Back online


Yesterday I came home, switched on my pc, started Firefox and got a connection timeout on the start page. From there I followed my usual debug & escalate scheme: try to ping a domain, then an ip number, restart modem (no connection, no line sync), run diagnostics on modem (indeed unable to connect). I then rechecked all the modem and network settings, waited a bit to see if the problem would fix itself (this actually works sometimes). Finally, I concluded that the problem was not on my side.

So I picked up the phone to call KPN. Doh! Telephone was dead as well!. IMHO that was pretty conclusive: things were broken and definately not on my side of the connection. It took four phonecalls (on my mobile phone) to get this knowledge through to KPN who eventually sent over an engineer who indeed concluded I was right (hey phone line seems to be dead!) and then figured out it was probably a problem on the other side of the cable. So he went there, found the problem, fixed the problem and all is well.

Except that I wasted a lot of time that IMHO could have been prevented from being wasted.

What really happened: regular maintenance in my area accidentally broke some cable (the engineer fixed this). I phoned the kpn helpdesk and there they went through their usual error checking procedure: Q: what’s your phone number? A: the same I just typed while in the fucking voice operated menu. Q: did you mess in any way with your DSL connection (this is a dangerous question: if you say yes here they will try to convince you that you caused the problem)? A: no and it has worked fine for two years. This lead to the inevitable conclusion that they had to do a line check (the only technical thing they can do) which they said was fine (it was broken!). They then decided to put an analyst on it who would call me back. This didn’t happen so I called them (tip, keep calling them, it’s the only way to get things done). The next day I called them again. They then claimed that they’d tried to call me several times. To which I enquired how that was possible since my phone was dead (duh!). They explained to me that they’d been trying the mobile number I gave them (they even read it to me!). My phone is one of those modern thingies which shows you an overview of missed calls: none whatsoever. After I explained that to them, things went relatively fast. I had to go home early to meet with the before mentioned engineer.

So what went wrong here:

  • Kpn was the cause of the problem.
  • When I called them they did not detect that the line was broken (WTF!)
  • Neither did they notice that the same day there had been some maintenance in my line (at this point, dots should have been connected but weren’t)
  • They then failed to call me back and even lied to me about that when I called them!
  • I went home early needlessly and wasted a lot of time on a problem that could have been diagnosed and fixed without me coming home early from work.

Why am I posting this? I’ve been here several times. I’ve had multiple incidents over the past few years all of which took way too many phone calls to get fixed. In 2000 when my phone was installed and then my adsl connection, it took no less then five visits of an engineer to get things working. The whole process took weeks. Then when a router in my area broke down and slowed down things to mere bytes per minute, it took three weeks to convince them the problem was on their side (only when I organized myself with some other disgruntled people in my area the problem mysteriously fixed itself). Then when I moved to Nijmegen they informed me my connection had been moved when in fact it had not been. That took about two weeks to get acknowledged and fixed.

In all these cases I did everything by the book and had to endure clueless, uninformed helpdesk employees, lies, the inevitable voice menu, etc.

I’m looking forward to getting rid of them permanently when I move to Finland in a few weeks.