How Not to Do Customer Support.

This is the story of how my internet provider (Telenet) screwed up big time. I have a business account with them so I can have a fixed IP address and a help desk that knows what’s going on. That has worked well for me, until now. Here is an overview of the events:

  • On monday the 5th of november I installed a new firewall. I tried changing the MAC address linked to my fixed IP on their web management application. Of course (I tried this with customers before) this didn’t work.
  • I called the help desk to notify them of the change of my MAC address. I’ve done this before for customers, usually it is fixed within 5 minutes. This time there seemed to be a problem. The help desk guy (very friendly) said that for some reason he could not change things in my account. I had been assigned a fixed ip address, but not the one I had before. He would escalate the problem to the appropriate department and call me back the next day (it was after business hours and that department was not available). I told him I needed my fixed ip address because of an array of VPN connections and I was not keen on reconfiguring all of them.
  • Since they did not contact me the next 2 days, I called them again on Thursday. The help desk employee checked the status of my problem with the appropriate department while I held, but could not report any progress. All he could tell me was “They’re working on it”. My problem would be fixed today and he would call me back as soon as possible. So I agreed, hung up the phone and waited. But guess what: he did not call back.
  • So Friday, 5 days after reporting the issue, I called them, again! Same procedure, checking with department, no news, will call back later today! This time he did call back, only to report that there was no news and he would check back in on monday.
  • On monday I was at the TEDxBrussels event, so my phone was off most of the day. But my voicemail had no message from my internet provider. I was starting to get pissed. By now a full week has gone by, and not a hint of a solution. Even worse, I started noticing connection drops. The internet connection would go down anywhere from 1 to 5 times a day.
  • I was out all day on tuesday so I called back on wednesday. The normal ritual occurred (check with department, no news, working on it). I pointed out that I have that business account for a reason. I pay extra to have a fixed ip and a help desk that can solve a problem within a reasonable time. Both of which were not being delivered. I also notified them of the connection drops, they said it was a problem with my firewall, I disagreed. They told me they could send a technician, but if he found no problem with their installation, I would have to pay for the costs.
  • I started monitoring those connection drops, trying to prove it was not a problem with my installation. When I had collected enough compelling proof that it was not a problem with my installation, I called them again. Suddenly they were able to see the errors on their systems so they added that problem to my outstanding (10 days by now) ticket.
  • Several days went by, repeating the same ritual over and over again. They promise to call me, they don’t call me, I call them, they have no news, I get pissed. Ultimatly friday evening I sent an email to the CEO of Telenet explaining the situation and asking him if he could get his helpdesk to fix the problems.

By now it is Sunday, November 18. Almost a full two weeks after I first reported the problem. I realize that, if they would have told me on day 1 that they could not fix the problem, I would have been pissed, but I would have lost less time. I could have reconfigured all of my VPN’s in less time then I would have spent on the phone with the help desk.


Apparently my mail the the CEO had effect. Today (monday) by 6 in the evening my problem was fixed.