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7 posts

Wannabe Geek
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Topic # 123272 1-Jul-2013 21:48
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So I purchased a Huawei E587 mobile wifi hotspot to connect up the iPads and stuff on the go, and what a great gadget. Nicely secure, fast, pretty good battery life, came with 2GB of data ... what's not to like.

The top-up process - that's what not to like.

Checking the usage last week in the admin interface, it was getting pretty close to the 2GB mark so I went online to the Telecom website and topped it up by $50, which should have been good for another 2GB. The top up web page just gives you the option of adding money to the mobile number, but I didn't think that was any big deal as it's clearly a data modem - it plainly can't use a voice or text plan.

So everything was fine, right up until Telecom booted the modem off the Internet as the original 2GB was all used up. Just brilliant.

So I called 123, waited half an hour to be bounced around a few people in the Philippines trying to get the $50 credit actually added to the plan - apparently it had been fully consumed in about ten seconds flat by being allocated to "casual data" - and then part way through the process the call was simply cut off because it was after 9pm.

Before the call was terminated with extreme prejudice, the person on the other end seemed to be trying to tell me that there was actually no plan loaded against the modem, and that I would need to create a new plan every time I needed to top up the data allowance ... at least I think so - it was tough trying to understand her accent.

None of this was explained by the retail salesperson in the Telecom shop, naturally, and had it been, I would have been down to Voda or 2D in seconds. The idea that you can't top up a prepaid plan by giving Telecom money on their own website seems entirely bizarre - it's the kind of pointless bureaucracy that would have made the Soviet-era Bulgarian Civil Service blush with embarrassment.

My expectation was that having bought the modem off the salesperson - who helpfully pointed out that 2GB on prepaid was $50, while adding the same data to our existing company post-paid account would cost $60 - both the modem and the plan would just work, and that Telecom would thereafter be happy to take my money in exchange for data. Foolish me.

So the moral of the story is this: the hardware is great, the network is fast, but the prepaid billing has been designed by idiots.

Anyone from Telecom care to explain the rationale behind why this has been made so difficult?

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3796 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 847982 1-Jul-2013 23:22
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Which plan are on you (on this page):

http://www.telecom.co.nz/internet/mobilebroadband/plansandpricing/

?

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 847999 2-Jul-2013 00:02
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I think, if I understand the OP right, he bought the prepaid stick that came preloaded with 2GB of data that lasts for 60 days.

then he assumed that by topping up money this would automatically activate the 2GB monthly plan.

He assumed wrongly. there is no 2GB prepaid plan for a start.

http://www.telecom.co.nz/internet/mobilebroadband/plansandpricing/

the device doesn't know what plan you want, you needed to choose one. once you have picked one, then it renews automatically after that (unless you don't top up with enough credit) but the first time, you do need to choose. Because you didn't, it defaults to casual data. that's not ideal I agree though.


but on the plus side, it is actually $49 for 3GB, not 2GB but they are the same whether you go on account or prepaid.


ETA: I just realised the timing means these plans may not have been out at the time you bought your device



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Wannabe Geek
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  Reply # 848037 2-Jul-2013 08:06
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I guess it's my mistake - when the Telecom salesperson in the Telecom store sold me the Telecom product and we talked about the Telecom plans and I pointed at the plan I wanted and he then took my money and said "you're good to go", that a plan would have been activated.

I should have recognised that my next step would actually entailed doing a search on the Telecom website to validate that the salesperson had actually done what they had said. I'll keep that in mind for next time I darken the doorway of one of the retail stores.

Of course the other mistake I made was going online to top up the modem. Anyone with half a clue about web services would presumably have put some validation in the business logic, so that when I entered the phone number that didn't have a plan attached - as appears to be the case here - it would throw up an exception and alert me to the problem ... rather than (say) jus taking my money anyway and automatically putting me on the casual data rape-and-pillage plan.

And foolishly, I also made the mistake of thinking that calling 123 to try and sort out the issue would result in a better result than half an hour of waiting, a discussion with someone I could barely understand and then being hung up on.

Of course what's so impressive about this is that the entire problem could also have been avoided by simply putting a note in the box the modem came in - "Have you activated a plan?" - with a link to the appropriate URL. Given the number of failed business processes in this entire saga, it almost seems churlish to ask for something so straightforward.

But that's what has impressed me throughout - this isn't a simple error by one person who left their brain at home that day, it's incompetence in depth. Well done, Telecom.

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  Reply # 848053 2-Jul-2013 08:41
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Those new data plans are way better than they were last week. $25 for 500 Meg as ridiculousness when you could for $19 buy 500meg on a voice , data combo plan. What they now need are plans which have say a 2 or 3 month expiry date.




Regards,

Old3eyes


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  Reply # 848113 2-Jul-2013 09:57
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Clarke: I guess it's my mistake - when the Telecom salesperson in the Telecom store sold me the Telecom product and we talked about the Telecom plans and I pointed at the plan I wanted and he then took my money and said "you're good to go", that a plan would have been activated.

I should have recognised that my next step would actually entailed doing a search on the Telecom website to validate that the salesperson had actually done what they had said. I'll keep that in mind for next time I darken the doorway of one of the retail stores.

Of course the other mistake I made was going online to top up the modem. Anyone with half a clue about web services would presumably have put some validation in the business logic, so that when I entered the phone number that didn't have a plan attached - as appears to be the case here - it would throw up an exception and alert me to the problem ... rather than (say) jus taking my money anyway and automatically putting me on the casual data rape-and-pillage plan.

And foolishly, I also made the mistake of thinking that calling 123 to try and sort out the issue would result in a better result than half an hour of waiting, a discussion with someone I could barely understand and then being hung up on.

Of course what's so impressive about this is that the entire problem could also have been avoided by simply putting a note in the box the modem came in - "Have you activated a plan?" - with a link to the appropriate URL. Given the number of failed business processes in this entire saga, it almost seems churlish to ask for something so straightforward.

But that's what has impressed me throughout - this isn't a simple error by one person who left their brain at home that day, it's incompetence in depth. Well done, Telecom.


there is definitely a problem with the store staff not giving you the full info,  but its not the actual topping up that is the problem, its the way they explain it to you, which created your assumption that topping up would autmatically select a plan for you.

the topping up aspect (where you topup credit and have to activate a separate plan) is how all telcos work in NZ.
Have you come from Australia? It works differently there where the plan you get depends on the amount you topup (or 'recharge' as they call it).  Arguably that's a better way of doing it, since it removes one step from the process, however it does remove some flexibility where you can top up a chunk of money, and have it last for a long time if you only use a tiny little bit at a time.



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Wannabe Geek
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  Reply # 848399 2-Jul-2013 19:52
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So when you say "the topping up aspect (where you topup credit and have to activate a separate plan) is how all telcos work in NZ", what you seem to be saying is that everyone's business processes are equally broken. I mean, not to make too fine a point of it, what's the purpose of this two-part process, exactly? It seems like some bizarre Telco thing that's designed to make it harder to do business and introduce more complexity for no good reason. If the telcos think that's the path to customer satisfaction, good luck to them.

And today's delightful discovery is that having finally got the top up assigned to a plan - after three calls listening to a lot of Kiwi music on hold for a total of 96 minutes - and the modem up and running again, I've got to keep an eye on usage to ensure I don't blow through the 3GB limit ... because otherwise I'll end up on the casual data rate. Which is about 500% more expensive than the regular rate.

I presume this is because casual data bits are gold-plated or made of carbon fibre or something, compared to your common or garden zeros and ones that make up regular data. I'd call it a scam, but that would be an insult to all the self-respecting scammers in Nigeria. This is a business model that would make a loan shark green with envy.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 848403 2-Jul-2013 20:37
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Clarke: So when you say "the topping up aspect (where you topup credit and have to activate a separate plan) is how all telcos work in NZ", what you seem to be saying is that everyone's business processes are equally broken. I mean, not to make too fine a point of it, what's the purpose of this two-part process, exactly? It seems like some bizarre Telco thing that's designed to make it harder to do business and introduce more complexity for no good reason. If the telcos think that's the path to customer satisfaction, good luck to them.



some people prefer to be able to top up an amount they want, and not have to do so again for a while.  for example, say you wanted to be on the $15/500MB plan, you might choose to top-up $60 in one go so you don't have to worry about it foer the next 4 months.  But unless you select the $15 plan, they don't know whether that is the plan you want, or whether you actually want the $49 plan. if the system just applied whatever plan was the closest to what you topped up, then topping up $60 would apply the $49 plan, which onlylasts 1 month.  Very annoying

with the australian system (well, Telstras system, don't know if it applies at other telcos there), when you topup this automatically activates the plan that is the value you top up, even if your current plan doesn't finish yet or you want to activate a lower plan.



If the system worked how you want it to, then you would be forced to only top up the value of the plan you wanted, so people would have less flexibility about when and how much they topped up.


http://www.telstra.com.au/internet/mobile-broadband/prepaid/rates/
so if you topped up $40 thinking that would be good for 2 sets of 21 days of 250MB you would be annoyed when you find you actually are forced onto 1 x 30 day plan with 750MB


So basically if the NZ telcos did it the way you want it, some people would be happier (like you), other people would be pissed off.  I think the way you want it is better for me, but for other people it won't be. you cant please everybody.




Remember that you only need to activate a plan once. It's not something you do every time you topup, just the first time. Once you have done this the first time, then it assumes you want that plan every month and so, provided you have enough credit, will automatically apply the plan unless you say not to.


(and btw it is possible to use a data stick to send text messages)




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  Reply # 848406 2-Jul-2013 20:50
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I would also highly recommend logging into the Mobile Online Self Service portal here:

http://www.telecom.co.nz/ytmobile

There you can top-up with credit card, and select which plan you wish to purchase on the same portal.

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  Reply # 848421 2-Jul-2013 21:35
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so the summary is the store sales person allegedly failed you.

*sigh* since is could well be true [never trust anyone esp if it involves your money] - after all those words (I couldn't find the answer) did you get any refund from telecom?

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  Reply # 848451 2-Jul-2013 23:28
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Clarke: So when you say "the topping up aspect (where you topup credit and have to activate a separate plan) is how all telcos work in NZ", what you seem to be saying is that everyone's business processes are equally broken. I mean, not to make too fine a point of it, what's the purpose of this two-part process, exactly? It seems like some bizarre Telco thing that's designed to make it harder to do business and introduce more complexity for no good reason. If the telcos think that's the path to customer satisfaction, good luck to them.

Vodafone has a "Data Angel" service which means that when you exceed your data allowance, you get cut off, and get a web page that you have to press yes that you want to continue at casual rates.

Telecom currently does not have something similar.

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  Reply # 848486 3-Jul-2013 07:05
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eXDee:
Clarke: So when you say "the topping up aspect (where you topup credit and have to activate a separate plan) is how all telcos work in NZ", what you seem to be saying is that everyone's business processes are equally broken. I mean, not to make too fine a point of it, what's the purpose of this two-part process, exactly? It seems like some bizarre Telco thing that's designed to make it harder to do business and introduce more complexity for no good reason. If the telcos think that's the path to customer satisfaction, good luck to them.

Vodafone has a "Data Angel" service which means that when you exceed your data allowance, you get cut off, and get a web page that you have to press yes that you want to continue at casual rates.

Telecom currently does not have something similar.


Don't think that would have made a difference in this case since he didn't have a plan active in the first place.

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  Reply # 849231 4-Jul-2013 13:05
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He has a point, why does Telecom still have multiple different ways to top up that do different things?

They have been improving things but it's like a big old ship turning super slowly.

Are the sales people trained to tell people to use http://www.telecom.co.nz/ytmobile portal for the top up?

Presumably there is some reason why Telecom haven't removed/redirected all the other various methods to one good one yet... but they should just do it and deal with the once off increase in CS calls.

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  Reply # 849236 4-Jul-2013 13:13
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NonprayingMantis: 

Don't think that would have made a difference in this case since he didn't have a plan active in the first place.


I see no reason why they can't have a captive portal type page when usage is exceeded that gives you a message and takes you to the right place to top up/choose a plan.

Other than developer time / bean counters / being a low project priority project... of course.

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  Reply # 849237 4-Jul-2013 13:19
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Ragnor:
NonprayingMantis: 

Don't think that would have made a difference in this case since he didn't have a plan active in the first place.


I see no reason why they can't have a captive portal type page when usage is exceeded that gives you a message and takes you to the right place to top up/choose a plan.

Other than developer time / bean counters / being a low project priority project... of course.


the point was that the OP never actually had a plan active, so there was no usage limit that could be exceeded to then trigger this captive portal.

Whether dongles etc should come with a plan active by default is a different question. That would certainly have solved the OPs problem, but then no doubt Telecom would get complaints from people wondering where their credit went since because they assumed they only used credit when they activated a plan....

Like I said above, you can't please everybody.

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  Reply # 849242 4-Jul-2013 13:31
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Hey NonprayingMantis - great analysis of the data situation - well done with your examples. It helped me out - I hope it helped the OP.




Cheers,
Mike

Photographer/Videographer clickmedia.nz


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