|Rod Bishop, before the experience described below|
MR NUMBER SEVEN. Life with your Internet Service Provider.
A friend recently had a terminal confrontation with his internet provider.
Let’s call him “Philip” and let’s call the company “Telco”.
After days of trying to have his service fixed, and during one very lengthy call, Philip said something like “I’m beginning to feel suicidal talking to you”. The Telco staffer kept my friend on his landline for another 10 minutes. Then two police cars, one a big red Ford Falcon double parked outside the front door. Four cops, all armed and wearing Kevlar vests appeared at his door, providing the neighbourhood with much free entertainment.
“Would you mind opening the door, sir?” asked a cop.
“Can’t do that,” replied Philip,“I’ll lose my place in the Telco queue.”
Philip’s wife has now banned him from any further interactions with Telco or any other internet service providers.
Recently, I purchased a new mobile and started a new plan with Telco. I asked them to keep my old number. They were more than happy to arrange that, so I inserted the new sim card provided into the new mobile. Barely 30 minutes later, the phone pinged. It was Telco giving me a brand-new number and not the old number I’d asked for.
Over the next three days, I had to “chat” online with Telco for about four hours and another two hours by telephone (including wait time). Every conversation with the five Telco staffers took the same format.
First, I had to get past the “virtual assistant” by complex wording to cause the artificial intelligence to give up and “escalate” me to a real person.
Then I had to go through the whole story - new mobile, blah blah, new plan, blah blah, old number please. Then full name, date of birth, driver’s license number. Excitingly, I was occasionally asked for my home address. Then, long period of silence followed by “I need to talk to my manager”. Long silence, then “it’s all in hand, being processed now, generally takes 24 hours, but it’s usually less” and, after expressing my increasing doubts:“I assure you, it will be done.”
But days passed. And nothing happened.
The only divergence from this template came from someone in the Philippines (who really did sound convincingly Caribbean). She spent the first few minutes telling me how my long relationship with the Telco made me such an important person and why didn’t I put the old sim card into the new phone. “Too old. Won’t fit.” I told her. “Oh. Let me talk to my manager”. Followed by a lengthy delay, then “my manager says just pop into a Telco shop, buy a new blank sim card and call us back”.
A new sim card was part of the deal wasn’t it? Now I had to buy another?
As for “popping into a Telco Shop”,it had been my first step before these three days of online and phone tussle. I had gone into a Telco Shop, told them the phone I wanted to buy, what plan I wanted, and, of course, I wanted to keep my old number. The sales guy promptly told me to do some shopping for ten minutes while he sorted out the “mess” my accounts were in.
Dutifully I returned and sat in disbelief as he pitched me a whole new deal for every account - my mobile, my landline and my internet. The mobile plan he was insisting on offered 2GB a week. “Why would I want that?” Well, if you run out of data, your speed will be slowed but you can still surf the internet” “No thanks, I’ll just do it all online”, and left wondering why any Telco sales person would let a customer walk out the door when they had been prepared to pay the advertised price for the phone ($400) and the advertised $300 a year for the plan.
“Give up” advised The Significant Other. The next day (when she left for her Seniors Gym); I couldn’t resist one last try. After all, none of the six Telco staffers I had dealt with (including the Shop guy) had ever told me why I couldn’t keep my old mobile number. But then, on the chat line came MR. NUMBER SEVEN.
“Can fix that right now if you stay online” he said. By this stage all I wanted to know was whyI couldn’t keep my old number. “Of course you can, I can do it for you right now”. In disbelief, I told him everyone else had said exactly this for three days now.
I cheekily added “don’t you have to ask a manager and put me on hold for 15 minutes?” He shot back: “I promise you I can do it right now if you stay online” What the hell, I thought, knock yourself out, mate. Maybe then, you’ll realize Telco simply won’t give you the old number and the reason is Top Secret.
Ten minutes later, MR NUMBER SEVEN came back with a number for me to call on my new mobile and BINGO! There it was. My old number, on my new phone. “My God! You did it! How did you do that?”
“I’m pretty good at this” came the reply.
All I wanted was to keep my old mobile number. The combined Telco worker hours, the amount of money wasted and the sheer incompetence of it all was breathtaking.
And guess who ends up paying that bill.
I’m really looking forward to finally connecting to the NBN.