Well THERE’S your problem! Throwback Thursday to Hurricane Irene.

Thinking about Hurricanes Harvey & Irma has reminded me of the time I spent working in tech support for a big red internet/tv/phone service provider on the East Coast. That time overlapped with Hurricane Irene, which hit in August 2011

The hurricane hit, and in addition to our normal call load that meant an average wait time of 45 minutes to reach an agent, we also had several dozen calls per hour of people calling to report damaged fiber-optic lines. Before dispatching technicians, we were also required to get approval from our supervisors, and fill out a troubleshooting checklist. So we already had a lot of factors making our wait times astronomical… and then you had these idiots clogging the call queues:

I can’t tell you how many calls like this one I got. Probably 2-4 per hour for weeks.

Caller: Hi, I need a technician.

Me: Can you first tell me about the issue you’re experiencing?

Caller: My wifi isn’t working!

Me: Do you have power to your home? I see you’re located in an area impacted by the hurricane.

Caller: No, but my internet is wireless!

Me: It still needs to be plugged in to a working power outlet to send out the wireless signal. If it still isn’t working when your power comes back on, give us a call back. K thanks bye!

Here’s another memorable one we got a few of…

Caller: Hello, my fiber is out, can you send a tech out?

Me: Let’s troubleshoot this, and if necessary, I’ll schedule a tech to come to your home. I see you’re in an area affected by the hurricane, do you have power to your home?

Caller: Yes, I do.

Me: Okay great! Now I need you to go look at your router and tell me what lights you see.

Caller: I have a green power light and the internet light is red.

Me: walks customer through power-cycling router

Caller: It’s still not working.

Me: Okay, do you know where the control box is for your fiber? It’s a unit with the (brand) logo on it, it’s usually got a huge backup battery inside of it… maybe in your garage or a closet somewhere in your home?

Caller: Oh yeah, that’s in my basement.

Me: Great, can you go to the box and let me know if you see any status lights on it?

Caller: No, my basement is flooded. That’s why I need a tech to come out to fix it.

Me: I see. Well, you’ll need to call us back after you have the water pumped out of your basement. They won’t go into flooded areas, and I can’t schedule an appointment for you until your home is safe. Sorry about that.

And my favorite…

Caller: Hey, my wifi isn’t working.

Me: Okay, can you go to your router and let me know what color the status lights are for power and internet signal?

Caller: No.

Me: … Why?

Caller: We had to evacuate, so I’m not at home.

Me: Ma’am… wireless routers usually have a limited range of about 100 feet or less, depending on other factors like walls and other interfering signals. If you’ve left your home, you won’t be able to use your home wifi.

Caller: Well that’s just ridiculous!! I pay you $160 per month and I expect this service to work when I need it (blah blah blah, screech screech screech…)

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