ISP Technical Support Sucks

Ars Technica has a nice writeup about “Dropped DSL and missing e-mail: two tales of moving woes.” I think one of the authors sums up technical support for any company perfectly:

If there were any doubts that Verizon has helpful dedicated people, this experience put them to rest. Unfortunately, I know that I’ll never encounter any of them the next time that I have a problem that requires me to dial in to the standard tech support line.

I rarely encounter competent technical support, whether it is at Embarq/CenturyLink, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, or Apple. What should take five minutes regularly takes multiple calls and even more tech support agents. On occasion, I do get someone helpful, but it is unfortunately not the norm.

AT&T contracts are meaningless

I had a great experience on the phone with an AT&T representative when I called to transfer my number from an existing corporate plan to my own personal plan. I selected my options, and the representative explained to me that because it was a transfer, I would get a standard zero-month contract. He explained to me that I was free to change my service or transfer my number to another provider whenever I wanted to. This all went through successfully, and I was set.

Two weeks later, I noticed that my account had been slapped with an 18 month contract. When I called, AT&T had no idea why I would have had no contract, and they said that a standard transfer of service contract is 11 months. They told me that the first representative I spoke with was mistaken and that there is no record of my zero-month contract. Luckily I got my contract bumped down to 11 months; however, it doesn’t explain what happened to the zero-month contract.

Edit: 11 months is the standard length for a transfer of service. However, I did not agree to that over the phone. If they can slap me with a contract without any change in service or without my acceptance, their word and their contract are meaningless.

The Typical Vim Reaction

Every now and then I feel permitted to go on a rant. It’s unfortunate because this isn’t even a particularly good rant. Why do so many of my (instant messaging) conversations with others about Vim look like this?

Chris: do you use an IDE?
Chris: and if so which one?
Zachary: um, I generally use vim:-P
Chris: gah

Vim is a great text editor. It’s a step up from Ed which is the standard text editor. I started using Vim five years ago. That was about the time that I discovered secure shell, and I started administering servers and other computers remotely. It turns out that Vim was the best text editor over a secure shell session, and since most of my machines ran Mac OS X at the time, Emacs was a terrible option. (I’m not really sure what you call Emacs on Mac OS X. You probably shouldnt’ call it Emacs.) I limped along using very basic Vim functionality over secure shell for a while. Then I discovered a useful graphical tutorial for Vim, and it became considerably more useful.

Now I use Vim because every other text editor or word processor is slower and requires the use of a mouse. (Gah!) I write most of my documents in LaTeX using Vim. I read my email in Mutt and compose emails in Vim. I use Vim almost exclusively to edit code and configuration files on my workstations and servers which works well because it does a good job of syntax highlighting and smart indentation.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be using Vim exclusively, and it was somewhat by accident that I switched, but now that I am using it, I would be unable to go back.