Tuesday 06 December 2005
Sprint DSL Sucks
Last Wednesday: The DSL service is out. We have a lot of little DSL outages here, but last Wednesday it went out and didn’t come back. Thursday morning, I called Sprint. They promised to send someone out on Friday to see what was wrong. They also asked whether I’d like to upgrade my service from 3mbps down and 512kbps up to 5mb down and 3mb up, for $4 more a month. Trying to upsell people whose service isn’t working in the first place is an interesting approach, but it worked with me. They said the upgrade would take place on Monday.
My net DSL bill is $104.57 a month; it’ll be something over $109 a month after the service upgrade.
Last Friday: A guy doing contract repair work for Sprint showed up. He seemed to know what he was doing, and he reported that the line tested fine. He replaced the DSL ‘modem’ — a little bridge/router doodad that turns DSL into Ethernet — and things started working.
Monday: No speed upgrade.
This morning: Still no speed upgrade. I call them, and am told that it’s scheduled for today, before 7:30 p.m. They also say that I will have a service outage of ‘up to an hour’ when this happens. This doesn’t make sense, but I don’t argue.
This afternoon: At 12:40 p.m. the service disappears all together. I figure that this might be the outage I was told about, so I wait. Ninety minutes later, I call. I am told that my speed hasn’t been upgraded, but that my static IP address has been changed for some reason. I am given a new address; I tell the router about it; I have service again. I am also told that they’ll send the speed upgrade order through immediately, so I won’t have to wait.
Later this afternoon: My speeds are in excess of the 3mb/512kb service that I had before, but they’re nowhere near 5ms/3mb: I’m seeing about 600kbps outbound, and 2.5-3 mbps inbound.
7:05 p.m.: No service. I wait — in case this is that fabled speed-upgrade outage again — and then call. The guy on the other end doesn’t seem to understand what I’m talking about. He has me reset the DSL bridge and the router, and when they’re back up he tells me to ping yahoo.com. This doesn’t work, of course, since as I had told the guy, there’s no service and restarting the connection doesn’t help. He ers and uhs around for a while before telling me to hold on while he talks to someone else.
He then hangs up on me. Since part of the Sprint customer service S.O.P. is to get a callback number from you as soon as you call specifically so they can call you back if you get disconnected, I wait around for a little while. No call.
7:40 p.m.: I call back. I should mention that the Sprint people do get around to answering the phone pretty quickly for a customer-service line — but that these five- and six-minute waits do begin to grate after the third or fourth one within a few hours.
On this call, I am told that my IP address has been changed back to what it was originally. I change the router’s settings and things start working again.
Oh, and now there is apparently no order for my speed upgrade in the system at all. Wonderful.
As it happens, here at Tino Manor the only non-rapaciously-expensive option for high-speed data is spring DSL — so maybe providing this kind of service is financially the right thing for Sprint to do. What else am I going to do? Unless I move, my only options are satellite service (which stinks) or waiting until someone else runs wires here. We’re a mile off the actual road here, so that’s not too likely to happen anytime soon. We’re stuck with Sprint.
In the longer run, though, this is a loss for Sprint. Most of the people I’ve talked to on the phone there seem to know what they’re talking about — conspicuously so, for people answering a tech support line. Only one person didn’t listen to me and made me jump through unnecessary hoops: the others have all been as helpful, useful, and non-patronizing as you could ask for.
The problem, of course, is that I can even office an opinion on what the mass of Sprint phone-support people are like. Sprint has spent all that money on talking to me on the phone, and has left me with the distinct impression that while their phone-support people are (mostly) very friendly and competent, their network service cannot be relied upon because Sprint does not take it seriously.
Why is this? Why is it that when any other service I pay for is not working — power, phone, TV, etc. — I tell the provider that it’s not working, and they solve the problem. Why the hell is it that to even get this bad, half-assed service, I have to project-manage the whole thing myself? Why is Sprint totally incapable of even troubleshooting what’s wrong, much less figuring out that something’s wrong in the first place? Why do I have to run a pinger to measure the circuit’s performance? Why the hell doesn’t Sprint do that?
All the network companies are anxious to make more and more and more money from their systems; but they’re not going to be able to achieve it until consumer-level network service reaches a level of reliability similar to if not the phone network, at least the average cable TV system.Posted by tino at 21:49 6.12.05