A tale of an ISP service call and the poor response time

Three hours after the mortuary's IT staff reported Internet problems, the connection started working again. Was there a catch?

As the senior programmer and network admin for a large mortuary (yes, mortuary), it was my duty to discover why our Internet connection to the outside world went down one day -- and to get it fixed quickly.

This was back in the days before point-to-point T1 lines were even close to being within our IT budget, and so the Internet over 56K modems was the most affordable method for our remote locations to communicate with the main branch.

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We checked and restarted all the appropriate equipment, and nothing we did could get the Internet connection working again. So I called our provider and asked them to please help as we were completely down. They said they would send someone over as soon as possible.

Without ever learning why, after about three hours whatever gremlin was residing in our system moved on and things started working again. I was quite pleased that our provider was so on the ball and got things fixed in a reasonable timeframe. I can certainly live with a three-hour repair! Since I never saw a technician on-site, I assumed that the outage occurred off premises, was fixed, and that was the end of that.

Then, about two months later, the Internet connection failed again. I was already engaged in a different fire at that moment, so the first thing I did was contact our ISP and alerted them to the problem. About 30 minutes later, I looked outside and saw a van with the ISP's logo on it sitting outside our building. Thirty minutes! That was incredible, so I went to the server room and found the ISP technician and commented how happy I was that he got here so quickly. He then chastised me for being a wise guy, as he got here as soon as he could, and since he could not find anything wrong with our network he was going to reconnect everything and close the ticket.

Reconnect everything? Whatever could he mean by that?

What he meant was simple: This was the service call from the first time the network went down, over two months prior, and the reason the network was down now was because this technician unplugged it (without alerting anyone to his presence) to diagnose the problem. Instead of incredible customer service, this is perhaps an example of the worst I have ever seen.

Alas, since there was exactly one ISP in our area at that time, we could not exercise the power of capitalism and find someone else; every month we continued to write a check to a company that considered two months to be an acceptable turnaround on customer outages.