Monday, August 29, 2005

ADSL - the saga continues

Well after my previous hassles (here and here), I was at my wits end. I had pretty much eliminated most variables before I’d even rang my ISP, but after they insisted I had my modem double checked by plugging it into a friends ADSL line and watching it work, the only variable was the alarm system. When we moved in, there were no instructions on the alarm system, and to be honest, it wasn’t high on my priority list, but the tech support person at my ISP insisted that I get it checked out because it may still be plugged in to the phone line and causing interference. Well, I checked the alarm myself and couldn’t find any connection to the phone line, but then again, I’m not a trained alarm system technician so what would I know, and as the tech support person at my ISP kindly informed me, "If Telstra send a technician out and they find out that it’s your fault, they’ll charge you $99". So I had an alarm technician come around and verify ($75 later) what I already knew, the alarm was not plugged in to the phone line. So finally the coast was clear and I could insist on them sending a Telstra technician out… still with the warning of being charged if Telstra concluded that the issue was anything to do with my setup. Like all service companies these days Telstra would only give a 4 hour window, during which they would be performing the work, this meant that I was required to stay home from work during this time. Fortunately the technician called me fairly early in that period to tell me “yeah mate, it should be right now, there was a problem at the exchange”. And sure enough I now have ADSL internet access again.

Having ascertained that it was Telstra’s fault, and having been threatened with being charged if it was my fault, I am just wondering if I should send Telstra a bill for my time and the expenses I’ve had to incur to determine that Telstra didn’t do a proper job in the first place. Another thing that has crossed my mind is would I have got the same run around had I been a bigpond customer, ie is this Telstra’s way of using their monopoly on the network to make it difficult for other ISP’s to compete on an even footing. Maybe that’s a bit too much of a conspiracy theory, and Occam’s razor dictates that possibly a mixture of incompetence and/or apathy may be a better explanation, which essentially reduces to Hanlon’s Razor "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".


  1. Sadly Scott, when I had BigPond ADSL (December till June), I had much the same issues.

    It took them at least a couple of days to activate the exchange.

    Then a housemate moved out, and the phoneline got changed into my name. Guess what? No Sync, even though they assured me that "changing phoneline owners" has nothing to do with the ADSL.

    My 4 hour window was 8am till noon, and fair enough 8:05 the techie calls from the exchange to say that it should all be fixed.

    I'm with iiNet now, waiting for their ADSL2.


  2. Stephen Gryphon5:16 pm

    Unfortunately I can not confirm your conspiracy report, however I can confirm that I have also previously had bad experiences with Telstra BigPond ADSL.

    I found them extremely difficult to get support to acknowledge problems, i.e. they would get you to power off on, reboot computer, etc -- all the things you have already tried and _know_ aren't the problem.

    Especially early on it was very bad. Twice (not just once) I had people unplug me at the exchange and forget to plug it back in.

    This involved getting the technician out to my flat, checking all the wiring, then going to the exchange and informing me "oh, you must have been unplugged" -- and this happened twice!

    For several months the link was regularly down for hours at a time -- so bad I was keeping a log book and complaining to them, and (after arguments) getting refunds/partial refunds.

    (When it is down for 50% of the days in the month, they need to give you a refund.)

    ... and I wasn't the only customer with problems.

    Eventually Telstra ADSL turned around and gave all customers a month's credit, and then some months at half price whilst they 'fixed it'.

    Once fixed they implemented as service guarantee where if it was down X% of the time you get so many days rebate, etc.

    I remember the month it first came into effect, on the first day, they already blew their budget for the month (based on their own downtime reporting on their homepage).

    All in all, I think I got about 3 months worth of free ADSL in the first year -- still, I would have preferred it to be reliably working.

    When we bought our new house we got Optus cable put in and haven't really had any problems for almost 2 years.

    (They are currently doing major roadwork on Windsor road, i.e. rerouting cables underground, near our house, and the cable was down one morning recently, but I was sort of expecting something to happen.)

    - Sly

  3. So it appears as though Hanlan's Razor is the most likely theory.

    God forbid they spend any of their $4 billion profit on fixing up the obvious problems... the shareholders just would not be happy.

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