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Unconventional Trip Report: Tech Support (oh Boy!)  
User currently offlineBagpiper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 3 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2325 times:

So, I think its been a while since we've heard all the horror stories of Tech Support and/or Customer Service, so I guess I'll start off with one I just now got off the phone for.

In short, I do a lot of websites with a lot of backend, database type stuff - usually with PHP and MySQL, for those that know what that means. Well, I grabbed my standard mysql_connect PHP file, edited the host, user, password, and database, and plugged it into a website I am updating for a client.

Error: Cannot connect to database

Spent an hour pulling hairs out over the issue, then just called the web host's tech support.

Start off with the standard "we don't support custom scripts". Yes, sir, I know, but this is an issue with your database servers. 30 minutes later, after going over the same crap 5 times, and throwing the ball back and forth, the person ends up logging in via FTP to the website, and manually editing a PHP file. Turns out he erased 400 lines of stuff I had written (but backed up), and just declared a bunch of variables, and told me I was good to go. I asked to let me check it while he stayed on the line, but he said he already checked it, so no need. Thanks and goodbye.

I look at it - well, declaring a bunch of variables in PHP is no quick way to connect to a database. You have more chance of hitting the moon while peeing. So, I mess around with it some more, looking on php.net and mysql's website, but to no avail. So, I call back. After holding for 30 minutes, a guy answers, and as I start describing the issue, also saying that the previous tech support person was wrong, he hung up on me. Either that, or my phone, which never drops calls and had 5 bars at the time, randomly dropped the call, and gave the "caller hang up" tone instead of the "dropped call tone". Bah Humbug.

Call back, hold for 25 minutes.

Get somebody who "made it my new years resolution to learn PHP". Cool! Great learning opportunity here. Describe what previous person did, and this guy tells me to do the exact same thing - he said it was in his manual. "You need to type this in, so the PHP knows what version of mysql you're connecting to". BS, but ok.

"Type this in:

$dbms = 'mysql4';


Oh right, mister. Declaring a variable is going to help. Big time. Might as well aim for the moon and push really hard again. I explained to him that no, his manual is wrong if thats what it says, and they really need to get their act on for PHP. After putting me on hold and talking with the rest of their tech support, he comes back and says it must be a coding error - maybe just a small letter thats wrong. Ok, fair enough. How to decide what it is? I'll install their pre-packaged PHP applications, such as phpBB (forum software), and if their is an error like I get, then it is their fault. If no error, then it is my fault. Simple enough. So, I hang up, and take the 4 minutes it took to install the phpBB software.

Load it in the browser, and, guess what? "Unable to connect to MySQL server". Ding ding ding ding! I win!

Call back, hold for 25 minutes. Same guy answers, so I tell him I was just on the phone with him for a database issue. What does he say? "Oh, it is definitely an error with your coding, because". I wish I didn't cut him off right there, and had let him keep on going to hear what he was going to say. but, I told him he was wrong - go to this URL and see that phpBB isn't working.

He goes, and says "nope, it works for m.... oh wait. Yeah, it doesn't work."

I get put on hold for 15 minutes, he comes back and says he talked to level three tech support (who are actually the guys in the basement who administer the servers), and it turns out it is a DNS issue. I told him that is why I couldn't ping the server before, and it is the exact problem I told them it was, but they refused to acknowledge or even entertain the idea for one moment.

He got my email and phone number, and then "thank you for calling _____ tech support, have a nice night. We'll work on the issue and let you know when it is resolved. Bye."

No thank you, nothing, for:

1) Alerting them of the issue that probably others were having problems with, too
2) Teaching two staff members about PHP
3) Telling them that part of their website is not working, and I had to manually go to a URL that I guessed (left that part out in the interest of keeping this short)

Maybe I should send them a consulting fee.... Time for a new host?

Anyways, for those that don't understand all the PHP and MySQL jargon, my apologies.

but, I'd love to hear your tech support / customer service stories!

5 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineNighthawk From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 5361 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2271 times:

....and thats why I run my own servers  Silly

Although its not working out too well at the moment, server got hacked and im currently trying to get it back online :S

That'll teach you
User currently offlineBagpiper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 2230 times:

Quoting Nighthawk (Reply 1):

Yeah, I run my own too, but some clients would rather have "more security" at a large hosting facility with 24/7 staff like this place. I try to tell them it is not any better, but....

User currently offlineNorthStarDC4M From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 3192 posts, RR: 34
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 2229 times:

Quoting Bagpiper (Thread starter):

1) Alerting them of the issue that probably others were having problems with, too

Oh the number of times we get customers insisting this on the phone... 99% of the time they ARE the only ones with the issue. So forgive us help desk types if we get a bit jaded about it. If others were having the same issue, they were not as numerous as your think most likely.

Quoting Bagpiper (Thread starter):
2) Teaching two staff members about PHP

I feel for you man, some tech support people are real ID-10-T initiators but hey, not all of us! Trying to teach them PHP though would probably be akin to mounting a tomato on wheels.

Quoting Bagpiper (Thread starter):
3) Telling them that part of their website is not working, and I had to manually go to a URL that I guessed (left that part out in the interest of keeping this short)

Yes well... who ever said tech support knew what the other tech support was doing? This happens far too often, sites go down for no reason alas... I'm just glad i don't support websites.

Anyways, on that subject, i recently had problems with my own personal hosting. Couldn't access the sites at all via HTTP. FTP and mail were both ok. Went on for 4 days. I tried to call my hosts 1-800 number only to get a busy signal... ok fine so i sent them an email:

I have attemped to connect using 5 different computers in different locations, all fail to connect with 404 errors. People in other parts of the world are having the same issue.

The email i get back has this wonderful little line of help in it:
Please be sure to completely close your browser and try again...

Without even testing the site they tell me it is my fault.... love it.
Finally got through on the 1-800 number, told them the issue, the guy at the other end of the line of course was incomprehensible. Finally says he has to escalate the issue, gives me a ticket number and hangs up without letting me confirm it!

I never got a call back, the sites all magically started working again after about 5 days. I wrote their retention department a long nasty email, and got a "we're sorry but we're not doing anything about it" type answer.

Whatever... being on both sides of the fence makes me kinda strange sometimes...

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
User currently offlineArniePie From Belgium, joined Aug 2005, 1292 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 2222 times:

Quoting Bagpiper (Thread starter):


Now you've done it, my head just exploded as I did understand exactly nothing about what you where talking about Big grin .

So just taking a wild guess on how to properly respond:


[edit post]
User currently offlineBagpiper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2195 times:

Quoting NorthStarDC4M (Reply 3):

You're tech support? Sweet... I've always wanted to talk to somebody that had that job.

I'm not berating all tech support people, but just this one company... yes, i understand that customers will call in and probably give tons of suggestions, trying to do their job for them - but this guy admitted to me on the phone that I know more about the issues than he did. So if thats the case, lets work together and solve this more quickly. Now an average joe calling Dell tech support saying "my computer won't work" - thats a different story.

Quoting ArniePie (Reply 4):

I'm allergic to cats, but thanks for the condolences  Wink

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