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dimanche 9 novembre 2003

For the last two months, an eternity in Internet time, I was unable to reach -- and to contribute to -- Smart Mobs, the collective blogging effort around the next social revolution initiated by Howard Rheingold.

Why that? Because an unknown customer of Verio decided it was a spamming site and asked the company to blacklist the site.

Verio complied -- probably without even checking the site -- and my problems started. It took me dozens of e-mails and phone calls and two visits to the headquarters of my french ISP, Noos, to fix the situation.

[Pleas note that I was one of the first customers of this cable modem operator five years ago, spending about 1,000 euros per year.]

Howard and the Smart Mobs sysadmin, Louis Atkinson, also spent lots of time trying to solve the problem.

Let me explain what happened.

My ISP has a partnership with Verio to handle its traffic in the U.S. When Verio blacklisted Smart Mobs, any request from Noos went unanswered -- sorry, there was the (in)famous 404 error.

When I realized what was going on, I called the Verio's hotline, which confirmed that they blocked the site. All I had to do was to send them an email asking for the site to be revalidated as a legitimate site.

But, guess what, my request was ignored. I was a user, not a customer. Louis's requests were also ignored by Verio.

So, I went back again to Noos, which didn't reply to my emails. I tried several times to call the customer service. It's fun: you pay 0.34 euro per minute to listen to ten minutes of a music loop before a customer representative picks the phone and tells you she/he doesn't have the right to put you in contact with the technical support. All what they can do is really check you're a customer... Nice help!

So I went to Noos headquarters, trying to find some kind of customer service supervisor. All what I was offered was a direct call to technical support. But wait, it becomes surreal. Don't forget we're in the 21st century.

  • Technical support people don't have access to Internet;
  • They are not allowed to phone to customers;
  • And they are not allowed to send them emails.

Why that? Their management took this rules. Why an ISP provider can decide that his technical people don't have the right to access Internet is way beyond my comprehension.

Anyway, some good person at Noos, Delphine or Nicolas, was able to send an email to Verio, who reestablished the connection to Smart Mobs yesterday.

We might live in fast times in the Internet world. But sometimes, we're haunted by the 19th century world of antiquated procedures decided by some incompetent managers.

So, the next time you can't access to a website, investigate. And be ready to spend some of your time.

Source: Roland Piquepaille, November 9, 2003

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