15 November 2005

Thinking of using Telstra as an ISP?


Customer, sited in a suburb reknowned for valuable-to-Telstra ISDN lines, finally gets ADSL to their area. Orders an ADSL connection to replace their dialup, which has a fixed IP address and has done so for the last approximately six years.

Telstra tech arrives and configures router, then leaves. Leon arrives, in tow behind customer’s normal tech support, to switch an ancient Debian box from dialup to ADSL.

Over the course of four hours, and a drawn-out game of telephone ping-pong between Telstra Tech Support and Telstra Billing, Leon discovers the following items:

  • Telstra will not deal with you if you are not a nominated contact and can prove it — even if you own the business, pay the bills and are the husband of the nominated contact;
  • The ADSL account is not at a fixed address;
  • A fixed address can be had for $10(!) a month more, payable in advance;
  • The fixed address cannot replace the existing fixed address, it must be a new one;
  • This cannot be done over the ’phone, it must be done on the web (and if such a change is necessary in order to make this connection work in the first place, this is highly convenient — not!);
  • The login and password required to do this are not the same ones you were supplied by the technician;
  • Telstra recommend that you change your account password before doing anything else;
  • Changing the password breaks CHAP authentication on the router, requiring a password reset;
  • There are lots of forms to fill out to obtain a static IP, including some which you suspect were put on the form just to see how many people wopuld answer them;
  • After you fill out these forms and commit to purchasing this “extra feature”, you are told that it will take 72 hours to implement;
  • Billing can override the 72 hour wait;
  • After they do this, the feature you purchased is still not enabled, you have to go back to the web site and fill out more forms (which ask you the exact same question in three different ways on the path to fulfillment) to enable it;
  • You have to change the login settings of the ADSL router in order to obtain a static IP address even after all of this, a feature not even hinted at by any previous web exposure, support or billing personnel;
  • This still does not work;
  • With sufficient effort, you can get a tech support person to talk to a billing person directly to sort out where the train came off the rails;
  • The end result of this is that activating the feature takes up to 72 hours after the billing delay, another unmentioned (unmentionable?) feature (makes 144 hours, 6 days: God, says the book of Genesis, made the world and everything in it in 6 days; Telstra takes that long just to flip a single accounting bit);
  • Now you can grind your teeth in frustration and make new appointment for 3 days hence.

Compare and contrast with numerous other ISPs (e.g. WestNet, AmNet) which simply give you a fixed address, or the other ISPs (such as ArachNet, since bought by AmNet along with PerthIX) who can arrange this in ninety seconds and one router reconnect.

The conclusion is that our communications technology giant couldn’t find their own collective butt with both hands, a map and a laser profiler.

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