On Symantec/Norton Technical Support….

Ok – I just had an interaction with a “technical” support rep from Symantec that is quite simply driving me insane.

I want to thank “Shajeewin” for renewing my objection to outsourcing jobs overseas.  Yes people, it’s cheaper.  But then again you do get what you pay for.

Background:  I am trying to set up a customer who wants to push a DR image of ONE system across the internet to my storage.  Initial push about 30G, daily updates in the megabytes range.  The hard part is this customer isn’t the type to spend a lot of money on Bandwidth, so went with Verizon DSL, with it’s whopping 128K upstream speed.

My solution for this was to sneaker-net the initial recovery point, and then push the incremental updates over the wire.  Simple, right?

So I look at Norton/Symantec Ghost.  First option, I’ve always liked Norton.

I’m changing my mind about that QUICKLY.

Here is the chat that ensued (with my comments thrown in)

Issue: Need to be able to do an initial recovery point to usb disk and subsequent recovery points to network using Ghost. (Ghost 10, which I currently have, doesn’t support it)

Jesse has entered room.

Email with reconnect link has been sent to:jg@50micron.com – If you get disconnected, click the link to reconnect to the same chat session.

Shajeewin has entered room.

Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:20:34 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

You are being transferred to Shajeewin.
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:20:35 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Welcome to Norton Support, my name is Shajeewin, Can I please have a minute to go through the information you have provided?

(Is it really that difficult – Oh that’s right, I understand – you need to get that English/Hindi dictionary out)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:20:54 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:21:53 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Hi Jesse , How are you doing today?
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:22:39 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Not bad, provided you can give me a decent answer to a simple question.

(Ok, maybe I did start off a bit snarky…)

Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:23:28 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Jesse, I see that you need to perform Backup to a network drive using the Norton Ghost product?

(Yes….he got the basics…however:)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:24:20 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

You didn’t read the whole thing.  I need to sneaker-net the original recovery point via a USB harddrive, and then update that recovery point over the network.
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:24:50 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

(initial recovery point is over 30G, subsequent updates are small)  I only have a half-meg pipe to update over.

(Ok, in retrospect – I threw him a curve ball, by using the words “sneaker-net” which may or may not translate)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:26:05 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Thanks, your case number is 497891616 , please write this down.

(Uh oh, here’s where it went downhill – a case # for a usability question?)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:26:21 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

May I know whether you need to restore it?

(No idiot, I’m running backups for the purposes of taking up disk-space – I don’t actually *NEED* the ability to restore them.)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:26:57 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

This is an off-site backup for DR purposes.
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:27:47 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

I understand your concern.

(Wrong macro dude – and no, you have no concept of what I’m even talking about.)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:28:35 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

May I know whether you need to restore the Backup image to the same computer that you have performed Backup or a different computer?

(Obviously – still down the wrong tangent)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:29:09 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

If it happens, it will be to a different computer.

(I’m humoring him at this point)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:29:34 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Again – I just need to know if i can hand-carry the first copy to the remote site.

(My attempt at redirecting him…)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:31:08 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Jesse, the Norton Ghost product will not support the restore of One Computer image to a different computer. You can Backup and Restore on the same computer in case of any Hard Drive failures.

(…was apparently totally lost.)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:31:54 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

We can restore the image in recovery mode, by restoring the Base Backup first and then restore the incremental.

(I’m *FAIRLY* certain I understand how backups work.)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:32:38 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Ok listen.  You’re obviously not getting this.  Can you transfer me to someone who has a better command of the English language?

(Getting annoyed now)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:33:15 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Or do I simply need to find another product?
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:33:52 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear.

(You are clearly an idiot – there, I said it)

Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:34:13 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

No – you’re perfectly clear, but you’re troubleshooting the wrong problem.
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:34:23 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Yes. We can restore using the Big file using the Norton Ghost 15.0 product.

(At this point I wish I had a choke-collar for this guy so i can jerk him back onto the path and say “bad dog”)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:35:06 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

I don’t have a problem with restores.  I have a problem with the initial backup taking 35 hours over the network.  So I need to run the first copy to a USB harddrive, physically transport it, then do subsequent updates via the network.  Got it?

(Yank on the leash)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:35:50 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Yes. Thank you for the information.
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:37:34 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

We cannot Backup the initial Backup to one location and then the incremental to the Network drive. Since the incremental Backup will depends upon the Base Backup.

(Close, but no banana.  You missed the part about the backup being transported physically to the remote network drive.)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:38:01 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Even if the initial backup is then copied to the network location?
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:38:46 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

No Jesse. The Norton Ghost product will not recognize it. I am sorry.

(Ok, finally an answer…even if it’s a sucky one)
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:39:28 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Becuase like Ghost10, it incorporates the path into the metadata of the backup, right?

(Ok, why am *I* the one who had to say this?)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:40:07 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Yes Jesse.
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:41:46 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

idiotic way to do things.  I’ll investigate other options.

(I’m angry – because this is now going on 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:42:06 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

You are welcome Jesse.
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:42:13 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

I’m sorry for the inconvenience that this is causing.
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:42:16 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Is there anything else that I can help you with?
Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:43:30 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

you don’t mind if I cut this chat-log to a blog post do you?  it’s painfully funny and a great example of why technical jobs shouldn’t be outsourced.

(Ok, that was just a slap – but I think a well deserved one)
Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:45:22 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Jesse, as I haven’t been able to resolve the problem yet, I’d like to transfer you to a Case Manager who will be able to do some deeper analysis. Is that okay with you?

(So the product doesn’t do what I need it to do, but you’re going to transfer me to someone else who is going to tell me the same thing and waste even more of my time?)

Jesse(Wed Feb 24 2010 14:45:41 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

Shajeewin(Wed Feb 24 2010 11:47:28 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time))>

I will transfer your case immediately. It could take a minute or two for [him/her] to pick up your case.  Please hold on.



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  1. Symantec outsourced support fails the Turing Test. I think you were chatting with a very old copy of Eliza with a few phrases rewritten to sound more technical.

    Oh, and the hassles of cheapstake clients. A family member?

    1. It really does. I lost count of how many times the answer to my question bore no relationship to the question. And the part I DIDN’T POST was the transfer to the “manager” who was even *MORE* inept and whose command of English was ever worse.

      Nah, not a relation, just a typical frugal small-business owner. I don’t blame her, it’s hard to get by these days.

      The only reason she bought the cloud storage concept was that she has a deli on one side of her and a paint-store on the other, which put the potential for her little mailboxes store becoming a huge fireball in the “very real possibility” range.

      Of course my bad for not actually having a product when I sold it to her. 😉

    • Andrew Storrs on February 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm
    • Reply

    What about “cheating”.

    Attach the USB drive and share it out on the local system with the same share path as it will have on the remote system, add a HOSTS file entry for to the machine pointing the remote systems name at localhost, then do an initial backup, transport it to the new location, remove the HOSTS file redirect and try an incremental.

    In theory that should work – even if it’s not pretty. 😉

    1. You’re right, that is ugly. 🙂 Nah – Got a better solution.

      Acronis TrueImage 2010. It doesn’t encode the archive location anywhere in the backup, so it can be moved after the fact.

      And since this “server” is a windows XP box, i can get away with the cheap home version in this case. 🙂


    • Fumi on March 16, 2010 at 2:53 am
    • Reply

    You do realize that they are required to go through all the idiotic questions, so they can save themselves from litigious end users?

    How is it going to be different with the lackey in Stateside instead of India?

    It’s not a problem with outsourcing, it’s a problem of bright people not wanting to work in customer service.

    1. Um…no.

      They’re required to go through the script because they don’t actually know the product they’re supporting. When I was at AOL the newbies went through the script until they got the feel for what was wrong, then they were allowed to deviate from it once they got their technical chops.

      The difference with “lackeys” stateside is that WE SPEAK THE DAMNED LANGUAGE.

      The US has no shortage of people who will work in customer service. Companies just don’t want to pay American wages when they can save a few bucks on someone cheap.

      This came directly from a Dell Sales Engineer. “If the difference is paying $20/hour and $2/hour, we’ll go the cheapest route, even if it does cost American jobs”

      Now I *NEVER* heard of a tech-support rep making $20/hour. I think the best I made when I was at AOL was $9 and change, and then made about $11/hour at Microsoft.

      But you know what, I wouldn’t be where I am today without those jobs, and a lot of people who are looking to enter technology NEED those jobs to bridge in.

      We need to bring our tech jobs back home so that we can start training the next generation of IT people

    2. Oh, and just FYI. FUMI’s IP address tracks out of the country, so there *MAY* be a little self interest in his comment. 😉


        • Fumi on March 17, 2010 at 10:43 pm
        • Reply

        Yeah I live in Hong Kong. We lost our manufacturing jobs to China a full 20 years before you guys did, there is NO factory of any meaningful size in here since the 90s. The same is happening to our call centers: in 2002 the telco I worked in employed over 200 people in its call center, within 2 years all of them lost their job to someone who speaks the same language but gets paid 1/7 of their salary.

        Do I wish the companies would keep the jobs in here? Absolutely. However when MBA holders are chasing “maximum profit” and the stock market punishes you for “not cutting enough expenses”, these things inevitably will happen.

        Incidentally, EMC is the only company whose CS doesn’t speak my language. Sun, HP, HDS etc. at least forward my calls to someone who can speak Cantonese. EMC routes all calls to India.

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