The ISP Tale

Changing ISP’s is a daunting prospect.  It can be a little like changing phone numbers.  Although it’s easier and better these days.  Something that does ease the burden is not having to change your email address.  The use of web-based email services such as gmail has certainly made portability a lot easier.

I’ve just given up an email account that I’ve had for 15 years.  That’s ok, because for years I’ve had my own domain so haven’t needed to use the ISP account.

Comcen has been my ISP for those 15 years.  I certainly had a sense of loyalty to that small Sydney based ISP and connected many of my clients to them. At some stage I move my home phone number from Telstra to Comcen.

A few years back, Comcen disappeared, they changed their name to Spintel and at about that time they moved their call centre off shore.

Spintel is Australian owned, they say that on their website.  Their support is off shore.  Their website says that they will exceed my expectations and that they’re always helpful and friendly.

There’s a difference between local support and off shore support.  Mostly around the way you always seem to be confined to a script that the support person is working to.  There seems little variation and no initiative being shown.

Not that I ever needed support much, I’m pretty good with technology.

In the early days I had a dial-up modem to get to Comcen.  They would disconnect me after two hours and I’d have to dial in again.  For awhile there I even had two phone lines so I could spend most of my day connected to the internet.  Those where the days, the screech of the modem, the slow download speeds, IRC chat rooms, animated gifs.  Not that I’d ever what any of that back.

We moved to ADSL and Comcen have always had decent deals.  For the last few years I’ve been on an unlimited plan.  With a houseful of people connected to the internet it has been worth the money!

Comcen finally decided that they weren’t charging me enough, so they sent me an email to tell me that:

Our aim in SpinTel is “Customer excellence”. Indeed, we have spent considerable time in matching your existing (now obsolete) UNITY Three plan, to SpinTel’s unique ADSL2+ Bundle bumping plans.

Admittedly, not a direct comparison with your present UNITY Three Plan; the new ADSL2+M Metro Bundle plan does provide Free phone line rental, 200GB Data, Unlimited Local, National calls at 20c/min and Mobile calls at 34c/min for a total price of $74.95 which, overall is a similar price to what you have been paying.

UNITY Three. Plan. Data UL ($69.95) // New ADSL2+M ph. Plan with 200GB Data ($74.95.)

Please note the data allowance has been reduced from Unlimited to 200GB per Mth. If you prefer the unlimited data option, the full price for the same plan would be $99.95.

I’m not sure what they mean really.  Customer excellence?  And considerable time?  Yet, I’m not included in a consultative manner, I just get the result – we want to charge you more for less.  So, if I want the same plan I need to pay an extra $30 a month.

I didn’t agree with them, of course.  So at their suggestion I rang the sales rep.

I waited on the phone for 45 minutes listening to how important my call was before I gave up.

I then visited the website, they said I could communicate with them there.  However, what I had to do was fill in an online form and nominate a time for them to call me and then I would be a priority call for the first available operator.  That sounded hopeful.

So, at 9.00 a.m. they rang me.  45 minutes later I was still listening to a recording telling me how important I was.  This time I left a call back number for them to return my call.

They did return my call, however, not from the sales team, but from the support team.  She, very politely, quickly determined that I need sales and transferred me.  30 minutes later I hung up again, leaving my number for a call back when the next operator was ready.  Oh, and they kept telling me how important my call was.

No return call.

Time to hit social media.

Sent a tweet.

Posted on Facebook

Lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Then, within two hours, Cione called me.  Listened to me very patiently and read me the script in response.  No matter what I said, she said the say same words to me.  Towards the end of the conversation I would just interrupt her and say that she’d already said that to me.  The tactic of saying the same thing over and over and asking if that’s OK is not ‘customer excellence’.  No, it’s not ok.  What this customer wants is the same plan, that somehow has become obsolete, at a reasonable price and some service!

In the end we agreed to part ways, and she very nicely told me that they could do it straight away.  I suggested that perhaps she’d like to wait until I had made other arrangements.

So, I jumped online and discovered the TPG offer a much better deal and I’d save $20 a month!

I waited on the line for about 20 minutes and spoke to their offshore sales people who very carefully took all my details, including my credit card details.  They provided me with a reference number and with a login for their website so I could track my order.

I waited for about 5 days and nothing happened.  No charge to my credit card, no confirmation email.  I wasn’t able to log into the website or track my order.

In the meantime, I’d had several responses to my Facebook post and one from Best Telecom.  I checked them out, rang them and found myself talking to someone in Australia.  He answered my questions, was a bit unsure about my requirements around a static IP address and promised to call me back with an answer.

I was impressed.

Then nothing.  No call back.

A few days later, a message on Facebook from Best Telecom asking how it was going.  I explained that I was waiting for the call back, this was followed up and within minutes I was signing up with them.

I called TPG to cancel the application I’d put in, however, they couldn’t find a record of my phone conversation, and asked if I wanted to spend another half hour giving them all the details all over again.  I think you can guess the answer.

It didn’t take long for my new modem to arrive, fully configured based on the information I’d provided from my previous modem.  Plug it in, turn it on and I have a new ISP.

Now that’s service.  Support via email, via the phone from a local Australian based company.

It seems that loyalty means nothing when it comes to business these days.  I like to think that the companies I deal with would see their customers as more than just a source of revenue. I have sent plenty of business Spintel’s way over the years.

Of course, some of this is my fault.  We expect to get things cheap.  That means that there are sacrifices that need to be made to the service for a business to keep itself profitable.

The mistake that Spintel made is treating me with such disdain.  I’m now paying more money for my connection for the same plan, but still less than the proposal for the new Spintel plan.  I’m supporting a locally based Australian business, and they are appreciative of my business.  They are looking after me.  That is worth the extra money!  I’m happy to pay for the service and the support.  Hopefully they are making a nice little profit and will keep their business local.

spintelSpintel’s slogan is “Changing the way you connect” – well they got that right.  In a final act of love from them I got an email with the subject “Spintel would love to hear your feedback on how we went.” with a return email address of “” and an invitation to do a survey from a cute koala.

So I told them.

One Comment:

  1. Thanks for chosing Best Telecom Australia Greg, its a pleasure to be of service, we hope that you enjoy your new unlimited broadband and home phone plan, remember we can help you with your mobile service too (on the Telstra or Optus networks

    You can reach us on 1800792151 from your land line (free call) on 0756068900 from your mobile or email

    All the BEST and have a great weekend!

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