Wednesday 22 February 2017


About two weeks ago, at five minutes after midnight, I lost contract with the internet. So I checked my firewall, and I could access that. So I tried my DSL line (broadband) which I have as a backup, but that was also down.

Oh dear, I thought, if *both* of these aren't working, it's some obscure internal problem.

I spent the next hour or so checking connectivities from A to B, B to C and back again, checking whether green light were still gree, and eventually I came to the conclusion that I can't find an internal fault. So I called TalkTalk, who provide my lines.

They were immediately able to tell me that this was planned maintenance on an important router. An anticipated outage. I explained that I hadn't received any warning of this; they said they couldn't help with that.

So I went to bed, because clearly there was nothing more I could do. The next morning, the line was working again. I don't know how long it was down.

The next day, it happened again, also at five minutes after midnight. This time I spoke to TalkTalk immediately. Yes, another planned outage. Sigh.

I have a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which says that if I have an outage that is more than a certain amount, I get a credit. So I called TalkTalk Technical Support to see if I could set that wheel in motion. They said that I had to talk to Customer Service. I spoke to Customer Service. They said that they had no way of knowing how long the outage was, I had to talk to Technical Support. You can probably see how this is developing ...

So I asked to talk to my Account Manager. Apparently, I don't have an account manager. So I went back and forth between Customer Service and Technical Support a few more times.

Eventually, I spoke to someone at Technical Support who said that they don't have any logs, so they can't tell how long the outage was. And he asked me to send him the logs from my router.

I don't have a router. There's a BT Box that transforms the incoming fibre to ethernet, and my network plugs straight into that. Of course, there's a firewall between the BT Box and the rest of my network. The guy at TalkTalk said that I must have a router. Actually, I needn't. If I were willing to take the risk, I could connect my internal network directly to the BT box, via an ethernet hub.

But my firewall has logs, and the guy at TalkTalk said that those logs would do. So I looked at the logs, or rather I looked at the log files. About 700 megabytes of logs. I offered him those, but so far, no-one at TalkTalk has been willing to accept them. And I don't want to email a 700 mb file!

Plus, I don't think it would help. The firewall would know if the connection to the BT Box were lost, but that connection wasn't lost. It was the connection much further down the line that was lost. So I don't think my firewall would show "interface down".

So I talked to TalkTalk Technical Support again, on 20 February (remember, all this started about two weeks ago). Graham expressed great surprise that I didn't have an account manager, and transferred the issue to Simon, his boss. Simon emailed me on the 20th saying "You can expect to hear from someone tomorrow to pick up and discuss in more detail."

Actually, I didn't expect anything of the sort. TalkTalk *never* calls you back. Almost never. I have only ever encountered two people at TalkTalk who ever call me back. I think there must be a firm rule at TalkTalk "Never call back." So I won't name the two that do call back, I don't want them to get into trouble.

And, of course, I wasn't called back.

So I tried again. This time, armed with the information that I ought to have an Account Manager, I spoke to Account Management. Chris verified that I didn't have an account manager, so I asked him if he would agree to be my account manager, and he said that if I wanted, I could call him that. So I did. And then I called Customer Service and gave Chris's name and phone number as my Account Manager.

This ploy didn't work. Chris denied that he was my account manager, and transferred the issue to his manager, Ryan. And I'm told that I'll get a call back within 24 hours from Ryan. I'm ever hopeful!

The problem, apparently, is that in order to process any claim under SLA, Customer Service has to get my Account Manager to request the outage length from Technical Support. Technical Support have already told me that they don't have that information.
It's beginning to look to me, that no-one has ever made an SLA claim for an ethernet outage, because there appears to be no mechanism for processing it.

... update ...

TalkTalk have offered me a one month credit for the outage, so it's all looking good now.
And they're making arrangements for me to have an Account Manager, and for me to be notified in advance of possible outages due to routing maintenance.

No comments:

Post a Comment