Optus plumbs new depths of bad service

I was until this week labouring under the mistaken impression that you couldn’t do much worse than Telstra’s customer service. But, hey, it turns out you should never make assumptions that the world record can’t be broken and Optus is the new champion.

So for the last two weeks I’ve been helping my mother-in-law move from an apartment to a house. Optus was asked to transfer the account and told her that she could re-use her existing “modem” – it all went downhill from there. You see she was in an apartment with FTTN, so she didn’t have a modem, just a router. The house she has moved to has an HFC connection and that requires an HFC modem between the wall socket and the router. There is no HFC modem, or connection box, in the house.

You’d have thought getting one from Optus would be simple? Something along the lines of “please send us a modem”, “OK it is in the mail”. But no, oh no! After multiple daily interactions with Optus the core problem has become clear.

The problem is a complete lack of clarity in what Optus calls the equipment involved – to the point where their own customer service team has no idea.

So, to connect to HFC you need an NBN utility box outside the house that leads to a coaxial point inside the house. You then need, and this is the crucial bit, to connect a modem to the coax point. From there you use patch cable to connect up a WiFi router. But, and here it is, all Optus‘ documentation calls the modem a “connection box” and the WiFi router a “modem”.

So when you talk to Optus and say you need a connection box, they say that they have to send an NBN technician to install it – thinking that you’re talking about the utility box. When you say “no, I just need the modem” they say the existing one you brought from the apartment will work fine – because they are actually talking about the router. It’s just a disaster in communication, exacerbated by the fact that Optus is all too willing to dump the problem between their various teams or completely out to NBN Co.

And to be clear this isn’t an obscure mix up – this is a complete disconnect between the way all the Optus documentation on their website describes the equipment and the way their team refers to it. To the point, we’ve several times, had the customer service rep send the link to a page which explicitly says the opposite of what the rep is saying at the time.

So after two weeks and something like ten inconsistent and frustrating interactions (Every person has a different story and I’ve just spent another 50 minutes on the phone to Optus while typing this.) we still don’t have Internet and wont until at best a week away.

No Optus., just no.


Here’s a sample interaction, which ended up achieving nothing:

Randy (10:13:43 AEST) : I will work on this with the other teams and keep you updated via SMS or Email in the next 3 hours. Before we end the chat, is there anything else that you’d like to clarify? 

Visitor (10:14:20 AEST) : the problem I have is that everytime I follow this up I get a different answer
Visitor (10:14:30 AEST) : so I’m worried about leaving this with you now
Visitor (10:14:51 AEST) : is there a way to escalate and get this resolved finally and quickly
Visitor (10:14:56 AEST) : ?
Visitor (10:15:20 AEST) : yesterday I was told the connection box would be delivered by the end of the day
Randy (10:15:28 AEST) : Yes, This is the reason I am having this escalate to the back end team.
Visitor (10:15:43 AEST) : the day before I had to wait until the account was transferred to the new address
Visitor (10:15:53 AEST) : the day before they recognised Optus had got the date wrong
Visitor (10:16:20 AEST) : so is there a way to escalate upwards to ensure it if fixed and accurate this time
Randy (10:17:33 AEST) : Jean, I understand how you are feeling and No body likes to wait, We rely on NBN for the installation and the connection as they own the lines, They have have put on hold due to the error.
Visitor (10:18:05 AEST) : OK I guess there’s no more we can do
Visitor (10:18:30 AEST) : it would be nice to know what the error is
Visitor (10:19:29 AEST) : and we will still need a connection box under any circumstances
Auto-Generated Message (10:20:05 AEST) : Sorry to keep you waiting, I’ll be right back with you.
Randy (10:20:11 AEST) : Absolutely, I will be speaking to the NBN Co to make sure that they rectify the Port issue and install the New NBN Box
Visitor (10:20:39 AEST) : we just need a box not installation
Randy (10:21:29 AEST) : Jean, Let me more specific here, May I know if the NBN Box is installed at your location previously ?
Visitor (10:22:11 AEST) : Yes NBN is there and there is a wall socket
Visitor (10:22:20 AEST) : all we need is the account transferred
Randy (10:22:29 AEST) : Okay, May I know if you are looking for the Modem delivery ?
Visitor (10:22:29 AEST) : and a connection box to attach to the wall socket
Randy (10:22:38 AEST) : Are you referring to the Modem ?
Visitor (10:22:50 AEST) : I am referring to what Optus calls the connection box
Visitor (10:22:54 AEST) : I would call it a modem
Randy (10:24:03 AEST) : Okay, It is a Modem, I am sorry for the misscommunication when you said  Connection Box, I misunderstood it be NBN Box, I am sorry for the inconvenience 
Visitor (10:24:09 AEST) : we have a router already it is just the modem we need
Randy (10:24:26 AEST) : In the Relocation order, The New modem will not be sent in fact you can use the existing Modem 
Visitor (10:24:27 AEST) : the connection box is what all Optus documentation refers to it as
Visitor (10:24:43 AEST) : there is NO existing modem
Visitor (10:24:49 AEST) : that’s the problem
Randy (10:24:51 AEST) : May I know if you have the Existing Modem from the old address ?
Visitor (10:25:05 AEST) : the old address was FTTN
Visitor (10:25:09 AEST) : the new one is HFC
Visitor (10:25:12 AEST) : so no
Randy (10:25:36 AEST) : Yes, Please be advised that the Modem is compatible for NBN service.
Visitor (10:25:54 AEST) : the old address was an apartment with the modem for all the apartments
Randy (10:25:57 AEST) : You need to Plug in the modem to the NBN Box Port UNI D 1
Visitor (10:26:09 AEST) : the new address is a house and needs its own modem
Randy (10:26:15 AEST) : And if have not got the old modem, Let me go ahead and book a New modem for you.
Visitor (10:26:19 AEST) : we do not have a modem
Visitor (10:26:55 AEST) : we need an HFC modem
Auto-Generated Message (10:27:15 AEST) : Solution Type: “UDE Chat”
Auto-Generated Message (10:27:36 AEST) : Solution Type: “UDE Chat”
Visitor (10:27:56 AEST) : or more precisely what Optus calls a connection box
Randy (10:28:06 AEST) : No worries, I will book the new modem for you, Kindly help me with the delivery address.
Visitor (10:28:11 AEST) : because what optus calls a modem is actually a router
Randy (10:28:28 AEST) : No worries, I will book the new modem for you, Kindly help me with the delivery address.
Auto-Generated Message (10:28:34 AEST) : Solution Type: “UDE Chat”
Visitor (10:29:22 AEST) : XXX Burlington St Crows Nest XXX
Visitor (10:29:36 AEST) : but I really want to be sure you understand we need the cable modem not a router
Randy (10:30:09 AEST) : Sure, We have the Modem specifications, I will book the NBN HFC Modem.

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