are the Geeks, for they shall internet the earth
How to Keep the Phone Company from
by John De
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
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
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
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
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,
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.