New Cable Modem

I stayed home from work today. To make sure I would call in sick on time, I set my alarm last night. I knew I was going to stay home today. My plan was to take care of one or more long term projects that keep getting put off. Today I really needed to install my new cable modem.

Let me back up a bit. I currently have high speed Internet provided by my cable company. It is great. However I rent a cable modem from my cable company. Have been doing so for years. Finally I decided to buy my own so save a few bucks. I carefully went to my ISP's web site, and printed out all the cable modems compatible with their service.

So I called up customer service. I asked whether they needed to do anything on their end for me to use a new cable modem. Josh (names changed to protect the guilty) told me no. He offered to stay online while I tried it out. So I plugged in my new cable modem. But the lights on the front kept blinking. Josh told me he needed me to hook the cable modem directly to a PC. I informed him that my old modem was working correctly with my router, but I said I would follow his instructions. Never got the lights to stop blinking on the modem. After a while, Josh recommended we make some changes on my computer. I told him I was willing to try some things. But this made no sense. If the cable modem cannot establish a successful connection with the ISP by itself, nothing done to my computer would change that. At this point Josh scheduled a technician to come out and see me. And the end of the call, I volunteered to complete a survey in which I rated Josh as pleasant, but not well equipped to resolve my problem.

After hanging up the phone, I tried a couple things. I turned the cable mode on and off. And I connected it up to my router. I started to get some progress. On my computer, Internet Explorer brought me to a new user page regardless of the URL I put in there. I decided to call my cable company back. This time I got Angie. She said that they needed to change the MAC address they have associated with my account, but that she could not do this. So I got transferred to Kelly. Now Kelly was able to take my MAC address and enter it into the system. However after that I was unable to use Internet Explorer. Kelly said that she could debug the problem if I connected the cable modem directly to my computer. I did this, but Kelly had no luck. Then I remembered that I disabled my Ethernet port in my computer BIOS. So while Kelly waited, I rebooted, enabled the Ethernet port, and Kelly was able to get my one computer on the Internet with the new cable modem.

I thanked Kelly, asked her to cancel my service call, and got information on where to return the cable company cable mode. This experience has taught me that you need to have a lot of knowledge as a consumer if you want to call any technical support line. I bet it would have been a lot worse if my girlfriend or parents had made the call. Mapping this experience to the level of software support my team provides, I can understand the pain that our customers may sometimes have. In general our software team is pretty ignorant about the customer's business. And for some reason we just don't have many people who are competent with troubleshooting. Now I have spent many years improving my ability to be an expert in our customer's business, as well as knowing how they user all of our applications to reach their goals. The real challenge is how do I motivate or train other developers to do the same? I don't want our customer to get the sorry level of service I got when I called my cable company today. Perhaps this is an impossible task. But if it is possible, no matter how difficult, I want to learn how.