Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Perfect Exchange

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For the past week or so my DSL modem has been on the warpath, seemingly bent on punishing me with technical minutia when I am not at work.

At first, minor connectivity problems occurred leading me to believe that either interference, line noise or central office difficulties were to blame. The problem quickly worsened and was finally compounded by the partial failure of the modem.

The web-based interface does not accept incoming requests or give any sign of presence. Telnet, SSH and even pings are all refused as if the hardware no longer exists. It still gives my network router an IP address dynamically, though.

I finally gave up and decided that my troubleshooting solved basically nothing and hardware failure of the modem must be the culprit. All that was left to do now was what I had been hoping to avoid from the start—call technical support.

While my one and only previous encounter with Embarq's customer service was an extremely positive one, dealing with computer-related technical support is something I loathe. Needless to say, I was enamored when I discovered I could chat with a support representative online.

What happened next can only be described as some of the best customer service I have experienced and absolutely the best technical support experience ever.
15:06:13 — You
Initial Question/Comment: I believe my DSL modem may be defective.

15:06:19 — System
Steve W has joined this session!

15:06:19 — System
Welcome to EMBARQ. For security reasons please provide your 10-digit EMBARQ Local Telephone number and last four digits of your Social Security Number. Once you have provided this, please allow us a few moments to respond.

15:06:36 — You
8502224747 ****

15:06:50 — Steve W
Thanks! I am sorry to hear that. Is the power light on it going out?

15:06:59 — You
No, but connectivity has become intermittent, the modem no longer responds to pings and the web-based interface is inaccessible.

15:07:45 — Steve W
I will send you a replacement for free.

15:07:52 — You
That would be great.

15:07:55 — Steve W
It takes about 2 to 3 business day.

15:08:05 — Steve W
Sure. Anything else today?

15:08:17 — You
No, that was it. Thank you so much.

15:08:36 — Steve W
You are very welcome. Thank you again for contacting Embarq's Online Services.
I mean, damn.

I fully expected to be grilled like a fish about my computer, network, settings and every other detail which I had already exhaustingly eliminated. But instead of alienating their (probably non-technical) customers with endless technobabble questions and flowchart nonsense, Embarq smartly cuts to the chase and delivers results.

The last part to be confirmed in two to three business days.


UPDATE: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 1748

I just signed for a UPS package from you know who. True to their word and according to UPS tracking information, Embarq shipped my order Monday evening and it travelled all night (from Fort Wayne, Indiana with stops in Louisville, Kentucky and Albany, Georgia) to arrive in my hands. Now the internet functions again thanks to superior customer service from Embarq.