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DSL Internet Light is off

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It was a surreal experience this weekend because CenturyLink took my DSL-based Internet offline. Calling their 24 hours support yielded 1st level support, who could do nothing but repeatedly ask me to re-enter my user ID and password. They wouldn’t listen to the simple fact that my Internet light was off, which means the problem is on CenturyLink’s part.

First level support said my DSL-Modem was broken. Naturally, it was the one they provided and charge me $5/month for. I explained that if the DSL light was green one moment and not lit another and the internal Intranet continued to work, it wasn’t the DSL-Modem/Router’s logic board. However, I even went and bought a new DSL-Modem to verify that it would have the same problem symtoms.

With the new modem, the same problem existed. When I contacted the support, the support person said, “Your new Actiontec DSL-model isn’t supported.” Then, they wanted me to call Actiontec. Immediately recognizing their attempt to dodge ownership and close the request (supporting their job metrics), I reconnected the DSL-Modem/Router and said,

“Your supported device is now reconnected and failing to connect to your server. The Internet light is not lit, which means it doesn’t fail or succeed to connect, it simply can’t get recognized to validate a connection on your server.”

Naturally, by this time it was the weekend. The support representative then said, I’d have to call back on Monday during normal business hours because nobody held privileges to reset the server. They said, “Ask for 3rd level support. That’s so interesting because CenturyLink boast 7×24 hour service while it appears that their support model is 5×8, 5×9, or 5×10 hour service.

When I finally got a support person online Monday to escalate to the next level, or beyond, this support person wouldn’t acknowledge that the issue required 3rd level support. They had only 2nd level support. Who knows what’s true at this point, eh? When they did escalate, 35 minutes later the service was reconnected without any action on my DSL-Modem/Router. The light went from unlit, to red, and then after less than a minute to green. This proved exactly what I tried to explain on Thursday last week, which yielded nothing. Unfortunately, I had to travel to Utah Thursday evening and couldn’t get back to the problem on my end until Saturday. Then, the support limits of CenturyLink kicked in and Internet couldn’t be restored until Monday.

CenturyLink has taught me they don’t care about customer service, and that they’re support model is broken. Unfortunately, there are few options in Rexburg, Idaho. It strikes me there needs to be a Federal law if there isn’t already one to mandate the support staffing hours of Internet providers. Next step, I should ask my Congressman if there is a law, and if there isn’t a law start a public driven initiative to create one. By the way, I waited 26 minutes for them to find a duty manager – apparently another broken process or staffing glitch. When he got online, I asked for an email stating what they had broken on their level. That manager represented that they don’t have access to email, like their 1st support analyst, and now I’m waiting for a manager at the next level. I wonder how many levels are required to find somebody with email? Apparently, nobody can send the email because of their security concerns. It makes me wonder if nobody can send an email to acknowledge their mistake. 😉

Bottom-line, when the Internet light goes dark (unlit), escalate and don’t bother with 1st level support. It’s a waste of your time.

By the way, when I looked into a Cable connection it was the same price and it’s twice as fast. Yes, I’m switching now. So much for the ad copy of 99.9% up time, it doesn’t factor in their downtime windows when the Internet goes unlit. That happens for hours on the weekend several months a year, that appears to be their unpublished service window. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what their real customer up-time is?

The plus side, is that CableOne’s Internet is 6 times faster and the same cost (provided you have a dedicated phone line), as you can see in my speed comparisons using (also in my comment replying to CenturyLink below).

Service Download Upload
CenturyLink 5.69 Mbps 0.95 Mbps
CableOne 30.34 Mbps 1.60 Mbps

My only regret is that I didn’t change sooner. Thanks to CenturyLink’s classic example of aggravating customer support, non-transparent outages, and tirelessly trying to maintain image through a 1st level support team for helping me make the change.

Written by maclochlainn

December 17th, 2012 at 10:28 am

7 Responses to 'DSL Internet Light is off'

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  1. Hello there!

    Sorry about the trouble you’ve been going through with your internet connection. Our management escalation team would be happy to look into this for you. Send us the details and we’ll get started.

    Please include a link to your blog for reference.


    CenturyLink Help

    19 Dec 12 at 1:37 pm

  2. Doug,

    After years of suffering when you take down your servers for maintenance and have support run customers needlessly through a DSL-Modem check, the last outage and 7 hours on the phone convinced me to explore options. It’s actually the exact same cost (since I had a separate line for DSL) to move from CenturyLink DSL to CableOne. The plus side, is that the Internet is 6 times faster using CableOne, as you can see in my comparisons using

    Service Download Upload
    CenturyLink 5.69 Mbps 0.95 Mbps
    CableOne 30.34 Mbps 1.60 Mbps

    My only regret is that I didn’t change sooner. Thanks for your classic example of aggravating customer support, non-transparent outages, and tirelessly trying to maintain image through a 1st level support team (the best transparency can’t hide repeated failures).



    20 Dec 12 at 10:58 am

  3. Michael,

    Sorry to hear you’ve left us already, but I do understand. My attempt to provide help was not an example of 1st level support attempting to gloss over the issue with transparency. It was actually an honest offer to dig into this and, well, help get it fixed. I’m one of the managers within the executive office with 10+ years of 3rd tier technical support experience with Qwest & CenturyLink combined. Perhaps, in the end, there may have been little I could have done to prevent this, but I sincerely care about the outcome of the customers I work with.

    If you would like assistance in the future with anything from billing to support, shoot me an email.

    Take care,


    26 Dec 12 at 2:45 pm

  4. Doug,

    While you’ve lost me, you can still service those who remain. I think there are two concrete things that you should do, and they arise because of a single problem. That problem is that an unlit Internet light means only two things: the LED is dead; or the receiver (your server) is offline or disconnected through a hardware or software failure.

    If you want to support customers rather than hide your functional deficiencies and 5×9 technical support model, why don’t you change the primary (1st level script-readers) support script to ask whether the Internet light is red, green, or unlit. If the customer reports it’s unlit the first check should be made on your end. You should determine if it’s possible to make a connection. Why don’t you do that?

    By the way, this would have resolved my problem on Thursday instead of the following Monday. Also, why does CenturyLink advertise 7×24 support when CenturyLink doesn’t staff third level support 24 hours a day, every day in the week (as shared by your 1st level support analyst)? It appears CenturyLink only staffs 1st level support with people who can solve basic end-user errors, not technical problems within CenturyLink’s technical control. It also appears that 1st level support can check and verify connection problems cause by internal CenturyLink service outages (like hardware and software errors), but don’t.

    Is the reason 1st level support doesn’t check because they don’t want to breach transparency (the hiding of internal problems) to customers, like planned and unplanned outages that impact service? Isn’t CenturyLink’s statement that they provide 7×24 technical support incorrect and false advertising?



    26 Dec 12 at 5:52 pm

  5. Way to vote with your dollar!
    Cause if me being your customer is too hard, let me know, I can fix it.


    8 Sep 13 at 10:36 pm

  6. No kidding. Same DSL service intermittency here, same runaround when we call, and same grudging reluctance by CL to admit the problem is their line in. And it’s the same scripted customer service routine every time you call that makes you feel CenturyLink is hiding the ball & making you jump through all the same hoops, no matter how many times you have experienced the same service interruption problem. I always get the impression CL’s customer service model is designed to encourage you to give up & go away instead of sticking through to a diagnosis & providing the level of service we are paying for. They seem to deliberately ignore past service issues. The field techs are honest at explaining the problem, but it takes a pitched battle with customer service on the phone to get them out here; then it seems whatever the fix is, it never holds for long. Unfortunately there is no competitive internet service option at present where we live. If there were there would be a mass migration to it.

    Chris Frissell

    18 Feb 15 at 7:31 am

  7. That problem is that an unlit Internet light means only two things: the LED is dead; or the receiver (your server) is offline or disconnected through a hardware or software failure.

    I have changed the above to:
    An unlit Internet light means only two things: the LED is dead; or the ISP is offline or disconnected through a hardware or software failure the fault is with the ISP.

    Is this statement correct?

    The above was sent to the ISP (manxtelecom)because the internet light and the adsl light often go out.

    Thank you for posting your detailed experience with Centuary Link.


    19 Aug 15 at 6:47 am

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