The Problem With iiNet

By Mike Wheeler

By Mike Wheeler

I’ve rarely had technical problems with Internet service providers – my main issues have usually been about pricing and how much bang I get for my buck. Two years ago we signed up with iiNet after being less than happy with the plan, pricing and service we were getting from our previous supplier BigPond. Since joining them, we have had no complaints and no reason to call their support staff. Then, three months ago, we took the plunge and entered the Sydney housing market. Two months later, and a few thousand more grey hairs, we moved into our house.

Two weeks before relocating I called iiNet to tell them about our new set up, and the agreeable young help desk person gave us some good news. Our current plan expired in two months’ time, so if we agreed to sign up for the next two years she would waive the $79 relocation fee. “Fantastic," I said, “we’ll do it”. But, wait. There was more. After checking that we were paying $69.95 for 100GB, she saw that we were using, on average only 22GB a month, so why not go on the 50GB plan for $59.95 a month. Sounded good. Even though our eldest was starting high school this year – and therefore the chances of him using the internet more frequently was high– I couldn’t see us going through that amount of data. So it was a resounding yes.

Before I go on, I must point out that this is not a story about going over our data allowance. If only it was that simple.

Awaiting the reconnection to our new place, we were told it would take 5-10 working days. Being a recipient of Murphy’s/Sod’s Law since the day I was born, I rang them on the tenth day (knowing full well there was no way it would have been set to go on the fifth day) to see if the line was up and running. “Er, no,” came the reply. “Um, why?” I asked. It appeared the friendly lady who signed us up originally filled out the paper work wrong. “What does that mean?” I asked. “Er, you’ll have to wait another 5-10 days,” was the reply. At this stage I wasn’t concerned, but I did wonder why I couldn’t be put ahead of queue. “Provisioning,” came the reply (a word I will get back to in good time).

So 10 days later, I call them up and after about an hour we both finally figured out that the internet socket in the wall was dead. So I tried another one, which worked and about 20 minutes later we were up and running.

After a couple of weeks holiday during Xmas and New Years we came back home, checked our email whereby my wife noticed that our iiNet bill was astronomical – $238. “Eh?” I said. “That can’t be right.”

Upon closer inspection I found that we were charged $69.95 for our old service, $59.95 for our new, the $79 connection fee plus $29 for “invoice alignment” whatever the heck that is. However, they had credited us for $59.95, but why I don’t know.

So I call them up and, yes, they had accidentally charged us both for both the new and old services, and yes, they had meant to waive the relocation fee, and we would be credited accordingly. They would dump the old service, and as a sign of good faith they would also get rid of the invoice alignment fee. Brilliant! Done and dusted. Thank you very much.

Cut to eight days ago. We get home, no internet. So I call up iiNet and  tell them that maybe, just maybe, they’d accidentally disconnected our new service and kept our old one. I get put on hold for 25 minutes and then he comes back on the phone and says, “Unfortunately you are correct”. So now what? We have to wait another 5-10 days to be hooked back up again. Great……not! But he will call me back in an hour’s time to give me more details. An hour goes by, nothing.

The following day iiNet call me up with a grovelling apology, and I’m  told we will get all sorts of credits etc. The person promises – almost on her mother’s grave – that she will send me a personal email with details of the connection and with information that will fix things for us. Next day? Nothing until late afternoon when I had left work and no real access to email (other than via 3G on my smartphone, but then that also had a little cameo to play in my problem).

Having not seen the promised email, I call yet again, and this time I go ballistic. Without going into the exact wording, I put it in no uncertain terms that because they have stuffed me around I want to go to the top of the queue for a reconnection. I don’t care how many people are ahead of me, I want to be at the top! I know it only takes a flick of a switch to get me on board, right? So flick the god damned switch! “I can’t,” comes the reply, “provisioning”. Huh? What is provisioning? Well, at its most basic it is this; iiNet uses Telstra’s infrastructure for its customers, and Telstra will only do things in a particular order, thus why it takes 5-10 days for this to occur. In other words, iiNet has to rely on its biggest competitor to help get somebody signed up for its service.

Anyway, it turns out the lady I spoke to who sent the email is quite high up on the food chain and she sends me another email stating that on Monday morning (I spoke to her on the Friday) she had managed to set up an ADSL 1 line until the Naked becomes available. Fine.

Monday comes around, I get home after work and the router internet light is still red, so I call them again. We spend the best part of 2-3 hours trying to get the service up and running. Nothing. We check the router. He checks the lines. Maybe it’s a password problem on the router? We change the password. We put the router back to its default settings. Nada. He swears that the line is live, but to 100 percent sure he will have to get a Telstra technician out to test it and if is my problem I might be liable for a ‘small’ fee of $120? “You reckon?” I say, sarcasm dripping off my tongue. “I don’t think so!” Having had enough for the night, I tell him that we will come back to it on the morrow.

Driving home from work on Tuesday I get a phone call, but being the good citizen that I am (and totally aware that I have 8 points on my licence) I don’t answer. Upon arriving home, I see that the green light is on. Happy, happy, joy, joy. I’ll call iiNet and we can set it up, right? Wrong. We don’t have a land line, only a mobile service, and my mobile provider’s network (Vodafone) is down. I can’t do squat. And it is down for the rest of the night.

Come Wednesday, I get a call at work from the iiNet person who said she was high on the food chain. Turns out the three hours on the phone on Monday was a waste of time. According to her, even though Telstra had promised that the service would be switched on by Monday morning, they didn't turn it on until Tuesday. Gee, thanks for wasting three hours of my Monday night. Lucky I didn’t agree to pay the $120 for a Telstra technician to come out.

Then on Wednesday, we almost come in full circle as I was called by the Western Australian customer service representative once again and said we could now set up the system. But guess what? Now the modem won’t sync with my computer, and the passwords won’t work (which I put down to being ‘helped’ unnecessarily on the Monday night when we changed everything to try and get an as-yet non-existent service up and running). Even putting the modem back to factory settings and using the admin passwords didn’t help. What I did find a little disturbing was that the iiNet help desk was trying to assist by using Whirlpool forums. I know that you certainly can get a lot of good, interesting and relevant information from forums, but you would hope help desk folk were trained up in, well, helping.

I then called the D-Link modem help desk, which was located in the Philippines. As well as having to try and decipher a very thick accent, I also had to put up with the most terrible, crackling phone line, but I think I got the gist what they want me to do. Apparently I need to hit the reset button on the modem for 45 seconds while unplugging the modem three times from the wall for 15 seconds each time. So much for technology being a complicated beast. Oh, and I just had an email saying my Naked connection would be up and running in four days – that’s if I can get the modem working!

After regaling this story to a few people, most have asked why bother with iiNet at all. I have been harsh on them here, but the previous two years with them was pretty good. They have also offered a fair amount of compensation. In saying that, my patience can only go so far.  If things aren’t up and running properly in four days’ time, then it might be time for a change.

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