Is Water Care Services an Oxymoron?


Our water bill has shot up in recent times, we had a leak repaired in November and it settled down to its new high, but January went nuts to the level of a 6 person household. Ours is 3. We couldn’t understand why, but it hurt, especially on top of the new increases in water fees on the North Shore in Auckland. Last week we finally discovered a new leak right by the water mains and on 8 February we called Water Care Services. 

Ware Leak

Ware Leak

The call center staff were very friendly and said it would probably take 3 working days for someone to come and check it out. While we were waiting for this visit a lot of water went down the drain. A neighbor had a similar problem and Water Care sent them a contractor to check out the problem.

On The 13th I rang again and asked what was happening. They put me on hold, came back and said I was in a priority queue. I was pleased that something was happening. I asked if the contractor could ring when they were coming and I was put on hold again and she said that was fine, they would ring when they were on the way. I told her I was working from home on the 14th, so that would be great. I had a plumber booked for the 14th in case the problem was on our side.

No one came to our house on the 14th, but a Water Care contractor went to a similar problem about 4 doors down the road. My next door neighbor asked them if they could have a look at my problem while they were there. He said he would look into it. He didn’t. I postponed the plumber.

I rang the Water Care call center again on the 14th  and they explained that the contractor couldn’t look at our place because he didn’t have access to the works order for it. She said someone would be there before 11 on the 15th and they would call before coming as requested.

I worked from home again on the 15th, wanting to be there when the contractor came. At around 11:30 I went to the letter box, the area around the meter box was very muddy and water was coming out of the mains box in much greater volume than before. In the letter box was a note from a company called Lend Lease saying “SUSPECT YOU HAVE A PRIVATE LEAK”

I contacted the plumber who is unavailable for another 3 days and now we walk backwards and forwards to the water main, turning it on and off as required. The plumber said to us that there appear to be many instances in the area of higher pressure in the pipes (due to increasing water supply capacity works for the new Long Bay subdivisions and other growth in the area) causing leaks.

So a couple of questions for you and Water Care. How is it that you can send 3 contractors to the same street in the same street in different instances and you don’t have the technology in the 21st century to identify that there are other jobs that could be done at the same time? Sending a van out from wherever and back 3 times must be quite expensive (a bit like my water bill). If that happens 3 times in one week, just in my street, how much extra does it cost. Calls like mine to the call center which had local sounding people (which must be pretty big, because I never spoke to the same person twice), Maybe half an hour of time. Calls from them to contractors, another 15 minutes. Processing multiple works orders, maybe 20 minutes. 3 trips from vans to my street, with driving time, probably an hour each. That’s a lot of ratepayers money. It’s also a lot of wasted water, are the dams overflowing after this dry summer, that we can afford to waste it?

Does Water Care Services have sustainability KPI’s?

I’m starting to understand why Water Care charges so much. I know they have a geospatial database, one would assume they have a good CRM. Hopefully they will give me a rebate on the excess water for January and February, which I can apply to the plumber’s bill. I’m looking forward to having him fix the problem in a couple of days time.

I am wondering if other people have had similar experiences? Please feel free to leave a comment. By the way I am not a whingeing stirrer, I give credit where it is due to, for example my recent blog about AA Insurance, who provided me with fantastic service after someone dinged my car in a car park and took off. The thing is, I am a ratepayer, I am paying massive amounts of money for water and waste-water and I suspect that with better management or systems, I could be paying a whole lot less.

 

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.