Optus - An Incompetent Internet Provider

Optus - An Incompetent Internet Provider

It’s not often that I experience the level of incompetence that I have from Optus, my Internet Service provider. For those of you that don’t know, Optus is the second biggest ISP in Australia…so there one of the big boys on the block. My experience has sparked me to write this article and circulate it to as many people as possible as an example of bad customer service and hopefully warn other away. So what’s the story?

Escrow.com

I’ve been a good loyal Optus customer for about 15 years and I pay for the highest level of Internet possible. About five weeks ago I noticed that the speeds were getting slower and slower…..which is never good as I regularly do video conference calls etc.

After checking the speed with both the external and Optus Internet speed checks I found that I was getting about 20% of the rate that I expected. This clearly explained why many of my skype calls end up in either me or the other party speaking like a robot!

I’ve lived and breathed technology for about 40 years so I really wasn’t that fussed and so I went hunting for the Optus support number. For a start, give up on the website…..they’ve buried it about ten levels deep somewhere…..thank goodness for Google!

After dialling the number, navigating the Optus voice prompts are a nightmare with a large number of the options seeming to lead to being disconnected. It’s clear that Optus is entirely disinterested in speaking to customers. Sadly, for them I’m a bit of a tenacious individual and after doggedly weaving my way through the prompts I managed to get through to a real live human! Hooray!

This individual had me power cycle the modem and indicated she was doing a test at her end. I really didn’t mind what I was asked to do as long as the speed returned. In the end, she indicated that she would have to arrange a technician to come around to investigate further. That didn’t sound good….

When the technician arrived they swapped a few things around and changed the modem over. There still wasn’t a speed increase but they swore black and blue that everything would be fine soon. He was a nice enough guy and since I was leaving for the European domain conferences I thought that it would be all fixed by the time I returned a couple of weeks later.

I arrived back and nothing had changed. Internet speeds were still abysmal and at one point it would have been faster doing development on an old 1980’s 56K modem. I stupidly made the mistake of forgetting to write down the support phone number but remembered my last experience with the Optus website so Google came to my rescue again.

This time, after navigating the wasteland of their IVR system I got onto a human but no matter what I told them they insisted on sending out yet another technician. By this time, I’d begun doing traceroutes to my IP address from all over the world and could just about pinpoint the exchange that was in trouble inside the Optus network.

I should mention that the support person indicated that speeds can decrease during peak times. I asked when were they? They told me between midday and midnight. You’ve got to be kidding me!!!!

Technician number two arrives and after checking that everything was OK from me to the pole outside the house I showed him some of my traceroutes where he said, “What’s that?” this quickly let me know that I clearly had the wrong guy. I exited him as fast as I politely could. I should mention that he did speak to someone in the network area who indicated there were some problems…..do you think????

Upon leaving he just said to sit tight and everything would be fine……not sure if I subscribe to that plan of attack.

So it’s now 12:30am (clearly off-peak) and after getting incredibly frustrated with the speeds again I did some checks and got the following.

External Speedtest

To be fair to Optus their speed test actually timed out on the previous check. At one point the traceroute showed me that the hop one step from my house took over 3,000 mS.

Optus speedtest

Once again I jumped on the phone and called up the support line (I have their number now). The first person had no idea about what I was talking about and they put me through to their network support person. I had fingers crossed that I’d finally reached the right guy!

Sadly, it was not to be. This person did the same thing as everyone else (including asking the same questions that the IVR system did…..makes me wonder why I typed those into my phone keypad). He then indicated there was a problem in the Optus network and that they were expanding the bandwidth to make everything faster.

A couple of points on this…..

1.       I’m paying a premium for high speed net access and they aren’t delivering what I’m paying for. Not one person has every even suggested compensation…..although to be honest with you I just want it to work.

2.       The fact that he told me the whole state had slow speeds on the Optus network indicated that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Also, if it really took 5 weeks (that’s how long this has been going on for now) to provision more bandwidth at the cost of existing customers speeds then someone should be fired. In this day and age there is always a way to upgrade with minimal impact on customers or there is a level of incompetence in the Optus technical team that is just plain scary.

3.       As a technical network support person, he was using a Windows 7 computer that had been cut down and he had no network analytic tools at all. Last time I checked, Windows 7 computers were suffering from a certain virus….. I then asked if he knew what a basic traceroute was and he didn’t……so much for being a network specialist.

4.       He kept on asking me to be patient….at which point I indicated that I had been patient for 5 weeks and asked how much longer would I have to wait for my bandwidth to return to normal? He didn’t know. So he was asking me to be patient without knowing how long I would have to be patient for….go figure????

And then it dawned on me. His job wasn’t to fix anything…..heaven forbid! His job was to placate the customer, cross his fingers and hopefully not get the same customer back on a call again. I could hear some massive Indian call centre in the background so the odds were firmly in his favour on that one.

I’m actually a very patient person when it comes to technology. I know that stuff goes wrong. I began to reflect on my Optus experience to try and understand why I was feeling so……well, so angry!

Upon reflection, I was tired of being treated like an idiot and then lied to. The goal of every person in the support team is not to support customers but to churn through them as fast as possible. From my experience, it’s clear they feel quite at liberty to tell the customer whatever they think the customer wants to hear….including lying or at the very least bending the truth.

It’s clear to me that at Optus the days of customer service actually resolving problems seems to be long gone. If it really was true that there had been a lack of planning where my bandwidth dropped to 1% of what it should be then the tech side of the business is definitely suffering from a skills shortage.

Sadly, after many years I plan on getting a divorce from Optus. Given the state of affairs and the level of incompetence of the support staff I decided to write about my experience…..hopefully this will help other would be customers stay clear of them.

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Comments

vanclute on 31 May 2017
Boy that sure sounds familiar...

I see things are no better in Australia than they are here in Silicon Valley! If ever there was a place where you would think ISPs would be on their best behavior and delivering the ultimate in user experience, this would be it... and yet it is not to be. Comcast has a monopoly on cable internet here and like you, I pay for the absolute top tier that I can get at the moment, and tend to upgrade as soon as something faster is available. Despite that, I've been through 4 or 5 modems in as many years and the techs they send always swear that things will improve after some arbitrary and unexplainable period of time. Oh and don't get me started on the experience on the phone...

One thing I've learned also is that the "speed tests" the ISPs use are basically junk. They do very small file transfers and then extrapolate them out to assume your actual bandwidth, which is absurdly bad. Try http://speedof.me for a real, non-flash speed test. I was stunned to see just how artificially high the flash-based tests will report my speeds at. But like you, despite proving to them that their network is not providing the speeds they promise - any sort of compensation was not to be. They will always insist that speed is only as measured by *their* application/website... how convenient is that??

Anyway enough venting. Hope you can find an alternative provider! For me, there is no other option if I want halfway decent speeds, so I just put up with really poor customer service sometimes, and hope I don't need it the rest of the time!

I see things are no better in Australia than they are here in Silicon Valley! If ever there was a place where you would think ISPs would be on their best behavior and delivering the ultimate in user experience, this would be it... and yet it is not to be. Comcast has a monopoly on cable internet here and like you, I pay for the absolute top tier that I can get at the moment, and tend to upgrade as soon as something faster is available. Despite that, I've been through 4 or 5 modems in as many years and the techs they send always swear that things will improve after some arbitrary and unexplainable period of time. Oh and don't get me started on the experience on the phone... One thing I've learned also is that the "speed tests" the ISPs use are basically junk. They do very small file transfers and then extrapolate them out to assume your actual bandwidth, which is absurdly bad. Try http://speedof.me for a real, non-flash speed test. I was stunned to see just how artificially high the flash-based tests will report my speeds at. But like you, despite proving to them that their network is not providing the speeds they promise - any sort of compensation was not to be. They will always insist that speed is only as measured by *their* application/website... how convenient is that?? Anyway enough venting. Hope you can find an alternative provider! For me, there is no other option if I want halfway decent speeds, so I just put up with really poor customer service sometimes, and hope I don't need it the rest of the time!
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Thursday, 19 October 2017