CHOICE membership

ISP complaints


#1

I wanted to give feedback regarding internet service providers (ISPs) in this country after a particularly bad experience with Optus who disconnected us for 2 months due to the company’s negligence and then ignored ongoing and repeated requests to rectify the situation.
Our issue was only fixed after representations to the TIO (Telecommunications Ombudsman’s Office) and the Minister Mitch Fifield.
The TIO is an INDUSTRY BODY and it became clear early on that it had an affiliation of some sort with Optus as it took a month to start things going and then took a lazy approach. Be careful if you need to use the TIO as it is not a government run organisation and likely tied to the industry.
The Minister is lazy and did nothing other than send out links to legislation. One of these was for MANDATORY COMPENSATION which Optus ignored by fabricating a 2 month Mass Service Disruption which it thereafter refused to corroborate. This was the only way out of paying compensation and there was, apparently, no requirement for Optus to prove its allegations…so the legislation is little more than a sham piece of legislation which serves as window dressing to make it appear that there are rules. There aren’t.
Readers of this post need to google ‘Product Review Optus’ which can be duplicated for all other ISPs as well. Apart from the large number of complaints about nearly all ISPs the graph at the top should be studied. This graph shows that around 70% of complaints are IN THE WORST CATEGORY and we are talking up to around a thousand complaints in some cases. There is a problem in this industry and the government is looking the other way.
Come on CHOICE, get involved in fixing this abusive industry. People should not be able to be cannibalised like they are.
Whilst I will never again be using Optus for anything and hope that others do likewise we need to fix the problem as it is a rotten barrel of apples.


#2

Sadly your description of the TIO and telecom industry is replicated in many other industries. Our governments (coalition and ALP alike) job one appears to be protecting business with window dressing that makes it look like they are protecting us. Even with the ACL that can work a treat but if a company ignores it your rights are meaningless except in the most egregious cases when government has no choice but to have a look and get engaged.

“Standards” are pieces of paper very often “enforced” by private companies either as outsources or delegations from governments, or business itself, and they all have vested interests in not making problems for the real customers, the businesses. An example of the latter are the private surveyors in Victoria that approve building construction as meeting standards. Have a dodgy builder? Good luck. In Queensland and have a problem with a new pool? Google how that usually goes…


#3

The TIO is a classic example of what the government and industry (two arms of the same thing) laughingly call “self-regulation”, the results of which can be seen in any un…I mean self-regulated body. This is why we have to rely on the good offices of organisations like Choice to step in when governments become organs of business rather than the electorate.


#4

The TIO is a registered business organisation funded by the Telcos and ISP’s. It will do no more to help subscribers than is necessary ! Their charter is a joke ! It’s couched in so much legalise you need a lawyer to understand it.
They will eventually hand the problem back to the telco or ISP your complaining about ! It’s like a bouncing ball !
Don’t expect the TIO to really solve any problems with a subscriber’s service. They don’t have the power or hands on to do anything.
The TIO might eventually issue the offending organisation a fine, if your lucky, but it will be no more than a slap on the wrist and probably wont solve your problem.
It may sometimes cause the ISP or telco a lot of extra work, inconvenience and embarrassment tho !! That sometimes will get results but it’s a long and tortuous road.
It’s a paper tiger in most cases !


#5

My experience is that the TIO intentionally stalled the process because Optus had behaved in a reprehensible manner. I got the feeling that both the TIO and Optus were waiting in out and hoping I would go away and find a new ISP.
In the end I may have been reconnected (after 2 months) but the bastards got away with it. That is why I am detailing what happened in the hope that enough readers will be informed and that the post will find its way to those in the media who do give a damn and start to embarrass the company. Once they lose customers they will be in damage control. In the meantime I am gone and will never return no matter how sweet a deal they try and sell. The price of bastardry and collusion!


#6

I wanted to air the issues surrounding Internet Service Providers in Australia. Anybody who has ever had problems with their ISP should as a starting point look at the website ‘ProductReview Optus’ and then substitute their own telco’s name instead of Optus with whom my wife and I have had significant issues. Details:

  1. disconnected for over 2 months due to Optus negligence.
  2. We discovered that the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) was NOT a government regulator but an industry body. The telecommunications industry is self regulated.
  3. We were coerced into establishing new accounts (2 of them) before Optus would agree to do anything.
  4. The Indian Call Centre which Optus uses is useless and staffed by people who should not be doing such a job…
  5. When action did eventually occur the senior Public Relations Officer was incapable of correctly conveying information and lied to the Minister Mitch Fifield.
  6. When the problem was eventually addressed Optus claimed a MSD (mass service disruption) for over 2 months to escape legislated compensation. Both Optus and the TIO did not responding when asked to verify the claimed MSD. Clearly a next lie of convenience.

I doubt whether the above is specific to us and I suspect, given that the reviews on the above website see around 70% of complaints against almost every telco in the worst category, it appears that the account above is a systemic failure of government to act whilst fully aware of the behaviour of the telecommunications industry.

The parting handshake from Optus was a $300 bill for early disconnection for its own negligence.

Does the above account sound familiar or are we alone in this nightmare?


#7

Yes very sad but true,
You should try dealing with Iinet now that they have been taken over.
And I did find out that the TIO is a waste of time, All I ever got from them was an email saying they were so busy (WHY) and I should continue to discuss my concerns with Iinet, As this would have a better result !!!
I wouldnt have bothered if I could have got any justice from Iinet.
Very disillusioned with the whole process.
I think our politicans have a lot to answer for, letting this lot behave like a cartel.
Wait, they are a bloody cartel !!!


#8

The burning question is: DOES THE TELECOMMUNICATION INDUSTRY MAKE POLITICAL DONATIONS? There has to be a reason why the large numbers of complaints are let go and the blind eye is ever present.
I have been through this sort of process with local government before. The behaviour is the same. They point to legislation which whilst a feel good document has no teeth with the criminals able to work around them and totally ignore. That is what the Compensation Legislation does. The telcos can fabricate a MSD mass service disruption) with absolutely no proof and they are off the hook. Why bother.


#9

This seems to be an all to common scenario when dealing with our Telcos . Until a totally independent body is set up to investigate these issues I feel nothing will change .


#10

Governments at all levels are basically useless when it comes to consumer complaints. The ACCC is a case in point. A toothless tiger chewing up millions of taxpayer dollars to house a talentless nest of bureaucrats more interested in their next golf game than protecting the public from crooks and shysters.

Its even worse with state governments. I got ripped-off with a computer repair person. Despite all the evidence I had to report this rat to the consumer affairs they claimed it wasn’t enough for them to prosecute him.

When I questioned this and pointed out the evidence I had, plus a witness’s testimony they said it just wasn’t worth their time because the debt was under $1000.

Gives you that warm fuzzy feeling to know your tax dollar is paying the salary of these useless no-hopers.


#11

Yeah. I just received a response to the issue I described above and the response was to go through NCAT. Whilst I know this is one way to go the issue is that the ACCC is responsible for regulating crooked big business which does not play by the rules. Optus lied to its tag team buddy the TIO and the legislation was ignored by both and mandated compensation refused.
So why bother to use taxpayer money to stump up a government bureaucracy which does nothing other than run one issue a year and use taxpayer money to pay people to fob off the public. How is that doing the job that this organisation was set up to deal with???
Given that Optus is a multinational I wonder how many people are being done over with the same behaviour which happened to me.


#12

Competition it is not

I to am disgruntled with Competition is not

I to am disgruntled with bureaucracies put in place for political swiftness.
Lets start with Dept. Fair trading having no power but aim to get both parties to understand what is fair. Does this help for the real crooks who blatantly disregard them, Answer is NO.

NCAT they appear to be there to make sure the 2 parties sit and manage an agreement or else they will provide a solution. Do they have power to change anything , NO What if one of the parties ignores all recommendations what if they do a runner and can no longer be found or shut up shop and go bankrupt? Again bad luck.

Then we have the continual sale of Govt. assets that make money. What is the logic of the Comm bank being sold , not so bad if it was handing over its profits to the public but its is just a way of getting the big wigs paid big remunerations and only what is left paid as dividends to the general public after Multi million dollar wages including job for the boys and other waste and gauging of fees.
Then we complain the reserve bank has little control when it tries to manage the economy by changing interest rates that no longer mean anything as the banks do what is good for the boys and not for the general public. If one Bank was still owned not run by the Govt. it would have a say at ensuring a true competitor to the other banks.

The same has happened with Telstra as well as the privatisation of electricity. Just look at South Aust. to see how much more is paid in the eastern states for electricity since privatisation. No Ombudsman will have the same power that could be had by just threatening to move an account to a Govt. owned asset at no cost. Currently the competition dollars are spent at spruking for more business and not on the bottom line of better service.

So competition is not competition when the bottom line is profits and no one has a bottom line of service as an option.

Today I complained to my ISP about my phone line that is faulty and being an old comms tech I advised them the fault that reappears when winds put strain on lines that dangle in the wind in our street. The result is intermittent to non existent Phone and internet.

My ISP has agreed the fault is likely as I described and have put the call in to Telstra ( a bonus because when a non tech person like my wife makes such calls it could be days before they move on.) So now we have 2 organisations handling the problem and Telstra have scheduled to do the job within a week. Mean time I’m losing calls that are business related and internet is not available. So I approach my ISP since I bundle my Phone and internet with them and also have a discount mobile plan with them.

I try to ask if they can divert calls and would they compensate me for any costs to do this. So now I am put on to another operator. NB not counting that 2 calls were made the previous days about the fault and they sent text explaining a Ticket No. and schedule which I followed up on and was assured it would likely be done even tomorrow, that 1 week was worst case.

So today when I was put to the second operator about diverting calls so the calls can be diverted after 10 seconds instead of my usual set-up of 39 seconds (this is another story ) They tried to have me increase my plan so I would also divert mobiles at no cost. I asked if I would be compensated and was told , Yes, only after the repair was made. I doubted they were describing my entitlement to compensation correctly and asked them to clarify by email. This is where they said No they can not do that.

I asked clearly if I will be compensated for the loss of service and was told I would be compensated after. I found this misleading and I wanted an alternative for my Phone and internet and any costs be compensated. After all They hold all my business for Internet , Phone and mobile except the Phone line I was making the call from. This is when they would put me through to billing this is the 3rd person I had now spoken to Joy was also not able to clarify what I would be compensated on and put me on to the engineer. I found this strange that an engineer would explain to me an accounting concern. So now I was put on to the engineer Wilson who finally put it that the products are all different and that I can recall my conversation as record and that compensation was only for the ADSL line that was down and

I have many similar experiences and always question how we keep breaking things down and add so much demarcation of issues.


#13

You omitted to say who your ISP was and whose network you are using. Whilst I am not giving advice I will avoid Optus like the plague and will shortly be changing over to NBN with a naked phone service. I will still be at the mercy of the telstra network thanks to Turnbull and his government but will no longer be in the Optus loop being controlled by their crooked staff who seem to be unaccountable and do as they like.
I again advise all readers to check all of the ISPs (ProductReview Optus) which can be done by removing Optus and adding your ISP. This is must reading and it is hoped that the word will spread and users will leave the cowboys who call themselves telcos when in fact they are little more than lying chislers who have no empathy for the people whose lives they all but destroy.


#14

I found the TIO very good but that was years ago. I think you have to escalate it to a complaint you cannot handle through the telco and TIO will get involved. am surprised that they are as useless as the FOS [from feedback on this site.]


#15

My case involved a disconnection and the TIO acted like it was a billing complaint. It was escalated. They simply did not care, seemed to be intentionally putting us off and cited workload as the reason they did not take the matter up until a month later. in the end the TIO accepted the Optus lie of a Mass Service Disruption (for 2 months?). No proof required from Optus. The reason: The TIO likely conspiring with Optus to avoid payment of compensation according to the Act.
In the end the Act is BS and just there to make the government look like it is tough when in fact it knows what the industry is up to but refuses to do anything. Political donations? I’d be willing to bet on that.


#16

The TIO is a total waste of time unless you have a piddly billing issue. When it comes to fraudulent or negligent behaviour from the two big telcos the TIO is a part of the problem as it will favour these players. But then the TIO is an industry company NOT A GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN.


#17

I hesitate to place this under ‘Scams’ but …

The Rants and Raves article by Kalpana Vignehsa in the July magazine was enough to raise my anger again; I’d just calmed down after weeks of frustration caused by, my then ISP, iiNet.

Months ago in preparation for a move from capital city to ‘The Bush’ I notified iiNet of that intention and when to stop billing me for an NBN service. This advice also mentioned that I would be taking rental accommodation which could be over irregular periods and advice would be welcomed. Nothing was heard!

My ‘new’ town joy soon nose-dived when I had to live in a motel for six weeks waiting for a rental - but that’s another story; So back to lack of internet service. Eventually, I was granted my home and instantly shot off the address to iiNet and waited, anxiously, to find out what iiNet would offer and WHEN. Until now I’d been limited to using public WiFi and the threat of trusting that is foisted upon us till I, at least, am nervous of it (For the sake of clarity I must write an aside here: I have believed public WiFi to be free to the user. Hmm? More on that later).

In bold large font I advised iiNet to NOT BILL me for, and after, the month beginning 2 July - but I was billed and became angry: First, the advance notice which included a FINAL month of usage; Second, the advice of my new address and a ‘move-in’ date; and third, an almost unintelligible ‘Salesman’ who wanted to extend my NBN 250GB service who did, eventually, understand the NBN wasn’t available. He then told me there is no telephone cable to the rental and I’d have to pay, in addition, about $164 before ANY service could be provided (another aside: I knew these houses were built about the time personal computers were hitting the market for the first time at about $6000 each, and virtually every house automatically was fitted-out with telephone cable along with electricity cable and off-street car-parking space! He, the Salesman, might not have had been born, but I had).

This is where I decided to act - off to a rival ISP and my bank. OPTUS offered me an instant connection for a service I’d been unaware of: A little plug into a power-socket box WiFi gizmo and I pay, sort-of, how-ever much I use, sort-of. Then the Bank stopped iiNet from being able to access the Account I offered years back. I advised iiNet of this action and, oddly, received a call very soon after. It was during this conversation I found out that use of public WiFi opportunities still debits your ISP agreement and THAT IS THE REASON iiNet had ignored me (we will simply disregard the, about, 16 emails exchanged). Me using public WiFi was deemed to mean I was extending my Service. See, I knew there was a trap with the so-called free public WiFi.

iiNet has ‘kindly’ re-imbursed me what some accounts programme will automatically declare I’ve not used of my monthly contribution and there ends a tale of unnecessary anguish.

NO, IT DOES NOT!!!

It occurred to me that ISP’s, in general, probably have many clients on some contract permitting the taking of a pre-payment for Service which only the ISP and the Bank can stop. I politely ask, ‘When does the billing cease after a customer dies?’ ‘Did the customer die intestate?’ ‘Did the customer have relatives to act on his/her behalf?’ ‘Is over payment claimed back?’ ‘Is any re-imbursment at the FULL amount paid?’

So, I go back to the heading I gave this Item and my hesitation: “Corporate Stealth?” - How broadly is this administrative system in place? The Boardroom may be unaware but the Accountant will not be!
Oh, and bye-the-way, thank you Kalpana Vignehsa for poking me.


#18

I’ll be sure to let @KalpanaVignehsa know about your expereince @tomaz1940. Thanks for sharing it, and sorry to hear about all the frustration. It seems like changing situations is often too tough for ISPs to manage!


#19

Hah!!! The experience of a few months ago has resurfaced this month (October). I believe Banks, when issuing cards, should be obliged to explain, in detail, the possible loss of control, if a Credit Card is used to purchase any ongoing product, such as Internet Service and giving the Provider the option to automatically renew the Service. I was issued a new card supposedly stopping my then ISP debiting my account - it didn’t work!!. So, again, I am obliged to spend my time and phone costs arguing to get reimbursed.


#20

That’s a real pain. Good luck sorting it out - If in doubt, give your bank a call and see if they can put a block on any further charges.