Monday, May 31, 2010

Technical Support: - technically neither.

Just recently I have restarted Bowen Therapy each week and have had a couple of small but nonetheless remarkable symptom improvements.  Like, I can speak half-reasonably sometimes now.  And the last couple of days I have used a pen to make marks on paper that were recognisably language to another human.  Wow, imagine if this continued.....but I shall just stay present.  One thing it meant was that........

I finally bit the bullet and called (our near-monopoly, half-government-owned telco provider) Telstra's tech support line today to deal with this wireless broadband USB modem issue.  It's being going on for months but I only use it when I'm away from home (in respite care) so I tend to not think about it.  Here's the backstory.

It causes my computer to freeze.  Not always, but often enough.  Sometimes after a few minutes, or maybe over an hour or two, but when it does, I have to do a cold reboot as nothing else saves the day.  It is indisputably the modem and/or its software, not a program on my computer, the alignment of the planets or how I am holding my left leg.  When it first happened I called their number but was twice hung up on when the operators had too much difficulty with my speech problems.  So I emailed them.

The website promises a reply in 24 hours and indeed one does receive an automated "we got your mail" reply in a few hours, which also informs you to expect contact sometime in the next 48 hours.  Unless it's a weekend.  Anyway, their email 72 hours later expressed concern at my reported ill-treatment and requested I call them to discuss the technical issues.

I emailed them - this is all months ago.  Over time, up until a few days ago, I explained in emails my reasons for emailing, and suggested there would be nothing one could do over the phone that could not be done in writing.  I put every bit of diagnostic data in possible, answered any questions they might have which I could guess at and asked lots of simple questions, hoping a techie might look at the issue.  You know, questions like : "has this ever happened to anyone before?" And "if so, what resolved it?"  also the "is there an actual fix if this is a problem known to you?"

Then a ray of hope.  I began corresponding with a single entity, a person called Jai.  They asked me to email back a few proof of identity answers (serial numbers etc) so they could look into it!

And then answered!

By answering irrelevant questions I had not asked, and that they'd fixed the spelling of my surname in some file or other at their end (which did not relate to the problem) and then saying I needed to call a certain number, as this was clearly a technical issue and that's where the techies are.

I have not heard back from my return email asking if their techies were able or allowed to use the internet services they allegedly support and thus email me.

OK, so, I have an hour spare, and am having a reasonable talking moment, it being the balance point between Bowen sessions where I get 24 or 48 hours of relative understandability going.

The IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) does not understand me when I say "fault" or even "yes", despite the fact that my short "e" vowel and round "o" sounds are still very distinct.  Eventually I get through to the Mobile section as told to do via email.  But apparently, this is an internet problem so I am transferred..........but no, it's not an internet problem, it's a wireless problem so I'm transferred to wireless.......but no, because it's prepaid I'm transferred....wait, what?  You're not transferring me?  You're giving me another number to call?  Is this not the same company?  "I have to give you this number to call sir, it's only a local call cost, I cannot transfer to that section".

At each of the above stages, I was asked questions from a workflow script. "So you are unable to connect to your Bigpond account, is that correct?"
"No, I don't have a Bigpond account, the issue is that my prepaid wireless broadband modem is freezing my computer"
"So you are connecting to Bigpond using wireless network at home, is this correct?"

And around and around we went.  To give fair credit, I was never on hold longer than 9 minutes during transfers.  They all tried to do their jobs as per the script.  and as soon as they got an 'out', like "Not Bigpond!"  or "Wireless!" or "Prepaid!" they got all happy and extremely helpful and friendly handballing me onwards....

Now here's the lowdown.  I did some research.  Telstra have about 3 properly trained geek techies to support the country and their job is to jabber at specialist call centre bureaucrats who construct workflow scripts in simple English for use in their overseas call centres, mainly in the Philippines.  It would seem this is an unsolvable (to date) software problem that has been with us since 2007, according to third party geeks and bloggers online.  But Telstra has a complete monopoly on coverage in the majority of the landmass (if not an absolute majority in more populated areas) and a bunch of insoluble issues.  They know they have a reputation as the worst customer service provider in the country.  They have been half-privatised and must make a profit for the huge percentage of the Australian population that own shares in them (thus they have electoral clout in all sorts of ways) so how better to manage a problem they can't fix than make it impossible to contact them about it?

I decided early on to remain in personal equilibrium to the greatest extent possible today, and enjoy at least what human contacts I could have.  This helped, I am sure.  My plan is to remain this way but to not give up.  I shall make sure to remember all the lessons of my time as a bureaucrat and call centre worker, and employ those learnings with integrity and purposefulness.

And see what happens.

But only as long as I enjoy it.

Because in the end, I'm not going to give away my energy for life for something I hate.  That must be the secret to useful customer self-advocacy - integrity, and enjoyment.

I'll let you know how it goes.

PS Of course, while I stay happy and keep cleaning, the modem works just fine!

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