Big cable companies and the Peter Principle

Let’s start with a couple of good technology articles:

A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG ...
A Netgear DG632 ADSL modem with an 8 pin JTAG header at location “5”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to install GNOME 3.8 on Ubuntu: How to install GNOME 3.8 on Ubuntu

I recently updated my Ubuntu system to 13.04. I’ve never used GNOME, so this is an opportunity to experiment. Am I following the directions right? When I try the install, Ubuntu mentions some GNOME components are missing. But it’s not a big deal. As the author mentions, “I believe Unity has become one of the most efficient and user-friendly desktops available. But… everyone has their own opinion (and I highly respect those opinions).”

Protect your privacy with these five applications

The one has a real Windows gem: KeyScrambler Personal. I’ll include this with WinPatrol and Malwarebyes, which are personal favorites of mine. You should still run a good anti-virus, firewall and run behind a router – even if you have just one computer. And a quick tip here: If you run Vonage – which I don’t – run Vonage behind a commercial router like Linksys or NetGear. Don’t let Vonage be the router.

Expect the unexpected

Image representing Comcast as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I did a blog post last week entitled Steps for running your own cable or DSL modem instead of leasing: Steps for running your own cable or DSL modem instead of leasing. The problem is you can’t always expect vendor issues.

Take Comcast, for example.

The best time to do software and hardware upgrades is Saturday or Sunday. Sunday was the time for my cable modem swap. The first technician set up everything properly. They even worked with someone who activates the modem in the Comcast network. But when we tried the modem, it was inactive on the Comcast side.

The problem? Billing needed to set the rate codes. I was transferred to the billing department, which was closed for the weekend.

So I called back and got another technician. She told me I would have to wait until Monday and talk to billing. When I asked about credit for being down, she said I needed to also consult billing. So I asked to be connected to her supervisor. I waited for 5 minutes or so and hung up.

Then I remembered what one retiring service technician told me. He mentioned that the technicians had various degrees of competency.

So the solutions was to keep calling, until I connected with a knowledgeable technician.

There was a way to temporary override the rate code. Billing could do their work later. Comcast also sent me a UPS box, to send the Comcast modem back. It’s a simple matter to get the box via UPS and drop it off at the UPS store.

What is the lesson learned? In a big company like Comcast, there are probably various Peter Principles working – mostly dictated by upper management . Wiki mentions it as,”The Peter Principle is a proposition that states that the members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, ‘Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.””

But I repeat what the retiring technician told me. The technicians had various degrees of competency. The key is to keep calling, until you reach a technician that just knows more than a calling script.

I’m sure other companies would have similar issues – like Time Warner and ATT.



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