Friday, August 05, 2011

Customer Service, anyone? There are more potential points of failure than there used to be

Well, yesterday my Verizon Blackberry (the same model the president has) battery had stopped changing, one year after acquisition (no warranty).  I was “out” on the road, and it took two Verizon stores (and waits in line) to get the replacement. And $39.95.  Customer service?

This morning, after “La Retour” (Beethoven’s “Les Adieux” Sonata), my Arris cable modem downstairs, to which my digital voice Xfinity (landline) is now connected, wasn’t working.  Fortunately, the reset button did work and get it up. I’ve never had this happen. It appears that some IP addresses were changed last night during maintenance at Comcast, and it didn’t come back up automatically. Customer service first told me to unplug it, unaware that it has a battery.  Fortunately, everything worked with the reset button, and the Netgear home router accepted the new addresses and everything then synched up. But the literature says online that sometimes the home user has to remove the battery before a modem will reset if IP or MAC addresses have been changed. That didn’t happen here.  (Or you would have to let it run down a few hours.)  Since I plug into a UPS box, the extra battery is redundant.

What’s bad is that I could be away for an extended period, there could be an IP reset, and the modem controlling the landline phone would not work again until I got home. That means the ADT home security system is out of communication.  This sounds like a flaw in having digital voice through a cable provider, unless the technology can reset everything reliably with no one at home when the provider reconfigures its network for more customers.

Everyone talks about the “smart home” with the Internet controlling everything, including energy use, but that only leaves homeowners or renters, probably not trained well in their new “responsibilities”, more vulnerable to lengthy disruptions. Modern utilities seem to have too many new potential points of failure.
Remember how it was, in the workplace, as a mainframe programmer. Users depended on me to get everything right with a promotion or “move” to get their jobs done. Now the shoe is on the other foot. I am the end user, and I depend on others (providers) to get my own work done at home.  When they make unannounced “maintenance” changes, I can bear the consequences.  

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