Lightning Takes Out My Home Office Network

This afternoon at 4:00pm a thunderstorm and with a nearby lightening strike knocked out our DSL connection. So I called Bellsouth for support.

Technical support by Gretta was pleasant; she asked a technician to check on my line. I was on hold for about 25 minutes. She would come back every 3-4 minutes saying “Still checking.” Eventually she came back and said “Have you forgotten to pay your bill or switched to another carrier?” I emphasized that I had paid Bellsouth on time and in full for many years. Then I got cut off.

I called back and got technician Troy. Same process: I’m on hold while he’s checking on my line. After about 15 minutes, he comes back with “Have you switched to another carrier? We don’t have any records of you being a customer.” I started getting a bit more aggressive in questioning Bellsouth’s process.

Troy transferred me to a very polite woman in customer service. After about 15 minutes of waiting, she found my records and confirmed that I was a long-time customer. She said that because I hadn’t made any changes lately, my records have been “archived” (to save space on their computer systems) and technical support hadn’t checked the archives when they looked for my phone number records.

She transferred me to another “technical” support person. He asked me a set of questions designed for a beginning user who has ADSL. (We don’t have ADSL and a modem, we have an IFTL connection with two copper lines running from the fiber box in our front yard to our house.) He had no understanding of how IFTL is different, and insisted on leading me through setting up a network connection to Bellsouth. Of course, he’d put me on hold for 5 minutes for every one minute he was ignoring my pleas that lightning had hit our connection. He just couldn’t believe that the problem wasn’t user error. Then he asked if I had switched to another carrier because he couldn’t find any record of me. Finally, he said Bellsouth would run some tests and get back to me within an hour.

Two hours later I got a call from an experienced support person. We shut down my network, ran the DSL cable directly to a PC, and added a login connection. Presto, I was connected. This told us that my router had been zapped.

It was 8:30pm. There is an Office Depot about 5 miles from my home, so I hurried to the store and bought a comparable router (which cost $60, compared to $170 the older version cost 3 years ago). I got home a 9pm and had the network connected to the Internet within 15 minutes.

Lessons:
Insist on a support person who understands the problem.
Have an alternative to your broadband connection for emergencies
(I couldn’t get my modem to dial up and connect so I couldn’t check email).
I am lost without a fast connection.

Questions:
It appears that Bellsouth is outsourcing support. Why can’t they find the records of a current customer who spends $120 every month with them? This interfered with solving the problem on every call.
If indeed my records were archived, why are they archiving current customer records?