Sympatico help desk - I need to vent.

Too mild for the pit.

I just got off the phone with Sympatico tech support. Background - I’m in a hotel, using the hotel’s wireless connection, and I couldn’t send e-mail from Thunderbird because the smpthm server refused the connection. I called tech support two weeks ago, told them about the problem and got a different port number that would accept the e-mail from Thunderbird. Great - everythings working fine.

Easter weekend - there’s a huge crash on the system and the e-mail wasn’t working at all from sometime on Thursday, April 9th until Monday, April 13th. Then, when it does come back on, I can’t send on the port. No problem, I figure, I’ll just call tech support - they’ve probably just changed the port again.

So this guy on the phone gets me to change it back to the default, which doesn’t work. Then he tells me that that’s the extent of what he can do because Sympatico doesn’t support Thunderbird. He’d be happy to set me up in Outlook… WTF?!? I politely said that this was unacceptable and asked to speak to the supervisor. The supervisor told me the same thing.

The fundamental thing for me is that nothing changed on my end, but once Thunderbird came into the conversation, it was like they’d found a valid reason for not helping me, even though it had been working until their system crashed for a weekend. Even though it was their help desk that got it working two weeks ago!

So here I am; I can use webmail until I get home, but it’s painful and awkward and I don’t like it. Is Thunderbird such a piece of shit and nobody told me? Is it common for ISPs to dictate what software one can or cannot use? I’ve gone from annoyed to bitter and hostile in the course of one phone call.

Do you have Outlook or Outlook Express on your machine?

You should let them walk you through the setup and once it’s working, manually transfer the settings to Thunderbird yourself. If all you’re looking for is the port number or maybe some secret new setting, it’ll be revealed during Outlook setup.

Well, here is what I can tell you: The world of computing is vast. For any given task, there are many different ways to go about it. Like getting email. Just think about how many email clients are out there. So, at some point you have to make a call. Do you want tech support that has a defined scope of support but is very knowledgeable within that scope, or do you want techs that sort of take a half assed stab at everything? Its like the triangle you see with Fast, Good and Inexpensive at each point. Pick any 2.

No. Do they make Outlook or Outlook Express for Mac? I do have the Mac Mail program that comes with the operating system.

Yours is a very good idea - I was suffering from a knee-jerk reaction to being told my software wasn’t good enough for them…

Surely they have instructions for setting up Mac Mail, if that’s the “Outlook” of the Mac world (I believe that’s the pre-installed Mac mail app, right?)

Maybe call back and ask about that.

The fundamental problem seems to be that my ISP doesn’t want to accept e-mail that doesn’t originate from one of their connections. When I called back, I had someone who was willing to help me out with Thunderbird. We tried every port and authentication configuration possible, to no avail. No joy with Mac Mail, either. His advice was to get the Outgoing Server for Sending E-mail and its Code from the hotel and we could proceed from there. That put me on to the hotel’s IT department and further to the tech support of their ISP. Their advice was to wait one hour before trying out a change in settings, to allow those settings to take hold. So far, no success.

The thing that astonishes me is - I can’t be the only person with a laptop that goes to a hotel and tries to send e-mail through my e-mail program, can I? Has everyone else changed over to webmail and I’m the only holdout? I haven’t had this frustrating a day with technology in quite some time.

You’re using a Mac. That’s the problem in the first place. Their tech support is lousy with regard to Mac (they may have 1 person on shift [if that] who knows Macs). Their goal is not to fix the problem but to get you off the line as soon as possible. That’s why at the office we changed Internet provider.