I’ve no doubt the past months have tested our telecommunications services. Afterall, what else is a nation stuck at home for several months going to do? There’s been the binge watching, gaming, online shopping and oh yes, online meetings. AND as a bonus we’ve taken up new hobbies – only in a modern and slightly more voyeuristic way, online. It’s the perfect kind of hobby really – watching someone else apply the techniques ensuring you don’t have to absorb that pesky new skill in a tactile kind of way.
Makes you wonder doesn’t it.. How did they fill in their time during the Spanish Flu?
Anyway, it was only a matter of time until things started to choke in the telecommunications industry and just in the past few days I’ve joined the packs of insult slinging bogans savouring the little shreds of control we have left in our relationship with our telecommunications provider – the ability to get cranky with the help desks and post about it in social media. Or, as is my preference, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.
Look, had I not received ongoing outage notices which told me the outage would take place, hmm sometime within each 3-5 day period over the past eight week period, had the phone and internet not kept dropping out at will, had the whole damn call centre not shut down I MAY have avoided reaching boiling point.
It’s taken me five days to speak with an actual human. The last time I spoke with a human from the phone company they actually said to me “how did you get through to here?” As I thought, there is most likely a cross against my name at the call centre.
By day four of no NBN juggling all manner of online meetings, other regular online activities and kid complaints about the lack of internet (perhaps the worst part of the experience), patching together a snail paced phone hotspot it’s fair to say I was pretty close to losing the plot.
Granted, one child did truly require the connectivity for university classes – a fair call. But did you realise daily connection to TikTok is a vital if not ‘essential’ part of life?
No, neither did I. I’m surprised the world of TikTok’ers haven’t been deemed essential workers thus is their apparent importance to society.
Nevertheless. When the lady in the call centre told me there was nothing that could be done to fix my service because my computer couldn’t connect to an ethernet cable, and I wouldn’t go and ask a friend to borrow a computer my inner bogan was well and truly unleashed. The visceral feeling spewed forth a tirade of words loosely translated as;
“HELP ME!” Only a little more whiny, screamy in their approach. She put me on hold long enough for me to realise I was being a brat, and I wasn’t actually having a complete nervous breakdown (phew!). When she came back on the line I apologised. She told me she understood. Promote that woman someone.
Meanwhile, another phone company was preparing an email to me stating words to the effect of “dear mam, if you were stupid enough to purchase the top up credit called simply top up, instead of the top up credit called top up credit, and subsequently used it it’s not our fault you’re such a blithering idiot and you may want to freeze your credit card and consider an assessment of your competency to manage your own affairs”.
I reported this company to the ombudsman as well. Well, I would have (as Nick from their customer service team dared me) only the ombudsman’s site ate up my well thought through tirade and crashed.
I considered reporting the Telecommunications Ombudsman next but I couldn’t be bothered looking up who to complain to.
Look. At the end of the day I don’t mind life so much without regular internet. Although it certainly does impact my work, and it certainly makes my argument for people to move to this beautiful region and bring their digital job just a little harder. I’m still not happy about the big tower in the backyard of the house two doors down from me, and I cannot work out why the internet has never been so unreliable since the monstrosity was constructed.
Working from home is not new for me and my office has always been equipped with back ups and alternatives just in case something doesn’t work – because there is nobody at the cubicle next to mine to borrow a widget from. I understand I must equip myself with a certainly level of DIY skill in maintaining my office equipment and systems. But what renders me powerless is not knowing how to get help when I need it. And seriously – 5 days to FINALLY get to the point of arranging an appointment with a technician (who won’t be here for two more days), when my diagnosis is the need for a new modem is beyond frustrating.
Even more so, having to fight for compensation for a service that simply does not work, and my time wasted fighting for it to work. Seriously, if I must be in fighting mode there is a big list of other things I’d rather fight for.
What’s it going to take to improve telecommunications in Australia? Who is going to champion this? Will things change in my lifetime? I’m not convinced as yet…
Tomorrow I dump all current providers and change to a new company – fingers crossed the company’s service is reflective of the stellar human who has inspired me to cross over. Watch this space.
Kerry Grace is a community engagement practitioner currently leading a regional development organisation in NSW Australia and managing her own company Evolve Group Network (est 2004).
Kerry’s work focuses on enabling economic sustainability in small regional communities. With a strong consultancy background she has worked with all levels of government, not for profits and Aboriginal corporations. She is often called upon for her facilitation skills to moderate pathways forward for contentious and complex issues.
Kerry regularly blurts words about accidental leadership, being a mum in business, self-care and adapting for an uncertain future. www.kerrygrace.com.au
Originally published on LinkedIn by Kerry Grace
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