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Time Warner Cable Fails Again

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

I'm in the middle of an ISP change at work right now. Part of that is switching a block of public IP addresses on my servers from what the old ISP gave me to what the new ISP gave me. The new ISP is Time Warner Cable. I needed more bandwidth and their wideband service was very affordable, so I figured we could try it out for a year or so while we budget for a more expensive more reliable fiber-based connection.

First off, they screwed me with how the IP addresses are delivered. I needed them one way, routed (the industry standard way), but I had a feeling they were going to be lame and give them to me switched at the cable modem. I asked this question months ahead of time, even before signing the contract. I drew diagrams and dumbed it down so far Claire could have understood what I was talking about and I was YES-ed to death. "Sure, that's exactly how we do it."

The day before the service was installed, I called up to get my IP information so I would be ready for the tech when he showed up and what the guy on the phone wasn't making sense. Come to find out, they are switched just as I feared; I guess that isn't exactly how they do it. Because of this I had to restructure my server setup and end up putting a lot more strain on my router because it has to do network address translation (NAT) on all my IP addresses now rather than just routing them. It works, but it's ugly. As a result my current router can't really take the extra load very well so I'm going to have to upgrade that this summer too.

TWC had already been slaving our domain name harleyschool.org for a few years. I had the primary nameserver at school under my control and TWC's servers would just transfer the zone and serve the data I provide. I also had another company doing the same thing for redundancy but that's beside the point. A few weeks or so ago I called up TWC to have them change the IP address of the primary nameserver since that address changed to one they gave me. They took the info and said "no problem, it'll be done in a few minutes."

A week later I checked up on it and sure enough the change wasn't made, TWC's servers are still querying the old IP address to do the zone transfer. So I called them up gave them all my info including the case number from the first call and what the problem was. He screwed around on his computer for more than 20 minutes before I got tired and finally asked "you do know what I'm talking about, right?" He replies with, "well, no, not really." So I ask him what the fuck he's be doing for the last 20 minutes. "Trying to figure it out." So I try explaining again that their system needs to know what server is the primary for the domain name so their servers know where to get the information. He just kept trying to change the actual DNS records which wouldn't work anyway since my server is the primary, not theirs. Finally after explaining it about 7 more times and 20 more minutes later I told him to just delete the zone from their servers. I told the guy I can't deal with this and will move my data to a company that actually knows what they're doing. I couldn't trust that they wouldn't screw it up and cause my domain to get out of sync.

Three days later, my domain was STILL active in their system and to add some salt to the wound it was still querying the old IP for updates. More phone calls, more clueless helpdesk people.

Finally I got someone on the phone who I thought understood exactly what I wanted. He didn't have access to remove the zone himself but he said he had a buddy that worked in their datacenter who could do it and that he would forward my ticket on to him. Later that day their servers finally stopped answering for my domain.

I was totally astounded at how difficult it was to get a simple change made but more surprised at how obtuse every person I spoke to was. This wasn't rocket science, they host websites and DNS for their business customers all the time. The helpdesk guys I was speaking to were supposedly chatting with the guys in the datacenter who run these servers, and those guys apparently had no clue what was going on. I'm kind of amazed their whole operation even functions at all with the lack of technical prowess I witnessed in these 6-8 people.

I only signed a 1 year contract with TWC which I am now very happy about. Hopefully I don't have any more problems because I don't think I can deal with it taking multiple weeks and like 8 phone calls to get something fixed again.

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