don't get me started about recording JobcentrePlus calls - they threaten you with a criminal offence, because you're not registered with the "Data Protection Ombudsman" (their phrase).

              Guess what?

              You don't usually need to:


              Even if you did, getting registered's a snap, and cost £35.)

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Recording illegal???

                "How so, when I often hear "Your call may be recorded for your protection, or for training purposes.""

                Odds are they're located in a "one party consent" area where only one party has to consent to recording the call to make it legal. Since the recording party is party to the conversation, consent is implied, making the whole recording legal.

      2. Triggerfish

        Re: Ee are the same...

        Ah yes.

        Had a problem with Merchant authing on a site, the ISP had a setting wrong and it kept dropping part of the handshake, this was costing about 60% of sales. Some very clever sys admins at another ISP I gamed with figured out the problem, BT card services (who actually are very good) confirmed the issue.

        Our ISP (Fasthost) point blank refused to escalate it as an issue, the first line didn't even understand the problem, but because it didn't fit any scripts it was put down as a non issue we must be mistaken (e.g your customers are just leaving before the transaction finished).. I literally could get nowhere.

        Problem eventually solved by changing ISPs.

        But I would like to say Fasthost, your shit, your supports shit and if any one else ask me about you I will tell them to never go near you.

        PS your shit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ee are the same...

      About 10ish years ago My girlfriend had an AOL account at her house (she got it before I met her). When she switched from dial up to a broadband connection they sent through a CD with the software for the router. On installation it just reached an OS check then hung forever. I had a look on the CD and found an XML file with OS checks. The PC had Windows 2000 with SP4 installed. The XML file had checks for Windows 2000 gold, SP1, 2 & 3 but nothing for 4. I had a bash at modifying the XML file but couldn't get it to work so took a deep breath and called their support.

      I tried to explain the issue but the support rep insisted on running through their standard support script. After wasting 30 minutes plus on this I tried to explain (again!) that all I needed was for them to send me an updated install CD that supported SP4. She went quiet then put me on hold while she went to discuss this with someone else.

      After another eternity spent on hold, she eventually came back and said "don't worry, our software doesn't need service pack 4". At this point I gave up in despair and hung up. My solution (apart from telling the GF to change to another ISP as soon as possible) was to flatten the PC and install Windows again. I installed the AOL software then re-applied sp4. I figured this would be quicker than attempting to resolve it through their tech support.

  9. John Sager

    UK broadband support

    A lot of broadband in the UK is supplied over copper pairs (and often an IP backhaul network) run by BT. Now, if I report a line fault with voice service, they send a guy out and the fault is actually with my phone or internal wiring, then I'm on the hook for the cost of the callout. If, however, I report a broadband fault to my ISP, they call out BT and it turns out not to be BT's fault, then the ISP is on the hook for the call-out. Guess what, ISPs are reluctant to declare broadband faults to BT if there is not an associated voice service fault. Been there, done that, over a period of a couple of years until my current ISP did eventually agree to call out BT, they sent an on-the-ball Openreach guy & he eventually found the fault in an underground cable section (after well over an hour of lifting footway boxes & testing).

    I guess it did help that my ISP doesn't have a foreign call centre & it's easy to talk to a tech person when they realise that you understand this stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK broadband support

      One of the main reasons I used to use Zen Internet is that you could call their helpdesk and get hold of a techie *who actually* knows something and is also prepared to discuss the problem with you as a peer (assuming you have the knowledge).

      1. Paul Woodhouse

        Re: UK broadband support

        another vote for Zen being good like this here...

  10. jason 7

    Its a game of poker.

    I've used some tactics in the past to get through obstructions.

    1. The social services worker who wouldn't organise help for a sick elderly gentleman in our apartment block because "he hasn't asked us personally!" I then asked for her name. She asked why and I replied - "It's because when the guys in the hazmat suits turn up in 6 weeks to scrape him up off the floor I want to know who to mention in the complaint!" Amazingly he had a daily nurse visit from the next day onwards.

    2. The Dixons store manager who would avoid our calls re. a faulty washing machine. I called up the store and asked for the manager. "Oh he's not here!" said Tracey (whatever). "Oh that's a shame as I have some positive feedback for him!" Tracey perked up and said (I kid you not) "Oh we don't get a lot of that here! I'll go fetch him!" Manager was on the phone 10 seconds later...busted!

    3. British Gas fitted a new heating system and did a piss poor job. Corgi condemned it! Took them four goes to get it right. At the end of it I asked for compensation. The area manager said no. I told him "Okay then I'll go to every plumbing and home improvement website in the country and post up all the horrendous pictures of faulty/out of spec installations and the Corgi report for all to see. If I do, you'll be lucky if your company can fit a tap after a month!" He gave in at that point.

    4. Had to get a cost centre for a IT project to upgrade a system that was critical to a major part of our business. It was a dull system that hardly anyone had heard of but would bring the business to a halt if not working. Anyway had a bunch of senior managers that didn't want to commit the funds and I was going round in the circles. So I sent out the following email to all of them -

    "Guys, thanks for your support so far. Unfortunately, it appears that funds are not forth coming which is a shame. However, I would ask one last favour. I would like one of you to volunteer as a point of contact for the CEO when he gets all the complaints from customers that can't get their cars fixed?"

    I had a cost centre code within 5 minutes of posting that email.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Its a game of poker.

      Can I add LinkedIn, its often has the people at the tops email addressess, its suprising how quick an email to them mentioning how you are going to dedicate some times to mentioning them on every forum, and twitter account including their own the whole scape of their bad service.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Its a game of poker.

      "Okay then I'll go to every plumbing and home improvement website in the country and post up all the horrendous pictures of faulty/out of spec installations and the Corgi report for all to see. If I do, you'll be lucky if your company can fit a tap after a month!"

      I would have done it anyway. British Hash are one of the worst companies I've had the misfortune of dealing with and people really do need educating about their practices.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its a game of poker.

      Thing is, most of these can be countered.

      1. "Can I have YOUR name then? ... Because I want to be able to know who to whom to refer the police in regards to charges of battery and harassment."

      2. "I'll take that feedback for you and relay it to him when he gets back. BTW, he never answers calls personally unless they're from the home office, and legal folks would visit personally."

      3. OK, this time you have the buggers dead to rights, particularly the report from the certification authority, meaning if they tried to fight, they can get their certs pulled: essentially a threat of "You'll never work in this town again" with some real teeth.

      4. What would've happened if one of them BCC'd you a note saying, "If you want to challenge the CEO so bad, how about YOU do it?" and leave a usable contact? That way, they shirk responsibility and, by directly connecting you to the guy up top, force YOU to assume the risk.

      1. Wommit

        Re: Its a game of poker.

        "4. What would've happened if one of them BCC'd you a note saying, "If you want to challenge the CEO so bad, how about YOU do it?" and leave a usable contact? That way, they shirk responsibility and, by directly connecting you to the guy up top, force YOU to assume the risk."

        There is no risk. The more senior managers have refused to cooperate, for a mission critical system, he must escalate to the CEO. And he would have an email to back him up.

        Strangely, many people, especially in the higher levels of an organisation, seem to forget that they are all working for the same aims. Keep the company going and keep getting paid. Most often the lower level techies don't have axes to grind, nor personal agendas, they just want to do their job the best they can. It's the more senior levels that are too busy back stabbing, and "Looking at the big picture," to actually realise that if they don't assist, there will be no "big picture."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It doesn't always work

    When you have unscrupulous ISPs who have 50+ % of the market, they have lots of paid liars to handle the corporate criminal activities. Comcast Cable is a perfect example. They have been caught so many times violating law that it's incomprehensible that their CEO isn't spending the next 35 years in the slammer. Even though Comcast has been convicted several times, they have effectively been able to buy favor with U.S. authorities who knowingly allow Comcast to violate law, defraud consumers and go unpunished. These crimes are documented and they have been ongoing for years. The FCC and FTC chair persons should do prison time for dereliction of their sworn duty to the people by allowing Comcast, AT &T, et al to chronically violate law.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have known a few tricks to work

    It depends on the supplier you are calling, but a few things have worked in the past for me, especially if you know the system you are calling up about.

    I find if you rattle off a list of what you have tried (assuming those are relevant things to try, but regardless of if you have actually tried it or not) at a pace ever so slightly faster than they can type, then they lose their train of thought and the script. By the time you get to the end of what you have "tried" and they catch up with you they usually go "Ok, sounds like you have tried pretty much everything, let me refer it for an engineer visit". Assuming an engineer visit is what you are after of course.

    The most frustrating support calls I ever found were having to call up Crapita many years ago when supporting SIMS and they were upgrading to SQL. This was a new system to us and so the front line grunts were still getting to grips to it as were we. Half the time was wasted on them putting you on hold to go "check with their techies", instead of just putting you through to said techie.

    ISP calls are usually the easiest as you can blag it if you know what lights on the modem/router mean ok and which ones mean bad. Just don't cover the mouthpiece of the phone and then say you have done it when you haven't actually too quickly otherwise they will twig that you are blagging them and it will be an even more painful experience than necessary

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: I have known a few tricks to work


      ISP calls are usually the easiest as you can blag it if you know what lights on the modem/router mean ok and which ones mean bad.


      All very well until Mr. Cleverclogs blagger discovers that he is not as smart as he thought he was. I have had issues escalated to myself because the support desk were stumped, and discovered a fault that would have been immediately fixed had the customer actually done what he was asked to do instead of lying and claiming that he had done as asked but it had not worked. I have also been on the other side and had a support guy who was obviously reading from a script ask me to do something that I was quite certain had nothing to do with the problem - but I did it anyway to humour the guy - and amazingly it seemed that it *was* somehow related to the issue. Even if the guy reading the script has little technical savvy, it is possible that the person who designed the script knows their product (and its common failure modes) better than you do, so my advice it to accurately do and report what is asked no matter how useless it may appear to you. At worst you lose 5 or 10 minutes, but may well end up saving days of frustration.

  13. Chris G Silver badge

    Telefonica is great

    The customer service types I have just finished dealing with at some purportedly Spanish call centre for Movistar(Telefonica) are jolly people, they laugh when you tell them they have done nothing in spite of your having been calling them to come out and replace or repair your totally non functional modem repeatedly and hang up. Then, during the middle of the next day I receive a call we have checked everything on the line and your service is now working perfectly.

    My reply 'I'm sure it is, it's the modem that's not funtioning and I need a technico to come and look at it.'

    'Okay ' they say and hang up before I can say when someone will be home for the modem guy. Not ten minutes later a Customer service wonk calls me to ask how I rate the service of the exchange technicos who have just repaired my line, 'Very good, good, okay etc'

    He hung up after I tested my knowledge of bad Spanish words.

    Finally after nearly three weeks of no modem a Chap from Ecuador turns up with a new modem, when I asked him if he has brought it all the way from Ecuador he stared at me as if I was crazy, actually I was quite close to frothing at the mouth, anyway he fixed the old one with a quick blow fuse on the PCB, (something I didn't know about in a Telfonica modem) and with a blessing in the form of a €10 note he left with a smile and no new modem, thats in the cupboard for next time.

    I have tried to find a system of getting a complaint past the Bastard that laughs and hangs up, so far short of finding out where he is and mowing him down with my LandRover there is no redress for lack of service.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    Yep, Sprint is a distant last place in customer service still in the US. They are well known for having account problems. Sometimes it's in your favor -- you get a service you're not billed for. Sometimes, it's like in the article, they cut off a service. EITHER WAY, it's apparently like pulling teeth to get it fixed (I'm sure very few have tried to get charged extra to pay for services, but apparently the few who have tried have found it just as difficult as getting services turned on after they've been mistakenly turned off.)

    GTE doesn't exist any more (part of Verizon). But, a few telcos used to "take over" exchanges from each other back in the day... GTE was apparently so bad, when they would take over a market in California, the tech companies would MOVE to avoid having to deal with GTE!

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