Blessed are the Geeks, for they shall internet the earth

How to Keep the Phone Company from Sucking
by John De

Yes it can be done!!! Well no actually it canít, but there are a few things you can do to minimize how badly they suck.

First you must realize that the phone companies arenít manned by complete morons. They are merely aspiring morons. They have in fact mastered such advanced concepts as tying their own shoe laces, and are approaching proficiency at briefing thru their nasal passages; statistics show that at least 50% are even able to dress themselves in the morning. That being said they still receive thousands of calls daily from people dumber than they are. Don't laugh it could be you.

One will find that they are in the exact same position you are. They will be assessing you technically and expecting you not to measure up. The expectation is that you will insist on things that are not physically possible, not know what you are talking about, give them the barcode numbers from a Captain Crunch box instead of a Circuit ID and tell them it's their fault for not finding the circuit, and probably even have the wrong phone company. They will be overworked, skeptical, impatient, and probably rude. You on the other hand will help ease their frustration by remaining calm, being objective and polite, not by screaming at them for being the morons that took down your damn T1 connection.

The Phone Monkey on the other end of the line can in fact with a little help troubleshoot his way out of a wet paper sack, he however can not trouble shoot your way out of a wet paper sack.

To ensure that the process goes do the following

1. MONITOR YOUR NETWORK, In 2003 there is no excuse for not running network monitoring software. Your company may not be able to afford a 24/7/365 NOC with giant flat screen monitors and a full HP Open View implementation. However Whatís Up from Ipswitch software costs only $700 a fully function evaluation version is available for free, or if you are particularly cheap you can try Big Brother for Linux.
The reason for having network monitoring is simple, you can have up to the second information on all of your equipment and circuits. You now know when equipment fails you can be paged or called and the program will either display the text to your pager or id dialing your voicemail the software cam read out loud exactly what failed, all relevant Circuit IDs, as well as the carrier, their phone number and the correct department.

2. Call the correct department of the right carrier, and have all your information handy.

3. When you call you must command authority, you can do this by speaking clearly, firmly, and by projecting your voice, keeping the tone and pitch of your voice steady. Things to avoid are yelling, hostilities or profanity, you can display non satisfaction, without being hostile.

4. Introduce your self either as a Network Engineer. If they hear administrator or technician they will think of Nick burns from Saturday Night Live and give you no respect. If you introduce your self as a MIS manager or Director they will think of the Pointy Haired Boss from Dilbert and you will not have their respect.

5. Present them with the appropriate information, you must remember there are 3 common sets of Circuit IDs,
One of them is the ID assigned to T1, (or whatever media you happen to have) by the Regional Bell Operating Carrier (the local Monopoly).
The second Circuit ID is an ID assigned by the carrier that is providing you with the T1 line (or whatever)
The Third is a Circuit ID associated with a virtual circuit such as frame relay, DLCI.

6. Begin by building a clear case as to why you believe the issue is not with your equipment and present it in the proper way so that he understands that when you tell him something you mean it.

7. Work with them and go step by step with him, and walk him thru the steps needed for him to correctly diagnose and fix the problem.
Look for the up coming article titled Training the Phone Monkey where I will walk you through the appropriate steps to actually build a step by step case for troubleshooting a circuit down issue.

 The Information Technology Survival Guide -- Douglas Chick

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