You know, I have been in this field for quite some time and for the most I tend to give people (and organisations) the benefit of the doubt. Yet what should we think of an organisation that does not have its act together, seems to be clueless what it is doing, or should be regarded as massively incompetent?
I’ll let you decide on the following facts.
Fact one. The bulk of the Optus Shops, as well as nearly every other shop that deals in Optus mobile internet is out of stock.
This literally amounts to the notion that at Optus, at least two boss levels above the store keeper, people are either incompetent or asleep (which amounts to the same thing). The Huawei E5377 WIFI Modem is registered to be out of stock. How can a mobile provider like Optus continue without sellable product? To be this unable to service your customers, without any alternative is just beyond stupid. In addition, the fact that Optus stores are still in ‘Yes’ advertisement mode could be construed as misleading conduct. When we consider Australian Consumer Law, we see in section 18 Misleading or deceptive conduct “A person must not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive“. Stating ‘yes’ and then not have it in stock, seems to be just that.
This is however not enough. You see, one product does not make for issues, this should be regarded as just a case of bad luck, which we all have that at times.
When people pay for services that cannot be upheld, we have an entirely different matter.
That part seems to be an additional issue that hit me like a steel mace across the chops. You see, I had a case of bad luck, I had to get a new phone, in my case the Huawei P7, which was on special. Less than three months later the battery buckles. I now only get 10 hours standby from a battery. This is massively unacceptable! So, I go to Optus and fair enough, they take it into repair under warranty. I cannot ask for more, which is fair enough, so now I am stuck with my old phone, which is a major concern on several levels. I got lucky, because I got to borrow a Huawei E5251 with 8 GB. The first file goes swimmingly, which means 700 Mb all done. Now the problem starts! Even though powered, it takes three attempts to get a 4.8 GB file, 1.7 GB, 3.8 GB, and after that at a little over 1.3 GB the system stops, failed attempts with corrupt data. No way to save it, this now implies that Optus can no longer maintain a functional 3G wireless connection. This now has large repercussions for the consumers, because the consumer pays for 8 GB of data, whilst it was never functional. The lobotomised excuse from ‘customer care’ is ‘you used your data’, whilst we now have an issue with the reliability of the Optus network. The half-baked excuse they gave that ‘this can happen’ holds little water when the consumer gets to pay for functionality that cannot be met.
The question in my mind now becomes, is this isolated or is this a symptom of a much larger issue? This now takes us to the Australian Financial Review of May 18th 2015, where we see “Singtel-Optus chief executive Allen Lew will focus on keeping costs down by providing more customer services via the internet and run a “hard-nosed” review of its 160 retail stores” (at http://www.afr.com/business/telecommunications/optus-in-hardnosed-retail-review-to-keep-costs-down-20150517-gh3h5q). Yet, when we consider the hard-nosed part. Is that the case or has the upper staff ignored infrastructure issues? When I cannot rely on 3G networks in Sydney city to download data (speed was not an issue), we must consider that the objective of ‘keeping cost down’ is now at the expense of its consumers, a part that was not that clear in the Financial Review. This makes the quote “yes, we will grow but we will make sure that the growth is profitable growth” debatable at best, and concerning at the very least. Another quote is “an Optus spokeswoman later told Fairfax Media that cutting costs would not lead to any decrease in service quality or an overall fall in jobs“, well the service levels are not met, whether the job situation remains good, is something for the future to be decided.
So, is there a pure stock issue, or is there more? The latter remains the more likely than not scenario as my personal point of view, for all shops to be without 4G wireless routers implies that that the stocktake part does not work or the shortage is nothing more than a signal that the Optus network is starting to get really congested. That last part is of course a speculation on my side, but doesn’t it make sense? Virgin and Telstra are selling their 4G modem plans, yet in the case of Virgin, they too ‘suddenly’ ran out of the Huawei E5377 WIFI Modem. Which would seem to give strength to the thought that this is a mere ‘stock’ issue. Yet, if that is so, how incompetent was the executive to let it go this far? In addition, the issue of the unstable 3G is not addressed.
For this I have to make a jump back to 2010, when this was posted “Optus is known to put a lot of its web data through a proxy which reduces the packet size and makes it seem like your connection is faster. This comes at the cost of reduced quality in the form of images and the like“, important to know here is that the source is not reliable, but it is one of many voices. In 2011 the Sydney Morning Herald gave us (at http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/optus-makes-customers-pay-to-fix-its-blackspots-20110411-1da6b.html), with the quote “But analysts believe the real reason behind launching the product is that the Optus mobile network is struggling and Optus would prefer to make consumers fork out money to ensure their mobile phones work at home, as opposed to the Telco investing in more mobile towers“, which now gives us a clearer view, a view that is more reliable at least, in addition we get “Foad Fadaghi, a telecommunications analyst at Telsyte, said femtocells had typically been used in the US by poor quality carriers that had not invested enough in the capacity of their networks” which is an additional tone to the previous quote. The Optus response was “Optus said in response to the criticisms that the new technology was designed to ensure customers received “the best value and experience from their mobile devices”. It said it had invested over $2 billion in its mobile network over the past five years and built over 600 mobile sites in 2010, with a similar number of mobile sites planned to be built this year“, yet consider the issue when we read “Telco’s needed to be upfront from the start about coverage and the capacity of their networks and the onus should be on them, not the customer“, an issue I basically faced as no uncorrupted data house arrived at my station. The mention of ‘capacity of their networks‘ is now in play. For a 4G tower to scale back to 3G is one thing, yet do they process basic 3G in the same way? 600 towers is a massive amount, and that article is a few years old, but the final part in all this was at http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/133245-4g-vs-3g-it-s-not-just-download-speed-you-know, as well as the Telstra site (which I will ignore for now). A 4G network should be able to offer data at 15.1Mbps, which is only barely above normal broadband. 3G gives data at 6.1Mbps, which is considerable slower, yet if time was not an issue, 3G should work, but in my case it did not. I reckon that we are starting to see congestion where 3G is sacrificed to maintain the 4G standards. This is pure speculation on my side, but is that such a stretch? There were clear indications for half a decade that Optus was a failing network, now they thought they were back, but the deals offered through Optus Yes were so ‘fashionable’ that millions switched, now we see that adding a thousand towers whilst the data need of millions went up by 250% could be a clear indication of massive congestion dangers, which will now lead to dropped data packages and in some cases corrupt packages, which gave me my aggravating position. 8 GB to download 5 GB and none of it survived the trip. Now this month (actually this week) we see “Optus launches tri-band carrier aggregation“, which shows increased speeds. The quote “It is a more efficient use of our spectrum bands and will provide a more consistent and better experience for our customers“, it is the ‘more efficient use of our spectrum bands’ that flagged it for me. Is this truly about ‘speed’ for the customer or to deal with congestion? If congestion is a problem in Sydney, than we have new worries, more important, we will soon have a lot less stability. In all this I will state again, that some of these views are speculative and of course they are tainted due to issues I faced, but are they less of an issue because of that? Now let’s see if the same problem persists with Telstra, I know a guy with an extra wireless router, let’s see what happens tonight!
I try to stay on the fence and fair (even though I am very much pissed off), I just wonder who else has been faced with corrupted downloads whilst having to pay for the download. I reckon Optus has a problem and they still have to find a way to address it.