Optus “Customer Service” – a nightmare that never seems to end…

I’ve been trying to get nbn installed since the 23rd of February in an apartment that has been cabled with nbn FTTP since 2016. I’ve talked to about 20 Optus staff and all except one has lied to me, failed to follow up, hung up on me or transferred me back into the queue for someone else to deal with. I’ve even been lied to by the Optus staff member responding to my complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman AND by the supervisor who rang to explain why three Optus staff lied to me about a technician’s onsite appointment. Just the most appalling customer service you can imagine: I’ve spent over 5 hours on the phone, over 2 hours on their “Live Chat”, wasted a whole day waiting at home after being repeatedly lied to and spent almost $400 on equipment and mobile data (with Telstra) just to keep my computers secure and backed up. 

And I still have no nbn 7 weeks later. 

WTF Optus? How can you possibly think this is an acceptable way to treat a POTENTIAL NEW CUSTOMER!?

Here is a short summary of what has gone wrong so far:

23 Feb – I submit order online for nbn FTTP at my new address. Plan includes Fetch TV.

1 Mar – I move in and can’t work out where to plugin modem (nbn newbie).

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Gus, waiting to fetch the second parcel

6 Mar – After sending the modem to the right address they send the TV box to the neighbour. Six days of farcical phone calls ensue. Finally I retrieve the correct parcel.

6 Mar – They SMS that my service is active. Several chats and phone calls later they say they have booked a technician to visit.

8 Mar – They SMS that the technician’s visit is cancelled because I don’t need it and my nbn is working.

9 Mar – 12 Mar – They tell me to send proof of my address by email. Despite the lack of internet access at home or work I manage to send this. Sadly I discover some weeks later that the email address and the subject line they tell me to use were for mobile phone activations, not nbn installation. 

16 Mar – after not hearing anything for days I call back. They blame me, and tell me the email subject line should have included the incident number. I’ve never been given one. They tell me I have to send photos of the equipment I can’t find to prove I can’t find it. This reduces me to tears and I cancel the order, totally unable to work out how to find something I’ve never seen and send proof its not there using the internet I don’t have.

That weekend I walk into the local Telstra shop. The young guy sweeping the floor asks me if I have photos of the apartment on my phone, checks them and tells my the NTD is missing. He checks online and confirms it was installed in 2016 so the previous tenants must have taken it. He gives me the nbn helpline number so I can call them and find out how to fix the problem.

20 Mar – I take an afternoon off work and call the nbn. They open a case for the missing equipment and tell me to get Optus to send them a priority service request to get it fixed. I call Optus and they have to start a whole new order but assure me they have sent my nbn case number to nbn. They send me another modem and TV box – now I have two of each.

Then I get an SMS telling me I have a case manager and to respond AM or PM to speak to them. I respond but never hear back.

24 Mar – I need to install security patches on my devices so I go out and spend $311 getting a wireless modem, 4G stick and data to tide me over. What happens to people who don’t have my technical background and spare cash?

26 Mar – I get the same SMS telling me my nbn is installed and to plug in my modem. I call Optus four times that day, spending over 90 minutes total on the phone, becoming increasingly more hysterical with each call as I ask repeatedly to have my case escalated to a supervisor, manager or the complaints department and am repeatedly refused. There is no separate complaints department at Optus – their website just directs you to the general number with no option for complaining. When I call and ask for a supervisor or the complaints department I am delayed or refused then transferred back into the standard queue instead, hung up on, told a supervisor would call within four hours (they don’t) and finally transferred directly to the nbn help line!

That night I submitted a complaint to the TIO about the poor customer service and their refusal to escalate my case or allow me to complain. I am pretty sure they are required under Australian Consumer Law to allow me to complain about poor customer service, failures of service or non-delivery of services.

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27 March
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29 March
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4 April

27 Mar – After nbn call me to offer advice I contact Optus again and a new consultant puts in a new nbn order, despite my repeated pleas that they submit a service restoration request instead as nbn have advised me. They don’t answer my questions about timeframes, don’t send a log of the chat as promised and assure me they have booked a technicians appointment for 1pm – 5pm on Wed 4th April.

29 Mar – They call me in response to my TIO complaint, assure me the appointment will go ahead and that my case manager will call me the next business day. I still have not heard from the case manager and after I stay home on the day for the appointment, guess what happens? Nothing. No technician visits; I just sit there, losing my scarce and valuable leave day with no internet and no hope of getting any. I got onto the chat app again at 3pm and was again assured that the technician was coming before 5pm. At 4:30 I phoned and was told the appointment had never been confirmed. This is when I discovered an incorrect email address had been given to me for the proof of address and that they had not quoted my nbn case number to nbn. By this stage I am absolutely enraged to the point that I can barely speak. I send the email again and get an auto-response.

On the 5th March I finally get a call from a supervisor, who knows nothing of my TIO complaint, won’t listen to what I am telling her and immediately tells me I haven’t sent the proof of address, haven’t sent the email to the right address, with the right subject line, and even that I didn’t use the right capital letters in the email address! She then tries to claim the NTD box is there and I just need a cable, and finally she blames nbn for the problem. Then she says I have to send photos of where the NTD box isn’t. I’m back exactly where I was with Optus three weeks earlier. I end up yelling and swearing at her, then putting down the phone and sobbing uncontrollably, all in front of my staff while I am at work. She has promised me that a case manager will call the next day and that she will send a 4G modem with 50Gb of data, but of course I’ve still not heard from the case manager and no modem eventuates. They send me an SMS with an invalid order number. Just to rub it in I guess.

By this stage I have spent almost $400 on my temporary solution, been unable to work from home for six weeks, had no music, no tv or movies, I can’t do any study, or even look up any recipes. I am having trouble sleeping and can think of little else except to go over these horrible phone calls and chat sessions in my head wondering how I could possibly get these dreadful service centre staff to put down their scripts and just listen to me and do as I ask. This is the longest I have gone without internet at home since 1992 and I am not coping well. I stopped wanting to be an Optus customer weeks ago and would happily move to Telstra and pay 25% more for the same service except I have an open complaint with the TIO. Plus, I’m now I’m so angry at Optus that I want cold, hard revenge. This has been the most confusing, upsetting and infuriating customer service experience of my life and I want every Optus consultant and staff member who has dealt with my complaint to be forced to relive it from my perspective, minute by minute, to experience for themselves how distressing and maddening it is to be ignored, disempowered, patronised and lied to like this. I want Optus to compensate me for the lost work time and the cost of the “temporary” equipment and data I have had to organise for myself. I want someone to call me and actually listen to what has happened to me – I still haven’t had anyone at Optus actually let me submit a complaint.

The staff at Optus all seem very well trained at following their scripts exactly but have absolutely no ability to provide actual customer service. None of them have tried to listen to me, empathise with me, engage me in a conversation to solve the problem or negotiate a solution; in complete contrast to the nbn and Telstra staff who have all done exactly that, despite the fact that this is Optus’s problem. And almost every promise the Optus staff have made has either been been an outright lie or been broken. (Except for Kat who took my call on 4th April and actually did get a supervisor to call as promised. Fat lot of good it did me, but she did get that call made, unlike all her colleagues.)

If you are about to deal with Optus, take my advice – be completely certain that you have a straightforward, standard connection exactly like the “average” or you will be waiting in vain for months like me. Be prepared for customer service that could be delivered by a robot with no empathy or actual desire to help and with the onus always on you to follow up and keep things moving. Take photos of all your chat sessions as you won’t get logs and warn your neighbours to look out for your mis-addressed packages. Better still, just go to another provider and avoid Optus entirely.

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Our James

I spent last week in France visiting the Somme where I attended a memorial service in the tiny village of Beaumont-Hamel. During World War 1 this village was almost completely destroyed as it was at the centre of heavy fighting throughout the Battle of the Somme. The village is now surrounded by cemeteries and the whole area dotted with memorials to battles and battalions, including the preserved battlefield within the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial Park that, due to their appalling losses there, is a National Monument of Canada. In the five months of fighting for the Battle of the Somme more than a million young men were killed or wounded. In November 1916 one of the casualties was our James.

James Gauld was born in Aberdeen in 1894, the youngest son of a family clearly not strangers to adventure or hardship. His mother and two of his sisters had died when he was still a toddler and by the time war broke out in 1914 four of his five remaining siblings had emigrated to Australia or Canada. James signed up with his local Territorial Regiment, the Gordon Highlanders, in June or July 1914, just before war was declared. He landed in France nine months later and fought on the Western Front for eighteen months, the last five months being the Battle of the Somme. His Division captured Beaumont-Hamel on 13th November 1916 in the final actions of the Battle of the Somme, suffering more than 2,000 casualties in the process. One of these was our James, who was shot in the neck. Although he was treated and evacuated to a nearby military hospital in Abbeville he sadly died of his wounds just eight days after the battle and only a few weeks before his eldest brother William Gauld, a Sergeant with the Australian Imperial Force (12th Field Artillery), arrived in France to fight nearby.

The ceremony I attended commemorated the famous victory of the 51st Highland Division (which included the 1/7th Gordons) at Beaumont-Hamel and was held at the flagpole in the village centre donated by the Division to the village. On 13th November each year the villagers fly the Royal Standard of Scotland to commemorate the battle. For the centenary this year the Royal British Legion (in the person of Derek Bird) arranged a service which included a colour party, pipe band and a few hardy souls wearing replica uniforms and kit. The village hosted a Vin d’Honneur after the service, to which John Grant of the Glenfarclas distillery family generously contributed two dozens bottles of their fabulous 15yr old single malt. Naturally I had a dram; it would have been impolite of me not to, and considering the weather it was very welcome. Despite the solemnity of the occasion I quite enjoyed the novelty of being surrounded by exotically-accented, kilt-wearing men yelling at each other over the drone of the bagpipes. I wish I could have souvenired a whole bottle of that whisky though…

Before the service I had visited  James’ grave in the beautifully maintained cemetery at Abbeville on a lovely sunny Remembrance Day. Although there were thirty or more carloads of French families visiting graves in the main part of the cemetery I was the only person visiting the CWGC cemetery. Given the distance from his home and family I may well have been the first family member to visit James in the 100 years he has lain there; many of the almost 3,000 war graves in this cemetery may never have received a family visit.

 

 

These too-distant cemeteries are the reason for the war memorials listing the names of the fallen of WWI and WWII in towns and cities across the Commonwealth. James is commemorated on the Portlethen War Memorial where he enlisted, in the Gordon Highlanders Roll of Honour at the Scottish War Memorial and on the family grave in Nellfield Cemetery in Aberdeen. And in his enlistment photograph, hanging on the wall of his great-grand niece’s home.

Family vault

Highgate cemetery

In the older, western part of Highgate cemetery is a family vault where my great-great-great-grandparents, Joseph and Sarah Anderson lie. This part of the cemetery is now only accessible by guided tour or private appointment as it is mostly overgrown and hard to access. I made an appointment on very short notice and the lovely Justin from the Friends of the Highgate cemetery kindly took me to see the vault. He told me that it stood almost at the top of the cemetery and once had a commanding view of the city of London.

The vault itself was built into the side of the hill, with steps and a door providing access for interment of coffins as needed. This particular vault was somewhat special though, even for Highgate, as the memorial above it was once topped by the tallest obelisk in Highgate Cemetery. Sarah Anderson was buried here in 1843, when the fashion in memorials was influenced by Egyptian monuments. Her husband Joseph was a wealthy man; they were at that time living in a villa in the Inner Circle of Regent’s Park called The Holme. Joseph clearly spared no expense buying a very large plot for a vault, rather than separate burials, and commissioning this incredible obelisk as a memorial.

The obelisk has now sadly fallen from the memorial base and lies sideways and broken across several neighbouring vaults, while the lettering that once covered at least two sides of the memorial base is breaking off and becoming unreadable. The family crest still shows on what would have been the front of the obelisk but it too is wearing away and becoming overgrown with vines. Luckily we can see an artists impression of what it looked like when new through an etching from the time which has been reproduced in a booklet produced by the Friends of the Highgate Cemetery.

P.S. If you are related to me you need to google “The Holme, Regents Park” to get an idea of just how the Andersons lived. I suspect they may have been the Kardashians of their day…

Glorious Galleries

The last few days have been spent travelling back to London and settling in here for a week of resting, with just a few visits to the local sights. I broke my train journey up so I could spend a few hours in Birmingham to visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. They are the custodians of the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard  of Anglo-Saxon gold as well as the lucky owners of over 3,000 Pre-Raphaelite works, the largest collection in the world. Naturally they also have some gorgeous jewellery as Birmingham is renown for its Jewellery Quarter. I just happened to be there at lunchtime on a Friday which is when the students at the local Birmingham Conservatoire perform free lunchtime concerts in the gallery which was a wonderful bonus!

On Saturday Kathy kindly came down to meet me and we went out to Greenwich to The Queens House to see the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I which is on public display for the first time. I was amazed by this gallery – entry was free (although they did ask for a small donation) and it housed hundreds of incredibly rare and important works. The building was designed 400 years ago by the great Inigo Jones and has just been restored with some beautiful modern inclusions and sympathetic decorations. We went through most of the rooms and saw Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII, the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, original Joseph Banks prints from his voyage with Cook, dozens of paintings of kings, queens and naval officers as well as ceramics, silver and wonderful views of Greenwich.

Below are a few more highlights from the day: a film set on the street in Greenwich near the Old Naval College, the Remembrance Day video installation in Paternoster Square, what must be the worlds largest ship in a bottle and this yummy Scottish treat Kathy told me about called a Tunnock’s Teacake, delicious! Oh, and to round off my night I popped over to Royal Albert Hall to see Carmina Burana from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and five choirs with a total of over 400 voices singing at once. I’m not sure this holiday can improve from here…

Roaming around

With no apologies for the irresistible pun – here are some pictures of my few short days visiting some of the major sights on Hadrian’s Wall (once the limit of the Roman Empire). I went to Corbridge and Chesters in the fog, Birdoswald at dawn, Housesteads in the rain, Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum in holiday crowds and beautiful Walltown Crags in almost total isolation (except for one lady with her two friendly collies). Sadly my ankle didn’t heal in time for a real hike so the 5km loop at Walltown was my only proper walk on the wall. The weather was described by the British tourists as “bracing”: good thing I have a new water and wind-proof coat! The most astonishing sight by far was the guy in a JCB merrily excavating/moving a huge pile of dirt and masonry on the Vindolanda site.

Tourist magnet

Edinburgh, or at least the Old Town area, appears to be run entirely for the benefit of tourists who must all want the same souvenirs, judging by the number of shops selling tartan scarves. I searched in vain for some good stickers for my suitcase or a tartan collar for a certain cat I know but ended up with just a few interesting pictures from the castle, a ceramic spoon rest and a set of Scottish themed magnets, including the obligatory hairy coo and scotties in tartan coats. Plus a tartan scarf.

Granite city

I’ve spent a few days in Aberdeen, Scotland, where my great-grandfather Adam Gauld grew up. Most of the city is built with the local granite, a lovely silvery-grey stone that has been used in everything from tombstones to townhouses and massive public buildings with ornate decoration. Adam’s father James was a mason (which seems to be the local equivalent of a brickie) living and working in Aberdeen between 1880 and 1940. One of the best hotels in Aberdeen (Skene House Whitehall) just happens to be on the street where James was living in when Adam was born, Esslemont Avenue. Naturally, I’m staying there!

Continue reading “Granite city”

Jetlag

SculptureStarting day six of my fabulous holiday and for the first time I’ve slept right through the night and feel much more alert. I had arranged two days in London when I landed with flexible plans just in case I had jetlag but it has persisted far longer than I expected. All I managed to do on my two days in London was to visit the V&A and then go on a short shopping trip down Oxford Street. I’ve just bought one or two small things but luckily my hotel can store my extra bags for me while I am away in Scotland and the north country.

The image is one of my favourite pieces of stained glass from the V&A, sadly I have forgotten who made this Arts & Crafts era panel, which is one of four. I’ll just have to go back for another look when I’m back in London next.

Fun with Google Maps

Mum keeps asking me for my itinerary and a few other people have been asking where I am going so I’ve been looking for ways to add my plans to this blog easily to share them. I’ve been using Tripit for all my travel plans for years just forwarding my email bookings so it automatically creates an itinerary. I have added a few people so they can see all my plans but when I tried using the calendar feed from tripit in a post (via a custom Google Calendar) I quickly realised there was way too much booking detail included.

So instead I’ve spent a bit of time making a custom Google Map with all the locations of places I am staying, visiting, travelling and shopping and then writing up the highlights on a page here. I setup a few categories (Accomodation, Attractions and Other) and used some standard colours for those so I could quickly filter and scan, plus I used some of the custom icons which were cute! The only drawback is that I had to make the map public on the web in order to embed it below, which means I had to leave out the locations of family and friends I am visiting for privacy reasons.

Photography practice

I was out early taking photos this morning, under the capable instruction of my daughter, and for once using a real camera. Amanda is lending me her Fujifilm digital camera for my trip so I won’t need to rely solely on my phone.I’ve never owned a real camera so I don’t have any idea what all the buttons and dials do so we headed down to Cape Schank for a short walk and a little photography instruction. The flower close-ups were a bit fuzzy, and I’ll need to practice framing shots to get a better layout but I’m happy with this for a first attempt.

34 days to go…