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Friday, April 9, 2010

Warning - '3' are trading under false pretenses!

Following the latest ludicrous display from Telstra, I headed off to the competition that I have used previously, hoping to be able to obtain a unit with better receptors such as the Telstra unit supposedly had. However the store manager burst out laughing when I showed him the delinquent Telstra unit that supposedly had better receptors in it.

"They're all made by the same company," he laughed. "It has nothing to do with receptors in the unit but is all about strength of the signal from the network you're on. Telstra have had you on, mate."

Just as I thought. Telstra staff pulled a fast one on me to sell me a more expensive unit that did no more than their cheaper one. Yet another instance of Telstra being scam artists!

At this point, I expected the manager of that shop to be trying to sell me another one of his products. He didn't. Instead, he sympathised with my problems and admitted that he has difficulty in getting a signal at his home as well. Like me, he lives just next to the CBD of Australia's capital, Canberra. Also like me, with networks other than Telstra, it has proved normal to not be able to get a 3G broadband wireless signal inside a building. The best he could suggest was investing in a lengthy USB extension and drape that outside in hope of getting a better signal. For God's sake - are we that backward in Australia??

I wonder how long the modem would last in the weather outside my window? As for any warranty after that treatment? Forget about it.

As I was stalking through the shopping centre in high dungeon, I stopped at yet another of Telstra's competitors and was checking their product out. It seemed promising. This was '3'.

First things first - what is the reception like in my area? The assistant checked on their computer system, down to my actual street address. She assured me that I had coverage at that address. So I spent another $94 (noting that I am still $160 out of pocket from Telstra's piece of garbage - as a pensioner, that bloody hurts) on one of their modems plus initial data purchase. And headed home.

First things first - activate the unit. Check. Next, call and validate the prepaid voucher - Check. I am told that it will take five minutes or so to replicate through their network. No problems. I find something else to do for half-an-hour.

Time to test the new wonder-gadget. Except I kept getting an error message that I was not registered on their networks. I call tech support. First they check my location and confirm that yes, I should have coverage there. Eventually they had me take the laptop out in the car and drive around for a while, seeing if I could get a signal in the surrounding suburbs. After doing that, feeling like an absolute idiot, not to mention having a householder challenge me, wanting to know what I was doing and telling me that he had called the police because I was 'acting suspicously' while parked outside their house, I headed home.

Another call to 3's tech support, reporting the distinct lack of success. More messing around - and then the bombshell.

They now admit that there is a network problem in my area. And they have known about this since March 20! Nor do they have any idea when it will be rectified. Yet they are happily still selling product to people, assuring them that there is coverage in this area when in fact the network is non-existent. When protested this, I was initially assured that the coverage did in fact extend to my area but the network actually transmitting is another matter. Talk about playing with semantics!

What a load of frog shit. That is nothing sort of trading under false pretenses.

I have successfully argued for a refund and have been given authorisation numbers to provide to the store tomorrow. What's the betting that the store quibbles over it? Be sure that you shall be hearing about it if they do.

In the meantime, I am still stuck with my existing service from GRLmobile that only works while sitting outside in the company of the mosquitoes, the increasing cold and the dubious company of the passing junkies on their way to visit their friendly local dealer.

Wireless telecommunications in Australia is an absolute farce. The biggest provider with the strongest network, Telstra, is doing nothing short of price gouging while failing to provide anything like technical support. Any why not? Just like the old days, they still have more or less a monopoly on things. But unlike the bad old days, the industry is now deregulated and there is SFA that can be done. Even the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has proven to be more or less powerless.

The moral of this particular part of the story folks, is do not purchase any wireless product from '3' including any mobile technology, unless they have checked the status of the network in your location. Do not, repeat, do not accept their assurances about 'coverage'. And the theme that has been running through the posts on this subject remains the same: Do Not Trust Telstra! Unless you are one of the shareholders. You lot can rejoice in all the profits being made at the expense of the rest of we poor slobs.

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