I decided that I had had enough of the El Cheapo mobile broadband service that I had been using. Sure, it was cheap, but there were little inconveniences such as the fact I could only connect at broadband speed while sitting outside amid the cabbages. Not to the mention the disgusting, vivid pink colour of the dongle. And just who came up with that name?
Off to visit my local Telstra shop. Surely our biggest and original telecommunications provider could point me in the right direction? Indeed they did – and I left the shop with a new dongle that was equipped with far better receptors than that of the old El Cheapo unit.
At about 3pm a week ago, the account was activated. Five hours later and I was still on the phone, trying to find out why it was only connecting in the region of 1K or less per second. Let me put that into perspective – in Australia, dial-up landline speeds average around 42K per second on an alleged 56K connection – our old copper landlines don't like trying to faster than that. So my brand spanking new broadband connection was running at one-forty-second of dial up speed. Not surprisingly, nothing would work.
During that five hours on the telephone, I made call after call to the tech support line. I was repeatedly put on hold so long that the call timed out and I had to call back over and over. Calls would end for no reason. When putting me through to a Level Two technician, I usually just ended back with the general staff who first answer the phone – and had to go through the entire charade yet again. And why is it that no matter how many times I tell these people my service number, I have to keep telling them all over again every time that I am put through to someone else?
It was finally decided that there must be a problem with the network broadcasting in my region. But then I am given the joyful news that the only people in the entire country who can check to see if a particular part of the broadband network is broadcasting or not, is in the state of Queensland. And they will not be able to actually get back to me for three business days. What?? Then of course on yet another call, I learn that there are actually people who can read a computer screen to see if there are any reported network outages and I don't have to wait days for that information. Except the network in my area is apparently working just fine.
So matters are now elevated to an esteemed Level Three Technician. In Queensland again. But I am assured that I shall be receiving a call in three days to sort things out.
A week had gone by with no calls from these Tertiary Gurus of All Things Technological, so I decided to dare Telstra's telephone 'help' service again.
Another six hours are spent in utterly pointless, fruitless calls. Yet more calls end up timed out and lost in their system. Yet more contradictory information being passed along. Finally, after several hours, I am told that it needs to be elevated to a Level Three technician. I explain that it has already been elevated to there with no response. An argument now ensues with this particular Telstra operative insisting that there hasn't been any Level Three technician inquiry raised. I insist that I have been told that one had been, a week ago.
I am told to recite the 'Trouble Ticket' number. Huh? I have no idea what they are talking. That is then used as 'proof' that nothing had been elevated to that Most Holy Third Level. What?
Then all of a sudden, this tech changes her story. She has found that a Level Three inquiry has been raised after all. But not for my problem but to investigate actual network broadcasting. And I am now informed that all inquiries to Level Three will take seven to ten working days for a response.
I am left with the encouraging news that if I am able to find anything with my actual laptop that may have implications for the connection, that I was to contact them again.
I commence running diagnostics and yes, I discover a problem. There is a problem with the network connection equipment resulting in invalid IP addresses. So... I call the tech line again. This time I ask to go straight to a Level Two. More debate about it but I finally convince this woman that I have already gone through things at her level over and over again already. She agrees to put me through to a Level Two. I find myself talking to another woman. She discusses things with me for some minutes before admitting that no, she isn't a Level Two tech at all. Yet more time on hold, listening to Telstra's maddening bloody muzak.
I finally talk to a real, live Level Two technician. I ask if she is able to assist me with this IP address issue or should I go looking for assistance elsewhere. Yes, she claims she can help me with that. But all she does is start going through their basic script again, although she denies doing so when I challenge her about it. How many frigging times am I expected to have to uninstall and reinstall this stinking software. Thirty-four minutes later (I timed this particular call) she now announces that it is not Telstra's policy to assist with resolving IP addresses. What?? So why in the name of Hell did she not say so at the bloody start and save us both more than a half-hour of frustration and growing angst.
You guessed it – yet another discussion about Level Three assistance. More arguments about when this is supposed to have started. This woman insists that yes, it is indeed a seven to ten day wait but the count started from when my inquiry was first lodged ie a week ago.
I get off the phone, fuming. This is complete and utter crap. I'm not going to put up with this. So I call back yet again, going through the maddening muzak and automated answering service, yet again. I finally get to speak to a live person once more. She is very reluctant to let me speak to a Team Leader unless she has gone through all the trouble shooting first. She agrees, yes, there is a lengthy record of all this on my file already but she still wants to go through it all again. No. Frigging. Way. But she did give me one bit of help – apparently there is a direct line to their tech support – just that not one of the other multitude already spoken to, thought of bothering to tell me this.
At long last, I get to speak to a Team Leader. Except he is even more useless than his staff. He. Knows. Nothing. This clown, the boss, has to go and ask one of his Level Two staff what to do! Another 12 minutes on hold and I am put back to - you guessed it – a Level Two once more. But not before I have a whinge about the ludicrous number of calls that I have had to make at my expense at twenty-five cents a time. Not a lot by itself, but when you realise that I have now made in the region of thirty fucking calls!
In fairness, this one did have some idea of what she was talking about. Unfortunately her accent from her home base in Indonesia or wherever it is that Telstra has hidden its call centre, is so thick that I cannot understand her half the time. Fifty-nine minutes this time, according to my handset. And still no further along. In fact, I learn that I have gone backwards. The original Level Three inquiry had been directed to the wrong area so it has had to be re-lodged to the correct area, and I am now at the end of the queue again, where I was a bloody week ago! I have absolutely no idea of when I am supposed to be hearing from The Third Level of Hell as I was once again given a story that kept changing.
Mind you, that's not all there is to the story. Back a week ago when all this started, after being told that nobody in Telstra could possibly tell me if the network in my area was even broadcasting, I came up with the bright idea of contacting one of their competitors to see if they were able to broadcast on the 3G network at the moment. The only problem is that I didn't have a number for any of them. But that is not a problem, surely? All I have to do is contact Directory Assistance.
So I call Directory Assistance. The automated system cannot understand what I am saying so I am put through to a human being. He asks where 'GRL mobile' are located. I have no idea – I need a telephone directory to work that out, and if I had a telephone directory, then I would not need to be calling Directory Assistance. Of course I could always just look them up on the Internet. Oh wait – riiiight.
To my considerable surprise, this clown says he cannot look any number up unless I can tell him the location. I am now told to go find the location before calling back. He hangs up in my ear.
I call back immediately, hoping to get the same dickhead so I can give him a mouthful. Instead I get hold of a much more helpful and pleasant woman. Except that she can't find 'GRL mobile' either. But she offers to put me on to her supervisor to see if the supervisor can assist.
The supervisor is able to find the number in about six seconds. I then complain about the earlier treatment and being hung up on. She is not impressed and asks me for the precise time I spoke to that idiot. Yeah, right – we all take careful notes of the exact time we make a phone call, don't we. So much for that complaint being resolved.
On Tuesday I shall commence trying to talk to the Resolution Area to get something sorted out. But I have been down this route before. You see, Telstra staff do not like admitting that they even have a Resolution Centre. If it is in the Telephone Directory anywhere, then it is well and truly hidden. Nor can it be accessed through the main call centre networks. You have to cajole the separate number out of them. But not until you have had several layers of people insisting that you have tell your entire story to them first – over and over again. If you persevere for long enough and if their delaying tactics haven't made you hang up in disgust, eventually you will be given the magic telephone number.
So what do I want? Pretty simple, really. I just want my broadband working. And my money refunded for all the calls I have had to make that should not have been necessary at all. An explanation for all the fuck ups wouldn't go astray either. Because of the public holidays over Easter, I shall not have moved up the queue in the waiting list for Level Three assistance. But you can be pretty sure that despite all of this utter balls-up and incompetence, the Resolution Centre will almost certainly prove to be unable to do anything about elevating my concerns.
What a very long and bloody awful bad joke.