This page is written in straight text with as little html as possible, NO graphics and no fancy formatting. The reasons for this are to make a point. Most of the time simpler is better and faster...think of your customers.

Connection Frustrations - Even the big guys cannot get it right!

Many of us in the St. Jovite - Mont Tremblant area have experienced an unprecedented level of frustration in our internet connections. The two original providers, CIL and IntLaurentides have been overwhelmed by the increase in demand and the plain simple fact is that neither was on top of the explosion in growing demand. They were never quite able to get in front of the demand curve and have capacity in place to take on the demand. Instead of ordering lines 6 months in advance, they waited until demand crushed service and we have all been frustrated. IntLaurentides is selling out. CIL is reportedly for sale.

Well, enter some competition and it will make a difference hopefully, maybe or will it?. As of the beginning of February, two new providers are available by local dial-up. These are Bell's Sympatico service and Polyinter/Citenet. Both have installed a POP (point of presence) in St. Jovite with digital 56K modems. I'm sorry a small comapny can't survive in this business but Bell controls the price of local access lines that each provider must use and pay for. Ultimately they will crush Polyinter and only when local access competition comes to the area will we have true choice. Cogeco is on its way and is in Ste. Adele. Videotron is starting to offer telephone service in Montreal.

This is a big boys business with big capital expenditures in networks and lines. It's a shame to see local service businesses go down as very often local service businesses give a little more but in the case of IntLaurentides this was long in the making as they never quite understood that in a fast exploding business you have to take huge risks and move ahead of the demand. They didn't...and they've lost customers.

.....But even the big guys have problems.

I am not going to recount in detail the comedy of errors in signing up to use Sympatico but I am going to make a couple of constructive suggestions that should be implemented in the name of customer service. What should have taken 5 minutes actually took 3 hours and a lot of time in telephone jail, hell or whatever you want to call it.

1. Put a small notice on your input form for credit card numbers to enter the numbers as one long string and not with spaces or dashes. If your programmers cannot figure out how to write code to parse out spaces save everyone a lot of time and frustration by inserting the following:

"Enter your credit card number with no spaces"

If someone enters their card with spaces they are told their card is no good...a great way to send your potential customer into cardiac arrest when his card is perfectly good but your crappy script is the problem. Sends some people off the wall. Enough said on that one which sent me to telephone hell twice.

2. After all the card info is entered, Bell's system delivers up a nice html page on-the-fly with your user id, password, local telephone dial-up number, pop, smtp and news server info...great I thought BUT THERE ARE NO IP NUMBERS FOR THE DNS.

Yes a smart alec like me knows I can use anyone's DNS numbers but I sort of like to use the dns numbers of the company I'm dealing with because I'm stealing time off someone else's dns server by using theirs.

Back to telephone hell for another 45 minutes again...and yes your service people didn't even know what a domain name server was.

This sent me to a third hell hole called technical support queue.

Yes what should have and could have taken 5 minutes if you had your routines down took 3 hours and a lot of frustration. Not exactly customer driven service. You want to cut operators and automate everything and have the odd person available to answer questions for the stupid customers (that is how you treat us) who will stay online and listen to music for 30 minutes in telephone hell. Well before you do that maybe you should get your systems flawlessly operational.

And while I'm addressing the issue of service let me again try and get the message across to another big guy on the block...again...again...again.

The Royal Bank. Instead of THINKING of THEIR CUSTOMERS and asking their customers for their personal email addresses to address mail to, they continue to send e-mail to you by putting a blinking button on the page saying "new mail" and requiring you to cycle through their slow server delivering up messages one by one from a mailbox on THEIR system. Hey guys I don't really want to spend my time reading my mail online at your break neck speed!

Here is the BRILLIANT SUGGESTION AGAIN...put a form input on for us to enter our email addresses if we want to and then switch over the addressing to that. Would take me all of an hour to do.

And just think you could get together with your marketing guys and figure out that if you started building an archive of all your customers personal e-mail addresses it might also have other benefits like that bizspeak of getting closer to your customers and stop USING my time to require me to read the mail on your slow system.

Again its about being customer driven and thinking about the customer. While you are at it here is another suggestion. This page was delivered up pretty quickly because there are no graphics for the browser to process. Do you think that everytime I cycle through my account pages and pay bills that I need the same grahical header to load and all the buttons to load on each cycle? Give your server a break too as it is forced to process each of these requests each time it generates a page of html on the fly. Why not give us an option of a totally graphics free environment in ascii text that really performs.

Want to see a fast graphics free environment? Dial 819-687-3315 and log in as guest with password guest and you'll soon understand that it is your system that's in the dark ages when it comes to straight transactional processing for customers. No one wants the graphics page after page if it is using his time.

There was a great book written by a former president of Avis who wrote that every chief executive should call his office once a week to see how his call was handled. Let's extend this thought. You guys are all working on a high speed LAN. Of course the pages pop-up quickly. BUT THINK OF YOUR CUSTOMERS who for the most part are operating at 28.8 dial-up on busy systems with restricted pipe and slow servers.

BE CUSTOMER DRIVEN and just don't talk about it.

Now let's just see if they implement any of this.... Yes I'll email copies of this to Bell and The Royal Bank but better still I'll send copies by registered snail mail...stay tuned for the response.