You’d think getting connected to the internet in the year 2018 would be a straight forward process. You’d be wrong.
(NB: Once you’re done here, there’s a second part to the story as well)
A few weeks ago, the National Broadband Network (nbn) fixed wireless service became available where I live.
Being the sort of person that is quite into their internet connection, I’d already placed a pre-order with Aussie Broadband so I could get online as soon as possible.
Now, some background. My parter Erin, Bub and myself live on a farm. It’s not a “middle of nowhere size of a mid-spec European country” sort of farm. It’s the “a couple of acres outside Picton” type of farm. Semi-rural, you’d probably call it.
On the farm are two “houses”. What I call the Manor House, occupied by Erin’s parents, and The Shed, where we are.
Because reasons, I wanted to get both buildings hooked up separately, which makes us a bit of a special case nbn-wise. I was told by Aussie, however, that this wouldn’t be a problem.
So off we went. Signed up two accounts, both at the same address. Then we waited for the tower to be switched on.
Towards the end of August it was, and both the Manor House and The Shed received text messages informing us that our installation appointments had been booked in. Weirdly, they were on two different days about a week apart.
Thinking that was a bit odd, I decided to call Aussie and let them know about it, thinking that perhaps it would save everyone a bit of stuffing around if they did them both at the same time.
Here’s were the problems start.
It turns out, you can’t actually have two nbn installations at the same address. It doesn’t work like that, I was told.
What you need to do is cancel one of the orders, submit a new address (which we made up to be Unit 1/[ACTUAL ADDRESS]) and then once nbnco(tm) has processed that, you get a new appointment and everything is fine.
The helpful man I spoke to from Aussie informed me the change of address could take “up to a week” as the process was dependant on nbnco(tm) and was out of their hands. That was Friday, 24 August.
The following Friday (31 August) I submitted a support ticket to Aussie asking them if there was an update as I hadn’t heard anything. On Monday, I received a reply stating they were “still waiting for this to be actioned correctly”.
I left it until Wednesday (5 September) before I followed up again, asking what the go was and expressing that while I was aware this wasn’t Aussie’s doing, that was I disappointed in the lack of communication.
I also took to Twitter, because I’m like that.
Hey @NBN_Australia, we had to change our install address for fixed wireless and that was over a week ago and we’ve not had a rebooking of our install appointment yet. How hard is it to change a line on a spreadsheet?
— Matthew Hatton (@mattjhatton) September 5, 2018
Over the subsequent nine hours, nbnco(tm) told me repeatedly to contact my RSP (which I had done) and that an internal nbnco(tm) team works with the RSP in these situations (which, duh).
I also had five different people sign-off the nbnco(tm) tweets to me. Because nothing makes you feel like you’re actually having a conversation where what you’re saying is being understood within the context of the whole conversation than being responded to by Brent, Tash, Dani, Jessie and Thomas.
If they even are real people (I am not convinced).
At the end of this exchange, I was both surprised, annoyed and very much un-surprised, but mostly perplexed.
How is it that something as simple as an address change can take anything more than five minutes? What is the seemingly arduous process that both the RSP and nbnco(tm) have to go through in order to facilitate this? Am I mistaken in thinking that this isn’t merely an entry in a database that requires less than a dozen keystrokes to update? Why does an order have to be cancelled then redone in order to change a service address? Can you not just update the existing records?
None of these questions could be answered by the twitter
robots people, so I went to the media contact.
They responded Thursday morning asking who I was writing for, assumedly because you have to be working for an specific outlet they can check you out on to be asking questions.
I responded telling them I was a freelancer and that the story hadn’t been pitched anywhere (which, technically, is true), thus I was unable to provide an answer to their question. At the time of publication, I had received no further response.
To say that the rollout of the nbn has been problematic since its inception would be one of the large understatements of the past few years. But I’m staggered at how poor they are at communicating their most basic of processes to people, so that there’s at least a level of understanding around what’s happening and how a person’s interactions with them, both directly and through their RSP, are responded to.
It is, in a word, pathetic. Generally, anything you do these days can be tracked in some manner. You can see the boxes being ticked and the wheels being in motion so at least you can see that things are happening.
With nbnco(tm), you’re left throwing your needs into the ether and hoping that at some random, indeterminate point in the future you’re going to get them dealt with. It shouldn’t be like this. They should be better.
I’m sure none of this will come as a surprise to anyone that’s tried to get information out of nbnco(tm), their reputation is far from stellar. But what if you’re not someone who has the time and resources to question what’s happening? Would you be want to left dangling, not knowing what’s going on?
Yeah. I didn’t think so.
I started writing this up on Wednesday evening. Between then and now (Thursday afternoon) I received confirmation from Aussie Broadband that the change of address had been put through and was given a new installation date (Wednesday 19 September between 8am and 12pm). Coincidence or conspiracy? I’ll let you decide.
I’ve documented the second part of this adventure in a new post, which can be found here.