23 February 2006
After what happened to me today, I will do my best never to do business with Telefonica (the main Spanish telecoms provider) again.
Today I went to a friend’s house to install (a) his new Telefonica ADSL wifi (wireless) router, and (b) his new Apple iMac, which, in theory, would access the internet via the wifi router’s wireless network.
After plugging in the router, a Comtrend model CT356+, all the LEDs successfully came on, but I couldn’t see the wireless network using the Apple Airport software.
I called Telefonica tech support, and explained that I have their Comtrend CT356+ router, and that the device is not broadcasting the wireless network. And this is where my bad day began.
Telefonica: Ok, sir, we first have to conduct some tests to confirm that your network is not available. Can you startup your Windows XP machine please? Me: I'm using a Macintosh. Telefonica: Oh, just a second please. [On hold...] Sir, I'm sorry but Telefonica doesn't support Macintosh. Me: This has nothing to do with the platform. I'm trying to tell you that the router is not creating a wireless network. Telefonica: Yes, but you could have mis-configured the router. Me: The router comes pre-configured. Telefonica: Oh, right. Well, anyway, I'm sorry, but we don't support Macintosh. Me: So what are my options? Telefonica: Either find a PC, or we can send a technician that you'll have to pay for (if the router proves non-defective.) Me: If I had a PC with me, what would you do? Telefonica: We would conduct some steps to confirm that a network isn't available. Me: What steps would those be? Telefonica: I can't tell you. Me: Can I speak to the second-line support please, or your supervisor? Telefonica: No, there's nobody else here. Me: Of course there is. Please transfer me to your supervisor. Telefonica: No, I can't because I would first have to confirm those steps. Me: The steps which, for some reason, you can't tell me? Telefonica: Yes. Me: What is your name? Telefonica: Bruno Castaño. Me: Thank you, Bruno.
I can’t tell you how frustrating this kind of experience is. You know what you’re talking about, but you have no way to get past the front-line support imbecile. So, I went off and found a PC notebook that had a wireless network card, and went back to my friend’s house, and called Telefonica (and spoke to a different person, of course). I described the situation, and we began proceeding through the oh-so-mysterious steps that Bruno couldn’t discuss:
Telefonica: Can you please go to the wireless networks area of the control panel, on your Windows XP machine. Me: I'm there. Telefonica: Ok, are there any networks available in the box that lists the "Available Networks"? Me: No, it's empty. (To myself: "Of course") Telefonica: Thank you sir, that means the router's not creating a wireless network. I need to pass you to our second line support.
It’s a darn good thing that at this point, I didn’t happen to see a Telefonica technician walking by on the street outside, or the poor chap would have received a quick crash-course in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s more painful holds.
Telefonica: Hello, sir, this is Miguel. I'm going to walk you through the steps to reset your router.
[…At this point, we spend the next 30 minutes in total confusion. Nothing Miguel described worked as expected, the router didn’t reset like he described, and finally each of us was convinced the other was out of his mind… Then the following happened…]
Me: Look, Miguel, I happen to know how to access the router's admin area, you know, the web page that says, "Comtrend ADSL", and... Miguel: Wait! Did you say "Comtrend"? Me: Yes, why? Miguel: CRAP! My colleagues told me you had the Zyxel router! No wonder we've spent the last 30 minutes in total confusion! Me: --sigh-- Miguel: If you've got the Comtrend router, then I know exactly what the problem is. There is a known factory configuration mistake with that device; it's broadcasting on channel 12, and it needs to broadcast on another channel (3 or 4). Since you know how to access the admin area, you can modify that directly . Me: Done, and it's now working.
All in all, this little episode cost me over three hours of my time. And to add insult to injury, most of that time spent calling a Telefonica number, to cost of which is shared by both parties. (Not to mention the fact that Telefonica is shipping a router to people that it knows is mis-configured at the factory!)
So, like I say, I will, as far as possible, never do business with them again.