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Fully Automated Tech Support? (No Human Interaction)

automated-support-systemI don’t normally write about technology or computer related items on this blog. I work in that field, but this blog has been primarily about religion and my journey with fundamentalism.

But an experience I had this afternoon was interesting and a little odd.

I use Cox Cable for my Internet service and cable TV, and overall I’ve been pretty pleased with the service over the years. Brief outages a few times a year are par for the course, regardless of the provider you have. This afternoon, I had such an outage of Internet service.

“Okay, I’ll try the usual”, I thought to myself. And so I power-cycled my cable modem and wireless router, expecting success within a few minutes.

Nope. No luck. Ugh! I guess I’ll have to call their tech support. I wonder if some idiot dug a ditch with a backhoe and cut a cable? (It happens). So I call…

“Cox Communications! Your call may be monitored or recorded…” (blah blah blah). “Press 1 for a question about your bill, or press 2 for technical support” (you’ve heard this stuff before, I’m sure). I pressed the usual options for technical support. I’ve used their hotline many times over the years (quite often in support of friends or family that need help). But this experience was different.

Their automated system indicated that they were unable to receive the expected signal from my modem and router, and then it asked if they could proceed with a special reset of my modem. “Sure, that’s fine”. I then watched as my cable modem’s lights did the usual dance, and a few minutes later, it was back to normal.

The automated voice then asked me to open my browser to test my Internet service. It was working! The computerized female voice next asked me to go to a specific URL as a final test to confirm all was well. Yep. All fixed!

The whole experience left me feeling a little odd though. My problem was resolved. And I’m often a fan of automated technologies or online resources to resolve problems. But the total lack of human contact felt weird. I said something to Rebecca afterwards: “So that was weird. They fixed the problem and I never spoke to a human (?)”.

Kinda like a wham, bam, thank you mam! And I felt a little dirty. Or unsettled.

“Um, call me later, baby?”


  1. Brent

    That’s fantastic. I’ve had a lot of connectivity problems with CenturyLink and now Comcast, and I would kill for a system like this where I didn’t have to talk to a person… and where it was able to do resets from their side on its own. Almost always the technical support person I get has me power-cycle the modem, which doesn’t work, and then they have no options but to schedule a technician visit… which takes up to a week. And of course then within a day it comes back on its own.

  2. ubi dubium

    I’ve done resets of my TV box remotely, but directly through the internet, not via a voice response system. Our latest internet woes were caused by neighborhood workmen accidentally cutting the FIOS cable. We were out of communication for a long weekend before Verizon got around to repairing it. Then a couple of days later, they came to repair some of the neighbors’ cables that had also been cut, and in doing that repair, they managed to disconnect us again! I wish there had been some kind of automated system for fixing this, it probably would have noticed that there were several houses out, and fixed them all at once!

    • Brent

      I wish there had been some kind of automated system for fixing this, it probably would have noticed that there were several houses out, and fixed them all at once!

      I had my DSL disconnected one time because the technician thought my copper pair wasn’t in use and reused it for someone else. And another time I talked to a technician who said that at some points of presence, the wiring is so crowded that things get bumped and disconnected by accident just because they were in there working. And I thought the same thing at the time — there should be some way for them to quickly re-test everyone served from that POP, to make sure they didn’t break anything, while they’re still at the location. Or better yet, get notified immediately.

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