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.