Thursday, October 27, 2011

As some of you might know by now, I have decided to switch to a different ISP motivated to find better speeds, awesome browsing experience and compelling customer experience...

Cultural parenthesis on

Do you know what ISP is? I am going to stop here to explain what ISP stands for (just to be on the same context).
ISP stands for Internet Service Provider... Or at least that is the definition I am going to be using on this post; actually is going to be the only definition I am going to be using on this blog as I could check with urban dictionary... 
Some other usages of the abbreviation are ‘international shit provider’, ‘inscribed signed photographer’ or ‘I suck penises’ as I could find on urban dictionary.

Cultural parenthesis off;

But before getting into deeper waters, why did I want to switch to a different company?

My initial contract (the very first service I acquire in Australia, after my mobile of course) was my Internet service; a must-have-service to track and hunt down the desired and needed job to bring food to my table, and I set it up with Optus.

Why Optus?

When you arrive to the country there aren't any references on quality of services, how they treat their customer or how great their networks are... In fact, you got to be glad to get some response from some of these companies because they will ask for those marvellous 100 points to open up a contract.

Now, 100 points are kind of easy to get: You need a credit or debit card (it will be 96 points out of 100... demonstrate you can pay).

See? he showed those 100 points and got his contract in no time.

Identity document showing your pretty face and names (if you have an Aussie driver’s license you are done... but remember you gotta pay... In my case was my passport... so another point to the bag).

At least one bill with your current address. Electricity and gas could be among your first set of bills, was not my case; I was more interested on getting Internet than electricity. Now I wonder from where would I get power for the modem? 

Finally but not least, your lease agreement; they need to know you are connecting services to a valid address where you have access to. Obviously!

I know... I know... 100 points does not explain why Optus, but I have to build up the expectation, isn’t? Plus, it is related.

Initially I was going to sign contract with iinet; someone told me about their great service and excellent rates, but after a call in which they asked me if I had an active phone line to do the installation and enough money to pay for installation, activation, connection, fornication, insemination and gestation of whatever they wanted to charge me for I decided to look a different horizon. I must be honest here, I was trying to get any service for very few money, and the fact they were asking for a$350 dollars just on equipment was a big deal in my budgeted and super planned future.

Someone else recommended TPG as ‘They are cheap but not great’. What I heard was ‘they are cheap and awesome-because-they-will-fit-on-your-tight-budget-and-they-are-utterly-awesome!’ so decided to give them a call.

The initial conversation was a bit confusing, partially my fault because I did not say ‘I would like to set up an account with youbut said insteadI don’t have Internet and I would like to...’ to which the representative asked me if I had username... username of what???

Took me 12 minutes to fall into the realisation, the guy thought I had connectivity problems instead of trying to set up a new account. This was the very first lesson when dealing with sales representatives: ‘be direct and concise’; had to hang up and call again because the guy stood blocked when I told him I did not have an account with TPG.

Now... I want to explain why it took me 12 minutes... I am not an indigenous bloke extracted from the middle of the tropical rain forest with no social skills... I think... The representative did not ask if I had an existing contract (to which the answer would have been 'no'), did not ask me about any pre-existing connection in my unit and finally (an probably more important) the building manager told me 'some services will be pre-connected for you and all you need to do is to call and set up your name to start the proper billing'... I thought the Internet was one of those services.

Second attempt was better in comparison, this time I got to the right representative to which the guy asked me if I had land line (home phone) for my naked broadband. I don’t know many things about networks but to me ‘naked broadband’ meant I don’t needed a land line to get Internet connectivity, so as you might guessed by now, the conversation went very wrong as the guy kept saying I needed a phone line to hook up the modem to it and I kept refusing opening any contract to get a phone I was not going to use at all.

No caption needed

After a third call and my negative to open a Telstra contract for whatever months, I decided to talk to someone else.

Later on that day, walking on the mall I was engaged by one of the Optus sales person, inquiring about my inexistent connection, imaginary broadband speed and low desire of opening a contract with Telstra (as it was shown to me to be the very devil in Australia). The guy asked me if I had the papers with me, which I did, and pulled the contract; checking with me with possible installation dates. I was marvelled, it was so easy that I was almost in love. The guy told me I need a phone line, but they were going to provide it for me and there were no huge costs upfront, everything was going to be paid with the monthly fees and I had not to worry, just enjoy the ride.

Needless to say I signed up a contract for 24 months without reading in details the contract; just skimmed the doc trying to find the words ‘your soul is ours’, ‘you are automatically an organ donor and we are going to get it out soon enough’ or ‘Buglabu’ (you will probably won’t understand this last one... is an internal joke and I won’t write it down here... just you know is pretty bad... very very bad). Everything was set with Optus, in 7 working days I was going to have Internet connection at home, and in reality it took just 6 days to finally have everything connected and fully functional. It was a 20 GB data transfer with unlimited calls within Australia (that I used to the maximum until I start working, later on the phone was as decorative as a picture frame), it was good but you got to be careful not to exceed the data allowance; otherwise I was going to be paying 2 extra dollars per MB in exceed... Now that I think about it, the contract did specified the buglabu section!

But... If everything was pink love story... what happened? Why did you decide to move away from Optus?

They sell you the kind of relationship exhibited on the graphic below.

Without reading too much, flying elephants?
Hot air balloons?
Racing flags and rockets?
Holy sheets, is so pretty and unreal!
Totally rock!

As any relationship, you got through different stages: 

The everything-is-perfect stage: there are no flaws, you like and love absolutely everything from it. They could be getting you impaled but you love it.

The is-all-good stage: you are digging the service or the relationship; is not entirely perfect but there are a couple of things that would be great if improved.

The meh stage: you don't really care as long as it works. This stage is also known as 'the cheap-prostitute-from-the-bar-after-you-came-back-from-three-years-of-solitude stage'

The there-is-something-better stage: unsatisfied complaints and poor performance has dug a hole in your mojo; you could choose to complain with what you got or start moving to a different provider.

The I-am-sick-of-this-friggin-shit stage: you know it is hell. If you open up your mouth to express yourself is going to be shut quickly by two tons of manure freshly produced. Most users never get to this stage because it requires constant abuse and very poor ethics from your provider.

With Optus I moved to the second stage within two months with very few details every now and then but inconsistent Internet speed, staying on stage two for almost 14 months. I was pretty happy with them (even though the $99 plan really costs $102 because they will charge you printing your bills or administrative fees – that is 3 extra dollars a month). Needless to say, I became a compulsive reviewer of my Internet consumption, knowing what to download and when to download it just to be within the plan avoiding costly mistakes.

One day close to the year and half of signing contract with them, a mate tells me he is on the same plan with Optus (freshly captured by their offer) to which I noticed we have the exact same plan with a tiny difference, his broadband had bigger cap than mine expanded to a 120 GB broadband allowance.
I thought to myself that I would be great if I could get that ‘upgrade’ in my plan, eliminating my concerns of exceeding my data quota.

Calling Optus was very challenging... they changed their data centre to a voice recognition system in which you had to say the motives of your call to later on be redirected to a proper representative. My faith with the company was going downhill but my determination of getting a more appealing deal was stronger than their complex and confusing system... It took me at least 6 minutes to talk to a real human (with strong Indian accent) but I was finally exposing my interest of upgrading my plan, charge-free on exchange of renewing the plan for another 24 months.

I must confess... to the guy, my proposal must had been confusing and difficult to understand, he asked me several times if I was going to cancel my current plan to move to another company or if I wanted to pay more money to be upgraded on the data allowance. The conversation continued for another 25 minutes to end in my realisation of not a chance in my wildest dreams. Apparently Optus needed to cancel my current plan to open up a new one, but since my plan was still 6 month to be over I had to put on the table money for early termination fees plus the money I was supposed to pay Optus for the next 6 months... that was a grand total of 700 dollars to be upgraded to a plan with them... Seriously... What the funk?

And I finally understood the presence of the elephant...
But wait... is a flying elephant!
So the shit comes with lots of momentum and speed (accelerating constantly thanks to gravity)
and you will never see it coming.

That day I thought I did not want to spend any more time and money with Optus... If they were willing to treat me as rubbish, I was going to move my money to a different company.

Checking again on the Internet, noticed TPG and iinet had pretty good plans. Decided to call TPG first (given some refreshed recommendations at the time) to check rates and plans, but after 5 minutes I was complete convinced with their service (the representative even explained to me what to say to Optus to cancel my current contract waving any residual fee).

So... new love story begins?
Erm... no. The conversation with the first representative was awesome, their guy explained to me they were a bit collapsed with the demand, but he was going to book a day to my convenience to perform the installation of the new service and enjoy wonderland. But the technician never called or arrived to my place on that day. Calling tech support I received the news their guy called me to the wrong number and because of that they were going to charge me more for whatever reason... the conversation went for another 20 minutes, with me raging full of anger super volcano style and ask them what’s missing in my connection, when was I going to be connected again to the cyber world?
I had to call private technicians and understand technical issues related to the line and details that I really don’t want to get into my head!

Hulk does not like private technicians
Hulk Smash!
Hulk does not pay!

Story short, it took 3 weeks after the period they claimed everything is going to be operational and some serious blows to my wallet to get my Internet connection working... at last!
At least I got some money refunded after complaining a lot.

What do I think about TPG?
Some of their technical support is good and some others are a total mess.

It was hell to get everything working and I recognise is partially because of their lack of commitment or extreme bureaucracy between contractors, providers and Telstra; I was requested multiple times to contact different specialist with zero or close to zero promise of any resolution for my problems. Guys... come on... I am paying to get the service working, I don't want to know what a MDF is or who's part of the cable isn't working, just get it working!

After everything was connected there have been no flaws or downsides. I am still waiting for the first issue to pop but only time will tell. Until then I will keep posting my funny incidents and stuff worth sharing.