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    What Good Tech Support Looks Like

    Posted: January 28th, 2009 | Author: Agitationist | Filed under: blogging, tools | Tags: , , | No Comments »

    You may have noticed that I am a affiliate of web hosting company AN Hosting, since I pimp promote their services in a couple of places on this page. But in the words of Cy Sperling, the infamous founder of Hair Club for Men, “I’m also a client”. And as of today, I’m also a fan.

    I host several domains on my account. One of these is bloglabs.net, a news aggregator for the blogging community. I haven’t had much time to put in on it, so yesterday I set to work. Almost immediately, I encountered a mysterious problem.

    I set up the site to load quickly, so the only native image on the page is a thin blue stripe across the top. For some reason this tiny 4k image refused to load. I spent hours coding and re-coding the html and css, re-encoding and re-uploading the image, and getting more and more frustrated. I worked for years as a web designer, and I couldn’t get one lousy little gif to show up? It was downright embarrassing.

    Finally I gave in to my lack of self-sufficiency, and at about 11:00 pm sent an email to AN’s tech support. Now, this image was purely decorative, so I didn’t mark the ticket as urgent, and I was not expecting a response until today. And quite frankly, my description of the issue was considerably less detailed than this post; nor did I inform them of the steps I had already taken to try and fix it.

    Amazingly, I received a response within ten minutes. TEN MINUTES. If you’ve ever dealt with tech support of any kind, especially web hosting, it’s hard to describe how outstanding that is. I’ve had hosting companies take days to get to a routine problem like this.

    The support rep (who is located in the United States, by the way) responded in grammatically-perfect English that he had re-built the image, and it was working on his end. He requested that I try it and report back. I felt as if I was communicating with a real person, who was actually taking my problem seriously. Hallelujah.

    This was a logical first step, but he couldn’t have known that I already tried it, since I didn’t tell him. Tech support does require both sides to be communicative, and I wasn’t holding up my end. So I unfortunately had to report that the image still wasn’t displaying for me. Again, I did not expect a response until the following day.

    And again I was pleasantly surprised when, about an hour later, they informed me they had found the problem. I was trying to link to the image across my hosted domains, but I had overzealously enabled “hotlink protection“, which only allows linking to a image from the same domain. Thus I had altered the mysterious .htaccess file, and was giving the server conflicting instructions.

    Perhaps they found the problem by following the trail of smoke coming from the computer hosting my site, or by the robotic cries of “DOES NOT COMPUTE!

    But more likely, they patiently checked the many custom settings I had made in my admin interface until they found the culprit, tested and confirmed their theory, fixed it for me, and let me know everything was working perfectly.

    Yes, they fixed it for me. They could have send me instructions, copied and pasted from somewhere, but no. They just fixed it.

    And the tone of their emails was downright friendly. Not only did they solve the problem, they didn’t scold me about my error, like some support reps are prone to do. They simply included a helpful link regarding the use of hotlink protection, so I could use it appropriately in the future.

    Finally, when I gratefully let them know it was working, they send back a friendly, non-boilerplate email that seemed genuinely happy to have the problem solved. It was 1:18 am.

    It seems crazy to even have to point it out, but this is what good tech support looks like. If that isn’t what you’re getting, switch now. It’s $6.95 a month. The domain name is free. If you ask me, it’s a damn good deal.

    p.s.: On the first sign-up page, scroll down and enter coupon code ”GOTAPEX-ROX-A-LOT” for 3 months free. Just don’t tell anyone else – this will be our little secret…

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