Long, rocky road to connection

October 10, 2017

I laugh to myself when I see advertisements offering ‘‘high-speed NBN’’ connections.

While some people discuss internet speeds in terms of bits per second, my experience has been weeks per month.

It all started rather innocently.

I recently moved house and left behind my NBN connection and phone service.

My first mistake was asking for a relocation and an NBN connection at the new house.

Three months later I was still waiting for an internet and phone service.

Appointments were promised for the connection, but the technicians failed to show up.

Telecommunications companies have a practice of asking you to put aside three hours for the appointment, so the technicians can turn up at any time in the three-hour window.

Apparently their time is more valuable than ours or they are so badly organised they have no idea when they can attend.

I suggested to one company that they could give their technicians a handy new device called a mobile phone and they could use it to advise customers when they were half an hour away.

They could also use this modern technology to re-schedule and update customers, but apparently that’s not possible.

After the technicians failed to show, they put us to the back of the queue, so weeks turned into months.

I unsuccessfully argued that if the NBN guys failed to show then surely, as it was not our fault, we should be attended to the following day.

No, not possible. Must be something to do with the mobile phones.

Meanwhile, I had a running battle with the Optus customer service representatives who kept giving me reassurances, but couldn’t give me commitments.

They also insisted on telling me they would keep me updated by texting and sending emails!

About four times I explained that I couldn’t read the emails because I was not on the internet.

Just when I thought I was close to a resolution, and after the NBN man (from Adelaide) did the home connection, Optus told me my old landline number couldn’t be transferred as it had been disconnected.

They told me my old service was disconnected, not relocated, and I would have to reapply for the number.

‘‘But you sent me a text a month ago telling me I could keep the number ...’’

The reply, after a few minutes: ‘‘Yes, I have that here.’’

They eventually relented and found the number.

So, I decided a three-month wait for service wasn’t very palatable and I would be transferring to another service provider ... who then told me my old number was not available.

I would have to go back to Optus to get them to reinstate the number.

No, they can’t talk to Optus, it would have to come from me.

And, ‘‘thank you for your service, we will provide information about the service to your SMS and email ... ’’

STOP PRESS: We are now connected.

A couple of suggestions for customers who want to change their phone/internet service:

●Don’t let the telecommunications company disconnect you before you have a date for a service reconnection. Same with upgrades to NBN.

●Don’t take ‘‘no’’ for an answer. Optus told me my number was not available. It was; I just had to insist on getting it back.

●If you are being denied basic services or the telecommunications company has made an error and the operator can’t seem to fix it, ask for a case manager, who has more flexibility in decision-making.

●Keep records of your phone conversations and ask for a reference number at the end of each call. They will often record your conversations, and you can do the same.

And I have one suggestion for just the Federal Government and NBN: Monitor the problems with the NBN, stop buck-passing and fix them.

Geoff Adams is the editor of Country News.

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