Mac the BA DSL Guy
by justin 02:00PM Sunday Jun 25 2000
Ask the BA DSL Guy, Mac - Part I "On the Bell Atlantic DSL Help Desk"
My name is Mac the Bell Atlantic Tech Support guy, but you can call me Mac. I work in BA Help Desk in Houston Texas (far from Bell Atlantic home turf). So not only do we have to deal with the heat, and deal with humidity, we have to deal with cubes, and shift work..
Each day we login to our phone system, which keeps track of our time on the job.. two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch. (The phone system tells us the current call queue). We're all using windows PCs, and we have a web browser, but while we are on the line with a CX (customer, in help desk slang), our screen is captured and stored to make sure we're not surfing on company time. Big Brother is always watching! Otherwise we can surf whenever we want with the normal exceptions: (No porn, chatting, games, downloading, etc.)
Dress code is slacks, collered shirts (golf shirts and the like) and loafers, no sneakers please.
I am on Team "A", and I deal with dozens of calls each day. Inside our offices are 40-50 techs each shift. Many of Team "A" are inexperienced, and sometimes, sorry to say this, just plain stupid. BA Tech is just like George Carlin said about kids, "A few winners, and a whole lotta losers." .. Some have accents so strong that I can barely understand them, let alone a CX on the phone.The sometimes twisted life of a BA DSL trouble ticket
Everyone who calls here is placed in the queue. If there is a heavy call count you may have to wait 5-10 minutes. The best times to call are in the morning between 8-10am and in the afternoon between 2-4pm.
Avoid 8-11pm, because our database is usually updated during that time, so we have trouble getting at your line history.
Once your reach a human your DSL phone number, name, or username (usually DSL phone number) is taken from you and our system shows us everything that has happened with your account since the close of the sale. Past trouble tickets, escalations, and other information (name, phone number,
address and in some cases your Social Security Number) is there. But this history log is all we (Team A) have to work on, there are no other tools available to us, so dont ask us to run trace routes or test line quality, we can only give advice based on your line history!
If we can fix your problem, great! We are happy and so are you. but if it cannot be fixed over the phone your ticket will be ESCALATED. .. normally your ticket will be given over to Broadband (BB), a group that is regulated by the FCC. Once your ticket has been pushed to BB, a group in our office called Team B takes over. These are usually the
best people, (temps promoted from Team A), and can talk to BB where the normal techs can't.
Broadband will try and track down the problem by doing different tests on your line, at the frame, DSLAM, switch, GSP, etc to try and get you online.
Normally a BB member will call you within 48-72 hours to see if you are online and if not try and help out more. BB are union-ized .. they do not work for BA.. I think they really don't care to do more than the minimum to avoid getting fired. See the movie "Office Space" to understand this..
Now, BB is not the only place your ticket can go. Sometimes if an issue is on your computer and can't be fixed by a tech or a lead tech, your call could be transfered to Tier 1 (T1). T1 is based in Norfolk, VA and is part of BA. T1 is just another call center, but these guys are a bit more
experienced than the the first people you speak to..
If T1 can't fix you, they have the ability to transfer you to T2. Mostly we have no idea who or where T2 are, or what they can do. Rumor is that T2 is the CEO who can morph into any tech...
The last resort is if someone from T1 sends out a tech to your house and takes a look at the problem. Hopefully by this point your problem will be fixed. A tech to come to your home costs you about $120 bucks.Have some mercy on us!
Large scale Tech support is the lowest paying sections in the computer industry. Most in our office make 10 bucks an hour, even though many people here have MSCE, A+ or other qualifications. The majority of people who work here are students, and who are computer literate but don't have
college degrees, just working class folks. At times, job training was just a few days, but it is currently two weeks and involves a small exam.
The turnover rate is high due to the fact that the company that has the BA contract uses a a Temporary-services firm to staff the office. We are all temp workers: No benefits, just the minimum hourly wage, thats it.
We are told to always be polite, and calls are monitored. You can be fired for treating a customer badly even though once in a while a CX will beat you up.Current tech headache:
The PPPoE software that BA uses (WinPoet) and AOL 5.0 Plus doesnt't mix! The TCP/IP stacks are getting corrupted by AOL. Especially the TCP/IP DUA #2 VPN support. Never let AOL 5.0 Plus be downloaded if you can help it.. Rumors floating around are saying a patch will be released with the new build of WinPoet 2.0.2.** If you have any questions or comments, let me know. If I can, I will do my best to answer them in some future column **
| || Hello Mac,|
Let me clear up some of your problems with the
T2 question. Let me start by doing a process flow
map for you.
1. Trouble gets called into the trouble center in
2. If help desk technician can fix the problem
great, if not the trouble gets referred to Teir
I tech support.
3. This is located in VA (Norfork) to be exact.
The Teir I support is call HSS High Speed
Solutions Center. It is their job to locate
the possible cause of the dsl problem. If they
find the problem the process ends here with a
call to the BA Data Network Operations Center
Teir I support, to contact Teir II or to repair
the problem (get at tech out to the customer
location or to fix the internal network
problem). If the problem can not be solved,
a trouble ticket is put into the BA Data NOC.
4. Once the trouble ticket is put in a BA Data Noc
Teir I tech looks at the ticket and does a few
preperscribed test to find out line conditions,
and if the customer is in sync (has connection
to the ASAM (DSLAM)). If this test fails a tech
should be dispatched to repair the line fault
condition. If this test is successful this
becomes a no route trouble and is sent to a
higher level of Teir I support.
5. At this point the Teir I tech will see if the
customers MAC (Media Access Control) address is
in the Bridge table (ARP Cache) of the router.
If MAC address is there, a throughput test is
done to see if the customer has good
throughput within the network from the end user
customer to the router. If this test fails Tier
II is called in to investigate if this is an
ASAM (DSLAM), ATM Switch, or a router problem.
IF the test is a success, Teir II is called in
to investigate if the problem is being caused
by the router, the public ATM network, or the
6. If the problem is solved at the BA Data NOC the
ticket is closed out and the problem fixed.
Now there are only three problems that a customer can have. They are: No Sync, No Route, Slow
Throughput. For those who want to debate this,
Slow Throughput and syncing at the wrong speed, to
me are the same.
As you may have noticed I left out the use of the
term Broadband. This group no longer exsist as
Broadband. Broadband is now BA Data Network
I hope this helps
Re: Mac the BA DSL Guy The "Broadband" center was once known as The Bell
Atlantic Broadband Service Center or BABSC. The
Center underwent a name change to The Bell
Atlantic Data Network Operations Center or
BA-DATA-NOC (some even call it The BADNOC, but
that name is frowned upon). This is due to the fact that Bell Atlantic needed to define the
function of the "Broadband" center to provide a
clearer picture of its purpose. The term Broadband
was not descriptive enough, and was the source of
much confusion when it came to trouble tickets.
The term Data Network Operations Center gives the
correct picture of a center which contain many
groups and Tiers of support. The term teir I, and
teir II can apply to any number of technical
groups within the BA-DATA-NOC. Each piece of
network equipment has a tier I and II support
group. For example IU Activation, Network
Creation, SP Activation, and MCO are Teir I
functions. While Tier II is more concerned
about the actual network equipment: ASAMS (DSLAM),
(ADN) ATM Switches, Routers, Test Servers, and
(Public) ATM Switches. It can be said that once
you are at this point you will be handed over to
the Teir I and Teir II of the ISP, be it BAIS,
AOL, SNJI, or some other ISP. The Broadband name
gave the impression that you the customer was
handled in one continuous path of service from
your ADSL modem to the Internet. This is just not true, service happens as a result of a series of
hand offs and teir hopping: Ex. Teir I of one
group to teir I of another, then to teir II of
still another group. You get the the picture.
I must say that this can become confusing on
a trouble ticket, but the most important fact to
remember is that most of the Teir I folks are
inexperienced and undertrained, and the Teir
II folks are overworked and overloaded with
internal network infastructure problems.
This is still no excuse for poor service, but given time Bell Atlantic will be able to get its
people up to speed.
I hope this helps.
Re: Mac the BA DSL Guy I was actually shocked to find a company that thrives on keeping customers happy. They are my cell phone provider, which will remain nameless here as I feel this is not the place to give them a plug. In the last year and a half, I had problems with my phone (not their fault, they sell them but don't build them) and both times, they replaced the phone, no charge, even though after it was out of warranty, I offered to pay. The second time, their rep even drove out to my place of business to personaly deliver my new phone. I had one billing error and it was immediately credited when I called them. Every time I deal with this company, I walk away a satisfied customer. Their people are helpful, knowledgeable, and very pleasant. I wish more companies where like this.