Stupid Tech Support Tricks

Suddenlink killed my cable modem on Thursday morning. When I called tech support that night, they couldn’t get a signal from my modem, an old Motorola 4200 (DOCSIS 1.1).  The techie they sent to the house Friday said that Suddenlink had recently upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 locally, and therefore my old modem would no longer work. He offered to rent or sell me a modem or I could go out and buy a new one on my own. Since I know they sell a strange brand that nobody respects, I decided to hit the local Radio Shack to pick up a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. They only sell one modem, which happens to be a DOCSIS 3.0 model (Motorola 6120).

I plugged in the modem, hit DHCP refresh and got a non-local IP address, but couldn’t connect to the internet. This is expected, of course, and so I called the tech support help hell line and proceeded to be told that 1) DOCSIS 3.0 is not in my area, 2) the modem I had been using should work just fine, and 3) the modem I just spent $100 on was not on their approved list. Naturally, I find it absurd that a modem which complies with DOCSIS 2.0 and DOCSIS 3.0 standards would not work on a DOCSIS 2.0 network. Isn’t that the whole point of standards? The tech support guy was very patient and well-informed but was eventually unable to get the Suddenlink system to connect to my modem, regardless of the IP address that it granted me. He even had me connect the old modem, which would not grant me a routable IP address, and he couldn’t get a signal from.

Back to the store, to return the modem. And then to a different store a few miles away, to buy a less-capable modem. While at the store, I noticed a couple things. First, there were almost no DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems remaining on the shelf, although they normally stock three different models. Secondly, my old buddy Karl was there. Karl’s cable modem died on Thursday morning as well. He told me that his gym buddies also had widespread cable modem destruction visited upon them at the same time. Suspicious. We both left the store with new cable modems, and the shelves appeared to have one modem remaining that would work on our system.

I get the new cable modem (which is awfully tiny compared to the old one) home, plug it in and call the tech line to get the modem provisioned. This time, the person on the end of the line was less informed, which is always annoying. She was very obviously reading directly from her flowchart and would not deviate, no matter how absurd the things she insisted I do. At one point, she wanted me to unplug the modem, the router, and all computers connected to the router. This displays a deep lack of understanding of how routers work. Finally, after far too long on the phone with Flowchart Fanny, the connection was up and functioning as it was meant to.

I find it absolutely amazing that the two stores I went to both sold the Motorola 6120, which won’t work on the local system. Since there’s only one cable internet company in town, this exhibits a distressing lack of understanding of the market on the part of the local retailers.

Now it’s time to write a nasty letter to Suddenlink for breaking my modem, lying to me, and wasting my time and money. I don’t expect to get anything but catharsis from this exercise, but I must try.