Newnet – Empty Customer Service “Department”

If you don’t want to plough through the whole post, here’s the upshot:

Newnet are relying on the reputation of call centres (like NTL, Bulldog) with extreme waiting times, to disguise the fact that there isn’t actually anyone there who is going to take your call.

I have posted this on ADSLguide.org, because after today, I want everyone to know what they are getting into, when they sign up to Newnet.

Or should that be NoNet?

I have read the posts about customer support waiting times with Newnet with interest, and after today’s experience at the Newnet offices, I think I can shed some light on this.

We have been with Newnet for 9 months. For 6 months we had uninterrupted, excellent service.

On 25th June 2006 our connection went down. Our session was “stale”, and it had to be reset by customer services. Since then, we have had to call newnet 16 times, running up a total of almost 4 hours on hold. Our broadband session locks us out almost every weekend, and as those of you already with Newnet know, there is no customer support on Sundays.

We have lost 3 entire Sundays of internet usage in the last 6 weeks due to the fact that customer services can only reset our session up to 5pm on a Saturday. For two people who both work Monday to Friday, this is extremely inconvenient.

Call waiting times: Four weeks ago I spent 48 minutes on hold before someone answered.

Two weeks ago I spent 1 hour and 45 minutes on hold, at which point I gave up (no internet access at all that weekend). Interestingly, while I was still on hold, my partner called the number from his mobile and the recorded message said the office was now closed. My recorded message (which had been running for about an hour by this point) said someone would be with me “as soon as possible”.

Today I spent 20 minutes on hold, and then thought, sod this, they are only up the road, it’s quicker for me to drive over there and ask them to reset my session, than sit here running up my phone bill on a call that might never be answered.

The Newnet website says “Telephone support is available from 06:00 to 22:00 Monday to Friday and from 09.00 to 17.00 on Saturday. ”

We turned up at 12pm on Saturday, and there was one car in the car park.

I went to the door and buzzed, and a young man came out to see me. I explained that I wanted my session reset, and he got slightly flustered and invited me into the building when he realised he had nothing to write down my username with (so their security is pretty hot too).

Inside the building I was expecting at least a ringing telephone, since I had been on hold for 20 mins less than an hour ago.

It was totally silent, and totally empty.

After a very interesting conversation with this employee, it turns out that there is only one person in the office on Saturdays, and they are there primarily to run the tape backup and perform any necessary server maintenance.

I asked about the customer support, and he said there weren’t enough staff to take the phone calls. I looked at the phone on his desk, which had a flashing green light on it.

“So there are people on hold now, waiting on that line?” I asked him. “Oh yes,” he said, “but I can only do one thing at a time, and I need to deal with the server first”.

Looking at that phone, I felt for all of you out there, waiting on hold, imagining a busy call centre, hoping for a nice person to answer and sort out your problems.

The employee then had to turn on his monitor and log in to his computer to perform my reset, so I doubted he’d taken any calls in the last half hour or so at least.

Aside from the fact that Newnet have blamed our filters (we replaced them), our router firmware (we upgraded it), our BT line (BT checked it and tweaked some settings), and now our router (the employee today suggested I spend £60 on a Newnet router, as this would fix the problem), still we have no continuous service.

But most importantly, I am absolutely appalled and shocked by this single fact:

Newnet are relying on the reputation of call centres (like NTL, Bulldog) with extreme waiting times, to disguise the fact that there isn’t actually anyone there who is going to take your call.

So there’s your explanation – we all sit there on hold, paying Newnet to have an almost empty office.

They shouldn’t be allowed to display customer service opening times if there isn’t a dedicated customer services person available to take support calls.

I live just down the road from Newnet, so I guess the solution is to drive past their offices whenever I need support to see how many cars (if any), are in the car park.

We’re now trying a new router, to see if that helps our session stay open.

If this fails, we’ll be trying a new provider, in the hope that they will employ a person to answer the phone.

Pizza Factory

I thought I’d share our pizza-making morning with you from a couple of weeks ago. If you fancy doing the same, here are some abridged instructions.

1. Buy lots of ingredients, including the entire supermarket stock of pizza base mix.
2. Pick some tomatoes from the garden, and chop up lots and lots of veg.
3. Spend 3 hours kneading dough and then spread each base with tomato puree (we mixed a little crushed garlic in too)
4. Cover with veggies of your choice and grated mozarella, spinach and goats cheese, ham and pineapple, etc. etc.
5. Freeze.
6. Next time you want a takeaway pizza, shove one in the oven.

Easy eh? We stored them on paper plates when we realised we didn’t have anything else to support them, but I wouldn’t recommend this, as the paper gets stuck to the pizza after about a week in the freezer – the last pizza I had was a bit chewier than I would have liked.

Weird Dream

I’m not sure if this is down to Dr Kawashima or not, but last night I dreamt that my eyesight was going wrong, resulting in me having to have a screwdriver pushed into each of my lower calves (by a doctor), that released a clear gloopy substance into my body that went straight to my eyeballs and made them grow.

Then my face hurt because my eyes were too big for the sockets, but it was OK because it meant they would be stretched back into shape and then I’d be able to see properly again.

(Note: I then woke up and heard the giant mice scuttling around in the bedroom ceiling again – we really need to investigate what’s up there at some point).

That dream stayed with me all day – through 4 hours of software build hell and 5 hours of vaguely productive development.

Plumber has fixed mum’s leaks, so we can all relax again, and not worry that we are going to cause headline flooding in the South. Huzzah.

This Weeks Digest

Warning: Dull and vaguely depressing post. 

Plodding Along at Work

I think I get less inclined to write on here when I am not so happy in everyday life. I’ve really neglected this site for August and September, which I feel bad about, because it’s a record of what I’m doing with my time, and I like to keep things up to date.

I’ve now done two weeks at my new job, and overall, it’s OK. The people are nice, the atmosphere is friendly, and there don’t seem to be any idiots/assholes/jerks/patronising gits at all. So far, so good. But it’s hard work – it’s an extra hour a day for Monday to Thursday so you can have Friday afternoon off, which is brilliant on Fridays, but it feels like a long week nonetheless.

Also, I’m just not as enthusiastic about programming at the moment. I don’t know if it’s because it’s an all-new codebase and it’s a lot to take in, but I just can’t seem to get as excited about it as I thought I would be.

I am watching the clock, waiting for 5pm.

This doesn’t bode especially well, and worries me a bit, but I’ll keep at it, and see how it works out when I’ve been there longer. Steve thinks once I settle into the work and know what I’m doing I will be fine, and I hope he’s right.

I’d like to regale you with stories of my new colleagues and such, but really – there’s nothing overly interesting to say so far. And the tea situation is dire – it’s machine tea, or tea made with almost-hot water from the water cooler. Yuk.

Car News

My car got a flat tyre on Friday (big nail), and it also rained pretty much all day. I had to take a taxi into work, and then a combination of taxi, train and walking to get home. I was trying to save on taxi fare on the return journey, but I got so drenched that I probably should’ve spent my last £2 on the difference and stayed dry.

I bought 4 new tyres on Saturday – the green machine has had the same four tyres since I bought it, and they were not quality rubber. They went down every 2 weeks, so I treated the car to new ones and it feels lots better – the green machine was very pleased.

Toilet Update

Five days after replacing the flap valve in my mum’s toilet (for those of you lucky enough to not have to do your own plumbing, that’s the thing that enables the water to siphon out of the cistern into the bowl), the ball valve went, which is what cuts off the water when the cistern is full, so now mum has no water until Monday morning when Derek the plumber is turning up to fix it. I would do it myself, but having already spent around 7 hours this week on toilet repairs, I just want someone else to come in and sort it all out.

Not only that but the stop cock for the mains feed is leaking (I can already see the disaster that is about to happen there), so that needs to be dealt with too. And the fireplace still hasn’t been installed. And the wall in the bedroom needs replastering where the curtain rail just feel out of the wall. And the taps on the bath turn around when you use them, so are probably going to break off at some point and flood the place. And there’s still no door on the bathroom after I removed the stupid sliding door so that we could actually get a heater on the wall.

All in all it’s in dire need of loads of work. Far more work than I have the cash to support, and the time to do myself, or even supervise. It depresses me constantly.

And mum has managed to break both of her hoovers, one of which is now downstairs waiting for me to have a look at it. Oh joy.

Brain Training

I have however, become completely addicted to Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training game on Nintendo. My brain age is now 24 (I started at something like 48). It’s had an interesting effect on me – I have found that my dreams have become much more vivid and lifelike, and I have been dreaming about a lot of old stuff from the past. It’s like all the extra activity has prompted my brain to have a good sort out.

When I first got it, it actually used to make my brain hurt. How strange is that? Just like going to the gym I guess, but for neurons, not muscles.

And finally…

Since this really was a bit of a boring, depressing, uninteresting post, I’ll finish with something a bit happier. We’ve moved the fish to their new big tank (bargain car boot sale purchase), and also got a new fish, whom we have named Tyres (complete coincidence, and nothing to do with the car). Since I just know you’re desperate to see his little fishy face, I’ll indulge you.

(photos lost in transit)

Toilet’s of the Unexpected

I spent most of Saturday playing computer games, thinking I had all day Sunday to do all the household chores, and then spent most of Sunday fixing my mum’s toilet (and it’s now all in pieces, so more toilet hugging tomorrow while I try and put it back together), so I’ve only just got everything done.

Going to bed now. I will write more when I settle in to working at the new place – at the moment I am all over the place just trying to keep up with everything.

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