I got home from work today and discovered that my Internet connection was funky - I could get to Google (figures because they have nodes everywhere), but not to Yahoo or CNN. Traceroute showed that my packets were being routed all over the country, but not getting to their final destination. It was obviously a network peering problem and nothing on my end, so I figured what the heck, maybe SNET tech support might actually know about the outage so I called tech support.
Here's why I've gotta stop doing that...
First off I'm talking to a first line support center in India and tell him that there is obviously an outage somewhere (not in my house) because I can get to some sites and not others and traceroute is showing the packets being routed all around the country. He asks me what operating system I'm running. The machine I happened to be sitting at was XP which would be an acceptable answer. I mentioned that I've got multiple computers on the network, he asked how many and I hesitate to answer - the real answer is something like 17, but somehow I thought 10 would sound more reasonable.
He's asking me questions to see if my DNS is correct, I told him it wasn't DNS related and was a routing problem, but he quizzed me on a few IP address anyway. Then he asked me what brand router/firewall I was using and I knew he wouldn't be comfortable with the answer (a homebuilt box running Linux I built from source with 2 ethernet cards in it). He asked me what DNS server I was using (my own (built from source) which is configured to access the Internet root servers directly). I told him to look up my call history and notice that everytime I've EVER called them it ended up being an outage on their end. I could tell he wanted to ask me how many lights were on on my DSL modem.
Finally I decide to give up, their network support would figure out the problem eventually, but the first line guy was being persistent now and offering to conference in level 2 support. Then put me on hold for a while. I'm noticing that I can get to european sites fine, but not major US sites (CNN, Yahoo). Then the US sites slowly start working, so I hang up on the support call (still on hold).
Then the tech calls me right back and I tell him the situation seems to be resolving. He asked me if there was anything he could have done to make this a better tech support call - I said yes, you could have believed what I was telling you!
I know that most of the people they deal with are wondering how to retract the cupholder on the computer so they really can't believe what they're being told, but if the person they're talking to is discussing traceroute maybe they could step it up a notch...
How about a special phone number for people who have demonstrated that they know what they're talking about? That way the conversation could have been:
Me: "Hi super tech support, I've noticed that some major sites are offline, but my overall connectivity is there. My requests are being routed in crazy ways around the country so it looks like a peering problem."
Them: "Yup, looks like something that would affect lots of users, we'll check it out, thanks for letting us know about the outage".