I miss the Internet.
It has been exactly 35 days since I last had an Internet connection at home. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect in these 35 days (thanks to the lack of distraction from YouTube) and I have made one very important decision.
I will never sign up with TPG again.
My troubles with the telco began when I moved out to the Sydney CBD with my cousin. The apartment was great and all we had to do was fix up our home phone and Internet service.
The allure of the TPG home and Internet bundle with an unlimited data allowance seduced my cousin and she rejected my proposal of signing up with another telco.
Some friends had warned me against TPG so I tried to relay their cautionary tales to her but to no avail. Grudgingly, I gave in. She called TPG. I calmed myself and thought “How bad could it possibly be?”
The answer is very, very bad.
In fairness, the Internet service supplied by TPG is fine. Speed is usually consistent and I rarely had any dropouts or need to call technical support - once I got the service. For $59.95, it was a good price.
But getting the service actually connected is a whole different ball game… with lots of profanities involved.
During my first TPG connection experience, as expected, there were several hiccups involved. After numerous phone calls to the telco’s call centre, we were finally informed the service was switched on – more than four weeks after the order was placed.
Sadly, that was not the case and I spent another week playing telephone ping pong with TPG after it wanted to charge an additional $59 to fix a supposed broken line from within the building. They eventually waived the fee after we complained.
The process was unpleasant to say the least but I took comfort in the thought that this was the worse telco experience I would ever have and it couldn’t possibly be any worst next time.
Once again, I was proven wrong.
Six months after the first epic TPG connection adventure, the saga begins again.
If I had encountered Darth Vader in my first TPG experience, I am now officially up against the Emperor.
After being convinced to relocate our Internet and phone service (It would be faster to get it up and running that disconnecting and reconnecting, the TPG call centre representative had said), we placed our request in on June 9 when we had settled the lease agreement for a new apartment.
We were told the process should take no more than 14-20 days.
Please note, this new place was about a three minute walk from our old apartment so we didn’t predict there would be any problems.
Two weeks later, we noticed TPG had yet to deduct the $79 relocation fee from one of our bank accounts and called up repeatedly to enquire about our connection status.
“We are still processing the order,” was the stock answer from TPG representatives.
On June 27, the money was finally taken out but we were then informed the waiting period of 14-20 days commenced on that day and not on the day the request was initially placed.
Frustration and cursing ensued but yet we waited patiently. There wasn’t much we could do besides wait anyway.
Alas, we were notified that the services would be connected on July 14.
Does anybody want to take a guess on what happened that day?
If you answered “déjà vu”, you are correct.
The service was connected, TPG said. But our phone lines had no dial tone. After another stream of calls to the telco, the company responded with an answer which we had heard before; something along the lines of “Something is wrong with the line to your apartment”. And it will take another 2-3 working days before we can fix up the connection… and it would cost $59 to rectify the issue.
I hit the roof. Patience was never one of my virtues and I had used up every ounce of it waiting for TPG to do its job.
I called up the telco and let it rip. I don’t think I have ever used so many cuss words in the space of 10 minutes. But every time I heard the reply “we have already escalated the issue” my anger escalated.
Finally, after a lengthy session of losing my cool, the TPG representative said he would put in an urgent request for a technician to be dispatched.
In this day and age, the Internet is not a luxury item, it is a necessity. I work, play and keep in touch with almost everybody I know online.
I didn’t want to go ape-crazy at TPG but it shouldn’t have reached that point. Judging from my colleague’s own Internet relocation incident and the complaint statistics from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), I’m not the only that has had a dreadful experience with their telco providers.
Yes, we are getting the National Broadband Network (NBN) and its fantastic that it promises to level the playing-field for telcos and bring better value to consumers. But is there any chance it will bring better customer service as well?
While some telcos are worse than others, the telecommunications industry collectively has long been regarded as one of the biggest offenders when it comes to poor customer care.
And every year, the TIO continues to tell of how customer complaints against telcos continue to rise.
All telcos have talked about is how they are working to improve customer services but I hope I will live to see the day when the entire telecommunications industry can put their money where their mouths are and actually get their act together.