Jun 17 2007

Bigpond Issues

Published by at 10:10 pm under bigpond,General,telstra

To date I have never publicly named my ISP. It’s Bigpond, and I’ve had no end of dramas.

When we moved to this house 3 years ago there was no cable. We were told we are too far from the exchange to get ADSL. We paid $2,666 to get cable run to the residence. Funny thing was we only moved about 70 metres from where we DID have cable. But we paid – in this day and age, and running a SOHO, we needed cable access.

Unfortunately, we have no choice in ISP if we want a high speed connection. NONE. As we run a phone system with four incoming lines, we cannot get ADSL. Well, that’s not entirely true. We could through the fax line, but ADSL is not supported, as we’re apparently too far from the exchange, or it’s not been upgraded yet. Our neighbours 20 metres away, however, can get ADSL – go figure.

So we’ve persevered through service interruptions, gritting our teeth and constantly looking for alternatives, or at least a reliable back up. Up to 30-40 minutes on hold to talk to someone in a call centre, problems with an unwired backup, no inbuilt modem on the new PC – so even an emergency dial up account is of no use.

The kicker came today, when we were migrated to Telstra’s new billing system. We have four separate modems in the house, which all connect to the internet individually. We bought each modem, paid Telstra to have each connection installed and pay an additional user charge (albeit nominal) each month.

The first user (primary account holder) fires up the computer, gets a message about cable login no longer being required, seems to be unconnected, but actually is. No problem.

User number 2. Fires up computer. Sees message about not requiring cable login any more. But cannot connect, and is not connected. Calls for technical help. 1 hour and 15 minutes on hold. Finally hangs up as online music has not been heard for 30 minutes, so no indication they are actually still in queue. Hears a message while on hold with some suggestions – uninstall cable login, power cycle modem, power down computer, wait restart modem, restart computer. Tries all this but still no joy.

Calls technical support again. This time call is answered after 31 minutes. Go through the suggested solutions – call lasts 21 minutes. Can’t help. Will escalate the matter (send an email, to which someone should respond who “might be able to help”).

Users 3 & 4. Neither able to access the internet. 2 calls to technical help – one of which lasted over an hour before caller finally gave up.

User 2. Annoyed at not having internet goes out and purchases NEXT G Wireless Broadband modem. $249 and $49.95 per month for 400 MB download limit. Should be enough for emergency backup, surely?

User 2. Has a little look at the account. Notices a message about migration to the new billing. Notes this paragraph:

You’ll only be able to access BigPond using the primary username and password. Additional users on your account will no longer have their own BigPond Broadband login via your modem. They will continue to have their own mailbox however, and you can continue to add mailboxes up to your plan’s limit.

User 2 thinks “uh-oh” and decides to risk another call to technical help. 34 minutes on hold. Explains the concern. Somewhat surprised and sheepish customer service rep comes back on the line after checking with “authority”. Seems user 2 is in fact correct. With the new billing system, only one modem can be connected at a time.

Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done at present. Activations shut at 8.00 pm. User 2 could talk to billing, but without talking to activations first, there’s little point. Call lasts 20 minutes.

He’s suggesting a router (which they don’t support, in any case) or some sort of wireless network. How this is supposed to work over three levels with a concrete slab and wooden floor in between heaven only knows. But they should be able to get a “wireless networking professional” out to give us some advice on how to proceed. User 2 wonders how long that should take?

User 2 is also thinking about upgrading to the 1GB ($79.95 p/m) download on the “backup” connection. A solution could take a while.

18 responses so far

18 Responses to “Bigpond Issues”

  1. Kathie Thomason 17 Jun 2007 at 10:53 pm

    A shame you can’t bill them for your time. Also a shame you don’t have a choice about ISPs either – we didn’t bother with Telstra because of the complaints we heard before connecting to cable. We’re on Optus and have had a 99% uptime, and with running a business from home and 6 computers off our connection we needed to be sure things would work for us. Hope it gets sorted out soon Meg.

  2. Megon 17 Jun 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Hi Kathie

    Wish you hadn’t told me that 😉

    No doubt I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.

  3. Kathie Thomason 17 Jun 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Sorry :-( We live in an area where we had choices for which we were really grateful.

  4. Colin Campbellon 18 Jun 2007 at 4:40 am

    How exasperating. What is odd, is that you are trying to spend money with them and as a small business owner, I am sure you can see the value in that.

    I used to despair being put on hold when we had Optus. My problems were usually a great deal simpler than yours. Here in Adelaide, we are close to the exchange and can get what we need easily. We are the customers that Telstra wants, easy to service. People like you are exactly the types of people that I hope the government and the ACCC holds out for when agreeing to a strategy for a rationale telecommunications future for Australia. It is one of the few things that I agree with Mark Vaile on, when he pushes and pushes for better service for the bush.

    Based on your experience, I can see why Telstra is taking a hard line. Everybody shoudl have the same access to service. In fact people in remote areas should probably have better service.

    Good luck.

  5. Willon 18 Jun 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Meg, the phone line situation for ADSL can get a little hairy at times.

    I know of people who live a few hundred meters from an ADSL-equipped exchange, but by the way the cables run, are too far away.

    At home, I can get ADSL on one line, but not on the other (the other line is/was connected to a PGS). And for several years, I was unable to get ADSL due to having too high a line loss.

    Check http://adsl2exchanges.com.au/
    If there’s no other providers in your area with their own equipment (common) – then the re’s very little you can do.

    Other providers might be willing to let the line-loss limits drop a bit (you lose some speed, but you get a connection) – Though you might find you’re limited to 512Kbit if the line is really that long.

    Option #1 – Call Telstra Sales (132200), and ask if you can get another line connected, specificly to run ADSL on. (A direct new copper line *might* work – though given what you mention about the fax line, maybe not)

    Option #2 – Ask your ADSL equipped neighbour if you can get another line connected at their place, then beam over the connection from there (not a good option). Est: $800 in equipment, $240 for a line connection.

    Option #3 – Scream/shout/etc. Then take a look at 2-way satellite (not a happy medium at all, and not suitable for anything lag-sensitive like voice calls or games)

    Option #4 – Look at getting 2x ISDN lines in, and an ISP that’ll support multi-channel bonding. You’d get 256Kbit in both directions.

  6. Megon 18 Jun 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Colin – thanks for your support :)

    Will – there’s some comprehensive advice there – thanks.

    I did investigate a bit further today. It seems we are on PGS (Pair Gains?) which means the line is split in two. We’d have to get the other person to “cancel” their line in order to free it up. Given that we have 5 lines incoming, I thought it only logical that maybe we were sharing the lines amongst ourselves, so I asked the question. Unfortunately I got disconnected whilst being on hold, and after having been transferred 3 times had no idea who to even call back. I figured since the lady I was talking to had my details up on screen that she would have called me back – but this was not to be.

    We have two alternatives – both involving networking. If you have wired networking then tech support will not even talk to you if you have any connectivity issues, irrespective of whether the fault is in the networking. The other solution is that they’re prepared to give is a new modem with wi-fi and one receiver (at no charge). If it works, then we can go out and buy another 3 receivers (at $100 each). Hopefully we should have them by the end of the week :( No they don’t have the ability to courier the modem to us – it has to go by Registered Aust post.

  7. Gregon 18 Jun 2007 at 8:58 pm

    I recall that when i was with bigpond years ago technical support was anything but and you only need to read whirlpool to read about bigpond complaints and poor service. Their practices and general attitude was anything but great and i was happy to move to a far better ISP.

  8. Megon 18 Jun 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Greg

    Yes, I’ve been on Whirlpool. Glad you got a choice. Here it’s a case of “BOHICA”….

  9. Willon 18 Jun 2007 at 11:03 pm

    “If you have wired networking then tech support will not even talk to you if you have any connectivity issues, irrespective of whether the fault is in the networking.”

    Err.. not sure where you’re getting that info from – They won’t support your network – however they will support you getting *one* PC working. After that point, it’s up to you to diagnose any internal networking problems, or problems with other computers.

    I’d suggest lodging a formal complaint regarding the billing system changes – you may (although no guarantee) find that you can get Bigpond to buy-back or refund you a certain amount on the modems, or and/or trade them for wireless adaptors. It wouldn’t be an unreasonable ask (in my opinion).

    Alternatively, if you apply for ADSL, they might be able to find an alternate path (copper-pair availability changes all the time, and waiting lists are kept for those who’re interested in getting ADSL).

    Given that you’ve got so many lines, you might find that you have an account representative too – but I’m not so certain. If you’re in a Countrywide area (though.. with cable, maybe not) then paying a visit to the TCW office might help. They’re generally pretty helpful.

  10. Anthonyon 19 Jun 2007 at 10:32 am

    Meg, don’t be UnAustralian.

    You just need to be more patient. Wait out your minor troubles (surely there is Telstra owned phone booth within driving distance you can conduct business communications from even temporarily) until the recent call centre closures and subsequent staff redundancies of some 700+ have taken effect because it has be done to improve customer service. Phil Burgess says so. Telstra are listening, I mean talking. No sorry, screaming through a loud speaker at how good they are doing. Why are you trying to undo all their words with this blog post of an actual customer experience?

    Vote 1 Telstra.

  11. Megon 19 Jun 2007 at 10:46 am

    Hi Will

    “Err.. not sure where you’re getting that info from – They won’t support your network – however they will support you getting *one* PC working.”

    That comes straight from my experience with tech support. I have point blank been told that they will only support stand alone connections and while a network is active there’s nothing they can do – and you have to talk with your “networking specialist”.

    I’ll put another call in and see what I can do re ADSL & the modems.

    By the way, I’m a 30 minute drive from the Sydney CBD…

  12. Megon 19 Jun 2007 at 10:47 am


    Hehe :)

  13. Fat Bastardon 19 Jun 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Anthony

    The remaining 22 telstra phone booths around Australia are very hard to access these days. It seems thay have become the new meeting places for the “Friends of Telstra Association”.

  14. Megon 19 Jun 2007 at 4:11 pm


    So I call up internet sales. Can get through there as quick as a flash. Bloody snotty consultant tells me it doesn’t matter what the next door neighbour has – every phone line is different. No you can’t get a new phone line with a copper cable because your area probably doesn’t support it, never mind what the people next door have. WTF.

    So next I ring billing to ask them what the options are. It seems billing is “experiencing higher than normal call demand” and aren’t even prepared to put me in a queue. The message said to ring back tomorrow. TRULY.

    So I called billing again and selected the “press this number if you are thinking of closing your account”. I’m told this always works. Sure no queue here. This section is obviously well staffed.

    Here I’m told they can offer me a month’s free connection. But they have no idea about anything else. Best wait and see if the new modem with the wifi works first.

    Thought I’d try internet sales again and asked for a new ADSL service on a new line. For this I have to ring phone sales. Here I’m told that one of the 5 lines ISN’T paired so I should theoretically be able to get ADSL on this. I just have to put an order in with (another) service provider. This is the most encouraging news I’ve heard all week. Fingers crossed.

  15. Kathie Thomason 19 Jun 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Are they giving you credit for all the calls you’ve had to make Meg? 😉

  16. Kathie Thomas, A Claytons Secretaryon 04 Jul 2007 at 9:55 pm

    I came across a Telstra blog today with a link to a cartoonist who is also an employee from what I can gather. Thought some of the broadband cartoons might amuse you. That’s if you’re still not hurting too much Meg.


  17. Megon 04 Jul 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Hi Kathie

    Thanks for sending that link. Some funny ones there! Yes I’m still hurting – it’s not over yet :(

  18. […] used to have fast broadband. Then my account was migrated to a new billing system and I lost the use of my very own cable modem […]