This blog post should not be a negative experience but hopefully a learning one for those involved and I do hope that Telstra and iiNet are reading this as they need to learn from their mistakes. Nobody is perfect so I am not judging either harshly but we should all learn from our mistakes and not repeat them.
This blog post is about my recent experience trying to getting connected to the internet.
I am reliant on the internet more so than the average user as I work in IT. My living is made on developing software that only works on the internet. If we every run out of electricity, and as a result the internet, I am screwed. Then again if it gets to that we may all find times a little tough. Regardless, we all rely heavily on the internet now to do just about everything.
You can read my views on the need for internet access to be treated like a utility here.
My recent experience of getting connected to the internet (in 1st world terms) has been nothing short of a nightmare due to mistakes made by Telstra and iiNet. This is the impact (so far) to myself and the companies:
- 3 long weeks of frustration.
- Hours wasted on phone calls, a large percentage of which was on hold.
- A mobile broadband bill of around $800!
- Hours of lost productivity that should have been billable working time.
Telstra and iiNet
- Call handlers time wasted.
- Having to listen to me vent.
This is what happened to bring us to this blog post.
So 3 weeks ago I needed to get a new broadband internet connection to service office space. I started by going online and using the systems made available on the Optus, iiNet and Telstra websites. I entered the address but no match for the exact unit number was found on any of them. Other units in the same complex could be found on them all: 101 and 104 but not 102.
First up to bat is Telstra
So I rang Telstra, explained what I was after, that it was a new block of units, that I had already tried to sign up online but no match for my address could be found. The customer service rep did their own investigation and they also could not find the address. Now what transpired next is really important and I am no lawyer but I am not sure what I was told is legal.
First I was told that there was no line to the unit which would cost $300 to get installed (this was
not/partially correct I found out today). Secondly I was told to get my internet connection I would need to sign up with Telstra first and then they could go ahead with the line installation (this is the bit I don't believe is legal as it would disadvantage other providers). Lastly I was told it would take about 2 weeks to get the line connected and then the internet.
Telstra stikes out!
Next up to bat we have iiNet
I didn't want to wait 2 weeks and I didn't want to pay $300 so I called iiNet and spoke to a really nice chap from Cape Town SA who advised me of pretty much the same thing, a line needed to be connected but that they had a promotion on at the moment where they would pay $200 of the $300 fee. It would also take 2 weeks maximum to get done. I decided too sign up with them as they came recommended, the customer service was good and they offered an unlimited plan, something Telstra does not. I was also told that I would be informed via email of progress.
and then it all went quiet...
So I waited 2 weeks and here's what happened. Nothing! and I mean nothing!
So I called iiNet again and again and again and again. I got a range of responses: "systems are currently down", "the wholesale provider is overloaded", "we have spoken to the wholesale manager who has actioned your case but are waiting on a install date"...it went on and on.
iiNet could do nothing until the wholesaler (Telstra I believe) provisioned the line or something. So I feel for iiNet as they were at the mercy of Telstra. As my frustration levels increased one poor customer service rep advised me to go with Telstra as I would get it resolved faster. Not that I was being abusive but he had obviously experienced this type of thing before with new properties.
Eventually I caved and called Telstra and this time I got lucky. I explained to the lady that I had been waiting for 3 weeks to get connected and outlined what had happened.
She told me that they needed to enter the address in to a database and it would take 24 hours for their systems to synchronize and that they would call me back the next day and we would know when the line could be connected and could place the order for the internet connection.
True to their word they called back the next day. This is where the true nature of this monumental debacle (to me at least) was unveiled.
this monumental debacle was unveiled.
I was then told by Telstra that there was already a connection to the unit. No $300 installation fee required. No 2 week wait for an engineer to lay cables.
So the mere act of entering the address in to some magical database meant all of a sudden Telstra and every other provider could now see that a serviceable line
hashad been connected at this address. I can only assume then that since this is a new block of units and this unit has never been occupied that the cabling was put in place for all units. After all, other units have been connected to the internet already. If that is the case then why have all the units in this block not already been entered in to the magical database, the one I will now call Unicorn. Only Telstra lay the copper cable in Australia and only they can enter the addresses in to Unicorn. It's owned and managed by Telstra and as soon as the address was entered in to Unicorn all of a sudden my address validated on all the other providers websites.
Let's recap shall we.
22 days for Telstra to type my address in to a database.
I placed the order on the 2nd of September. It's now 24th of September. 22 days have passed and I have no internet. It has taken 22 days (15 working days) for someone at Telstra to type my address in to a database.
But I can now get the internet connected right?
It was then that the mobile rang and I was told the following. "Hi James, ummm really sorry but it looks like the line that was going in to your unit has been taken by someone else and is currently being serviced by another provider. We can write to them and request it back but there is an 80% chance they will say no. The quickest thing to do would be request a new connection from us and we can give you an appointment date of the 27th of October"
Surely that's a mistake, they meant to say the 27th of September, next Tuesday. Ummm no, they meant the 27th of October.
I decided to look at what the Telstra Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) offered and even in the absolute worst case scenario "Within 20 working days (equivalent to 1 month) after request" the time stated is double the Telstra CSG.
Lets put this in perspective. I live in Sydney Australia GDP per capita USD $67,458.36...not the Central African Republic — GDP per capita USD $639.
All the pain and expense above could have been avoided. I did some research after going through the above madness and found a solution I did not even know existed.
It's competitively priced (unlimited for $89/month)
It has ZERO dependency on Telstra
It has ZERO dependency on a old school phone line
It's available right now online or in a retailer (Harvey Norman & The Good Guys)
It's called Vividwireless
Picked up my modem this morning, plugged it in, signed up and everything is just as I wanted 3 weeks ago.
Yes I can browse the internet
Yes I can watch Netlfix, Stan, Presto etc and all in UltraHD
Yes I can stream my music
The real kicker is that Telstra and all the other providers could only guarantee me a speed between 3Mbps and 9Mbps if and when the planets aligned.
Right now I am getting 9.95Mbps with a wireless, painless, cost effective solution.
As far as broadband speeds got elsewhere in the world that's pretty poor but you know what? It's all I need right now and neither Telstra or the Australian Government can sort the mess out that is the state of broadband in Australia so until they do this will do just fine thanks.