In the wake of writer Rachel McAlpine’s tale (Computerworld, February 6), another disgruntled customer has surfaced complaining of confusion and delays in changing telco service.
Telecom and TelstraClear both claim innocence and blame the other party for the glitch.
Up to 2004, Grant Smith, a registered nurse at Waikato Hospital, used Orcon as his ISP and had switched from its 256kbit/s plan to the 2Mbit/s connection. “Due to the extremely poor performance of Orcon plan, I was getting 256kbit/s performance, even from an FTP, and other dissatisfaction with Telecom I decided to switch to Paradise for my ADSL connection and switch my landline to TelstraClear Homeplan,” he says.
Apart from being dissatisfied with the service, he was offered $10 a month saving on his internet connection if he brought the landline across to TelstraClear too.
“On November 2, 2004 I applied for TelstraClear Homeplan,” he says. “TelstraClear informed me at the time that that this whole process would take 20 days in total. I went through the process of giving TelstraClear all my personal information and Telecom details over the phone in an interview which was recorded. I clearly explained that I was an Orcon customer on an ADSL UBS connection at the time of signing over.
“On November 8, my landline services were switched over to TelstraClear, but not my ADSL. I made numerous calls to both Telecom and TelstraClear and felt completely left out on a limb with both companies. Neither company would provide me with a reason as to why the whole process was taking so long, until I spoke to a supervisor at TelstraClear.
“He said Telecom had ‘refused’ to give TelstraClear my ADSL business, as I was a UBS customer with another ISP.
Telecom spokeswoman Sarah Berry is puzzled as to why Smith thinks Telecom was uncooperative.
“An end-customer calling Telecom retail for details on transfer to another service provider is always going to be told to go back to their service provider. For ‘Chinese wall’ reasons, the retail sales folks do not have access to wholesale orders, so this should explain the fact Telecom retail could not assist the customer with their request for a TelstraClear service,” she says.
“The wholesale process does not allow for Telecom to ‘hold on to the customer’s account’. So long as a correct re-assignment request was received from TelstraClear it would have been processed. In this case the customer belonged to Orcon. There is no incentive for Telecom to refuse reassignment to another wholesale service provider.”
“In the end,” says Smith, “the TelstraClear supervisor told me I had to disconnect my Orcon ADSL and TelstraClear provided me with a free 56kbit/s connection for three weeks, whilst my ADSL connection with TelstraClear was sorted out. They were very apologetic about the whole situation.”
According to TelstraClear, it tried to get Smith’s account reassigned, and faced not so much a refusal from Telecom as a simple failure to act. “At the time Smith decided to change supplier, Telecom did not have a process for third party reassignments,” says spokeswoman Jodine Laing. “He was being supplied a UBS service by Orcon and, in choosing to move to TelstraClear, was to receive a resale product. This was effectively a JetStream service via our ISP Paradise.net.”
At the time, the whole question of broadband wholesale was in flux. “TelstraClear could only offer JetStream resale because our Commerce Commission challenge over UBS meant we were not permitted to buy it from Telecom,” Laing says.
“TelstraClear tried to get the line reassigned by Telecom, however with no clear process at Telecom, it simply didn’t progress. Eventually, we advised Mr Smith to disconnect his services with Orcon so we could reconnect him via Paradise. This was the only way we could progress his wish to be transferred to TelstraClear.
“Fortunately, Telecom now has a transition process for third party reassignments and a Customer Transfer Code is being developed by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum which will improve the way carriers work together when customers change suppliers. We’d like to thank Mr Smith for bearing with us on this issue,” she concludes.
“During the whole process, it seemed to me that no one really knew exactly what was happening at either company, until I spoke to the supervisor at TelstraClear, who finally got down to the actual problem,” Smith says.
“Throughout the whole process, I found the Telecom helpdesk staff to be very rude over the phone and entirely unsympathetic to my situation.
“Finally, 72 days later, not 20 days as originally promised I had my landline and ADSL connection with TelstraClear. I am very happy with the level of service that TelstraClear provide and very happy that I no longer have to deal with the rude and arrogant Telecom helpdesk staff,” he says.
“It makes me wonder how many other people were put into a similar situation?”