by Esther Schindler

A chat with tech support

Feb 07, 20083 mins
IT Leadership

This story is true. In this exchange of messages with a hosting service’s tech support (thankfully not the one that uses!), only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Whomever they are.

In our last episode, our hero was having a circular discussion with level one tech support. Level one tech support succeeded in raping and pillaging the English language. But no issues were resolved. All seemed lost.

Then, this morning, there’s a fresh missive from level two support! By the second message, it became obvious that level two support has a better command of English. They use verbs! And they’ve also exceeded level one tech support in their inability to grasp a rather simple problem.

And so, that brings us to our latest message to the fine folks at the [hosting provider] help desk.

Let us recap our discussion:

07 Feb 2008 12:12 AM, [hosting provider] Henry wrote:

[ … ]

You can view the php5 directory by using the following command

ls -ld /usr/local/php5/

if you use this command “ls -l /usr/local/php5/” it will show the directories and files inside the directory.

07 Feb 2008 03:42 PM, I wrote:

No. I cannot view the directory:

[mysite@kinky ~]$ ls -ld /usr/local/php5

ls: /usr/local/php5: No such file or directory

07 Feb 2008 03:57 PM, [hosting provider] Gary wrote:

[ … ]

2, We have enable jailshell access for your acocunt on the server.User in jail shell is not having privilege to access system directory php5. Only admin have the privilege to acecss it.

07 Feb 2008 04:24 PM, I wrote:

One final repeat:

1. I have a script that requires command line php5 to perform setup and installation.

[ … ]

07 Feb 2008 04:29 PM, [hosting provider] Gary wrote:

Please use the path /usr/local/php5/bin/php5 to run the script …

To which the final reply from Our Hero says:

And we’re all refreshed on what we were talking about, yes?

At this point, anyone with a tiny spark of awareness might surmise what my next response would be. In fact, one might imagine that our next four messages would be of such ease to predict that no psychic abilities would be needed whatsoever.

Let me give you a hint: My response will have something to do with not being able to see that directory. Your response will be that I do not have the privileges to see that directory. I then tell you that I require access to that directory in order to perform some key functions necessary for the setup and installation of part of a website application. You then inform me that I only need to use the path /usr/local/php5 to perform that function.

And thus we arrive back at the beginning.

Twenty-five years of programming has taught me to recognize an infinite loop when one falls on me. And fifty years of life has taught me to recognize the terminally insane, as well.

Please do continue to talk in circles. You’ve finally become more entertaining than infuriating.

And people wonder why Tech Support gets a bad name…