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Guest Message by DevFuse

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D* shoots themselves in the foot


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20 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:01 AM

Some may remember my posting on the 18th about a 721 error and a nice call to a CSR. I'd lost Showtime & had it reactivated. Tonight I saw MI3 listed and tuned to my Showtime HD to see 721. WTF? This was fixed last week.
Called [9 PM PST] Montana this time & had a very nice CSR who found some unknown error message listed on my account for Showtime HD. She went through all the hoops she knew with no success. Puts me on hold while she checks into it further. At this point my phone cord comes loose & I lose the connection.
Opps..so I call back. This time I'm talking to West Virgina, but she can't bring up my account. Why? Because D* has decided to do a "planned upgrade" to their system.
EVERY computer is down during "Prime Time" on the West Coast!
This is not a rant at any of the CSRs in Montana, West Virgina, Alabama, South Texas, The Philippines, or Utah, that I've talked to. All were nice and followed the "script" saying call back in 24 to 48 hours.

This is pointed straight at D* and whoever had the [fill in the blank] idea to "plan" a system wide outage during Prime time on the West Coast.
Didn't they think there are customers here that might need to have something done?
If it was midnight here I could understand, but 9:30 at night?

What was D* thinking? "How can we shoot ourselves in the foot & get more customers upset?"
Has to be one of the dumber "plans" in a while. The CSRs can do anything, the customers don't get anything....A real lose - lose situation for all.

:rant:
A.K.A VOS

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#2 OFFLINE   funhouse69

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:09 AM

Wow that is unbelievable - I've worked in the computer industry for over 20 years now and you NEVER plan / execute an upgrade during any kind of peak hours.

The only way this could happen is if this was a critical issue that had to be addressed immediately which is possible. We've all heard about virus outbreaks and stuff like that. While that is always a possibility I'm sure that no one will readily admit it either so it's just a routine upgrade :D
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#3 OFFLINE   litzdog911

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:27 AM

... This time I'm talking to West Virgina, but she can't bring up my account. Why? Because D* has decided to do a "planned upgrade" to their system.
EVERY computer is down during "Prime Time" on the West Coast!
....

:rant:



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#4 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:33 AM

I've run into this before with DIRECTV. As an IT director and usually director of IT ops, I never, ever have planned outages in prime time, so I've been shocked and amazed each time. I've been known to call several times to see if all the call centers are actually down--they seem to be. I don't understand.

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Tom

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#5 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 12:45 AM

Two and a half hours later and another call [the second to Alabama], The system is still updating, but this CSR went to her supervisor and now I have the channel back on my account, even though the system is still down. Go figure.
I really don't think I ran into "bad" CSRs. The first was really working the problem [while the system was up] & after that they all couldn't do anything but would transfer me to someone they thought "might". By the time of this last call, I'd been given enough information to know what needed doing & told her, which she was able to get her supervisor to use his "override" on the system.

I would guess the "planned upgrade" is pure D* script..as was eluded to by my last CSR.
A.K.A VOS

#6 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 01:13 AM

Don't believe everything you hear from a CSR.

"Believe" a CSR? No I don't.

FWIW: I had a bad run in with one a couple of days ago.
Why you always want to be nice to them is...You can call back and report them.
This one had me on hold twice for 10 min. When I wouldn't hang up on him, he hung up on me.
I called again & asked if there was an entry on my account. No he hadn't logged it, so I thought I couldn't trace back to him.
Not so.. the CSR went back in the phone logs & found my call which had the employee number. Then he talked to his supervisor who had him "dump" it to a file for review. Since I'd been nice throughout the whole call, I was just asking for the bad CSR to have further "training" as what he'd done wasn't right. They all agreed & apologized as what happened shouldn't have.
Someone gets a trip to the woodshed [as he should].
So the moral is: don't lose your cool ever as it's all being recorded & can be recalled as needed. If you have a CSR with a bad attitude, report them...it's better for all of us.
A.K.A VOS

#7 OFFLINE   RobertE

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 03:37 AM

"Updating the System" is code for the computers are down. ;)
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#8 OFFLINE   CCarncross

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 06:02 AM

In a 24/7 IT operation, you are always going to inconvenience someone no matter when you plan your downtime. When your operations covers multiple time zones, its even worse. When do you start the upgrade if its going to take say 4-6 hours of downtime to complete?

#9 OFFLINE   jpl

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 06:13 AM

In a 24/7 IT operation, you are always going to inconvenience someone no matter when you plan your downtime. When your operations covers multiple time zones, its even worse. When do you start the upgrade if its going to take say 4-6 hours of downtime to complete?


That's true, but there are times which are clearly worse for customers than others. It's like road maintenance. If they have to fill potholes, e.g., they do them in the middle of the day - why? Because if they did them at rush hour it would cause traffic snarls all over the place. I don't think this is that hard, really. Unless there's a pressing need, you never take a system like that down during peak hours.

If DirecTV did this intentionally (intentionally took down a critical system during peak hours) then there are problems at the company that should be of concern. I was always impressed with their customer service, but there are always signs when customer service isn't a priority for a company. This is one of those signs - if they took down the system as a planned outage, that's not a good sign for the company at all. Hopefully that's not the case, and they had a reason to take down the system at the last minute to prevent a bigger issue.

#10 OFFLINE   PlanetBill

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 06:24 AM

Funny, they did a "system upgrade" a couple weeks ago when I called with an issue. They said a supervisor would call back in a day or so. Ha! My call was around 8:30 pm EST
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#11 OFFLINE   Nick

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 06:37 AM

When anything goes wrong, blame it on "the computer".

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#12 OFFLINE   HarleyD

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 06:49 AM

In a 24/7 IT operation, you are always going to inconvenience someone no matter when you plan your downtime. When your operations covers multiple time zones, its even worse. When do you start the upgrade if its going to take say 4-6 hours of downtime to complete?


2AM Eastern time (11 PM Pacific). You'll be past peak time for the entire continent and back up by 8AM Eastern Time.

A 24/7 operation is much easier to accommodate when it is only supporting the time zones of the continental United States. You do have hours of dramatically reduced demand where a system outage will not impact customer service so severely

On the other hand, I'm a DBA for a 24/7 system with active users in the continental US, Hawaii, Phuket Thailand and London England. Try arranging a planned outage for that system sometime.
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#13 OFFLINE   jpl

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 08:50 AM

2AM Eastern time (11 PM Pacific). You'll be past peak time for the entire continent and back up by 8AM Eastern Time.

A 24/7 operation is much easier to accommodate when it is only supporting the time zones of the continental United States. You do have hours of dramatically reduced demand where a system outage will not impact customer service so severely

On the other hand, I'm a DBA for a 24/7 system with active users in the continental US, Hawaii, Phuket Thailand and London England. Try arranging a planned outage for that system sometime.


You don't even need to do it in the middle of the night. My guess is that most folks aren't sitting around watching tv at say 9 am, so I would guess that the call volume they get during that time of the day is lower than it would be at night. If they didn't want to bring it down at 2am, they could do it during most of the rest of the day with minimal impact. Clearly there are periods throughout the day where volume ebbs and flows - e.g. I would imagine that lunch time would see an increase in call volume - folks are at work and they have an issue that they need to talk to DirecTV about so they call during lunch. The thing is that DirecTV picked the worst time of day to bring down the system. There are times that are fine... times that are less fine, but still not bad... and there are times when it's really bad. They went for about the worst time slot they could.

I have a hard time believing that they couldn't have avoided prime viewing time. That's what would concern me. It tells me how they view customer service. Whenever I shop for a technical product, one resource that I always go to is the company's website. If the website is confusing, or poorly laid out, that tells me volumes about how the company views communication with customers and potential customers. It's one main reason I originally picked DirecTV over Dish Network 5 years ago. DirecTV's website, at the time, was absolutely superior - it was easy to navigate, and very easy to find what I was looking for. Dish's was the opposite. That told me that DirecTV took customer service seriously. No, it's not a fool-proof method, but it is a sign of how the company operates. This episode is a troubling sign. It tells me that DirecTV isn't concerned that they can't service their customers during peak time.

#14 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:04 AM

When anything goes wrong, blame it on "the computer".

SOP

In this case, nobody could "pull up" my account, from the east coast to the Philippines.
While "planned" may have been a misnomer, the system did have problems. On my last call, the CSR did say no one had told her about it before it went down. At one point she was telling me things that were in the computer so I asked her if it was back up? She said she only had "background" info.
The CSRs were filling out "manuals" [service/account ticket] to be entered after it came back up, for a couple of hours. One CSR said there were 900 already & "we" concluded filling another one out wouldn't work as well as calling back [this I felt was one of those "truthful" answers not in the script].
I've learned that if/when they tell you they'll call you back...don't believe it. In four years, they never have called me back [except to try to add more to my programing package].

I'm not wanting to continue [this rant] but just to review: there is the "customer" computer system that seems to interface with the SAT system. The "customer" system can go down, yet the SAT system stays up. If you find a "great" CSR, they can make changes directly on the SAT system, while: "our system is updating please call back in 24 to 48 hours".
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#15 OFFLINE   morbid_fun

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:07 AM

"Updating the System" is code for the computers are down. ;)


True, but in this case the computers were actually updating. Their udpdates are usually at 12 A EST. If this was during the day, certainly a different story (system down).

#16 OFFLINE   bcrab

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:14 AM

I need to have our slim line re-aimed and in the middle of setting that up the csr's computer froze up. That was around 5 pm mtn. So called back this morning and have an appointment for tomorrow am.

#17 OFFLINE   Tom Robertson

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:22 AM

In a 24/7 IT operation, you are always going to inconvenience someone no matter when you plan your downtime. When your operations covers multiple time zones, its even worse. When do you start the upgrade if its going to take say 4-6 hours of downtime to complete?


I hear you about 24/365 operations, I've done them in several organizations. But this is inexcusable to me as it seems to happen too often at DIRECTV.

First off, 4-6 hour upgrades should only happen once per quarter at most. Everything else should be contained in less than an hour. Typically my scheduled outage windows are 20minutes for a expected 5 minute outage (or less!) Otherwise my system Architects are taking phone calls during the outage windows! That teaches them very, very quickly.

My outages are planned for the deadest time that is farthest away from a busy time. I've used Sunday mornings in the past, but that would not be a good time during the NFL season for DIRECTV. :)

And this doesn't have to cost money in an organization as large as DIRECTV. One just uses the enormous capacity required for the busy times to upgrade in shifts during the quiet times.

Sorry, rant over. I just hate poor service, especially poor customer (internal or external) in IT environments because I know how things can be done!

Cheers,
Tom

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#18 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:25 AM

True, but in this case the computers were actually updating. Their updates are usually at 12 A EST. If this was during the day, certainly a different story (system down).

And this is the problem---D* should wait TWO HOURS. If I was calling at 11 PM [2 AM EDT], I could understand, but who's [fill in the blank] idea is/was it to do it at 12 AM EST [EDT], when that's 9 PM PST [PDT]? :mad:
A.K.A VOS

#19 OFFLINE   morbid_fun

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 09:59 AM

And this is the problem---D* should wait TWO HOURS. If I was calling at 11 PM [2 AM EDT], I could understand, but who's [fill in the blank] idea is/was it to do it at 12 AM EST [EDT], when that's 9 PM PST [PDT]? :mad:


I agree. An ill conceived time to do so, but I wanted to make everyone aware so this may guide future decisions to call. I fully understand the frustration.

#20 OFFLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 10:22 AM

I agree. An ill conceived time to do so, but I wanted to make everyone aware so this may guide future decisions to call. I fully understand the frustration.

Now if "we" can just get D* to "see the light".....[which may be the real point of this thread].
A.K.A VOS




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