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Future NOT Very Friendly
We've experienced over a week's worth of poor customer service and technical support, courtesy of our phone and high-speed internet provider - Telus. In the past 7 days, we'e been "off-line" for over 96 hours and had so much static on our basic phone service, that we were worried about contacting 911 should the need arise.
Telus Customer Service: Not helpful, not prompt, not reliable, not honest ... and well, not a lot of very good things.
Two separate phone problems last week left us without an Internet connection for more than 96 hours and with a static-filled (essentially unusable for voice or Internet) line for 48 hours. Calls to Customer Service and Technical Support resulted in a run-around where we were put on "hold" for extended periods of time, disconnected, told placating lies, asked to perform silly "tests", or given wrong information ... all of which left us frustrated and without timely resolutions. Aaargh!
A week ago last Thursday, there was an Internet service outage in our rural neighborhood. It started about dinner time. As it turned out, a "Stinger Card" had to be replaced. It was no big deal, as these things happen from time to time. What was unusual, however, was when the "Stinger Card" was replaced - around noon the next day - Internet service was restored to everyone - except us.
Were we unlucky or was there some other problem? It took another day and a half of frustrating telephone calls to Telus customer support and technical support to answer that question ... and to get our broadband Internet connection functioning again.
Then, on the following Tuesday - after only two full, trouble-free days - our phone line suddenly became static-filled. The Internet was up & down more times than Paris Hilton on a Friday night and the voice quality so horrid, we couldn't communicate on the phone. We worried what might happen if we had an emergency! (FYI - We live rurally, so going "next door" takes a great deal of time and there's also no cell-phone service here ... we rely on our phone.)
Telus: The Future is Friendly?
Telus spends a hefty chunk of money running ads telling people "The Future Is Friendly" (It's their company slogan). Most ads employ animals. They're very effective (as the 30-second spot on the left demonstrates). The advertisements are cute, cleaver and fairly cost-effective - the actors work for peanuts!
While the advertisements extoll how friendly our future will be, they've fallen way short of the mark in the support services area. I learned this during our week of phone problems.
The first lesson came when I navigated the Telus support phone system. I navigated this tree many (many) times. I became good at it, but there's no getting around the fact that it's not friendly.
Is it just me or do you think it's cruel, when someone calls support because they've got no Internet and they're forced to listen to a recorded message suggesting they visit the Telus website?
You can't defeat that insulting recorded message. I tried. I punched zeros ... I yelled ... I even stuck my fingers in my ears and went, "La la la la" a bunch of times. It droned on, lauding the excellent online help facilities.
After the recording, I had to "say or type in" my 10-digit telephone number, listen to it repeated back and then wait, while the system retrieved my account information.
"OKAY, I have it!" the automated female voice said, sounding pleased with herself for having found the data.
When I'm finally connected to a real person (after listening to some groovy music for a few minutes) they invariably asked: "May I have your telephone number, area code first?"
I'm thinking at this point that the girl with the sexy, automated voice is pretty dumb. She takes the time to find my data, but then won't even pass it along to the person I end up taking to. I'd fire that girl for being bloody unfriendly! Yeah, that's what I'd do.
So anyway ... I ended up talking to a lot of Telus support people, trying to get our problems sorted. Let's see. I'm consulting my list of people names I wrote down. Here you go ... I spoke with Mike, Marie, Lucky, Elpi, Ken, Rain, Marielle, Chris, another Ken, Donald, Marwan and Martin. Mind you, those were only the ones I bothered to write down. I actually spoke to more than that.
Still, it's a lot of people. Gee, that was only to get the first problem fixed! (The "stinger card").
Wait. I know what you're thinking, "That must've been a real tough problem, Scott, to have to talk to so many people."
The Stinger Card Problem
I don't know what a "stinger card" is, or what it does, or where it's located. All I know is that when I first called technical support, I was told that there was "a known problem", that it was "at Telus' end" and that it would be fixed in about "an hour".
Four hours later, when our Internet was still down, I called technical support and got - surprise - the same exact answer.
"Right. That's what the guy said 4 hours ago. Can I talk with your manager please?"
The manager, I'm pretty sure he was Elpi - heck of a name, Elpi - said, "A local 'stinger card' has to be replaced". Elpi didn't know when the repair would be completed.
"So why do your people keep telling me 'an hour' then?" I asked. (He didn't have an answer for that).
I do. The support people were putting me off, placating me with an answer they presume I would find acceptable. Real friendly future.
So, the best part of the story is how the stinger card (wherever it's located) is replaced and - YAY! - everyone in the neighborhood has an Internet connection - except us.
So, now I'm really frustrated and perplexed. Do we have some other kind of problem? Tech support guys are perplexed and I'm made to do all kinds of tests at this end ... disconnecting the phone line, modem, router, computer, turning stuff on and off ... all to no avail.
I begin thinking that Telus has turned our service off. Customer service people keep alluding to an "out order" placed into our account last May. I presume it's there because we had flirted with using a cable ISP company about then, but we decided against it, because of all the cables they'd have to run and the cost). Apparently, their request to "transfer services" (the so-called "out order") was never canceled or reversed. Maybe the technicial who replaced the "stinger card", turn us off?
"Great ... we pay our bills and they turn our service off."
Oh ... about this time, I'm thinking, "We should get some compensation for all the aggravation and the down-time."
I call customer service and spoke with someone whose name I didn't write down. She volunteers to credit our account with - get this - a pro-rata amount for the down time we've had. I quickly do the math in my head ($40 a month, down for 2 days so far ... wow ... two whole dollars).
I try to explain how I lost $50 an hour today, because I happen to be working at home, that's my rate and I needed the Internet to complete my task. Suddenly, she's quizzing me about my employment - no longer interested in a rebate - she's thinking, "Aha, this guy should be paying our (more expensive) business rates, rather than residential rates".
I wish I got this woman's name, because she certainly wasn't friendly. I defused the business rate tact and got her back on the rebate end. I told her that I'd happily accept the pro-rata rebate, if she promised that we were rebated a pro-rata amount each - and every - time our Internet connection went down. I also pointed out how $2 seemed like a very fair compensation in comparison to a $200 loss.
In the end, I got her to concede a month's fees - so she said, anyway. I'll have to check the bill at the end of the month, because after dealing with Telus all week, it wouldn't surprise me if she just lied to placate me and get me off the phone.
So, we went another night without an Internet connection. Of course, it was still down in the morning. Problems don't solve themselves. Clearly, it was up to me to hold Telus' feet to the flame and find out why we weren't connected to the Internet.
After speaking with more Telus support people, the third person I spoke with on Saturday morning had some grey matter - Martin.
Martin got us back "online". Apparently, when the stinger card was replaced, the port we were on was "stuck". The solution was simple. A hard boot of the new stinger card (which Martin did from the office) reset the ports and BLAMMO - Internet.
Why didn't the first technician do this?