Sunday, November 06, 2005

COMFY: And, in another camp not far away...

Now, this is interesting. Here's a similar wee tale from a work colleague. Two guys I work with both responded to a TelstraClear promotional offer to get 2MB connections at their home. It took them five months of phone calls and haggling with both Telstra and Telecom to get any action. Even now, they are still not getting 2MB downloads, and call TelstraClear each month when the bill comes in to try to get it sorted. Here's what one of them said via email:

"Moral of the story is that when Telecom finally get involved things get "fixed". Happened to us twice when dealing with ADSL.

First time we got ADSL set up via Paradise the connection wouldn't work. Telecom denied anything was wrong blaming Paradise and/or our phones but it was only after a cable technician called them to do a test that it got sorted out magically.

Second time was upgrading to a TelstraClear account. Five months of no increased speed and we had to keep getting our account credited because TelstraClear weren't too hot with the problem solving. Things finally got sorted when we convinced a helpdesk technician to call Telecom and then - ta-da!!! - it was all go.

Both times Telecom seemed to be the problem. TelstraClear didn't exactly cover themselves in glory either. No communication between departments in that organisation it seems. Classic 80/20 quality at its best…"

COMFY: Success!

Finally. On Saturday morning, 5 November, the Comfy family finally got broadband. Yeehaa!

Congratulations Orcon! You've achieved something no-one else could.

Monday, October 24, 2005

COMFY: ISPs are all mad

Oh, this takes the cake. At 2.30pm today I got a call from Dynalink NZ on my mobile at work.

And the reason for the call? "Hi Mr Comfort. We've received an order from Orcon NZ to send you 5 ADSL2 wireless modems, and I'm just checking you actually want 5."

Ahhh, no. I only want one. Yep, pretty sure. One's enough. One 'ill do it. Jolly good. Yes, thanks for your call.

I'm speechless. What goes on in an ISP to make stuff like this happen?

COMFY: That does it!

Friday night I get home and find STILL no broadband connection. My wife had been on the phone to Quik over the last two days, but had not been offered any useful solutions, apart from being sent a completely different modem from the Wi-Fi enabled one we ordered and were going to be charged for. They didn't have any more of the Wi-Fi ones (more like they didn't understand how to operate the things and were avoiding them), and would send us a simple 4-port one instead. No. Not good enough.

During the day I had an idea to call the local Dynalink people, and seek some advice. It was very enlightening.

Dynalink were surprised we were having this problem, and suspected the modem system had been modified to stop the user overriding the login settings. Apparently this would stop us signing up with another provider in the future also. Nice.

Try a firmware upgrade, they suggest. I download it and take it home.

It works. It resets every damn setting in the modem, EXCEPT the mispelt login username. Crap.

That does it! I'm a man on the edge! I've had enough of these bozos!

I go talk to my wife, and tell her I've had enough. Let's pull the plug and send the whole damn thing back to them, I say. Ok, she says. And let's write them a shitty letter complaining about how crap their service is and telling them we don't want their lack of service service any more.

So I do. Unplug the modem, pack it all up and start writing. I'm very polite. Try to be lucid and logical about it. Present the facts. No insults (was very restrained, I can tell you).

So, I'm back to the internet and doing some window shopping. Let's try Orcon. I call them on a Friday evening and get signed up with the third ISP in two months. This time I know some good questions to ask. The modem is for me to set up, apparently. Good stuff.

I'm told by the salesman that because I'm changing from another broadband ISP, I'm considered a "churn' client by Telecom, not a new one, and it may take longer. This pisses me off frankly, as the previous ISP never delivered any damn service, and I'm a new client of Orcon's so why should I get treated like this?

I reserve judgement, and wait to see what happens next.

Monday, October 10, 2005

COMFY: I pity the fool...who signs with Quik

The days pass by. We hear nothing. The difficulty of not being able to call Quik after work and get an actual person means we can only call on some days when my wife is home. So I get her up to speed on the problem, and she calls. I pity the fool who takes on my wife over customer service, so figured she'd make them sort it pretty quickly.

She got hold of them alright, and made it pretty clear what we wanted. Or so we thought.

They promise to look into the problem and call us back. A week later; no call. My wife calls them again, and this time gives them some suggestions for solutions, like "just send us a new correctly configured modem" and we'll send the other one back. Or, why don't you find out how to work the modems you give your customers. None of these suggestions are taken up.

And we still can't connect to broadband, but now we have a bill from Quik, and no surprise, they expect us to pay for the all the time since Telecom switched the line over, despite the fact we haven't been able to connect due to their incompetance. Oh, and they've charged us twice for one period and then incorrectly credited the amount so we are still paying twice - FOR NO FARKING SERVICE!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

COMFY: Psst! Say buddy - wanna buy some broadband?

Lemme see - how many suppliers of broadband are there in NZ? Despite what a Google search will tell you, there's really only two, plus a few freaky dudes in some spots feeding wireless or limited network broadband connections to people with more money than sense. Who wants to pay $80 a month for friggin' 256KKbps wireless for gard sake?

It turns out there's only two - Telecom and TelstraClear. Just about everybody else is reselling Telecom, and the big T dictate the terms.

This fact didn't/doesn't impress me, so I decided to do a bit of research and then ask around to find another broadband supplier. In doing so I discovered Quik Internet. A friend has been using them without trouble for years, and when I looked at the deal they were offering, it looked sweet. I could get a wireless modem for $59.95 and for $5 per month, broadband, 5 email addresses, some web hosting space, and a fixed IP address. Nice.

So I signed up. Within a few days, my Dynalink Z660WH modem arrrived. And then all the trouble started...

I was told by Quik that all was good and that Telecom would call soon (a week or so) to let me know our DSL line was enabled. And so they did, on 4 October, at about 7.00pm. I was excited. I'd already set up the modem, and my PC could see it through the LAN connection. Great.

But on Tuesday the 4th at 8.00pm I couldn't connect to the net through it. I was aware setting up a modem could be tricky, but had been assured it was all done for me. I got online using our old dial-up account, and checked the Quik website for help. No luck. In doing so, I found their Support desk hours were only 8.30am to 5.30pm. Great. Very practical. I'll have to forget it for now.

Two days later, I got brave and called the 0800 number at around 6.30pm. An answer service picked up the call and said they would forward a message.

An hour later and a dude rings me, saying he's driving on the Auckland motorway. For fark sake! How can a technician help me while driving on the motorway?! Sheesh.

Anyway, during the call he had me checking various modem settings, and we discovered a strange thing - the username included the company name and they'd spelt it wrong! Quick instead of Quik.

Hey, no problem. Let's just change that and... Hey! What the? The settings won't save. Try again. Nope. No matter what I do, when I go back in the setup menu, it's spelt "quick" again.

"Hmmm," says the technician, "I'm not too familiar with that modem model, and I have to go get some flay keys now, but will call you back when I get home."

He never does.

Monday, September 19, 2005

COMFY: Need to scratch an itch

Seventeen days later, and I'm getting itchy. What's going on?

So, with a sense of trepidation after reading stories in this blog, I make the call. The music at Telstra is a bit different than Wobbly got at Telecom, although I suspect they are participating in the same CD longevity experiment. Maybe it's an industry-wide research programme.

After being on hold for about 15 minutes, a woman answers. She's friendly and ready to help me. I explain my situation. Is there any news? She looks up my acccount. There's a pause, and then quite a lot of phaffing about, going on hold, apologising, coming back. Hmmm. What gives?

Finally she says "oh, there's a problem with your connection. It's our business rules. I'm sorry. Your house is within 100m of the end of our cable, so Telecom will not connect you to our network."

What the? This didn't make much sense to me at the time, but I reckon I understand it now. You see, in order to get Telstra broadband, you have to use Telstra HomePlan. It doesn't actually say so, but this means you have to be connected to their "cable" service, whether or not you want the multi-media, TV cable service they offer.

Now, it may be easy to see Telstra as the badies here, and they ain't exactly sqeaky clean in my opinion, but this all hinges on the great "local loop unbundling" debacle.

Essentially, the access and service level of broadband in New Zealand is a joke, when compared to what is being offered overseas. My mate in Adelaide is being offered ASDL+2 for AU$40 per month, which is cheaper than his current ASDL connection. Adelaide, for fark sake.

At this point I give up on Telstra, park an idea to write them a shitty letter about how we've been customers for 15 farkin' years and what kind of crap service do they call this, and start looking around for another broadband ISP.

The story continues...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

COMFY: Special offer - get on board

Here's the first of a wee tale about another punter's experience trying to get broadband. At face value, it may not seem to be about Telecom, but trust me, it is.

Ok, so maybe we're weird in our house, but we've been Clear customers since they started here in sunny NZ. We never thought selling Telecom, particularly the network and infrastructure, was a good idea, and in light of recent history with broadband, unbundling, and the obscene amount of profit Telescum make from a country of $4M people, we may well be right.

So when Clear started here, we joined and have stayed with them for what must be 15 years or more now. Such loyalty probably is weird these days.

When we wanted the Internet, we went with Paradise, part of Telstra/Clear. And the service has been pretty good for a dial-up.

But then this email arrived in our mailbox:

"Time to move into the fast lane? As a customer - now's good to move out of the slow lane and upgrade to TelstraClear's HighSpeed Internet. As a special offer, sign up with TelstraClear HighSpeed Internet for a minimum of 12 months before 31 August 2005, and you'll receive:
  • A free ADSL modem (retail value of $100).
  • A $99 credit towards your HighSpeed Internet connection charge (if a connection charge applies).

To qualify for this special offer, you need to sign up for HomePlanTM and a 12 month HighSpeed Internet plan and make all international, national and home-to-mobile calls with TelstraClear. Further terms and conditions apply - see the end of this email.

Well, hey we'll give it a go, we thought. It would be nice not to tie up the phone while we're on the net and a little bit of extra speed won't hurt.

But wait a minute? What's this about terms and conditions? Let's see now, some very fine print (I've marked some keybits in bold to save you reading it all):

Special Offer Terms and Conditions: This special offer is open to residential customers only who sign up for a minimum of 12 months to a HighSpeed Internet plan on or before 31 August 2005. You cannot sign up for HighSpeed Internet without also signing up for HomePlanand switching your direct dial calling to TelstraClear. HighSpeed Internet and HomePlan™ are not available in all areas including TelstraClear cable areas. HomePlan™ is not available to customers who do not currently have home line rental with either Telecom or TelstraClear. Blah, blah, blah...

Ok. So we have to transfer our phone line to Telstra. That's cool; the final nail in the coffin for our spending any money with Telescum. Let's do it!

A phone call and a few emails later and we're told we're in the queue. Should be 5 - 20 working days. Two days later the free modem turns up. We're impressed. Seems good so far.

Monday, August 15, 2005

WOBBLY: Miracles Happen

Haaaaaaallelujah.... Hallelujah, hallelujah, halleEeeEeeluhaaahahahahaaaa!

Terrified I stared outside... The sky was rapidly darkening. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of flying pigs were obscuring the sun!

Well thats what it seemed like when I somewhat sceptically connected my PC to the wall with a shiny D-Link broadband modem thingummy and the green ADSL LED starting blinking cheerfully at me.

Just hours earlier my wife rang and said Mr Telecom had just called, and yes, we were now Broadband enabled and able to enter the brave new world of high speed internet.

"Yeah right," I had said, along with phrases like "bet my left nut it isn't". Well I hereby apologise... And unreservedly offer my left nut to Telecom.

It only took four months, half a rats lifetime on the phone and the invention of some new descriptive expletives, but finally we got there. *trumpet fanfare* ... we have BROADBAND!

Monday, June 27, 2005

WOBBLY: Rack Off!

Who would have thunk it eh...?

Mostly human Telecom Helpdesk respondent #241089 has just enlightened me with the joyous news that the clever black box which enables the transmission of webby things along a fibre optic cable requires some sort of rack.

I'm not sure who is most pissed off at this discovery. Me.... Or the Telecom technician who showed up at our exchange last week and discovered the rack thingummy was prominent in its absence.

I have a suggestion. A nice rack for whoever writes the "Get Telecom Broadband Now. It's f**king easy" adverts on TV!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

WOBBLY: An Electro-Optical EAG problem

I find that spending fifteen or twenty minutes absorbing nothing but Kiwi pop serves as an effective way of emptying the brain. This helps make room for the vastly detailed technical reasons why "broadband might take a little bit longer than we initially anticipated..."

Apparently Rolleston is connected to the rest of New Zealand by a thin strand of fibre optic cable. Fibre Optic cable I am told, is excellent for pouring light into, but rather crap with electons and stuff. If you try to fill a fibre optic cable with electrons they become disoriented and rapidly forget where they were supposed to charge off to.

Unfortunately, ADSL broadband breaks the web up into parcels small enough for electrons to carry. Light photons are rather harshly discriminated against when it comes to broadband it seems.

The Rolleston exchange has an EAG problem. An Excessive Air Gap between the the copper wire than carries electrons and the fibre optic one that has seen the light.

But all is not lost! There is a clever black box that can squash the web into photons! Great news for all you photon lovers out there. The only hassle is somebody needs to shuffle on down to our exchange and plug said black box in.

That won't take long. Surely.......

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

WOBBLY: The life of a CD

Various technical websites have speculated on how long a CD actually lasts. Some say 20 years. Others say 50. I can testify that using CD's as a coaster does little to improve their long term viability.

It is probably a fair assumption that Telecom are conducting a highly scientific study into how long a CD lasts when played continuously.

Being a heartless yet commendably patriotic monopoly, they have chosen a kiwi hits CD from the $2 bin at the Warehouse for their experiment. Maybe their telephone staff are having bets deep within their Ivory Towers on which will wear out first - the player or the CD.

Somewhere in the middle of 'Sway' by Bic Runga I have been informed that the exchange which our phone is connected to requires upgrading. A coat of paint and a new toilet pan I assume.
June 14th is officially B(roadband)-Day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

WOBBLY: "...some trouble with the Phones"

Most of my calls to the Xtra helpline have followed the same pattern. Perhaps the on-hold time is even programmed into their computerisied "customer service" system? So imagine my surprise when I am wrenched from my on-hold induced coma by something unexpected...!

I am talking to the level 1 support guy, who for the purposes of anonymity, privacy and name suppression, will be known simply as Drew Peacock.

Drew is unable to decipher the reasons why my broadband connection has inadvertantly been allocated to a suburban address in Morocco. He asks if I would mind being put on hold. I tell him I am a seasoned campaigner and another few days on hold would be water off the proverbial ducks back.

Within seconds the on hold music is playing in my ear yet again.

Suddenly Drew is back on the line. "Hi it's Drew from Support here... I've got a customer on the line enquiring about a broadband connection...."

Drew seems a little sheepish when I tell him he is in fact still talking to said Customer. Maybe sheepish isn't the right word. Relieved possibly is more accurate. Relieved that he referred to me as a "customer".

Drew explains that they are "having some problems with their phones".

Like the pub with no beer, the cartographer without a map and the restauranteur who died of starvation, New Zealand Telecom appear to be having some grief with their phones!!!

Hallelujah! Telecom, I salute you.

Friday, May 20, 2005

WOBBLY: Beer, brie and the Xtra Helpline

After several more fruitless attempts to extract some sort of clear answers from the ever helpful, often unobtainable Xtra Helpdesk staff, I have come to the rather sad realisation that I will need to drink beer if I am to prevail.

So, mid afternoon Friday I grab myself a handy cordless phone and join my co-workers in N0.10 for beer, cheese, crackers, hummus and some of my favourite on-hold Kiwi classic hits.

I dial the 0800 number and start taking bets on how long I will be on hold for. Fifteen minutes seems popular. A few optimists stick a buck on less than five minutes while the realists among the group begin talking in days rather than hours.

Sure enough, at about the seventeen minute mark the music in my left ear is interrupted by somebody who has absolutely no idea where my broadband connection is, and just about as much idea about where to find it.

I am put back on hold.

At this point things get tricky. Does this count as a new on hold period? Are all bets off? Things could get nasty in Number 10...

I run for my office. Submitting to a cruel emotional and auditory beating by an unrelenting seemingly endless string of local music is one thing, but getting my arse kicked by angry out-of-pocket co-workers is another.

I briefly wonder if Telecom will foot the bill for the wayward book I opened in No.10 as a polite Xtra person tells me they have nothing to tell me, but that they will tell me when they do have something to.... tell me...

Not wanting to contemplate whether I won or lost, I sneak back into number ten and remove the cap from a Monteiths Celtic Red Ale.

Friday, May 13, 2005

WOBBLY: Make like a Horse....

...and Nag!

I have resolved to phone the Xtra helpline once a week. Now if that sounds like volunteering to work at MacDonalds for no pay, you'd be about right. Why did I just find myself looking for the MacDonalds Riccarton phonenumber??!

Again I manage to press the lovely recorded ladies correct buttons and have earned myself another session of classic kiwi hits.

Partway through Dave Dobbyn's strangely catchy 'Loyal' I decide to wedge the handset between my cheek and shoulder and do a little work. Admittedly having a phone in your ear does look kind of like work, but there are times when even Dave Dobbyn can be too much to bear. Plus I am at work...

10 minutes later, or possibly an hour, deep in thought I am rudely interrupted (as are the Muttonbirds in the middle of belting out Dominio Road) by a tired sounding "Welcome to Xtra Helpline, how may I help...?"

How may they help? Who are they? Have I been abducted?

When I hang up on some more bad "unfortunate delay..." news, my head still spinning from the realisation that I was on hold so long I became numb to it, I wonder if there is a Guinness Record for longest time on hold.

My second resolution of the week is to ask Mr Google...

Monday, May 02, 2005

WOBBLY: Losing my Xtra Helpline Virginity

Apparently there exists a "technical issue" with my broadband connection. Xtra helpline, here I come.

There will be no complaints about foreplay from me! After being gently wooed by the sultry tones of the recorded hostess and pressing her right buttons, I have spent a full ten minutes on hold being serenaded by a mostly mainstream kiwi music compilation. Telecom aka Xtra, you sure know how to make a guy feel special.

A chirpy guy who has a name something like Paul suddenly breaks into the midddle of the NetherWorld Dancing Toys and offers some happy helpful helpfulness.

I ask him if he knows when the man in the overalls is going to plug in the other end of our Broadband connection.

Before I get a chance to stop him, Peking bloody Man are playing into my left ear in glorious telephonic mono quality.

A mere three or four minutes later (or is that songs) Paul is back to inform me in the friendliest and most customer oriented way that the connection might be a couple of weeks wait.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

WOBBLY: The kit arriveth

Looking kind of like a size 16 stuffed into a size 10 dress, so my broadband kit was someohow cajoled and coerced into our much smaller letterbox. I always thought couriers carried baseball bats for protection. It seems it is the preferred tool for placing parcels into small recepticles!

Not only have I received a broadband kit, but sandwiched between viagra and free American citizenship spam messages I have instructions on how to get online.

Broadband. What could be simpler?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

WOBBLY: My Broadband Application...

It's super duper bloody fast, it's always on, the Xtra staff are friendly and apparently I get better protection than even Durex can boast...!

What more reason could I possibly need to sign up with one of New Zealands best-loved monopilistic anti-competitive corporates?

The online forms are simple to use and before you can say "mate, you're a naive bloody idiot", my application for a bright new World of high speed Internet access has been lodged.