I've been having huge problems with activation of a new Cable Ultimate home broadband connection. I thought I'd write it all up here in the hope that someone will be able to help. It may also serve as a warning to anyone who is considering signing up, that it may not be a smooth journey and they may not be up and running in the 4-6 business days that the sales people try to suggest.
About 13 weeks ago I signed up to get Ultimate Cable (bundled with a fixed line phone). I opted for the 'do it yourself' connection, given that the previous home owners had already had cable. I was told that the activations team would process the application within about 48 hours, would arrange to send me the kit I needed and 4-6 business days later I would be on-line.
The dramas started almost immediately.
Since I work weekdays, and my local post office isn't open on Saturdays, I opted to have the gear delivered to my office address. I gave the same address details that I use when making on-line purchases (from Australian, European, US and Asian retailers) and has never caused any problems in the past. After a little over a week I received a phone call from someone at Telstra wanting to check my postal address, as the package had been returned to them as undeliverable. I asked them to read out the address they had and it did not match what I had told them a week earlier. I gave the person the correct address and they read it back correctly to confirm. Again, this delivery failed.
We went through the steps again, but this time they sent me TWO identical gateways, one to the correct office address, and one to my home (having not been home to receive this delivery, and not knowing what the delivery was, I had to take time off work to pick it up from the courier's premises).
At least now I had the hardware.
I picked one of my two new gateways, and the accompanying CD and followed the instructions, but the process failed part of the way through. I would add that the software on the CD seemed to do very little, and ran incredibly slowly. It wasn't hard to diagnose that the LAN and wifi connections to the gateway were fine, but the actual cable connection was not working (the corresponding light on the gateway was off). I spent some time on the phone with (after hours) tech support, who were helpful but couldn't really resolve the problem. After trying both gateways, and tech support a couple of times (with the usual problems of being left on hold, transferred to people who can't help and having to explain the situation over and over to numerous people) I requested for Telstra to send someone out to take a look. To Telstra's credit, this was relatively painless to arrange, and in the end it transpired that the cable connection patched into our house was actually that of a rival ISP. This was clearly NOT Telstra's fault, and perhaps one of the pitfalls of trying a do-it-yourself connection (I'd never considered that this could have been the case).
The technician duly patched the correct Telstra's cable into the house. This is where things got a little disappointing. The tech confirmed that the cable network light was on and then left, saying that everything would work in a couple of hours. To my mind, when a technician is sent to a premises to connect a service, they shouldn't leave without confirming that the service works.
Now the fun really began.
With connection to the WAN now established, I fired up my laptop and tried to connect to the internet, with a hope of being able to start streaming live content that evening. I was met with Telstra's 'captive portal' page, which asked for my Bigpnd username (email address) and password, which I entered. The next page told me that my registration was successful and that I should powerdown the gateway for 5 seconds and reboot my PC. I noted that the gateway restarts itself anyway, and I couldn't think why my PC should need to reboot, but I followed the instructions anyway. Once everything was up and running I was surprised to once again be faced with the captive portal screen. Numerous attempts with both of my gateways gave me the same result, so I called tech support.
Given how long this message already is, I will try to summarise the next few weeks of my dealings with Telstra. I made numerous calls to tech support, each time having to wait on hold, explain the problem, run through ridiculous basic tests (i.e. 'is your LAN cable plugged in?', 'have you tried turning it on and off again?'), being handballed between activations and support (sometimes being told I was being placed on hold but was actually being transferred, to someone who couln't help me either) and left on hold, and left on hold, and left on hold, after which I would eventually be told that my problem would be escalated to level 2 support and I would hear back in 2-4 business days. Only I never heard back from level 2 support. Despite several escalations. Two of the points that stood out from my various dealings with tech support was that there was an issue with the data that get sent out from my end during registration (via the captive portal page) not being accepted by Telstra's 'back of house' system, and that this was a known issue that was causing problems with many new connections.
At this stage, already completely fed up, my partner raised a formal complaint with Telstra (29/11/12). This resulted in a a message the next day that someone would call us within 2 business days. By the 7/12, having heard nothing, we contacted the complaints department and were told that there was a backlog of complaints (this is not a surprise to me) and we had not yet been assigned a case manager, but were promised a call back the next day. By the 12/12, having still heard nothing, we again contacted the complaints department and were promised a call back the next day. Again we didn't receive a call, so on the 13th we decided to raise a complaint with the TIO (this was nearly 2 months after we first signed up, so I feel we gave Telstra a fair opportunity to address the issue).
On the 14th of December, a day after raising the TIO complaint, we finally made contact with our assigned case officer from our original complaint with Telstra. This seemed promising, and we were assured by him that he would see our problem through to the end, organising billing corrections (in the mean time we had separately been in contact with Telstra to place our bill on hold, as they had started to charge us for a service they hadn't yet been able to provide us). On 17/12/12, there seemed to be some technical progress in that I was told that our correct MAC address had now been manually configured in the back of house system and that I should be able to properly register (that evening after returning home from work). If it didn't work, I was told to phone tech support. It didn't work. I phoned tech support and went through the same rubbish I had been through numerous times before, with no success.
On 19/12, my partner tried to contact our case manager only to be told that he was no longer on our case because our case had been reassigned to Telstra's TIO complaints department. This, it turned out, had put us BACK TO SQAURE ONE.
We received a phone call later on the 19th acknowledging that we had made a TIO complaint and would have a case manager assigned within a few days. When we voiced our anger at the fact that this had nullified the progress we had made with our previous complaint we were told that there was no previous complaint (well done to Telstra's TIO complaints team for checking up on case history!). It was with some satisfaction, however, that when he went to give us our 'complaints reference number' he only got three digits in before my partner was able to tell him the rest of the number, proving to him that there was an existing complaint. There was also a condescending tone to the phone call, and a suggestion that this setback was our own fault, as we had contacted the TIO. Well I'm sorry Jimbo, but what else were we supposed to do? And shame on you for making such a remark when we've held our tongues on numerous occasions when not wanting to take our frustrations with Telstra out on the poor folk at the other end of the line who didn't cause the problem and has little power to help, other than fill out a webform requesting our problem to be escalated to a department that as far as I'm concerned may as well not even exist.
Being just a few days before we were due to head overseas to visit family for Christmas, we contacted the TIO complaints department to request that a note be placed against our account that we were not to be contacted until we returned on the 7th of Jan (due to time zone difference, and not wanting to have to pay Telstra $6 per minute when receiving roaming calls overseas - and probably being left on hold for hours). We then phoned back again later to ask for the note to be read back to us, only to find that the note was incorrect, so we asked for it to be corrected. While we were away we received (but did not answer) at least 2 calls from our new TIO approved case manager, who clearly did not get the note about us not wanting to be contacted.
After returning, I got in touch with our new TIO approved case manager (which everytime involves calling the department's reception, being left on hold for some time and then leaving a message for a return call). I was told that the account looked OK and that everything looks to have been resolved. I pointed out that the account was fine, but the internet connection was not and had never worked. "What do you mean" I was asked. I requested that she read the extensive notes against the account. I'm not sure why she hadn't read them to begin with.
I was phoned back the same day and put through to another tech support person. He walked me through some basic tests and advised that there was a problem with my MAC address not being accepted by the back of house system (not exactly ground breaking - I could have told him that) and (this made me shudder) he had escalated the issue and I would get a response by the end of the week. By the end of the week I had, as expected, heard nothing.
It has now been two weeks since making firm contact with our TIO approved case manager and I feel we've made little progress. I have had more contact with another tech support person, who, to her absolute credit, does seem to have taken ownership of the problem, and has kept her promises regarding call backs etc. everytime. However, she has suggested to me that our MAC address issue is not one that can just be corrected manually, so I really don't understand what more can be done, other than perhaps sending us another new gateway (which, I'm sure you would agree, would seem totally ridiculous). I'm also not sure that my patience will stretch much longer.
All of this leads me to ask the following questions:
1) Does the 'back of house' support/engineering team actually exist, and do they have phones and know how to answer them?
2) Does Bigpond Ultimate Cable actually exist, or is this all an elaborate myth?
3) Is our connection problem actually something that can/will at some point be solved?
4) If this is, as some of Telstra's own tech support people have told me, a common / known issue, why doesn't everyone in tech support know about it, and why is it not possible to easily get in touch with people who can address the problem.
5) Given that Telstra last year posted a $3.4 Billion profit, why is it that Telstra's support and complaints handling systems can be so completely convoluted, ineffective and frustrating to deal with?
6) How much more profit would they be able to make if they got things right the first time? Do Telstra shareholders / upper management know about the problems at the front line?
7) Is it right for Telstra sales staff to claim (and they still do - I phoned up yesterday to check this) that people can be on-line within a couple of weeks? The lady I spoke to didn't acknowledge any issues with registrations, but did agree with me when I suggested that the 'back of house' team seem to be ellusive, mythical creatures who never answer their phones.
8) Am I on some version on the Truman show, where the producers are trying to see how far they can push me before I crack?
Since I first signed up for this cable internet, which 13 weeks later still isn't working:
1) I've also ordered a new kitchen, which has been built, delivered and installed;
2) About 30 million babies have been born, worldwide;
3) About 16 million cars have been built, worldwide.
Now, clearly this should have been long enough for Telstra to have been able to fix my issue. But, shouldn't this also have been long enough for the underlying problems with the registration system to have been addressed? Should it really be this hard?
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Hi Week_13, what can I say but that I am disappointed with the service that has been provided and I personally am very sorry that you have been through so much.
If you send me a private message here with your case number and I will investigate the situation to ensure that your new case manager and Telstra as a whole is doing everything we can.
I appreciate your sentiments.
Fortunately, the technical issue has now been resolved, thanks to the very diligent efforts of a particular member of Telstra’s tech support team. I’m still trying to get the billing corrections taken care of, but I suspect that where billing is concerned there will be more focus issue won’t take as long to resolve.
What I’d really like, however, is an answer to my questions about Telstra’s support / complaints system. Looking at this and other forums, I’m not the only one who has been given a colossal run‑around by Telstra. There is clearly something wrong with the way Telstra deals with technical issues.
Why is it that peoples’ technical issues can be ‘escalated’ and then never receive a response?
Why isn’t there a process to pick-up when issues go unresolved for a long period of time, and automatically assign someone to manage the issue? It shouldn’t be necessary to go through the process of raising a complaint?
Why is it that my ‘TIO approved’ complaints manager directed me on to “Telstra Plus” (which is not a free service – though the costs were refunded). When the issue had long been identified as being a fault wihtin Telstra's system it doesn't make any sense that I should be directed to a support service designed to help people with issues in their own IT systems. The person who ultimately fixed the problem suggested there was absolutely no reason for that to have occurred. It is understandable that not every complaints manager can have strong technical knowledge, but they should have some, and should be able to read through the account notes and see where the solution is headed.
Why is it that the same complaints manager’s handling of the issue really involved little more than putting me in touch with tech support people? There was never any follow up from the complaints team. I had to chase up everything at every stage. I never felt as though my complaint was being ‘managed’ by the complaints department.
Why did my complaints manager consistently look only at the notes against the complaint and not at the general notes against the account? On several occasions I was told that there were no notes to back-up what I was saying, only to have to remind them that the notes were actually located elsewhere.
At this stage, if I ever experience another technical issue, I will give Telstra one chance to address the issue and if anything goes amiss in the process I will raise a complaint straight away. It seems that this is the only way to make progress, albeit slow, tedious progress.
Hi Week_13, I am glad to hear that the issue has now been resolved.
Regarding your questions, I don't have the authority to provide you with official responses. Rest assured we are always reviewing processes for opportunities for improvement as improving customer service is one of our most important goals as a company.
Based on your commentary it sounds like the case was handled poorly and there is room for improvement, if you would like me to pass on feedback around the processes and staff that assisted you then please contact me via private message and I would be happy to do this for you.
It seems T$ just does not have proper procedures to get these bundles working.
It took me 5 calls to SE_Asia to get my speed right - none of them read what their supposed to read.
In the end I had to go to the TIO to put a rocket up T$ and now we are almost there - just phone bundling to complete as one area of T$ didn't remove the adsl codes on my phone line.
In the end it was someone from 'local' tech support (I think in Newcastle) who took ownership of the issue and saw it through to completion - no help from our complaints manager whatsoever. We're still having problems with our completely inept complaints manager trying to get the billing corrections sorted out - she just goes ahead and does things (incorrectly) without explaining anything to us or checking whether we agree she's got it right. She doesn't show any attention to detail or any sign that she has listened to anything we've said.
To make things worse, the TIO is showing no interest in pursuing this further with Telstra - they suggest that since the technical issue is fixed we should have nothing to complain about. It's very unsatisfying knowing that things are so messed up and nothing will be done about it.
I've revised my plan of attack in case there are problems in future - Ill simply cancel everything and never go back to Telstra again.
I've got the very same problem. Can I talk to the nice person in Newcastle? All I need is for the MAC address on my modem to get registered against my account details. So far all of the tech, complaints, billing, sales and other sundry people I have talked to cannot get me connected. The latest advice today from billing was to cancel my job order and start again with a new order and a new modem - I said no as I have already wasted 5 weeks. I am in Level 2 purgatory with a Captive Portal that helpfully says I have successfully registered but with no activation of the account - this after a week of having the modem connected by a Professional Installer (I had no choice - I could have done it myself but did not count on the non-existent mythological Telstra back office not being able to get their house in order).
Is Telstra a serious business????
Just found out another 8 working days for L2 to do something. Too tired to argue. I'm going to beat 13 weeks I'm sure.
Finally connected - nearly 4 weeks. Looks like I did not make the record. Solution - keep calling activations - finally someone will confess they had a server problem and that manual teams were required to get the order out of provisioning. The issue should have been more broadly communicated and sales/provisioning should have been more open to telling new customers of likely delays. Thanks to the diligent call centre people who probably get an unfair level of abuse through no fault of their own.
I have the same issue. Installer told me 2 hours. When it wasn't working after 4 hours I rang up and was told it will take 48 hours. Based on previous posters I suspect in 2 days I will still be unconnected. Luckily I still have my ADSL for a couple of more weeks.