Life used to be so easy when it was just Telecom who looked after landlines. Now when something goes wrong it’s all like, “your call is really important to us and is there anything else we can do for you?” BUT:
Our connection, which is unbundled, (so there is no dial tone and if the Internet is down, so is the phone) started playing up on Friday. Saturday it was on and off intermittently. I rang the nice man at Orcon who said that they would put a monitor on the line and he could see that it had disconnected about 9 times so far that day. So there was definitely a problem.
He said they would monitor it for 24 hours and see if they could find the problem. I was OK with that. I’m not an unreasonable person.
But I never heard back from them and it continued to be on and off all weekend until this morning, as I was trying to sort out emails and confirm my hydrotherapy for midday for my back injury, it all died. No phone, no internet.
So I rang them again and told them I suspected it could have been something to do with the company who looks after our water who had done some repairs for a neighbour and I asked if anyone else had any problems. “No” they assured me, Chorus had not advised of any other problems.
So they said they would try to get someone on to it today BUT:
- If it was on our property, it would cost us $130 for them to locate it.
- If they had to come inside and fix something it would be $230; and
- If I wasn’t home when they had to come in to check it out, and they therefore couldn’t come in, they would charge me $130.
So I had to cancel my hydrotherapy which I had been looking forward to. If you’ve ever had a serious back injury, you know how good it is to be in water and not have gravity pressing down on those bulging disks. The therapy is very important and I am doing it to either avoid serious surgery, or at worst be strong for a speedy recovery if I need it. I don’t need the stress on top of the pain.
I went up to the end of the driveway to see if there was anything obvious and found an engineer who was working on a fault for my next door neighbour who apparently had reported problems since Friday and also had no Internet or phone!
The problem is that her account is with Vodafone and it seems that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. With so many companies busy clipping the ticket of old copper wires, you have to wonder what happened to the ‘Kiwi Share’.
Given that I couldn’t go and do my physio, I got my daughter to stick around so I could at least go for a walk around the block and not get ‘fined’ if Chorus needed to get into the house.
When I got back I learned that yet another neighbour also had no phone. He didn’t report it because he knew that Chorus were working ‘on the line’. But he was with Spark, who don’t share information with Vodafone, who don’t share information with Orcon. It seems that internally Chorus don’t escalate things unless they are widespread, so they treat each call from the various ‘providers’ as isolated events. My third neighbour didn’t realise that if he didn’t report it, nobody would know he had no phone or Internet and it wouldn’t get sorted.
So he is now ringing Spark and between us we don’t know if there are any other neighbours with a problem.
I did get a nice email from Orcon saying “We’ve Got This’ and suggesting that I might want to reboot my modem as this often solves ‘problems’. I was thinking more that the telecommunications systems of virtual telecommunications providers might need solving.
I replied to the email from Orcon telling them how annoyed and frustrated I was with all the advice of what everything could cost me, when I know the problem is not on my side of the network. I then got a nice automated response telling me that they usually deal with issues within one working day and there were a couple of websites with “loads of answers for some of the most common questions”.
Next thing you know, as I am writing this, a Chorus wagon comes down my drive with another engineer who apparently knew nothing about the first engineer that had the plinth off, working on my neighbour’s line. No wonder they need so many lots of $130. I can’t imagine the overhead this all takes.
What I also don’t understand is why so many people have to be manually engaged in help-desks (at least one for each brand), manual testing and logging calls whilst not communicating with each other. Why doesn’t the network have some sort of intelligence that monitors lines and reports faults and outages?
I’m not being silly here. My first job was as a Technical Service Officer and I was the guy on the other end of ‘Faults Service’. I was highly trained and given a very thorough knowledge of all aspects of telecommunications. Now that was a long time ago and the systems were already reasonably sophisticated.
It was very easy to run ‘line tests’ and if there was a fault, we could usually see what type of fault it was from the ‘Test Room’ and what type of person (faultman, lineman, cable jointer etc) we would need to send out to check on the problem. The types of tests they do today are not dissimilar because much of the country still uses those same copper cables that haven’t been replaced in many decades.
I explained to the new Chorus representative what had happened. He went and had a look and eventually came back and told me that there was a problem in the neighborhood and that he would report it to Chorus so they could send the right kind of engineer, probably tomorrow.
He also said that for a small monthly fee I could have a service agreement maintaining the telecommunications system on the inside of my property and house. I have never had a single problem in my house except for faulty Orcon routers! With today’s systems I don’t need to use the slick Cat 5 cable system my house was wired with, everything is wireless. I don’t use any of the other jack points. They are now redundant.
So now, he has told me they will hopefully send someone else out tomorrow!
So what do you think? Should I stay or Should I Go Now. Isn’t it ironic that this song is by The Clash.
I just got a text message saying the first available technician will be booked to look at my problem tomorrow. They had better come before my dentist appointment. They charge a lot more than $130 if you cancel on them.
Am I being unreasonable? Can one of the other Telcos do better? They know how to charge and threaten with additional costs, but what about compensation for me, including mobile data and lost time?
I have subsequently spoken to people from Orcon and having had my vent and a small recognition of my inconvenience (not equal to my cost but it wasn’t about that, it was about respect) I will have to go without a landline or Internet, possibly for a week or more as it appears now that there is a fault impacting at least 50 households.
Having come from the telecommunications industry I’m saddened that ultimately the shift from Telecom to Chorus and virtual network providers hasn’t improved the level of awareness by telcos of what is going on, on their network. It seems New Zealand still hasn’t really learned how to evolve technology to the point that utility providers proactively manage the network. We talk about Smart Cities and innovation, but we don’t walk the talk.
Isn’t it funny that Spark sets up AI companies like Qrious and Ubiquity that know where mobile customers are, where they live, work and play and can predict what they will do next, but Chorus can’t proactively monitor and maintain their network and identify faults when they occur until someone complains. I wonder what their $54m on IT was spent on last year? Is it all just about the 23 cents shareholder dividend?
I’ll shut up about it now, it’s wasted enough of my time and energy. I’m just not sure what century I’m living in. We spend so much money on identifying our values and mission statements, what if key staff were remunerated on customer satisfaction? Maybe the churn would stop?