Date night with an internet provider

Oct 2017 | John Marik |

She was a lovely lady – she might just be the ONE!?

Today was my fifth date with a call centre operative in a three-week saga.  I wanted to transfer to a new internet service provider (ISP) – in my home city of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia –  to get a better deal on my broadband internet.  Sounds easy right?  Wrong!

I signed-up for an all-you-can-consume-data deal that would make any computer nerd – including me – as happy as a lost and hungry hiker coming across an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I’m a little despondent as we still haven’t found a resolution and I continue to be without home internet going into my fourth week.  I have spent more than 10 hours talking to a call centre.

The timeline of where I have come from is so absurdly ridiculous it makes me laugh that any business can think that this is ok!  I’m not sure some people will believe me, but all this is true and if anything I have toned down the actual reactions on both sides and sped up the timeline.

In this little blog; leaders, managers and organisations please take note of the destruction to your organisations brand when at the coal face your employees are not supplied with the right tools, procedures, policies and systems to troubleshoot for your customers.

Your mission and vision are just empty platitudes that will never get delivered unless the total customer experience is seen as the definition of your brand.

My internet provider states their mission is to “blah blah we are an internet service provider…blah…committed to making it SIMPLE for all Australians blah blah” and our vision is to “blah…differentiate with award-winning customer service blah blah blah”. Hmmm ok let’s see how you are going with this, you are only as good as your last customer interaction – me.

What follows is a brief run-down of how I got here – multiple, unwanted dates with an overseas call centre – for nothing else but comedic value! It simply is the worst customer service experience of my life – epic fail. And now that’s saying something as I was born in the Eastern Bloc in the then Czechoslovakia and I have experienced disengagement from store fronts and their staff at its finest.


Day 1 Hour Zero (HZ)

I’m elated! I have received my new modem – I’ll be able to write my blog soon – my three fans are waiting on my blog which I haven’t been able to write for almost a month without internet connectivity.  I am a touch nervous as I don’t know what I’m doing so I study the instructions.  No need to call the ISP I have this – Easy Peasy.

I’m pretty chuffed with my awesome deal, I have a modem thrown in for “free” and all I had to do was sign my life way for 24 months with this ISP.  WINNING!

Day 1 + 2 Hours from HZ

I’ve tried all permutations for internet connection, nothing will work, I’m a little frustrated.  I actually need some help, I’m man enough to ask for help when I need it.

Day 1 + 3 Hours from HZ

I’ve been placed in a queue, but I’m optimistic we will sort it soon.

Day 1 + 5 Hours from HZ – my first date with ISP

I’m frustrated and angry.

Customer service is trying hard but nothing is working.  I have been asked to “borrow” another modem from somewhere.  Yep sure I’ll just go ask the neighbours to pull out their modem – WHOOOOT?  Oh and you need to borrow a laptop.  My new fandangled laptop doesn’t have an Ethernet connection port so we cannot do “diagnostics”?

Still an awesome deal, we will work this out!

This lady seems nice enough, I stupidly didn’t ask her name so I could arrange a second date.  I’ll just wing it tomorrow night with another call to the call centre once I have my borrowed modem and borrowed laptop.

Day 2 Enter New date

I’m optimistic, however I am frustrated as it’s the warmest day of the year after a long, slow winter and I’m stuck indoors after work.  This is my choice I want my internet connected.

The call centre cue has “call back” functionality and they call within 30min, not bad – big tick for ISP.

I have the gear to do diagnostics – modem CHECK and laptop CHECK.  Problem is my work laptop is firewalled within an inch of its life and it want work for diagnostics. I will need to buy an Ethernet adaptor for my home laptop.

We continue doing diagnostics for about 1.5 hours that was all conducted the previous night with my new date.  The problem I can see – and I don’t know what I am doing – is that my date is telling me the complete opposite instructions to achieve internet connectivity to the person the previous night?  Well she was being thorough and going through all the possible scenarios – that’s ok I can live with that.

We get nowhere and as my laptop cannot be used for diagnostics we go our separate ways and decide to have a rendezvous at 6pm the next night once I have the Ethernet converter for my laptop.

Day 3 We are starting to get to really know each other

Another beautiful day outside, but I’m feeling positive.  I can feel it in my bones, today is the day this saga will end.

I have gone and purchased an Ethernet adapter for my laptop for diagnostics.

My date is 1.5 hours late.  She is texting me instructions on what I need to do.  At this point I’m actually losing my marbles and yelling at my phone for the lovely lady to “…PICK UP THE [Beeping] PHONE and CALL ME” – I text back but it doesn’t go through as it’s only one-way text service.  At the 2 hour mark after she promised to call, she does call.

I’m actually really irritable, a bit rude now. To be fair I’m actually starting to lose it and I don’t think this relationship is going to last (my fault off course).

She needs to talk to her manager as she is unsure of what she must do with the diagnostics piece.  We arrange another date the next night.  6pm good for me?  Sure I say.

Day 4

She phones 2 hours late. We conduct diagnostics.

We agree that it’s the modem and she will send a new one ASAP.

…let’s fast forward a few days as there is a bit of to and fro and my date keeps calling me, she must like her men feisty and irritable – that’s where I seem to be at the moment.  I say to myself this is a gift, I get to practice my patience.  We arrange a time and date a few days from now – day 9 at 6pm.

Day 9 I’ve really missed you date number two

I’m really excited. I am a bit confused though as to why my new modem hasn’t arrived?

My date is right on time – her time – that’s 1.5 hours late. I’m really starting to get to know her quirks and idiosyncrasies.

My date tells me because I decided to use a modem that doesn’t belong to the ISP provider we will have to run diagnostics on it and configure it. SAY WHAT? You asked me to borrow it to see if the ISP supplied modem was flawed which we decided it was.  You suggested to borrow the modem.  I need to give that back to the person that is now without internet for a day to help me out.

Oh yes that’s right, I did, sorry about that sir we thought you didn’t need us to send you a modem as you were going to get one from somewhere else.  Let me talk to management about getting you a new modem.

Sir, management says no, we need to do further tests which is part of our POLICY and PROCEDURES and we haven’t met all the diagnostic requirements.  We don’t just send out new modems without doing ALL the diagnostics.

…there is a series called “Fawlty Towers”.  I feel like I’m in an episode and I’m stuck in a loop that just won’t end.

…we test and test and test and test…the current modem ISP supplied modem and guess what?

It doesn’t work.

I know it won’t work as my borrowed modem showed a green light while the ISP supplied modem is dead as a dodo bird and is on life support at best.  I beg – isn’t there someone on the ground in Australia that could help?

No sir there isn’t – the call centre is overseas somewhere – India I think but I didn’t ask as I don’t really care as long as they can help me.

I’m really starting to regret my great deal and begging my date to set me free. I don’t like you anymore I want to change ISPs.  No sir you are locked in for 24 months, you can pay that figure out if you wish?  We will refund you for the time your connection wasn’t up and running. Great, I’ll pay you 23 months, you’ll pay me 1 month. That’s fair!?

It’s been a few hours and I am too tired to deal with this tonight, can you call me tomorrow? Of course sir I will call at 6pm. Ok talk at 7:30pm, nighty night, sleep well!

Day 10 Enter date three, we might be soul mates?

I’m depressed at the thought of dealing with this again.

I get home and wait and wait and wait.  My date fails to call at her allotted 1.5 hour late time of 7:30.  I wait…and wait…and wait.  I call the contact centre at 8:30 pm and I am then put on hold for 30 minutes.  Someone answers and I beg this lady to be my date, please spend some time with me?  She sounds really nice, really switched on and this is where the story started.

I was feeling quite happy until she says – we need to do some diagnostics on the current modem.


Cue hysterical laughter and me rocking in the corner.  Over the next 10 minutes she talks me down from the ledge in a calm and soothing voice.  We slowly work through it together as all good relationships should – every relationship has its rocky moments – this one might be a keeper.

After diagnostics she finds the dodo bird – I mean the ISP provided modem – actually is faulty and they will send one out in the next 2-5 working days, whichever is sooner in the land of Fawlty Towers, probably 10 day arrival time for my new modem.

Current state

The saga continues – I still do not have internet connection at home and five days on my modem has not arrived!

As a keen strategist sitting in my office – far removed from customer, or at least not being in front of customers day in, day out – I’m starting to see why many companies mission and vision statements are met with eye rolls from not only their employees, but with customers.

Actions speak louder than words and it’s the little things added together everyday that delivers on your mission and vision.

When you tell me that your mission is to make my life SIMPLE and all you are doing is leaving me feeling so desperate and helpless all I want to do is to get as far away from your business as I possibly can, it’s a hard pill to swallow.  Such platitudes are hollow and mean nothing unless processes, procedures and systems allow your employees to do their jobs effectively. Out-sourcing services is fine if the customer experience can be kept to an acceptable standard.  What you are telling me though is that removing cost out of your business comes before me as a customer.  That’s a cost strategy, not a customer strategy.

You have saved money on domestic services ISP, but after my 24 months you have lost a customer and I will never recommend you to anyone I know.

#customerservice #missionstatements #visionstatements #employeetraining #nbn #internetserviceprovider

3 thoughts on “Date night with an internet provider

      1. John, Your troubles as I read them make me sad for the “digital community” that “you” all go through such a big drama. I say “you” because I am a bit lucky because my husband and I have decided to do without the digital world as much as possible. Of course, we cannot avoid it completely, but as much as it is bearable we just have adjusted to not have a computer at home, mobile phone, microwave oven, iPod etc, etc. Of course, there are some inconveniences attached to this lifestyle. For example, we have to use a computer and printer at our local library (Longford or Launceston Online Centre), and we can still have problems with our landline, and we are not readily accessible by mobile. However, this “non-digital” lifestyle is not available to young people with their “connectivity needs”, and to people in the job situation. We are retirees who can, up to a certain point, live such lifestyle.

        However annoying your situation is, there are much worse problems in the world. Poor excuse I know but true when you think about other parts of the world (wars, famine, corruption, military dictatorships etc etc).

        Perhaps that may help to put things into perspective.



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