Monday, October 15, 2012

 

New and Improved

For some people, it’s ‘Danger: high voltage’; for others, ‘This won’t hurt’, or ‘For the children’. For me, the most threatening three-word combination in the English language is ‘New and Improved’. Usually, it heralds that sinking feeling when you return from your local Giant SupermarketTM to find your favourite korma sauce, scotch eggs or even shower gel suddenly cheap and tasteless, with whatever it was you liked about them jettisoned to cut costs.

After five decent-ish years with Waitrose Broadband, Richard and I returned from Brighton to the new and improved John Lewis Broadband. Can you guess what happened next?

John Lewis Broadband Plus Plusnet Equals No Internet

I remember the shopping around we did after several terrible ISPs to find Waitrose Broadband, and it had mostly worked for us since, the odd problem and the odd oh-dear-we’ve-gone-over-our-download-limit-and-it-costs-how-much? aside. But it couldn’t last. They’re winding up the service into a new one. Improved, of course. And who are the new providers for our forced upgrade to an alleged cheaper, faster, unlimited service?

John Lewis Broadband, the epitome of respectable reliability, actually supplied if you look carefully at the small print by Plusnet, which claims to be good, honest broadband from Yorkshire. What could possibly go wrong?

Everyfuckingthing.

Us having made the shift in early September and them having taken a few weeks to action it, despite promises (warning signs there), we got home from Conference to eight days of zero internet and increasingly weary phone calls to find out what the hell was wrong. And they don’t even play Heaven 17 on hold.

As it happened, Richard had become very ill while we were away at Conference in Brighton, and once he’d recovered just enough to drive us home, I came down with it and was, as my rather too frequent saying goes, much more ill than usual. So things were quite fraught to begin with (and not being able to get online to NHS Direct. Obviously).

Imagine, then, the timbre of our phone conversations when we rang them three times on our first day back, for a total of two and a half hours, including the 45 minutes on hold after which they just hung up and made us go back to the start.

Imagine doing that – ringing them every single day for the next week for between one and three hours – each time having to slowly explain the problem all over again to a new munchkin, and do exactly the same tests because obviously it must be us, and not them… Until they admitted that they’d detected 2361 rejected (by their end) attempts by our correctly programmed (by us) router to connect, not all of them manual but by God it felt like it, and that it was in fact their fault after all.

They just couldn’t identify that fault correctly. Worse, they kept making promises. Here are just a few of them that we made a note of:
At long last, Richard got a short and sheepish phone call to say that they’d found a workaround that involved reversing several things they’d said they’d done and that they’d told us to do from the start, and that it would be working in the morning.

Imagine my genuine gobsmackery when, at long last, on merely the ninth day, this turned out to be the truth.

We’ve now had a connection back for a week, and I’ve caught up with most of the things I wanted to catch up with; it’s remarkable how something as simple as being internetless makes me feel crazed, depressed and as if I’d been exiled to Flatland. And I’m still physically very washed out, but mostly only as ill as normal.

Now I just need to gather my strength for the bills, and to ask, ‘Shouldn’t you be paying me?’


New and Improved Labour

On the bright side, during our week of never-ending phone lies, at least we weren’t at the Labour Party Conference in which they attempted to rebrand themselves as Nineteenth Century Tories. Well, I can see a direct line in my own party and philosophy from the ones who were opposed to the Tories in the Nineteenth Century and are still, despite everything, far less conservative than Labour, so I can’t say I was impressed. Still less that it wasn’t even genuine Disraeli, who despite being an utter shit at least paid lip service to “One Nation” meaning that everyone had to get on: only the hollow marketing exercise that is today’s Labour Party could rebrand as One Nation founded on class war and hating the rich and not spot the contradiction in that.

But what do you expect, with Ed Balls boasting on the Today Programme that thirteen years of disastrous Labour Government left literally no economic problems at all? Or with Ed Miliband calling the Lib Dems “accomplices”, an accusation so ‘brave’ (as Sir Humphrey would say) that it would be a delight to see Mr Miliband’s face when charged as an accomplice to the Labour Government’s illegal war, illegal war crimes, illegal rendition, illegal collusion with Murdoch, and mostly legal but amazingly stupid total financial collapse. Accomplices? Bring it on, Inspector Knacker.

None of which meant there will ever be any chance of me switching to New and Improved Labour.


This morning, to come briefly up to date, I see that the Tories are out to demonstrate that they have not improved, and that they’re still at their old tricks. With the Conservatives having teamed up with Labour to protect the interests of the Tory Nineteenth Century and stop democracy coming to the Lords, the Lib Dems told them they could go fuck themselves over their preferred changes to Parliamentary Boundaries. This morning, it’s reported that the Tories have a brilliant idea to get the Lib Dems to change our minds: no, not actual democracy. That would be madness.

That Tory plan in full: ‘We’ll slip you a few million quid, and you change your vote. Deal?’

That’s not new (and certainly not improved). It’s exactly the way the crooked Tory Government in the Nineties – and the crooked Labour Government in the Noughties – were open for business, but unlike the other two, Lib Dems have never been for sale. If we move an inch on this, I’ll eat my blog.

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Comments:
What most people don't realise about Plusnet is who owns them....

https://www.duedil.com/company/03279013/plusnet-plc
 
Ha! No, I didn't realise that. Though at least John Lewis' ownership is respectable.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Ouch! Makes for painful reading Alex :(

I understand you've been in touch via Twitter since posting so leave it with us and we'll make sure the issue gets the attention it deserves.

Best regards,

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Digital Care

 
Thank you, Bob. I'll look forward to it.

You have our contact details - obviously, on checking the email you have for us we have not yet received any form of apology or even enquiry.

We have, of course, had several invoices.
 
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