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BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to OneWorld9

Re: TekSavvy - glorified reseller, not ISP

I think you misread. I never suggested that your issue was related to internal wiring. I was stating that TSI can't legally touch Rogers' equipment so it would be pointless to hire their own techs. To head off the possibility of you coming back with a remark about internal wiring issues, I added the bit about internal wiring not being their responsibility. Please go back and read it again if you still think I said something different. That said, yes, it does sound from your description (and everything thus far in this thread) to be a network issue.

Regarding the customer-based tools you suggest, from where do you propose these tools gather the plethora of data that is available from the ISP-facing interface of the customer's modem (and from the head-end), that the customer-facing interface does not provide access to? I'm just curious, how do you figure such a tool would improve the situation and if it's such a great idea, why does no other ISP use such a tool?

said by OneWorld9:

You said it yourself - if TekSavvy cannot offer services they promised to provide, customers will favour Rogers and will leave. At the end of the day, TPIAs will become a niche-market provider - servicing customers who hope that "one day" things will change, or are OK getting subpar service for a bit of cost savings - if they cannot surpass these obstacles.

Again, you misunderstand me. I laid out the choices; deal with a bully and PAY more for less, or pay someone else to deal with the bully for you and GET more for less. I then laid out the cons of the second option (the con of the first being paying more and getting less) and pointed out that if people want to enact change they need to suck it up and deal with the bully's temper tantrums when they choose the second option. You are absolutely correct, however, in your statement that people in general won't do this.

And yes, I do know that TekSavvy generally agrees that it's on them to make it right; however, it's not within the realm of possibility for them to do so monetarily, as it seemed you may have been suggesting, and still stay in business to support the majority of their customer base who don't have issues. It's reasonable to expect someone to face the fact that the service they provide to the many who don't want a refund (no issues, or issues resolved without incident) outweighs the benefit to them of providing such a refund to keep one customer. It's an unfortunate fact, but it is a fact.

There is no way TSI could have foreseen Rogers being this dickish about things and by the time the realization came about, it was too late to turn back. A unilateral stop-sell on cable in Rogers-serviced markets would spell doom for TekSavvy, you know it, I know it, and most importantly Rogers knows it, and you can bet your ass they use that fact in negotiations with Tek. "You need us at this point, without us, you'll lose enough revenue that you won't live to see the next contract negotiation, so no, we're not changing a thing." sounds plausible.

I'm not arguing how it should be, I'm pointing out the facts of the situation, so people (in general, not just you) understand why it's the way it is and not the way it should be. TPIAs have no leverage in negotiations with Rogers, or any other last-mile infrastructure provider and, given that they're in direct competition with the same, things can get ugly pretty quick. Bell is bound by a lot more legislation than Rogers and the other cable providers, so you hear about this a little (not much) less with Bell lately, and the other cable providers are nowhere near as dickish toward Tek as Rogers is, despite the contracts being nearly identical. This truly is less of a TSI problem and more of a Rogers problem, as far as the cause; insomuch as the solution, well, TSI knows what needs to be done, Rogers knows what needs to be done, guess which one of them isn't willing to do it?

OneWorld9

join:2010-12-09
East York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy Cable

said by BronsCon:

I think you misread. I never suggested that your issue was related to internal wiring.

Fair enough. However, my suggestions are based on the issues I am personally experiencing, and my overall understanding of what an ideal ISP would do. I can see you're talking about overall support, and I do agree TekSavvy does have practical limitations to what they can support. However, if there is an issue with the network (as it appears there may indeed be in my case, so one can assume others as well - am I the only TekSavvy customer in my area?), then this definitely falls in TekSavvy's area of responsibility.

I agree with your other points.

said by BronsCon:

That said, yes, it does sound from your description (and everything thus far in this thread) to be a network issue.

Thank you - this is my point. If it's a network issue, TekSavvy needs to deal with it. Two months later, it's still not clear what the problem is and it's not resolved.

said by BronsCon:

Regarding the customer-based tools you suggest, from where do you propose these tools gather the plethora of data that is available from the ISP-facing interface of the customer's modem (and from the head-end), that the customer-facing interface does not provide access to? I'm just curious, how do you figure such a tool would improve the situation and if it's such a great idea, why does no other ISP use such a tool?

I'll assume you're asking with an open mind, and not simply to refute the idea, so I'll try to be as clear as I can about this.

Throughout the past two months of troubleshooting my issue with TekSavvy, they requested I submit various logs to them, including ping, tracert, etc. Each time, gathering those logs took me approx. 45 mins. or longer. I am well-versed on how to run these DOS commands and gather the logs. If this is what TekSavvy requires to open tickets with Rogers for support, all of this could have been automated. This is the very minimum TekSavvy could do - take responsibility for gathering this information, and not rely on a customer (whose level of technical knowledge will vary greatly) to do that for them. I do agree that these kinds of tools are not ideal, compared to the tools that Rogers techs have and should be available to TekSavvy. However, given these limitations, it should not be be the responsibility of the customer to gather all this information which TekSavvy could easily do themselves.

I am not an ISP network tech, so I don't know how far TekSavvy could develop the customer-based tools, but I do know the support experience could be greatly improved. The DSLr Line Monitor is another example - not ideal, but at least we have a clear idea now of when packet loss is happening. It took a member of the DSLr to suggest setting this up. Why didn't TekSavvy suggest this from Day 1 of my current issue? Why is the onus on the customer to solve his/her own problems? My point is simple - TekSavvy needs to take responsibility for ensuring a service they provide works. They cannot see the Rogers side of things, so they rely on the customer to advise them. I think they could do a lot to make and/or implement customer-based tools that would advise them without the customer getting directly involved.

Both Rogers and Bell provide software with their service. One of the things the software does is assist in monitoring / troubleshooting your connection. Although I personally choose not to install that software, I think if the software is created with a high level of professionalism (which TekSavvy, as an ISP, should be able to accomplish) then it should be made available to TekSavvy customers as well. At the very least, if there's a connection problem and TekSavvy needs to gather data from the customer's end (which they do need to do at present, since they don't have access to the incumbents tools), they can suggest the customer install / use their provided software tools. I've already suggested this to TekSavvy, and TSI David agrees this would be very helpful - at the very least, they can automate their log-gathering with a batch file. I think they could do much better than that, though.

said by BronsCon:

I then laid out the cons of the second option (the con of the first being paying more and getting less) and pointed out that if people want to enact change they need to suck it up and deal with the bully's temper tantrums when they choose the second option. You are absolutely correct, however, in your statement that people in general won't do this.

Therein lies the essence of my thread in the first place. If customers will not accept a subpar service, it needs to change. Those who come to TekSavvy must be fully apprised that they are choosing TekSavvy, with all its disadvantages, to support this cause. TekSavvy's marketing does not in one bit suggest this - it says "We are committed to giving our customers the best service possible". Where's that "best service"? I don't see it yet. I feel it's very important for a company to be who they say they are. If TekSavvy's approach is to differentiate themselves from the incumbents by saying they are "honest", and "different, in a good way", and they provide the "best service" ... that's exactly what they need to do.

said by BronsCon:

And yes, I do know that TekSavvy generally agrees that it's on them to make it right; however, it's not within the realm of possibility for them to do so monetarily, as it seemed you may have been suggesting, and still stay in business to support the majority of their customer base who don't have issues. It's reasonable to expect someone to face the fact that the service they provide to the many who don't want a refund (no issues, or issues resolved without incident) outweighs the benefit to them of providing such a refund to keep one customer. It's an unfortunate fact, but it is a fact.

You seem to be fairly reasonable in your discussions, so again, I'm going to be very frank. I disagree. TekSavvy is a business, like any other ... a business, by definition, exists to make a profit. If TekSavvy cannot run a business model that makes a profit, and at the same time provide all the great things they promise their customers they will provide, then that's a mistake on their part. Alternatively, if they are just doing this for the "cause" of making changes in Canada, wonderful - in that case, they would need to be prepared to sustain a loss and compensate any customers who they didn't provide the service the customer signed up for. When they also go so far as to ask the customer to waste a lot of time performing troubleshooting when they themselves have not ruled out a network issue (which is their responsibility), they do indeed need to make things right. Whatever losses they may incur as a result, that's solely because of their current processes and procedures. If they want someone like myself to troubleshoot for them, they can put me on their payroll.

I'm not disputing it's a terrible situation for any TPIA to be in. However, they clearly want to compete with the incumbents as a "better service". I joined TekSavvy with this impression. My experience being otherwise, I'm sharing that it isn't (which some people have appreciated). They have offered to make things right, so I'm giving them that chance.


BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

said by OneWorld9:

Throughout the past two months of troubleshooting my issue with TekSavvy, they requested I submit various logs to them, including ping, tracert, etc. Each time, gathering those logs took me approx. 45 mins. or longer. I am well-versed on how to run these DOS commands and gather the logs. If this is what TekSavvy requires to open tickets with Rogers for support, all of this could have been automated.

TSI Agent: Okay, I'm going to need you to run the TekDiagnostic utility, which was sent to you on CD-ROM when you first signed up for service. Leave it running and when the problem occurs, it will automatically send us the information we need.

Customer: Oh. I lost that CD a long time ago...

TSI Agent: That's okay, it can be downloaded fro...[cut off by customer]

Customer: Downloaded? My connection isn't working, how the f am I supposed to download it?

---

Yes, I know that my hypothetical customer can download it at work or a friend or neighbor's house or whatever, but what good is that if they're on the phone with the tech *right then* and the issue is occurring *right then*?

This isn't the right solution to this problem. A lot os ISPs here in the US tried using tools like this a few years back. The sent out CDs with propaganda strongly insinuating that your connection would stop working eventually if you did not install them, so customers would have them already installed when the time came. The problems came when some inquisitive minds who knew better picked apart at what the tools actually did and when it was found that the tools tracked user actions and connection metrics and sent data back to the ISP (it didn't matter that they only did this when the user requested it), the backlash was huge. Well, except for Comcast, whose tools constantly collected data, though they still only sent it upon request...

So, I guess, in answer to my own question about why other ISPs don't use such tools... ^-- This. On top of causing customer backlash, they were next to useless because most of the time when there was an issue there was no way to get the data from the tool to the ISP.

Today, such software is limited to pinging a few sites, running you through a "check your cables, reboot your computer and modem, then run this again" process, and returning a "your connection appears fine" or a "there is a problem with your connection, please call [ISP] at [phone number] for assistance". They're nothing like the almost useful tools you describe, which were attempted in the past.

The best bet is something like Line Monitor (which you're already using) which pings the customer's IP repeatedly, but that also requires that either the user's modem is acting as their router and is configured to respond to ping, the modem is in bridge mode and the user's router is configured to respond to ping, or the user's modem is in bridge mode with no router and their computer isn't running firewall software that drops ping requests. It also requires the user to know their IP address. Anyone who could make that tool work in cases where it won't work by default (and most who know how who look up their own IP address) will already know how to run a traceroute and ping a site. Also, you can bet you ass that TSI is monitoring lines that have trouble tickets open; whether or not the front line reps have access to this monitoring is another issue and if they don't, they should.

said by OneWorld9:

Therein lies the essence of my thread in the first place. If customers will not accept a subpar service, it needs to change.

Therein lies the basis for the text you are quoting. If customers want the landscape to change, they have to do something to enact that change. TSI wants it toi change, as well, but if you actually read everything I wrote, you'll see what TSI simply wanting it to change, knowing what needs to be done, negotiating their asses off, and wishing for the best ain't gonna do it. Customers need to flee the incumbents in droves, making TPIA the incumbents' primary income source (or at least *A* primary source) before the incumbents will play ball. Now that I've stated it 3 different ways, do you see the problem with what you're expecting? You're right to expect it, but you're wrong if you think it's possible without external pressure in the form of customers leaving the incumbents and showing that they're willing to suffer a small war to change things.

said by OneWorld9:

When they also go so far as to ask the customer to waste a lot of time performing troubleshooting when they themselves have not ruled out a network issue (which is their responsibility), they do indeed need to make things right. Whatever losses they may incur as a result, that's solely because of their current processes and procedures. If they want someone like myself to troubleshoot for them, they can put me on their payroll.

You haven't called tech support at, or requested a credit from, a first-party provider in a while, have you? It's pretty standard practice. The fact remains that when the issue is caused by Tek, they typically do offer a credit or refund. However, to offer credits or refunds to every dissatisfied customer, on the scale you're suggesting, would put them out of business; the incumbents, who run on much fatter profit margins, don't even do this, because they also could not afford to do so and stay in business. Reasonable to expect? Arguably. Possible within the realm of reality? No.

said by OneWorld9:

I'm not disputing it's a terrible situation for any TPIA to be in. However, they clearly want to compete with the incumbents as a "better service". I joined TekSavvy with this impression. My experience being otherwise, I'm sharing that it isn't (which some people have appreciated). They have offered to make things right, so I'm giving them that chance.

They want to compete with the incumbents as a "better service offering", where "service" is "internet" and "offering" is "speed and/or usage limits". If they offer you neither better speeds nor higher caps than their competitors, then they have indeed failed at that for you.

I understand (and also appreciate) that you are here to share your story, so that others know that these things happen. It is important that people do this, to help weed out bad providers. It's equally important that people like myself, and others on these forums, post additional information to support a good provider like TSI (regardless of your personal opinion, if you compare all the details of your other options, I'm confident you'll come around to my view, which is likely why you're giving them a chance to fix it rather than jumping to someone better). That's the metric by which you can judge customer satisfaction. If nobody's bothering to post in support of the provider, they must truly be terrible; well, here we are showing our support.

Of course TSI is trying to make things right; they always do. Yes, it may take some time and often it takes something like this thread to bring a particular issue to the attention of the higher-ups, and that is unfortunate. Something does need to be done about it, and I have a few suggestions for fixing this issue, which I'll discuss, via PM, with a certain of their higher-ups who had shown an interest in another of my ideas.

OneWorld9

join:2010-12-09
East York, ON
Reviews:
·TekSavvy Cable

said by BronsCon:

This isn't the right solution to this problem.

That's your opinion, and I respectfully disagree. Personally, if I had the right kind of tools to provide whatever information TekSavvy required of me, I'd most likely use them - assuming they were made in such a way as to allay the fears that you suggest many would have about them. There are many ways deal with all of the objections you mentioned, but I get the impression you feel you've already come up with all the answers, and you're not wanting to really discuss this - I don't want to waste my time arguing about it.

said by BronsCon:

The best bet is something like Line Monitor (which you're already using) which pings the customer's IP repeatedly, but that also requires that either the user's modem is acting as their router and is configured to respond to ping, the modem is in bridge mode and the user's router is configured to respond to ping, or the user's modem is in bridge mode with no router and their computer isn't running firewall software that drops ping requests. It also requires the user to know their IP address. Anyone who could make that tool work in cases where it won't work by default (and most who know how who look up their own IP address) will already know how to run a traceroute and ping a site.

Agreed, this is a great tool. I am fully aware of the complexity of setting it up. If that could be simplified, and used more universally (again, part of the "customer tools" I'm suggesting), I think it would be a great help in the current situation of "We have no idea what's happening with your connection." I think this is one of many possible ideas, which needs to be fleshed out.

said by BronsCon:

Also, you can bet you ass that TSI is monitoring lines that have trouble tickets open; whether or not the front line reps have access to this monitoring is another issue and if they don't, they should.

I respectfully disagree. TSI Gabe didn't even look at my situation until this thread appeared, from what I gather of his response. Every ticket that was opened with Rogers, came back as "no problem found" - he suggested it was because the tickets were focused on my connection only, and that was a mistake on their part. I would get an e-mail update from TekSavvy, simply stating that my ticket was updated, and to call them if I still had an issue. How things were left at the end of August, I asked them to please escalate this and get it resolved. They said they were in the process of doing that. I saw several e-mail updates, that the tickets were updated, but I heard nothing more from TekSavvy. Luckily, the issue seemed to go away for most of September. When it returned, I asked TekSavvy what had come of all those escalations - can you guess what they said? More of the same.

said by BronsCon:

Customers need to flee the incumbents in droves, making TPIA the incumbents' primary income source (or at least *A* primary source) before the incumbents will play ball.

If that's really the case, this will never happen. In the meantime, those who are TekSavvy customers should suffer? How long are we talking about here? Months? Years? Decades? You're expecting a lot from the average customer, who is here to get a service - and nothing more. Again, TekSavvy needs to be clear about their purpose - if they want to cater to the "We're happy getting subpar service, as long as it means we pay less." crowd (as a couple of posters have suggested - they'd rather not bring the fight to the CRTC), by all means. I'll take my business elsewhere. From the response of TSI David, I don't think that's their operating model - although some of what TSI Marc has said in his last posts do concern me.

If, however, TSI does want the change you're suggesting needs to happen by having a very large base of customers, they need to be able to handle the problems (like mine) that come up. Ideally, they need to prevent these problems from happening. Anything that gets closer to that goal will show prospective new customers that, although the ride may be bumpy at times, TekSavvy will do whatever they need to do to smooth things out. Again, from TSI David's response, it seems that's happening - it shouldn't have taken this long, but here we are.

said by BronsCon:

They want to compete with the incumbents as a "better service offering", where "service" is "internet" and "offering" is "speed and/or usage limits". If they offer you neither better speeds nor higher caps than their competitors, then they have indeed failed at that for you.

Is this TekSavvy's proposition? I haven't heard that from them. I'm sure most people think that "better service" does not exclude a service that is both reliable and well-supported. Personally, I could care less that I get more bandwidth per month, if that means that my connection will be down frequently and/or very slow / unusable for lengthy periods of time. I think it all comes together as a value proposition. "Better" to me, is not limited to what you're suggesting it is.

said by BronsCon:

Of course TSI is trying to make things right; they always do. Yes, it may take some time and often it takes something like this thread to bring a particular issue to the attention of the higher-ups, and that is unfortunate. Something does need to be done about it, and I have a few suggestions for fixing this issue, which I'll discuss, via PM, with a certain of their higher-ups who had shown an interest in another of my ideas.

Indeed, it is unfortunate - it shouldn't be this way. If you feel you can make headway into changing the process, by all means. That would serve us all.


BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

I'm not going to address all the points in your reply, as there's not much point; we're not going to see eye to eye on any of this and that's fine. You're a customer, I'm an entrepreneur and businessman, so we have completely differing perspectives.

I will point out that this is a chicken-and-egg problem. In order for Rogers to play ball and give TSI priority support and access to the tools required to properly diagnose these types of issues, TSI would need to become a major source of income for Rogers. In order for TSI to become a major source of income for Rogers, enough people will have to stick with them and convince enough more people to join in and do the same untill, well... until enough people do. One has to happen before the other can.

Of course, there's always creationism. A bit of legislation goes a long way, which is why you don't hear of these issues (as much) with DSL.

As far as TekSavvy's definition of "better service", they've never, as far as I'm aware, publicly declared any of that, one way or the other. My observations over the last 7 years, and through several conversations with various members of their staff seem to indicate that I am correct in my assumptions, however.

I've stuck around following them for so long because I'd really like to see them take off and eventually spread down into the US; I could get them started in 6 states.

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