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technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule

Letter from cable installer 

From: (name withheld)
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 1998 1:14 a.m.
Subject: What?

I am a PC Tech. that installs RR.  Time Warner told us that we support IE.4 and Outlook Express but they also told us that a customer can have the programs they choose.  I believe that if you had asked the PC Tech not to install IE.4 or Outlook Express he wouldn't have, its Road Runner policy.  The real issue here is how many browsers or E-mail clients can Time Warner be expected to support?  From my view it's an extra service to supply IE.4 and Outlook with technical suport to begin with.  What about all of the other ISP's? Most don't supply a browser or browser support at all.  As for 2 directories with IE.4 whos fault is that.  I believe the Installer knew you had IE but how would he know you changed the default directory?  I assume he was installing over the top of your existing IE.4 with the RR customized version.
I am sorry but I dont see how Road Runner customer service policy can be critisized.
    Today is my day off and I just got back from Lafeyette where I installed for a customer who had been delayed during beta work.  I gave up my time in order to demonstrate to this customer how important he is to us. 
3 days since your article: I have had 3 customers waiting with your article in hand.  The first words out of their mouth, "I read that" blaa blaa blaa!
I am going to disect the missinformation in your article and keep it on hand for quick reference!

Two friendly guys from Time Warner came over and installed the Road Runner high-speed Internet system the other day (Only truth in this article). I’ve been hotrodding happily around the Web ever since.

My judgment so far: Road Runner is great. It’s very fast and easy to use. I’d like to see a change in the way Time Warner installs Road Runner, but everything else about the service is first class.  (Only because your ego is to big to have anyone do anything on your PC)

Road Runner uses a cable-TV connection to hook your PC or Mac to the Internet. (It does not use your telephone line.) You can still use your TV the same way as always, because the cable does double duty. If you already subscribe to Time Warner’s cable-TV service, the Internet connection is $40 a month. If you’re not already a subscriber and get just the Internet connection, you’ll pay a little more.

The Road Runner system uses a cable modem made by Motorola. It’s an ugly beige box, much bigger than normal modems, although a newer, sleeker model is on the way later this year. The cable modem hooks up to your PC through a network cable that plugs into a network adaptor card in your PC or Mac. Time Warner supplies both the cable modem and the network card as part of the hookup fee of about $100. If you already have a network card, yours probably will work fine. (You’ll still have to pay the $100 setup fee even if you don’t have to pay for the card.)

The two PCs here at Countless Pines were already networked and had an Ethernet hub, a device that allows other computers to be added to the network by plugging their cables into the hub. A hub is a big help in hooking up Road Runner to a network, too, because the cable modem can be plugged right into the "uplink" port on the hub.

That’s how Time Warner’s installers did it for me. That part worked fine, after a couple of changes in my network card’s setup. The Road Runner connection software worked perfectly right from the start. Downloads from sites on the Internet went much faster than they did through my dialup connection—more than 100 times faster in some cases—and pages snapped open very quickly. I was also able to grab thousands of postings from Road Runner’s news server in a couple of minutes.

I’m running Windows 98, which works very well with Road Runner. (In fact, one of the installers praised Windows 98 for being easier for Road Runner installations than earlier versions of Windows.) That also means I’m using the latest version of Internet Explorer, the Microsoft Web browser.

But the first thing the installer did after the connection worked was-—you guessed it-—install the latest version of Internet Explorer. So now I have two identical versions, in different places on my hard drive. That was dumb.  (Why would the Installer think the Road Runner version of IE would be in another directory other than the default while installing over an existing identical version.)  You are a jerk for calling (name removed) Dumb!) Time Warner should simply check to make sure the user has a browser that works with Road Runner. Recent versions of both major browsers from Netscape and Microsoft will work fine.

I was too slow to stop the installer from redoing my browser setup, but I was a lot faster on the draw when he told me he was going to switch my mail program. No way, I said. The installer made it clear that Road Runner officially supported only the software he wanted to install—Outlook Express, (Right! He explained that Time Warner only supports Outlook Express, He did not say you could not have the browser or e-mail client of your choice.  This is missleading the public!)  a light duty e-mail program that has almost none of the features of the mail program I use, Outlook 98.

There’s nothing wrong with Outlook Express if the mail program you’re used to is an old-fashioned program such as Eudora or Microsoft Internet Mail. But there’s something screwy about telling users who prefer more powerful e-mail programs that they have to switch. A downgrade is not my idea of customer service.  (I show my customers how easy it is to go to internet options and select which e-mail client they would like to use.  Now is this a downgrade or a selection of e-mail clients to choose from?)   The crazy part about this is that Outlook 98 works beautifully with Road Runner’s multi-account e-mail service, but Outlook Express does not. (You need to hang upside down and chant a few times to get OE to do this.) (This is simply not true unless your a beginner with e-mail clients) 

You can set up four extra e-mail accounts in Road Runner, and , if you want, Outlook 98 will get and send mail for all five accounts every few minutes, automatically.

I understand why Time Warner would want to keep its support options simple and easy—support one browser and one e-mail program and you head off a lot of questions. But support at an Internet Service Provider is never simple and it’s seldom easy. (As a matter of fact most ISP's dont even provide a browser or e-mail client much less technical support, but Al thinks the World revolves around him)  The hardest support problems come from users who are upset, and the easiest way to make them upset is to force them to use software they don’t want and don’t need.  THIS IS THE BIGGEST LIE OF ALL!!!   THE FIRST THING I AM HAVING TO TELL MY CUSTOMERS IS THAT I WILL NOT FORCE THEM TO DO ANYTHING THEY DO NOT WANT TO DO JUST LIKE NO ONE FORCED YOU!!!!

From my perspective there are some customers who are impossible to please but fortunately you are the first one I have encountered.  By the way, I am asking the customers who answere to in regard to you missinformation, to e-mail you with their opinion of our service as well as to not bother with you any more!



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