October 12, 2011
Opt-in, Opt-out, Optus
A tale of how technology does not trump poor business procedures
Last night, I lost internet connection on my Optus cable internet broadband. In short, the modem went on the blink. Waited for a while and this evening made a call to Optus, you know that 1300 number. The recorded voice message kindly told me their finance team had gone home, “Press 1 for faults and key in my cable delivered phone number so that things could be processed faster”. So I did and fairly quickly, a fellow answered. Told him I had been off air for a day, I was on Optus cable. He did a quick check and told me it was better that he pass me onto his colleagues who were more localised, whatever that meant.
A cheerful girl with an Indian accent answered after some minutes on hold. I brightened up but soon was disappointed. She said I did not exist, my two Optus phones did not exist. In my most friendly and admonishing manner, I said “Aiyoh! I have been an Optus customer since 2000” and she tried her computer some more. Then she had an epiphany – “Are you on Optus cable?” and I then asked her “Are you ADSL support?”. We had a virtual smile and she said she would transfer me to the right department, asked me whether I wanted a direct number. I said “No, I don’t want to have more failures to need that number”.
Next, the longest wait and a fellow called Vikram answered. This time, he told me that I definitely did not exist. I did the “Ayoh” bit again and taken aback, he finally found my details, apologising for their computers and told me probably it was because one of my services had been cancelled.
Taken aback, (identity theft crossed my mind), we figured out that he was looking at my full Optus history and was reading an Optus prepaid mobile card service. I was now “not happy” and told him this was no way to treat a customer of 11 years.
Then he started remote diagnostics and told me, it could be due to either the stuff on the pole outside, the white nexus box outside or my modem. I then asked him, with all his diagnostics, he must be able to pin down which was the culprit. After a while he told me from his logs, my modem was rebooting 42 times an hour and it was my modem. That looked like progress. Except business procedure got in the way.
I have not paid for the first modem in 2000 and the upgraded model in say 2005 but he now told me that the replacement modem would cost AUD 100 or so. I thought that was a bit stiff – firstly these are cable modems, and they are the way cable data is transferred. It is not like ADSL where the modem is not unique to the Internet Provider and you could pick up any modem from any of the electronics shops and the modem would be priced competitively because it was not a special item. This modem would be part and parcel of this unique and exclusive service – it would be worthless if you parted company.
Vikram woke up to what I meant and praised me for my allegiance so would write off the price of the unit but could not absorb the AUD 19.90 that Australia Post would charge for the EXPRESS delivery that would take 2-3 days. While he started keying in the request, I asked him whether he was in India and pondered how he could have such measurements and remote testing all the way in India. He must have raised his virtual eyebrow and said “we have this thing called TECHNOLOGY”. I replied “Wow! – you have so much technology to do that but you don’t have the technology to spurt out a modem out into my hand? Where does the modem come from, India?”.
I then asked him “Can’t I just walk into the nearest Optus shop and grab a modem free, or pay for it and you could credit my next bill?” He laughed and said that would be a conflict procedure or whatever that was. Uh, no, then.
He then took pains to explain how there were different modem types, he had the newest gen, yadda, yadda. One option was to send a technician to me, charge me AUD 99 for the visit and still give me an inferior modem because the technicians would not have the new gen modems.
I threw in the virtual towel and surrendered, gently reminding him that I was out of an essential service for how many days, out of pocket for 19.90 – could he log this as a complaint not of him but of Optus business practice? He said he did not have such a button on the screen but he felt my pain.
I asked him, since I have an Optus mobile dataplan, could I use that and get a discount for those intervening days. Nah, I knew I had walked into an organisational silo wall before the words left my mouth.
Along the way, he gave me instructions on how to activate the modem by going to an Optus zoo website. At which time I made him aware that Optus Zoo was one of the suckiest websites through my 11 years of being a customer. The discount movie tickets webpage would refuse to work for me whatever I did, yadda, yadda. Again, no reflection of him, but of Optus. Still now complaint button? He volunteered to share this call with his colleagues and his boss since the call was being recorded.
They must be laughing somewhere in Indian until their tummies hurt and their eyes water.
Posted by Anandasim at October 12, 2011 10:35 PM
TrackBack URL for this entry:
I laugh that even tech savvy people have such issues.
Posted by: Andrew at October 13, 2011 12:52 AM
Yes, you've got to sometimes crack a smile even if you feel the pain. As I explained, it's not IT or technology, it is mundane poor business process. Vikram last night SMSed that I would get the modem via Aussie Post in 5 business days - whether I get it sooner I don't know, he must not have got authorisation to express post it or the modem is coming a long way from India by boat.
Posted by: AnandaSim at October 13, 2011 10:14 AM
Hey there, really sorry to hear you're having problems with your cable internet service, can definitely understand that it can be quite frustrating when you lose a service like this.
If you still need a hand having your modem replaced please drop me some details through the form below and I'll take a look at it for you.
All modems that we supply come with a warranty, we can absolutely still replace the modem after this warranty has expired however there are charges that are associated with this; the $19.95 delivery fee being something that we need to charge.
We do not keep modems in our local stores, all modems are sent from our warehouse so it would not be possible for you to head into a store to buy one.
The fee you mention for a technician to attend would only be charged if there was no fault found within our network. An incorrect call out fee would be applied to the service if the only fault found was to be with an out of warranty modem, damage to the network or something relating to the customer's equipment. We can definitely arrange a technician to come out and investigate the fault though if we've already confirmed no other problems with the equipment through a process of troubleshooting.
If you need any further assistance with your service I'm more than happy to check it out for you, just need your service and account info via http://yesopt.us/ID
Optus Social Media Response Team
Posted by: Optus at October 13, 2011 10:35 AM
Thanks for your presence, You're doing your job well and I am nicely surprised by this level of listening.
One day has passed, I'll wait for another day. In the meantime, I switched the modem off for the day and now the modem is alive enough for me to use right now. It may reboot or flake out sooner or later, so I do want the new modem, free of charge. Remember, 10 years of customer loyalty is worth a heck of a lot more than $100.
There's a bunch of things that Optus doesn't do quite well - it's not the fault of you, the customer reps, but it is of management decision making and training / work procedures. Hopefully, you can work as customer advocates.
1. The initial first encounter with customer service was not good. I hit first human contact, who claimed to do diagnostic testing but was then redirected to ADSL support with some wording of "local dept better supports you". The ADSL support picked up the call after 5 minutes but did not ask the most important question first - "are you an ADSL or cable customer?". Only after some exchange of words saying that I did not exist did the girl ask me - "are you a cable customer?". After another 5 minutes, Vikram of cable support picks up the call and then tells me I don't exist. Phone numbers don't work, he has to get my account number and then is confused or says I cancelled some service - so his screen must not be clear because what he was reading was a secondary mobile service termination, not related to home internet service.
2. It matters not so much about the $19.90 - what matters is that the modem has to come from warehouse that the customer cannot get at. Vikram SMSed me, said it would take FIVE days to deliver the modem. FIVE DAYS is like sending the modem from MUMBAI by paddle steamer. If the modem is in a warehouse in Oz, a couple of days should deliver.
The Optus policy is looking at the cost of $100 piece of hardware - the customer is looking at oppurtunity lost. Even non commercial home use could be doing stock trading or remote computing or whatever. That could be cost to customer much more than $100. With an ADSL modem, I could run up to the shop up the road and have one working pronto. With a cable modem, I'm completely cut off from self empowerment.
I won't be impressed if the modem actually takes 5 days to deliver - you can feel the pain.
Will be in touch....
Again, thanks for your support
Posted by: Ananda Sim at October 13, 2011 10:00 PM
The modem arrived on Monday, not the dreaded 5 days that Vikram SMSed me but not before the weekend either. Luckily, after switching off the ailing Motorola Surfboard for a day, the current modem let me soldier on until I got the new modem.
The new CISCO Scientific Atlantic Modem/EMTA powered on well and after again some calls to the Optus 1300 support, it was activated by verbally exchanging two serial numbers. The modem activation could have taken 5 minutes but it actually went live before I hung up on Optus. Funny thing is this Optus rep was in New Delhi and had odd phrasing - he told me he was going to "educate" me - some Aussies would not take kindly to that phrasing. My education was simply if there was confusion during hooking up this and that, simply power off and take out the battery from the modem, power off the connected computer or router and then power on. Also as part of my education, the rep informed me that this modem would go much faster in download speed than the previous modem, because "you know, old modems get slower.
Anyway, case closed for now.
Posted by: Ananda Sim at October 18, 2011 09:37 PM
I fell your pain Ananda.
I hope Ian Thompson is still listening.
I recently purchased a Galaxy S2 on plan from Optus and with it cam the Homezone Phemtocell. To summarise this is my experience
- I don't Exist
- Whats a Homezone (hangup)
- Transferred to an out of business hours dept during business hours
- Why haven't I set this up properly on the Optus Zoo web page (Because it wasn't there)
- You should have rung the faults and support number (hangup) (which I did ring but when it's busy it transfers you to the general number)
- Your account has been cancelled. I have to have a valid Optus account to use Homezone and there will be a charge if I don't return the Homezone immediately
- Whats a Homezone * 2
- Your account was activated while we were transferring to a new system and was de-activated.
- You haven't set the Homezone base location (Because it still wasn't on Optus zoo)
- I should have set up Homezone with my galaxy s2 as the Homezone account owner (still not on Optus zoo)
- It must be your modem (I put Homezone outside the firewall so had complete access to every port)
- Finally got an Oz Tech Support person who Fixed my account, Set the Homezone base location and phone account and was able to determine it was talking to Optus fine.
I probably spent close to 8-12 hours on the phone at this point.
At the end, after all the problems I had been through had been fixed, it still didn't work. After hunting around on the web I found that I have to turn off Galaxy S2 WiFi, put it into flight mode then take it off just to use the Phemtocell. While I get free calls I get data charges because my WiFi so I generally don't use it.
End result don't bother with Optus Home Zone unless you have serious issues with reception at home. Also I find it obscene they charge you for data usage over my own broadband.
Posted by: Luke at February 3, 2012 12:00 PM
"Opt out of Optus!" -- my recommendation to anyone who is with Optus mobile -- and also the google search I performed to find this conversation.
Yes, we also feel the pain! My wife and I have had endless conversations (for months!) about poor internet connectivity in Zetland/ Sydney (note: we're not living in the boonies or some remote country side area but in some of the most central parts of Australia's largest city!)
The only response we've been drawing from Optus is that "you're living in a known 3G blackspot" -- knonw 3G blackspot! -- what the heck does that mean? And if it's known to the company, why can't they fix it?
Anyhow, I've been on the phone for more than a dozen times with optus 1300 numbers and now stretching into months, my wife and I are tired of being tired! Optus takes the view that "it's your responsibility" to have moved to Zetland/ Sydney and thereby into this "known 3G blackspot" (known to them, not to us) and thereby threatens to charge us each in the region of $1000 to port out our numbers to another mobile phone provider on post paid contracts.
My advice to anyone with Optus: 1. Don't move to Zetland/ Sydney (I repeat: one of Sydney's most central areas) OR better yet 2. OPT OUT OF OPTUS -- there is apparently a "known blackspot in Zetland" that Optus has now known about for more than 4 months -- since we first raised the issue with them -- but to this day has seemed unable to do anything about. The compensation optus has agreed to pay us ($15 off our monthly contract of $99) is only being deduced irregularly) and I will spare you the details of endless directionless conversations with overseas diagnostics staff and broken promises of new planned masts planned for the area bla bla bla...
We've heard it many times before in a number of different dialects -- for all the 5GB of data available to us on our "EXTREME" 3G mobile plans we are still virtually without internet connectivity in Zetland Sydney! Unbelievable, but true, so do yourself a favour and -- I repeat -- OPT OUT OF OPTUS OR BE OPTIMALLY OPTIONLESS!
Posted by: Jomi15 at February 17, 2012 09:44 AM