I’m almost off Orcon 696 reconnections since 23 June!


As I am writing this my home has no landline phone, we can’t call and can’t be called.

In April we got a DM in the mail saying that Orcon was now able to offer ADSL2 from our local phone exchange through Orcon and that they had an awesome deal to offer us.

The catchy DM letter was signed by Scott Bartlett, the CEO and was full of promises such as:

“Quite simply, we’re not like other phone companies. The’re more than happy to offer an average service to as many people as possible.”

“At Orcon we’re the opposite. We choose our customers very carefully, then go out of our way to deliver truly ourstanding product performance ………………….”

Not only was I being chosen, but if I signed up before the end of May I would get a free modem / wireless router and a 2 for one pass to the movies for a whole year! This deal looked too good to be true, but I looked at their ownership from Kordia whom I have dealt with for business in the past and so I signed up to the top plan. I am a heavy internet user with my songwriting, poker playing, blogging, photography and so on, basically I am a geek. The Platinum Plan for $120 a month would give me 25GB of data at great speeds, free national toll calls and one country of international calls free for up to an hour per call, sounded like heaven.

If I remember rightly I signed up mid week and got emails to confirm that it would all be up and running in a couple of days and not to worry about anything, they would cancel the old account and everything would be amazingly wonderful.

Thursday afternoon I get a phone call from my wife saying that the phone was dead and that I needed to rush home because there was a major family health crisis and the likelihood that a family member might not make it through the night. I rang the Orcon Help Desk before I left home and the response was like, thankyou for telling us, we will refer this to the technicians and we should have your phone on by Wednesday next week. I just about hit the roof and was in real emotional distress when I rang Orcon again when I got home and asked for a supervisor. The response was sorry but the supervisor isn’t in the room right now, I’ll get them to call you back. So I gave them my mobile and waited for the call. It never came so I rang back again after an hour or so and was told, sorry but the technicians and everyone that could help you have gone home and there is nothing we can do right now. We will get back to you. Brilliant.

In desperation the next morning I emailed Scott, having found his details on the net and got a call from his PA who was awesome, she arraged for redirection of the landline to my mobile so we could at least get through the family crisis. Some of the people who needed to talk to us didn’t know our mobile numbers.

Anyway, eventually it was all connected and life was going to be amazing, the speed was awesome, I was able to upload my songs to my web sites in no time flat. All I needed now was the movie tickets to arrive and my faith in Orcon was restored. On that note it is now almost August and the movie tickets haven’t arrived, but given the rest of the sorry saga, that is just par for the course.

I play poker 2-3 times a week and am doing well, in fact this Saturday I a playing in the regional championships having qualified over a 3 month period of evening tournaments. I noticed that during games and sometimes doing music uploads etc that the connection was dropping. I lost out on a couple of major games including a qualifier for the World Series Of Poker, having beaten more than 2000 people in the first qualifier. In the middle of the qualifying game, when I had bet most of my chips, my net disconnected and my cards were automatically folded taking all my chips. This became a regular exercise.

Since May I have made numerous phone calls to Orcon, had 2 technicians come and check out the phone lines, disconnected all my phones from the jack points, reconnected them again, rebooted the modem, disconnected the modem, pulled the plugs out, replaced line filters and then the same all over again.

Now I must say here also that I am no dummy. I qualified as a Technical Service Officer with Telecom, I have written books’ lectured around the world and represented both Telecom and Vodafone as a wireless computing consultant and am a Past President (elect) of the NZ Wireless Data Forum. I owned and ran the NZ SmartPhone and PDA Academy and have been considered an expert in mobile data communications.

In desperation I emailed the CEO again and someone called me and started the process again and got a 3rd technician to come in.They found some corrosion at the local cable box and we started again. Fortunately on the last visit the problem happened while the tech was here so he could see what was happening. Eventually towards the middle of this month they replaced the port at the exchange and things improved.

They never called me back or told me what was going on, each time they wanted to start the process over again and I had to tell them to go and read the notes on their CRM, once they couldn’t even do that because their servers had crashed. Hey I’ve been in ITC most of my career so I know shit happens.

Just on this issue, here’s a quote from their website:

Reliability
Orcon has always believed in developing good systems and excellent people. Over the years we have focused on building one of the most stable and reliable systems in New Zealand, and the more we grow, the more control we have over key services. We constantly examine the current setup, looking to see how we can improve our reliability.

Is it that bad or am I being a whinger and anyway your playing games, I mean really it’s not like its that important (If you were playing a game for $1,000 and you lost the game because your internet connection dropped repeatedly, how would you feel), well you decide.

From June 23 (6 weeks or so after I first complained of this problem) to today according to Orcon’s reports, my internet connection has had to reconnect 696 times!

Now read this from their web site if you are still with me.

Monitoring reliability
Reliability and excellent system practices are only as good as your monitoring. We have three dedicated servers, whose sole job is to ensure that connection speeds between machines and response times from our network meet strict guidelines that we have mapped out. If these aren’t met – say for example, a server response time is not quick enough, all our technicians’ cell phones are instantly contacted by the monitoring computer, supplying details of what might contribute to possible faults.

We have developed systems to monitor helpdesk calls. If more than a certain percentage of calls are of one particular nature, technicians are notified and the event is thoroughly investigated.

My wife wants me to give up and go back to Telecom, she doesn’t care about the movie tickets, she feels very uncomfortable without the phone working, especially as we are expecting to become grandparents in the next 2 weeks. Not everyone has our landline number and of course to call our landline if it works is free.

Everyone has problems from time to time and I judge a company generally by how they resolve the problem. Orcon has had nearly 3 months. The disconnections have reduced, we even had one day a few days ago without disconnections, but we hardly used it that day either. This to me is a systemic failure of all their systems and If I don’t get satisfaction soon, I might be tempted to take them to task on failing to honor their commitments and failing to deliver on their promises.

Are you thinking about moving to Orcon? I’m wishing I hadn’t.

P.S. If you want to ring me, don’t bother with the landline, they still haven’t fixed it.

Angry People


This morning as I was listening to a Jimi Hendrix MP3, reading a couple of articles in The Business herald while waiting for my CRM to synchronise, I noticed a column from Seth Godin saying Angy People Are Different and there were some common threads and something missing.

None of them really had a good answer for how to deal with angry people. Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were sying F them in the Arse. This was a bootleg audio clip from a live show that a friend in France sent me. Not very productive.

There was a story in this morning’s NZ Business Herald (not on the net yet) by Neil Green talking about how GlaxoSmithKline spend most of their time justifying their position, even after being found guilty of exaggerating the amount of Vitamin C in Ribena. On their web site they have made some announcements about what they have changed and they haven’t done a bad job, but what they haven’t done is made a personal apology and made a human face.

Something I note all the time is that business and commerce is ultimately about people doing business with people and you should forget that at your peril. What amazes me is that the very people who learn from case studies in university (and Ribena is bound to be in one in the future) don’t remember their lessons when they get in the real world. Bad publicity is often an opportunity to put on a positive face and it is well known in the world of sales that the relationship with key clients is often far better after effectively managing a problem, than it was before the problem arose.

Debbie Mayo-Smith is one of the great imports to New Zealand and often speaks and writes about pitching to the emotion and reaffirms what all sales and marketing people have taught, but some have forgotten, haven’t I just said it. People do business with people. My relationship with all brands whose (note the last word) products I use is at a personal level. I use their products personally. If I find a pip in a tin of pipless peaches and contact the QA department of the manufacturer who listens, apologises and sends me some free product, I no longer talk about the pip, I talk about the genuine caring nature of the company who put things right. I trust them more than ever. The brand that says, shit happens, if we get 1 wrong in 10,000 products its good, get over yourself, I will stop using them because they don’t care and I am angry.

So back to Seth Godin. What I learned when studying Psychology and Negotiation was based around NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. If you try to soothe or calm the person who is angry, you are likely to upset them more because they will think you are being patronising. If you justify your position without acknowledging the other person’s position as Glaxo did, you will lose their trust as has happened in New Zealand with Ribena, where thousands of parents gave this product to their children thinking it was far superior to other fruit juice products on the market. They feel cheated and justifying your position just tells them that you feel you are superior to them.

In NLP they talk about pacing the person first. If they are talking in a loud angry voice, do the same. Get on their level. Show them that you empathise with them and would feel the same way in their shoes. A common mantra in negotiation is the 3 F’s of Feel, Felt, Found. I know how you feel, I had a similar experience to yours and what I actually found was……………….

The most important thing is sincerity in the use of this technique. People are adept at seeing through insincerity whether they are conscious of it or not. If you were genuinely wrong, admit it and do something about it.

Now if only Housing New Zealand could learn from this.