T is for Telecom, where communication goes wrong…

It’s a wonderful day in the world of telecommunications… First, the 3G service on my phone went dead (it still showed wonderful connection, but as soon as you tried anything it said I didn’t have cellular data). Since I recently moved from Vodafone to Virgin Mobile who uses Optus, I thought, how bad can it be. But hey, after a few tests with luckily another phone at hand, it obviously showed that there is probably one flag not set correctly at their end. We can only hope that the morning crew is able to set the flag.

So that one is still on-going. The other problem I have is with Telstra (the fourth telco to mention in this post, however, the biggest here). Anyway, I updated my subscription with them, because, well, hey, after 2 years, times change, you can probably get a better deal. So I first started to use the DIY way via the website.

Since that quickly enough proved not viable, due to the exact combination of switches I wanted, I followed the advice and started a chat session. I really had some fun with a great guy on the other hand and after about 30 minutes we arrived at a new package for the bundle (phone, internet, tv). I would be called the next morning to arrange for the installation guy to do the physical part of the deal (installing the HD box and moving the non-HD box to the second room).

So I waited about a week. Obviously, nobody called. But since there is a store for anything, there are also stores for Telstra. The next week (last week) I go to the T-store and apparently, my previous order could not be found. I think, well, while I’m here, lets do it again. This time however, I also get a T-hub (Telstra’s take on a tablet, connected to your base station etc) thrown in the deal. Who am I to say no to a better deal, so I go home, thinking to have the same order, just this time with some new gadgets for the home.

After installing the T-hub, the base-station and 2 handsets, I start to play around with the new toys and decide to enable sms. Why not. However, to enable that, I first had to enable something else, which I couldn’t enable since it was already enabled (let’s call it voicemail). So, as the device instructed me, I called the helpdesk. Again, easy-peasy, no problemo and the issue was quickly resolved. Except for the fact that the activation code was expired. But, there was a link in the activation email that would allow me to generate a new activation code at any time.

Today I tried to generate that activation code (as my evening was already ruined because of the trouble with the 3G on the mobile phone), I click that link to find that the website is not exactly working as it should. Actually, somewhere halfway, the process advised me to call the corresponding helpdesk (Telstra has many).

Calling the T-Hub helpdesk is not so bad, apparently, not many people do that, so I got connected quickly enough (around 8.45pm). During the conversation, I was asked to install LogMeIn and even though I do know better in most of the cases, I was easy going and a nice customer, so I let them control my Mac for a while, until they discovered that a certain part of the website was not working. (Yes, the same link to get a new activation code)

That kind of brought the nice lady at the other end of the line to the end of her flowchart and the incident was logged and over the next few days, someone will contact me to activate the sms service on the T-Hub (I hope, but I should know better). However, to log the incident, she needed the serial number on the T-hub, which is conveniently stored inside the battery compartment. (note to reader: store this in mind, it will come back later…). So I remove the batter, read the serial number (quite long, but hey, we got through it) and that was about it.

“Anything else I can help you with”, she asks. Sure, why not, while we’re here (9.15pm), I kind of ordered something with you guys about 2 weeks ago, and again a week ago and I was to be contacted within 24 hours, but hey, they kind of didn’t. But, since she was the T-hub helpdesk, no can do. I get put back in hold, this time for the Billing helpdesk.

Billing is a bigger problem as it took a tad bit longer to finally get put through. Yay! I explain my quest (2 weeks ago via chat, last week via the store, no confirmation, no contact, no email, no nothing). She starts up the system after I’ve identified myself (again) and she can see both orders. However, she sees differences in the packages created by both colleagues (who both came to the same final price though, so how that happens, you tell me).

Since I now clearly know what I want and what it will cost me, we can go quickly through the changes and she decides that it is probably best to cancel both previous orders (sure, but, wouldn’t it be nice to just let one go through and keep me, well, informed?) and we create a new one (again, exact same price, but totally different bundle with the same components, really…). Only one thing, she can’t finalise it as that is just something the Bundle Team can do. Incident report number 2, reference number whatever, I’ll get a call on Friday.

“Anything else I can do for you?”. (9.45pm) Well, apparently, when I removed the battery from the T-hub, as your colleague asked me to do, the touch screen on the T-hub has become unresponsive (I noticed this because, well, you have to do something during the time you are put on hold). “Let me just connect you to our T-hub helpdesk”

And so, an hour later, I was back full circle with the T-hub helpdesk. Again, the personal details, my phone number, name, age, first 4 digits of my pin and the ccv code, the works, I am identified (ok, that about the pin and ccv is not true, but come on, 3 times during 1 phone call from a landline supplied by Telstra themselves? really?)

Anyway, after first chewing away the legendary question: “Have you tried turning it off and on again” we again get to the point where I have to remove the battery and read out the serial number. (again, remember this!) Reinsert the battery, try again, the works. At some point during this conversation her flowchart also ended and the T-hub is going to be replaced.

To do so, they also need the serial number that is on the base station as well as on the handset that came with it. So I start with the number on the base station and after 3 digits I get this strange feeling that I know this number. With only one exception. Where the T-Hub had a T, the base station has a convenient B. Where the base station had the B, the handset had a C.

Curious as I am, I ask the nice lady: “Wouldn’t it have been easier for me, instead of removing the battery from the T-hub, simply to lift up the base station and read that serial number?”. “Yes, they are the same, except that T stands for T-hub, B for base station and C for Communicator”…

“So, basically, strictly hypothetical, since it is too late anyway, I could have told the first person the serial number, which is printed on the outside of the base station and she could have concluded the serial number of the T-hub without me having to remove the battery and consequently ruining the device’s touchscreen?”

“Yes, when we replace them, we have to replace all 3”. Anyway, I now have a 3rd incident number and they will send me a replacement set. (it’s now 10.15pm). But, since I got here, I’m not done yet…

“How about the contact list I have stored in the device? I just had all my contacts in there?” (this is not entirely true, I just had my mobile number in there just to test stuff, we didn’t get around to actually transfer any of our other contacts in the system, but hey, at this point, you got to ask).

“I can give you the number of our technical support team who will help you with that”. I thanked the lady. I’ll go a long way playing innocent customer, but I sure won’t spend another 30 minutes on the phone with the next person to explain to me that I can use the extra handset to store the numbers and transmit them to the new base station, as I had already read the manual.

Let’s just wait and see what Friday brings. It can only get better from here I guess…