February 04, 2013

Horse 1435 - Telstra's Bigpond Internot Disservices

Having recently moved, I've also had the fun fun task of letting all the utility companies know that I've moved. Electric, Gas, Telephone, Internet... Internet... Internet?!
Although Telstra or rather their cable broadband service Bigpond knows that I've moved, it's just that they're not exactly sure what to do about it.

After sending a chap round three days late to install the internet cable, another chap came the following day and was bemused and amused at why he was there at all. As a private contractor he admitted that Telstra weren't very good at communicating with either their internal staff or subcontractors as to the jobs that they are supposed to do.
When I try to connect to the internet, I end up at a capture window which asks for my user name and password, then congratulates me for doing so and promises that it has been registered and will be ready in an hour but never is.
So in the meantime, I've rung Technical Support, the Moving Team and the curiously named Activation Team. I remember from primary school English that Activation is a verb, which means it's a 'doing' word, but so far I've not really come across any real doing and the network is still a notwork.

When you call Telstra, you go via an automated phone system which I think is designed to deliberately send you to the wrong department because they know that most people will be ringing on mobile phones which have a higher charge rate.
Invariably you'll be sent to a call centre in either Malaysia or the Phillipines and speak to some staff who are under resourced to deal with your actual problem. The term 'escalate' will be bandied about as though that's supposed to mean something but in my recent experience, I've been escalated so many times, I've probably ended up on the roof's helipad.
Don't get me wrong here, I don't blame the staff at the call centre. I think we both know that they're probably only on a fraction of the wage that people in Australia are and so getting mad would seem to them like the act of a boorish westerner which would only add to the negative stereotype that they'd have of us. We also both know that by under resourcing both the technical staff and customer support staff, it reduces costs for the corporation so that managers in offices can go on nice holidays to the Bahamas.
So almost three weeks after lodging the initial phone call, my internet connection still asks for my user name and password, then congratulates me for doing so and promises that it has been registered and will be ready in an hour; so far after more than four hundred and thirty-two hours it still is not ready.

I suppose that it is my own fault really. I should have expected that Telstra isn't capable of delivering services in a timely fashion or even with any real sort of indication of when the problems will be sorted out. I should have realised this during the final sell-off of Telstra:

"We will see rising prices, we will see falling levels of service. That's the reality of today's bill, that's the reality that many hundreds of thousand of Australians will now face."
 -Stephen Conroy, 15 Sep 2005

"I feel about 65 per cent happy. You know you do the very best deal you can knowing the alternative to that is you get nothing. The real judgement will be in 18 months time. You've always got, you know, a feeling in the back of your head there could be problems in the future. On the balance of the information I've got and what I've got to lose, I think we're making the right decision and that's about it."
- Barnaby Joyce, 15 Sep 2005

"Government and regulators should give Telstra a fair go to invest in high-speed broadband, rather than subsidising foreign companies that send their profits and valuable jobs offshore"
- Telstra's Broadband Australia Campaign, 2007

Sending valuable jobs offshore? Hmm, looking back 6 years later it seems highly hypocritical that Telstra accused the government of wanting to send jobs offshore when its own practices have done precisely that. If Telstra hadn't been sold off at all, then more than likely I would have been speaking to an operator in Australia who would have spoken directly to a technical member of staff who would have sorted out the problem by now. I remember those hazy crazy days when you could phone Telstra at 9am and there'd be someone round that afternoon to have a look. Perhaps it is too much to ask of a corporation concerned with profits rather than delivering telephonic and communication services which it used to under its former government remit.

All of this makes me think about the National Broadband Network (NBN). If the Liberal-National coalition wins the September election, they've promised to sell it off.
Now the reason why I'm having to ring call centres in Malaysia and the Phillipines in the first place is precisely because of an election promise and policy which was made and carried out 16 years ago.
Mr Howard sold off Telstra and with it, any chance that a functional NBN would be complete and if Mr Abbott repeats this you can pretty well much guarantee that it will happen again.
The 1996 Annual Report for Telstra (whilst it was still 100% government owned and still sensible) made mention of an Optic Fibre Network to be installed by 2002 which would carry future capacity to transmit video and audio to be built out of future profits at a cost of $8bn. ($14.8bn). We would have, nay should have had a fully built, fully costed NBN 11 years ago.
Now whilst Mr Turnbull speaks of other methods of delivery and that other technologies will be cheaper, it should be noted that selling off the NBN will result in exactly the same conditions as the privatisation of Telstra, that is complete market failure and a set of services which are incomplete.
It should also be noted that Mr Abbott was part of that government 16 years ago which voted for the privatisation of Telstra, which means that he personally is in part directly responsible for that market failure and selling the people of this country so very very short. It is a case of hyperbolic discounting on a massive scale and eleven years later the proof is $147bn in lost dividend profits that could have easily gone onto fund and upgrade the network.

As I sit on the phone to Telstra Bigpond I am more than aware that I'm still not going to be connected to a network which should have been finished and completed 11 years ago. I probably more than likely wouldn't be speaking to an under resourced and overworked call centre operator overseas either.


Bigpond Technical Support Team said...

We're sorry to hear that you're having difficulties with your Bigpond internet connection.

You can contact us with your Technical Support enquiry on 13 3933, Australia wide.

B said...

It's sad isn't it - I just wish when they play ChatRoulette in the call centre they didn't include the Customer Support Phone calls.

And as for escalting it does imply an upwards motion - so unless it is their middle finger as they transfer you sideways then it should be "we are going to flick pass your call to some other poor sod in the hope we might find someone who has actually been here long enough to learn how to help people but not so long that they have realised they could earn more doing something more valuable than the service we can offer you - like digging a hole and filling it in again"

Can you pay for their Disservice online? Or do they still require BPay or a phone call & credit card or a bunch of unmarked bills in a plain envelope to do so?

PS captcha is crap - "The characters you entered didn't match the word verification. Please try again." THAT IS COS I COULDN'T READ THEM AND NOW YOU GIVE ME A SET THAT IS EVEN MORE UNREADABLE AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT IMAGE OF NUMBERS ON A HOUSE TAKEN WITH AN IPHONE FROM SPACE!!!