IT Call-outs are Like a Box of Chocolates

You never know what to expect

Nor how many so-called Geeks, Nerds or Mobile IT Techs were there before you.

An anecdote from a recent call-out and how we persevered to resolve it: Undoubtedly, being called to a site to fix someones fibre internet could be any number of things. Perhaps the Optical Network Terminal aka ONT (White box on the wall where the fibre is connected to) is not working correctly, perhaps someone has been working on the road and cut a cable (this happens quite often) and there is no longer any Fibre to the Home (FTTH) at all, not only the clients home, but the entire street sometimes!

One NZ (formerly Vodafone) causes the most confusion for our customers. Even in 2024 we find this. Quite often, customers will be sent a mail from their ISP saying “There’s fibre in your area, can we come connect your home?” and then Chorus (the local New Zealand Fibre installer) will install ONT’s in a customers home, but because the client had old coaxial cable installed by Vodafone (prior to being called One NZ) called “FibreX” – which is not a complete fibre solution at all, and see the words “FibreX” on their bill, they just assume they have fibre already and there is nothing more to do.

So, you arrive at the home and they steadfastly claim they have fibre, show you new shiny ONT (which has a loose Ethernet cable dangling from it) and then you ask them – “Where’s the other little grey box where your router is connected to?” I’ve had three heated discussions in 2023 alone from One NZ call centres (located offshore), where until we take over the phone call from the client, their representative keep trying to persuade the client to keep FibreX and not switch to Fibre ’cause it’s better and faster. They also, almost without fail, try to up-sell other products when the client switches (eg. Antivirus, Netflix, etc) Guess what? FibreX is not fibre!

Article: Spark sells a NZ$2,500 TV to a blind man – Consumer NZ urges complaint to Commerce Commission

For one, True Fibre is not affected by weather (rain and lightning), by moisture as much as copper cables are – even if they’re shielded. A fibre cable can take a direct lightning strike, nothing will happen to the routers at each end because it’s glass or plastic. Do you remember how when it had been damp for a couple of weeks, copper lines used to crackle? Well, Coaxial cable is essentially the same thing. It’s “cable”, not “fibre”, no matter how much One NZ may try to convince you of this. One NZ was fined for “misleading conduct” about this very thing. After personal experience with their sales / support in front of customers trying to tell the customer that I’m wrong, that FibreX is better, it was a darn well-deserved fine! 

In our opinion, offshore call-centers should be illegal. It’s anti-Kiwi and frustrating. From personal experience, We’ve encountered issues where the call center operator appears to speak perfect English, but not actually understand a word of what I’ve asked them to do or explained to them. It’s one of the reasons we won’t touch other Hosting or Internet Service Providers like Crazy Domains (also recently been fined almost AU$60,000 for “subscription traps”), Dreamscape, FreeParking, Discount Domains. Ever. All offshore and from personal experience, frustrating to deal with.

After that detour, back to the problem solving process when encountering no internet when arriving at a client’s home or business. It could be the client’s router has lost its settings. Quite often the ISP tech support (often offshore support) will ask you to reset your router – thereby losing all the settings and making the router a dumb piece of plastic. It’s not plug and play when it isn’t supplied by the Service Provider, but the support call center person is working from a checklist in front of them, and they don’t know any better, probably don’t care either. Perhaps the router is defective. Besides being a fibre cable issue, it could be a network cable issue from the ONT to the router, perhaps the cable from the router to the Desktop PC or notebook.

Also, regardless of how many times you ask clients, “have you turned it off and on again?” they may have not done it, not intentionally, usually, they may have restarted the incorrect device(s). You can’t blame ignorance. It’s not their job to know how it works. That’s why we’re there.

Sometimes, we even deal with older clients who have little to no knowledge how things work and are very suspicious of IT people and technology in general. Recently, we needed to get a client’s e-mail working so that we could ask his service provider to send his router settings to him (he needed a username and password). Voyager Intenet, for some weird reason still use a username and password. Spark uses generic login, One NZ and 2Degrees have embraced much easier configurations.

Although his computer was old, besides an Ethernet port, fortunately it also had WiFi capability. He didn’t have a mobile phone, so we temporarily set up an Internet hotspot on a phone and connected his PC WiFi to the device. As the elderly client was watching over the techs shoulder, the very moment his computer had WiFi, and his mail stared flowing in and he turned and said “Ah, you’ve fixed it! That was quick, let me get my credit card!”

As the tech explained, that it was working through his phone, not his fibre, he felt a bit of a gaze, felt eyed in disbelief as the elderly client never realized this was possible, that a phone can be used as an Internet hotspot.

The customer sometimes has outdated information. This particular customer was under the impression that Spark New Zealand looked after his phones and Internet as he said he got a bill from them each month. It was only when our tech managed to get access to his mail that he saw he was actually with a completely different ISP, an ISP that needed a username and password to set up a 3rd party router.

The client had been adamant that Spark was his provider, so after we had reset his router, and tried the default Spark settings, and it had not worked, and then our tech tried a new router and it also didn’t work. At this point, he began delving deeper, hence the phone hotspot and accessing his mail to find out more.

Once the tech had his real service providers number (Voyager) and then contacted their residential support (also offshore – sigh – but fortunately relatively response), he managed to get them to send him his details to reconfigure his router. With the correct settings, we got the new router working in a matter of minutes. Most IT geeks would probably have stopped right there, but you have to test things before you leave the site. 

After we installed his router with the correct settings, it connected at less than 10% of the speed it should work at, even with a direct Ethernet cable connection. Tried the whole “switch off and on”, but still, the performance was shocking. Put our new router in again and it was much, much faster. The client was happy and bought a new router.

Did a few other things for this gent, set up his printer, removed some old antivirus products – and we really need to do a blog on this – Avast Antivirus using predatory tactics on older customers – he was paying almost $600 per year in Antivirus subscriptions! Coincidentally, Avast was fined about $17 Million Dollars for selling users data. We recommend that you don’t use this product.

In addition, cleared up and tweaked some settings to make his PC run better, and also removed some old printers he wasn’t using, checked out a few things and when we left, his IT was in a much better place.

As our tech turned to leave, he cheekily exclaimed “Good luck getting one of those mobile companies with young geeks with like six months experience to get this working” and he replied “Oh, I had one, but the guy sat for over an hour and a half and he left saying he didn’t understand why it was not working – that’s why I called your company.”

Remember, when the internet fails you, seeking help from a knowledgeable IT company near you is not just a choice, but a necessity. “The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein, reflecting the essence of solving internet issues with seasoned expertise. Call IT NEAR U, the IT Company near you for the best IT Support and Services in Wellington