Aliant Fails Me Again

Last night, after our family wedding in Keswick, Oliver and I headed back to our hotel. I noticed that there was one unanswered call on my cell, from my brother Johnny. “The Reinvented server is off the air,” he told me when I called him back. “I can’t ping it.”

Back at the hotel a couple of minutes later, I was able to verify what he told me: our server was no longer on the Internet. This is a situation that affects not only my own email, but a wide variety of clients, and, of course, the readers of this website.

Based on prior experience with this sort of thing, I phoned Aliant’s technical support number and was able to talk to a Moncton technician (regular readers will recall that Aliant moved its business Internet technical support from Charlottetown to Moncton to “improve service”).

I requested that our DSL modem be remotely reset, something which had solved similar problems in past. Apparently DSL modems aren’t entirely bug-free, and need to be either locally reset, or reset remotely by a technician. I was promised that this would be done, via a trouble ticket to Charlottetown, sometime last night, and that if this was the problem, I should have access back by morning.

This morning I woke up and, alas, the server was still off the air. I phoned Aliant back and talked with another technician. I asked her to check and see if the reset had been performed, and she said that it had been. I told her I would investigate further to see whether it was a local issue, and call back if it wasn’t.

Shortly thereafter, thanks to the ever-helpful Steven Garrity, who drove over to my house and accessed my network via WiFi and verified both that there was no Internet access and also that my server was up and running, I knew that the problem was, in fact, Aliant-related.

I phoned back and talked to the same technican again, and explained the situation. I suggested that if they had reset the modem as she claimed they had, then perhaps it was a routing issue. Her only offer was to dispatch a technician to my house to plug a device into the modem directly to verify that it wasn’t working. She made an unhelpful point of making sure that that I knew that if it proved to be a problem with my network and not their equipment, I would be charged for the visit. I asked that, given that I was 1800 miles away from my basement at the moment, there was another solution. She said their wasn’t. Point full stop. Perhaps the least helpful technical conversation I’ve ever had with a branch of Aliant. And that’s saying a lot.

Realizing that Aliant wasn’t going to provide any help at all with fixing a problem with their service, I did the next best thing and called my friend Gary into action.

I was able to send up the Bat Signal for Gary, who has recently moved to town, and thus has no phone, by phoning Catherine Hennessey, who put the word out on the street. Two hours later Gary was in my basement. He unplugged the DSL modem. Waited 5 seconds. Plugged it back in. And I was back on the Internet. Problem solved.

So yet another pox on the house of Aliant. First for selling an Internet solution that craps out completely, without warning, two or three times a year. Secondly for hiring unhelpful technicians. Third for locating them in Moncton, without the direct tools needed to do their jobs. And fourth for never admitting this, never apologizing, and treating customers more like viruses to be expelled rather than their lifeblood.

Apologies to readers, clients and correspondents for disappearing from the Internet for 24h. I’ve already made a call to ISN, a locally-based, actually-helpful Internet provider, to start the process of ridding myself entirely from this inept Borg of a corporation.


Alan's picture
Alan on July 12, 2003 - 21:03 Permalink

Well done. I dislike Bell (of which Aliant is an Atlantic Canadian facade) enough that I give ISN $8.00 or so including tax to run my email via the web to me here in Kingston. When there have been issues, I give a call and I get an answer and a solution. As I get the lay of the land here, Bell will lose my telephone and my internet, too.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on July 12, 2003 - 21:57 Permalink

I love Steve my local Aliant installer. But nothing else. I lose modem connection weekly and have become an expert in trouble shooting form mome. The helpline is next to useless — their standard approach is to say that they have to call Ctown and can do nothing from their end.

Dan James's picture
Dan James on July 13, 2003 - 00:39 Permalink

I can’t say enough good things about ISN. We’ve been with them for years and have had nothing but great customer service. They experience technical hickups as every ISP does but being able to call the company president when they happen sets them apart.

Craig Willson's picture
Craig Willson on July 13, 2003 - 00:46 Permalink

I was one of ISN’s first 40 customers. I still am one.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 13, 2003 - 01:04 Permalink

I was ISN’s first customer, and it’s time to go on home. I keep holding out some vague hope that Aliant will come to some great self-realization, and poof into a wonderful, responsive company. In other words, I am an idiot.

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on July 13, 2003 - 03:50 Permalink

Does ISN have a bandwidth limit cap like Eastlink? I’m moving home soon and I don’t want to get my highspeed from Eastlink or Aliant…

Mark McQuaid's picture
Mark McQuaid on July 13, 2003 - 05:44 Permalink

Andrew being as im pretty sure ISN is buying the cable bandwith from eastlink, i imagine the cap comes with it.However..feel free to prove me wrong anyone

Jevon's picture
Jevon on July 13, 2003 - 14:14 Permalink

I don’t know if there is a cap,. but my bandwidth from ISN is almost as good as their service. I am often suprised at the speeds I get. Upstream is decent as well.

Derek M.'s picture
Derek M. on July 13, 2003 - 14:25 Permalink

As a Reinvented tenant, many thanks to solutioneers Gary, Steven, and Peter for the speedy fix!

Derek M.'s picture
Derek M. on July 24, 2003 - 17:58 Permalink

Islanders may want to take a closer look at their Aliant phone bills this month. Using the negative-option technique, they changed my long distance plan from free to $1.95/month. I remembered the general hoo-haw when Rogers cable tried this kind of thing, and had a chat with a friendly and well-informed lady at the CRTC. I learned that negative-option billing is a provincial jurisdiction, and as far as she knew only NS had legislation against it. The Rogers situation was resolved by customer pressure, not government. CRTC has no power over long distance rates, as they are considered sufficently competetive at this point. I haven’t been able to reach the provincial people on this yet.

Christopher's picture
Christopher on July 25, 2003 - 05:40 Permalink

er, I got a story about the wind farm and the nice folks at Maritime Electric from that link, Alan.

Bob Smith's picture
Bob Smith on March 17, 2004 - 22:09 Permalink

ok, from a technical standpoint.. the agent was right to get a tech to goto your house to swap the modem.. bottomline. your issue with with the wait.. Wow, another issue you brought up is they moved their tech support from pei to Moncton, well the work was being contracted out in PEI to a 3rd party company. Now they are not, its aliant employees doing your tech support, and to add to this, PEI has had support in the halifax reigon since many, many moons, with MCSE’s.., ppl with comp science degree’s.. etc Prob the highest educationed department in Aliant. The one thing you are right about is that they do not have the nessary tools to do their job, but they sure as hell know how.