Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dear Earthlink, part I

This is a story about Earthlink ...
about their lack of support for Linux.
It's mostly about their poorly thought consumerist corporate direction.

Our high speed internet service died.
Turns out, we depend on it even more now than just two years ago.
The service technician cannot get to us until Thursday. (called in the problem on Tuesday; today being Wednesday)

SO ... what are we gonna do?? Maybe try dial-up?? Ick.

I was just about to give away the nice AT&T Paradyne modem we used to use. Glad I did not yet get it to Free Geek! (I'm sure they need it, but today, I need it more.)

This particular provider of "high speed" internet at one time also provided dial-up service for when we (customers) were travelling or when (not "if"!) there was an outage. They stopped that service in 2009. I guess I didn't care ... at that time. That little annoyance is irritating enough, but this post is supposed to be about Earthlink.

Since my main provider no longer offers dial-up fall-back, I looked around, checked into several ISPs who explicitly offer dial-up service. After I happened to speak with my friend Steve, who is on Earthlink for high speed, I opted to try them first. I used Earthlink years ago, but they are a bit pricey.

(Speaking of "looked around", I may be in the market for high speed real soon now.)
(But ... oh yeah ... this post is about Earthlink.)

Getting the account established was a 40+ minute call. (Could not use the web to do it ... duh.) The woman was clearly from India (presumably located there now) and reading a script. She was courteous and diligent. When she asked what op sys, I told her Linux. No red flag; no comment from her about it.
We continued.

After many other questions (accounting, postal, email, so on), she offered a couple of trial services, neither of which I was really interested in. But I again mentioned the L word by saying that the latter offer probably would not work with Linux anyway. (Its description suggested that it needed a Microsoft context.) She agreed that such was likely, then added "we don't support Linux".

Support. It's a verb. I am not surprised that Earlink does not "support Linux". Fine. I'll take my chances. (Used Earthlink on Linux years ago. Worked great! And that's another reason for trying them again.) They don't support Linux: I DON'T CARE. Not a problem. Proceed. Continue. Activate the account.

The rep said she would discuss the L word with her manager, but did then transfer me to the support team to complete my setup. From the support guy (also clearly in India), I got a local dial-up number and confirmed my username and password. I then hun up (so the modem could have the line), punched in the info, and launched good ole 'wvdial'.

Didn't work.

Not sure how many times I tried 'wvdial' before finding an old copy of 'minicom'.
Ah, there's the problem: Bad password. But wait, this is a brand new account, and both sales and tech support confirmed my password.

Hang up. Get on the land-line again. Maybe 20 minutes this time.

"The account was deactivated for dissatisfaction."

I never said I was dissatisfied. (But I'm getting close!)
Turns out that since "Earthlink doesn't support Linux", the first rep had left the account disabled. I guess this was in hopes of preventing a backout and a refund of my $10 for the first month. She ASSumed that I could not use the service with Linux. Not true. It's just that their support people a only trained for Windoze.

I asked the latter rep to activate me.
She then rattle off a lengthy "we cannot help you" statement (the script again) if I were to call tech support with Linux problems.

Once the account was activated, 'wvdial' connected fine.

Dear Earthlink,
Please grant some lattitude to your customers who have more experience than the average n00b consumer.
Not happy.

-- R; <><