Note to SBC

It would really be helpful if you didn’t randomly change your customers’ static public IP addresses without telling them first.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with this issue with SBC.  I have some clients who (unfortunately) have SBC as their ISP.  A few of them have static public IP addresses, which they need for various reasons which are unimportant here.  Obviously, their networks (firewalls, VPNs, what have you) behind the router (DSL modem) are configured with the static address information.  For various reasons, SBC will change the clients’ IP address.  This is usually when a change is made to the account, like a different price plan or speed.

Again, this is not the first time I’ve dealt with this.  My client will call me up and say their internet is down.  I’ll go through some troubleshooting over the phone.  I’ll start with the basics, checking to make sure everything is plugged in and has the appropriate lights on, then having them restart everything just to be sure.  Then I’ll move on to pinging the firewall, the router, stuff on the outside by IP address instead of domain name, etc.  Then I’ll have them log in to the firewall and the router and check the settings.  (Of course, if I’m near their office and can get there in a timely fashion, I’ll do all of this myself.)

Once I determine that everything on their network is functioning properly, and that the problem is outside of their network, I have them call SBC (or, if I’m on site, I’ll call).  Now is when the real fun begins.  You see, if you have never dealt with SBC support for their internet services, their de-facto answer is “the problem’s on your end”.  They don’t check anything, they don’t test anything, they just tell you that the problem isn’t them, it’s you.  If it’s the customer on the phone with them, they really have no recourse at this point and end up calling me back.  If I’m on the phone with them, I can begin to explain why I know that the problem is SBC’s.  Eventually, we get around to the fact that SBC did, in fact, change the customer’s IP settings.

Okay, again, not the first time I’ve dealt with this.  This is so aggravating for several reasons:

First, doesn’t it occur to SBC that if their customers have plans with static public IP addresses there is probably a good reason for that, and that arbitrarily changing the IP address just might cause some problems for them?

Second, even if there’s some technical reason for making the change, which I tend to doubt, why in the world would you do it without notifying the customer beforehand?  Really.  That’s just insane.

But lastly, when the customer calls for support because of this change, which I might point out is inevitable, don’t friggin’ sit there and tell them that the problem is on their network!!  It should be painfully obvious to the first support person that you talk to, once they look at your account information (assuming that they actually are), that there has been a change made to their account.  What’s going on here?  Why does it take more than one call, or having to convince the support person otherwise, to figure this out?

Basically it comes down to this:  Why does SBC train their support personnel to just say “the problem’s on your end” without actually doing any troubleshooting, or even looking at the customer’s account information?