The question of the day solves a DSL problem

A tech support member finds that documenting even the tiniest detail helps quickly solve a customer's DSL issues

Our company provides DSL service to residences and small businesses in our area, so the customers we work with have a variety of technology comfort levels.

One afternoon, a tech hung up the phone after a call and shared this frustrating yet amusing troubleshooting story.

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The caller was "Larry," the owner of a small home-based business, who could not get onto the Internet.

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After having Larry check the lights on the DSL router (all green and happy) and verifying the account was authenticating successfully, our tech asked for the workstation's IP address and dug deeper into the problem. The ever-unpopular "0.0.0.0" gave only a bit of insight. Running ipconfig release/renew gave no joy, either.

Our tech then asked Larry to check the connection from the computer to the DSL router. Larry shot back, "I'm not going to crawl around under the damn desk -- everything is hooked up fine!"

The tech said, "OK, let's try a different approach. How is the other PC in the office working?"

Larry booted up the second PC, and it couldn't find the Internet, either. The message "A network cable is unplugged" popped up in the lower-right corner. Our tech explained what the message meant and again asked that Larry check the connection. Larry refused.

The conversation continued, Larry insisting that the connection was fine and the tech working hard to stay professional and look for other troubleshooting solutions. Finally, after 45 minutes, Larry (with a deep sigh) agreed to crawl under the desk.

There, he discovered his four-port Ethernet switch (which was sharing the DSL router port with both PCs) completely dark; the power supply had been unplugged.

After plugging it in, all services lit up as expected. Larry told our technician, "Y'know, my wife vacuums on Thursdays, and she must have forgotten to plug that little box back in. Looks like we're OK now. G'bye."

We didn't hear from Larry for six months. But then, as luck would have it, the same tech answered a blistering call from Larry, who was ranting and raving about how our Internet service is always down, unreliable, blah, blah, blah -- in spite of no recorded circuit failures or DSLAM problems since his last call.

After absorbing the vitriolic tirade with as professional a demeanor as he could muster, our tech asked the question of the day: "Is it Thursday, Larry?"

A very long silence passed, after which an extremely apologetic Larry returned to the phone, yammering on and on about how embarrassed he was, how great our customer service is, and how he would never, never, never call again unless he was absolutely sure he really had a problem.

The tech politely ended the call, hung up, and burst out laughing so loud that he startled the entire office.

The takeaway: Document everything, even seemingly inconsequential details, and have the information available to all the tech staff. You never know when you or someone on your team will get a chance to quickly save the day and maybe score a good chuckle in the process.

This story "The question of the day solves a DSL problem," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com.

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