Monday 21 January 2008

Those nice people at Eclipse

I work for the Open University, which uses FirstClass as a conferencing and communications system. It's a big system - the OU has, I think, something like a million licences. Some people have problems with its speed of operation, because the port it uses or the type of packet it delivers is identified by some ISPs as a file sharing kind of thing, and they throttle it. Now the biggest culprits, I shan't name them, tend to flatly deny that they do anything like that, and continue to deny it even if you prove it to them, and even then they won't do anything about it. As a result of which Tiscali, among others, has lost quite a few customers. OK, I named them.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, my FirstClass started slowing to a crawl at certain times of day, a classic sign of traffic management going on. I phoned my ISP, Eclipse. The first thing that was refreshing was that they were completely open about practising traffic management (which I don't mind at all, by the way, as long as people are honest about it, which Eclipse were.) But they were puzzled as to why they were picking up FirstClass, and needed to be sure that it was actually their issue and not something to do with either me or the OU. Fair enough. So we did a few tests - inconclusive. So they went and got a copy of FC, and I guess they must have had an OU student somewhere on the staff, to see if they could replicate the problem - still inconclusive. So they thought about it for a while. I was convinced by this time, having used other computers and ISPs to log in to the same servers on the same FC account, that it was a traffic management issue.

In the end they decided quite simply to unmanage my account. Bingo. The minute they did that, FC was back to its old self. They very nicely left me unmanaged while they thought about what to do next. They contacted the OU, got the details of their servers, and eventually white listed them. They've re-managed my account, but I don't mind because FC is still flying.

It took a while, but the fact is they bothered. They kept me informed of what they were doing. They thought about what to do. They even phoned me to talk things over or to tell me what they were doing. I was dealt with by two or three different people to start with, but then given my own technician to deal with until the issue was resolved. I shall now embarrass him in front of his colleagues by naming him. Thank you, Matt, and thank you Eclipse for a piece of genuine customer service.

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