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Thursday, June 23, 2005

I hope this doesn't hurt US-Canadian relations

I had what I thought was a simple question for my ISP. It didn't turn out that way:

First, I tried e-mail.

First e-mail:
* Name: Martin LaBar
* Issue: General Info on [ISP] Services
* Detailed Issue: Other
* Message Body: I have activated 800 number access on our account.
What 800 number do I dial when in Stratford, Ontario? Thanks.

Relevant portion of response:
Dear Martin LaBar,

Thank you for contacting us.

We understand that you are inquiring about the 800 number to dial from Stanford and Ontario.

Please be informed that, you can use the following 800 number to access internet from anywhere in US

. . .

Once the service is activated, you may start using the 800 access numbers at any time.

800 service is billed at a rate of $6.00 per hour ($0.10 per minute) surcharge is added to your regular dial-up account charges for all calls using the Service in the United States. Calls are billed in 1 minute increments, with a 30 second minimum.

If you need any further assistance, please let us know.

Sonny N 3713
[ISP] Electronic Customer Support
[ISP], Inc.

So I tried again:
For your information, STRATFORD (not Stanford--see my original query . . .) ONTARIO is in CANADA, not the United States (it's North of most of the US).
What number, if any, can I use to access dial-up from there? I don't need, nor do I expect to get, DSL from there.

Thanks.


Reply 2:
Dear Martin Labar,

Thank you for your reply.

We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication.

We understand that you are inquiring about the access numbers for Stratford and Ontario, to use the dial up services there.

We are sorry to inform you that, we are unable to find the access numbers for the cities, Stratford and Ontario.

However, in order for us to assist you in finding the nearest access number, please provide the following details:

1. Your phone number including area code.
2. The city where you live.
3. Surrounding cities.
4. The current access number you dial to connect to [ISP].

So I e-mailed again:
Let's try this one more time. I live in South Carolina, which is a State in the United States. I am planning on taking a trip to Stratford, a town in the Province of Ontario, which is in Canada. Canada is a country separate from the U. S. What phone number can I use to access [ISP] with my laptop from Stratford, Ontario, Canada?

Thank you.

Reply3
Dear Martin Labar,

Thank you for contacting us.

We sincerely apologize for the confusion.

We understand that you are inquiring for access number for Stratford, which is located in the Canadian State of Ontario.

We are sorry to inform you that, we are unable to find access number for the City of Stratford.

However, you can find the access number of its near by cities and use that number to have dial up internet access at Stratford.

You can also locate an [ISP] access number of the near by cities for your area(i.e., Stratford), by visiting the following link:

So I gave up, and tried chatting:

'Anthony M' says: Thank you for contacting [ISP name] LiveChat, how may I help you today?
[me]: We will be travelling to Stratford, Ontario, Canada, and taking our laptop. Is there an 800 number I can access from that city? If so, what is it, please? Thanks.
Anthony M: I understand that you wish to know about the 800 number for few cities.
[me]: I want to know if there are any 800 numbers for Canada, a country adjacent to the US.
Anthony M: I am sorry to inform you that there are no 800 numbers for canada.
[me]: OK. Thanks.
Anthony M: You are most welcome.
Anthony M: I appreciate your understanding.
Anthony M: Is there anything else I may assist you with today?

[me]: No. Thanks.
Anthony M: You're welcome and thank you for using [ISP name] LiveChat. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us again.
Anthony M: Bye.


Except for eliminating some boilerplate, and hiding the ISP's name, and our own e-mail address, this is a verbatim transcript of interchanges on June 18, 2005.

I am reasonably sure that "Sonny M." and "Anthony M." are pseudonyms for tech support workers from Asia, who, apparently, are even more ignorant of geography than most U. S. residents. (I hope!) I don't care if my ISP gets its tech workers from Mars, as long as they are reasonably competent. Being competent in geography is probably too much to ask. I see that I didn't continue to ask "Sonny M." about 800 service, which I should have. I'm not at all sure that I got a correct answer from "Anthony M."

I hope this doesn't hurt US-Asian relations, or Asian-Canadian relations.

1 comment:

Brandy said...

Customer support, billing support, tech support--all of it for my ISP comes out of India. It drives me crazy when I have to contact them for something! Sorry about all the trouble you went through. BTW-Thanks for posting the Knox link yesterday!