Customer Service is now Customer Obfuscation. I moved residence very early in January. During the week prior to the move I rang Optus to organise an internet connection. The internet is vital to my work and my study. I was told 18 days and that no technician would need to come to my home. I thought 18 days was an inordinately long time to wait for an internet connection in this day and age but I was sort of stuck – my mobile is with Optus: about the cheapest I could get was by bundling internet with my mobile. Apparently the delay is due to Telstra needing to do something technical in a box outside the premises. Why that takes so long is also beyond me.
Optus use Toll to deliver the modem. There was a saga with that as well, but I will not go into the details today – suffice to say it was added stress.
I called when I had not seen or heard of any modem, or any internet account details. I was assured I would have internet “after 7 pm tonight, just wait until 7 pm”. That’s lovely, I said, but I do not have a modem yet.That was on Thursday, January 19. I finally received my modem, left at the door unattended, on Friday, January 20. There was no internet, however. I called again, only to be advised that a technician needed to come out to connect the premises.
You may remember I was specifically told by Sales this would not be necessary. Of course this couldn’t happen on a Friday evening – no after hours availability. I demanded to speak to a supervisor and that was initially refused. This is important, because it is almost impossible to lodge a complaint with Optus – but more on that later. By the time I did speak to one I was quite stressed. This saga had gone on long enough and in my view Optus should have been bending over backwards to keep the customer satisfied. I was rather cross I’d been told no install technician was needed, only to discover at the last minute that one was indeed required.
That, I was told, was the fault of Sales. I should ring them and given them feedback, it was suggested. No, I countered, you call them and give the feedback. The next bit stunned me. The supervisor advised Support could not call Sales to provide feedback. What? Optus is a telecommunications company but can’t “telecommunicate” internally? No because the phones are for the customers, I was told. I can understand the Level 1 technicians not being able to call Sales, but a supervisor should be able to.
All this time Optus were gleefully charging me $10 a gigabyte for tethering my devices to my mobile data – thankfully that weekend a very kind neighbour allowed me to connect to her wi-fi.
On Saturday I tried contacting Optus via their Twitter account, rather than ring the Support number again. Eventually, after lengthy discussions, I booked a technician for Tuesday afternoon, January 24. I was specifically told the technician needed the whole half day – as it turns out he needs all of ten minutes. I had really wanted to go to another provider by this stage, but it seemed as if I was so close now: I couldn’t face starting the whole process with a different provider. Oddly, Optus sold me ADSL2+ whereas the Telstra website advises cable is available for my address. I haven’t followed up that apparent anomaly either.
The technician told me he had just learnt a trick a few days prior – when the user goes to the default router URL 192.268.0.1 for the first time, the user needs to log in. The default username at initial connection is email@example.com.
Silly me, I expected a proper username from Optus. “No”, said the technician, “just leave it as it is and type in password as the password, all lower case. I only learnt that the other day – then it will bring everything down the line for you.”
I have a reasonable amount of IT experience and this sounded very odd to me, but OK, whatever. I just wanted the internet. It worked. For about two hours. I’ve since reasoned that john_citizen is probably a test username for troubleshooting purposes by technicians, set to time out after a specified period – my guess from my experience is about two hours.
So I call Support. I go through the whole Level 1 troubleshooting script including a factory reset of the modem. At one stage I was transferred out of Optus to a third party service (but was not told it was an outside provider) that wanted to charge me $90 to “fix” my computer, then transferred back to Optus when the external party decided it was definitely an Optus issue (by now there was a red light on the modem, you see). Back through the menu and recorded messages, again. I may well have confused the issue as I had tried setting up a Home Group at the exact time that the internet dropped out so initially I thought that MAY have been the problem. Far from it, as it turns out, but Support should have been able to determine that without transferring me out.
After about an hour I happened to mention the install technician had signed me in as john_citizen. What were my login details, the technician asked. No-one had given me any. 1 hour, 14 minutes and 29 seconds after my initial call, I had a username of my own and a temporary password that lasts 7 days. We tried unsuccessfully to log me into the Optus site that would allow me to change the temporary password to a permanent password, but I kept getting the error “Oops! Your account is not active. Please call Customer Care”. The technician I was speaking to could not fix that problem (he didn’t have the required access rights), but promised he would get the issue fixed and get back to me Wednesday evening. He tried, but my phone did not ring once – I got about five voicemail messages all at once delivered at nearly 10 pm. The Optus mobile service clearly wasn’t working very well either that day. In one message he left a “direct” number for me, but in the confusion with so many messages, I deleted the wrong one – the one with the number. So I waited hoping he would try again perhaps on Friday (Thursday was Australia Day). No further contact.
I really loathe calling the Support number. Once I get through the menu system to the option I need, I then have to listen to a recorded message that says something along the lines of ” Do you know that most broadband issues can be resolved by turning your modem off for 3 seconds then turning it back on. If that has solved your problem and you no longer need to speak to us, you may hang up now.” That message plays THREE times before you actually get a place in the queue. THREE TIMES! I wonder how many people actually hang up and never get through! Customer Obfuscation! So I waited, hoping for the call.
My temporary password was scheduled to run out tomorrow, so by today I decided I’d better get it resolved. I tried Twitter again. Notice it says “LIVE SERVICE” below.
Below is part of our conversation. Note the Optus representative clearly states “we are not a live chat service”. So the web site says it is but the operator says it isn’t?
Note also what is stated about the optuszoo link: “is our old self service and is only used for a small number …” Not according to the Support technicians – that is exactly where they take you to attempt to change the internet password. Customer Obfuscation!
I bit the bullet and called the Support number. Held on through the menu and the dreaded “switch off your modem” message THREE times. Explained the whole story yet again. The Support technician tested a few things, took control of my PC, then decided I needed to speak to Customer Service. On hold again. Customer Service painstakingly explain the “My Account” is different to the modem/internet login. Yes, I know this, however the only place I can change my internet password, according to the technicians, is from the Member Services area (which, if you remember, I was told on Twitter isn’t used any more). Customer Service did make some changes to my My Account, then I went to Member Services.
Surprise, surprise!!! The username showing there is the username from my OLD internet service, disconnected in February 2016. The internet username attached to this new service was nowhere to be found. The Customer Service representative tried to take control of my PC by couldn’t, then advised me she could not solve the problem, it was a problem for the Technical Support team and so I was transferred back. Different person, of course, so explain the whole thing all over again. Control of my PC taken over again. Finally, after I waited for ages for this technician to speak to her manager, it was decided an IT ticket needed to be raised. This phone call was 1 hour, 23 minutes and 55 seconds.
The above time totals nearly three and a half hours of my time. That doesn’t include the initial time to buy the service in the first place, the time taken for the conversations on Twitter and Optus Live Chat or the calls to Toll re the modem delivery.
Trying to complain to Optus is impossible. When a customer such as myself finally finds the complaint page, the number is the same number as everything else and as far as I could tell there was no Complaints menu option!
I’d tried asking for a supervisor once before – wasn’t going that route again. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman was my only option.
Each individual front line staff member did their best. It is not the front line staff I have a problem with. Optus really need to improve their systems, processes and procedures. I am a customer paying for a service, yet Optus seem to think they are doing me a favour by letting me spend my money on their service.
Once I have logged a problem, I want to be able to talk to the ONE person until such time as my issue is resolved. I don’t want to be transferred endlessly within and outside of Optus. I don’t want to spend hours of my time going in circles and being told contradictory information by different people. My time costs as much money as anyone else’s!
Sady, it isn’t just Optus. This is just one example of terrible customer service. I am sure readers can all share their own experiences in the comments.
Why is it so hard to provide decent customer service? Why do we all put up with the bad service?
Edited to add: While my medical conditions are not the responsibility of Optus, I am under medical instructions to reduce stress. Situations such as described here are extremely stressful and did result in a flare, so a day of considerable pain. I am sure I am not the only one in our community with similar issues.
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