Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Since then we’ve had telephones, telegraph and telex machines, all running through telephone cables. The internet is all grown up now having been around for over twenty one years, and in Australia is still running mainly through telephone cables.
So why is it that telecommunications companies still get it so wrong?
Yes – I’ve been dealing with Telstra!
They telephoned me on 24 October desperately wanting my business. They offered me a good deal to bundle my home phone and internet and move them both away from Optus – together.
Mid November I got a letter confirming the move. But only about the phone, it didn’t mention the internet, and it got the pricing wrong.
So, of course I rang them. The first of many, many calls to Telstra over a week.
They reassured me that the phone and internet were due to be switched over (“ported”) the next Monday (19 November), and that all the pricing was still as they advised me on the phone. They told me they’d send me another letter about the internet , but that would have the wrong pricing on it as well because they could only send out a standard letter which has the basic pricing on it – they can’t change that to show what I’d really be paying. But not to worry “we have recorded the phone conversation where we told you what the pricing is.” How reassuring is that?
Come Monday and I lost my internet connection. No worries I thought, today is switch over day, I’d probably be without access while it all happened.
Six hours later, with a landline but no internet, I rang Telstra. “We don’t have that account” they said “It’s with Optus. You’ll have to ring them.” “But you were switching it over today, what happened?” I asked – reasonably I thought. “No, we haven’t done anything, call Optus.”
So I called Optus “That account was ported to Telstra earlier today. You’ll have to call them.”
It took over an hour on the phone before the fourth person I spoke to finally admitted that yes, Telstra had ported my telephone that day. But not the internet. “The request to have that connected will be going through tomorrow.”
WTF?!?!? The initial request was made on 24 October and it was now 19 November and the request for an internet hadn’t even been made?!?!?!?!
Of course, it would take at least a week after the request was put in for me to be connected.
But if I rang back in the morning they’d be able to give me more information. Their response in the morning? “We’ll be putting that request through today so you should be connected in 7-14 days.”
They then very kindly sent me out my wireless modem. As I have a PC, two laptops and a printer that all need to speak to each other I decided that at least I could set up the wireless network.
I took everything out of the box and very carefully read the instructions.
- Check to make sure you have all the items shown below (yes)
- Run the CD
I inserted the CD and started following the instructions. Plug everything into the correct sockets, (yes), now access the internet. But I don’t have an internet connection yet!!! So I decided to ring Telstra to find out how to set it up without the internet.
I’m sure you can guess how that went.
At one stage I was screaming at the voice activated answering system.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand that response” it told me “That’s because you’re a f*wit!” I screamed back and heard Doc laughing in the next room.
The whole thing left me – literally – contemplating a warm bath and sharp knife. It took 3 hours of manic walking to restore my sanity.
It is now 7.45am on Monday 26 November – the day my internet is due to be connected. But now instead of getting the internet, we have lost our home phone connection.
As I sit here typing this I am on the phone to Telstra – again. I have already spoken to 5 different people and have now been transferred to somebody else. I am on hold because “all our operators are busy at the moment” and I have been “placed in a queue”.
Somebody, very kindly, has put advised me that there is a problem with the line and put a request through for a technician who will be here “sometime today maybe, or sometime tomorrow maybe”. Very helpful.
I can’t even get that much information about the internet.
My mobile phone is now showing me that I have been on the phone for 43 minutes and 6 seconds (and counting). This is my second call because I was disconnected from the first after 12.53 minutes. I’m going to sit here and see how long it takes.
Don’t wait up – I could be a while.