What to do when your ISP off-shores tech support

Jay Hennigan jay at west.net
Thu Dec 25 22:37:48 UTC 2008

Martin Hannigan wrote:

> Hi Jay:
> Is there really anything wrong with sending first-level technical 
> support offshore?

> Macs are macs, Windows is windows and mail is mail whether you're in 
> Mumbai or Memphis. As long as the language skills are good and the 
> people are well trained, it should be mostly irrelevant, IMHO.

In and of itself and setting aside patriotic/nationalistic issues, 
probably not, assuming adequate technical and product knowledge and 
language skills.  I suppose that it would be possible that if it were 
done well enough one wouldn't be able to tell.

However, there is something about dealing with a local company that adds 
value.  People seem to care more about their community and neighbors 
than a random, barely understandable voice on a G.729 8k codec at the 
other end of a satellite link.

I have generally found dealing with most offshore tech support to be 
very frustrating.  The language issues are burdensome, some accents so 
thick as to be barely understandable, and the lack of clue and scripted 
menu-driven responses are obvious and usually of no value.  I wouldn't 
be calling if the problem could be solved by reading the documentation 
and some judicious web searching.  There are some exceptions, including 
Cisco TAC which is very good.  I've talked to Cisco engineers in 
Australia and Europe on occasion.  I've had mixed results with Linksys 
support, which I believe is in the Philippines.

Dealing with one offshore AT&T billing representative who was clearly a 
non-English speaker was extremely painful.  The latency and nonsense of 
the person's responses suggested either some type of auto-translator or 
satellite link, or both.  The person wasn't capable of getting the hint 
when I asked after several minutes of frustration what the "A" in "AT&T" 
stood for, and in fact claimed to have no idea.  I suspect that this 
level of disservice may be deliberate so that people will pay bogus 
charges on bills because the frustration level of disputing them is 
intentionally high.

Jay Hennigan - CCIE #7880 - Network Engineering - jay at impulse.net
Impulse Internet Service  -  http://www.impulse.net/
Your local telephone and internet company - 805 884-6323 - WB6RDV

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