Saturday, February 5, 2011

ISPs: Your Customers Are Not Idiots

Well well. That's a first. Today I picked up a Huawei ADSL 2+ modem/router from my local post office, where it had been imprisoned for the crime of being (only marginally) too large to fit through my standard sized postbox. After walking home in the Yorkshire drizzle, I decided to have a poke around in the box, despite the fact that my new Internet service doesn't kick in til Tuesday.

New Internet service. Sore point. My erstwhile ISP UK Online have given up the ghost, and are encouraging well-known bastion of customer service Sky as their natural successor. I was sad to lose UKO - as one of a handful of LLU providers, they're part of a limited number of "real" ISPs, rather than marketing bacon wrapped round the tiny cocktail sausage of BT wholesale. Anyway, I liked UK online. Their customer service guys were helpful and smart. Their prices where a bit rich, but not too bad. Their service was beautifully reliable. I never felt "capped", and I never had a peep out of any of the many and various VPN types I used on the connection. So - sad to see them go.

A lot of people raised an eyebrow at my choice of talk talk. I'm a techie.. and they're very... con sumer, no? Well.. to be honest, it was them or Sky! I already have a relationship with both companies for TV and phone, and my experience of talk talk for phone over the last ~5 years has been good. I know that may put me in a minority, but it has been. I had a mixed bag when I rang to order my new service - UK call centre, answered quickly... but I needed to give far too many details and was treated a bit like a new customer. Overall, a wash on customer service there.

Anyway - that's enough warbling.. what prompted me to post? Oh yeah. In the modem box there's a leaflet. This leaflet gives you a choice - you can use the enclosed CD to configure your new modem.. or get this - you can follow the manual, and here's your username and passowrd. Crack on. This is new to me. As techie-in-residence for family and friends, and as a long-time Smoothwallite I have set up more DSL connections than most BT engineers, and one of my pet hates is the unwavering adherence to "Put the CD in and follow the prompts". This sort of thing naturally gets my back up - a kind of presumption of moronicity, if you will. On top of that, I am a Linux user, and of course user of vaguely unusual firewalls, sometimes "Put in the CD and press buttons" just won't answer the brief.

So - big props to Talk Talk - you didn't treat me like an idiot, and come go-live day, your little modem might well just chill on the shelf whilst I use the information you chaps handily provide to configure my trusty-but-sadly-discontinued linksys am200.

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