If the multi-technology mix NBN was a building program…

One day NBNCo paid ~$11bn for blocks of land with which to build. The blocks may have existing buildings on them or they might be completely vacant. For many blocks (the number and location are strictly commercially sensitive – NBNCo didn’t ask, and the seller didn’t feel obliged to tell), they don’t know what’s on the block of land: it could be prime real estate or it could be a swamp.

They don’t even know if there is in fact land at the place that they were told and to solve these problems NBNCo have agreed to pay extra to the seller to survey the land that they bought.

Every 18 months or so, NBNCo then place a big sign at a random number of blocks in random places saying “Sometime soon we’ll build a building here!”. Occasionally on some blocks, for no describable reason, the sign is pulled down. This is the best information we get from the NBNCo public website and maps.

Continue reading “If the multi-technology mix NBN was a building program…”

Hello, how can we not help you?

I’d like to relate my experience trying to upgrade from a Bigpond Turbo modem to one of the new 4G ones. I have to vent my frustration, it really was so bad.

I call 13 7663 and say to the robot woman, “new modem” and confirm I’m calling from the phone connected to the account. I spend a lot of time on hold (oh well. Speaker phones are awesome…) and the rep answers. “Welcome to Telstra, this is John.” “Hi, I’d like to upgrade my modem…” He says, “Hello? Welcome to Telstra, this is John.” More silence. Then he hangs up.

Grr. Must be a bad line. I ring back, spend more time on hold. Rep answers, same thing. Can’t hear me. Odd. Because I was bored and had time to kill, I rang again. SAME thing. Wha?!?!

I ring once more and this time I say “Sales” and say “No” to the “is this the phone you’re calling about” question. Rep answers, and hey, he can hear me this time. (I guess they don’t like taking calls about new modems from existing customers) “I’d like to upgrade to 4G.” “Ok”. Confirms my DOB etc… “Yes, the 4G wireless modem.” “No, not the wireless hub” “Yes, I know it’s wireless. I have a wireless account already.” (Under my breath – you have that information on your screen. #%@!! Sigh.)

Everything goes smoothly until he confirms the delivery address. “I’d like it delivered to my work, here’s the address”. “Oh… umm.”, he says. “That address isn’t linked to any of your accounts” “I know that, I just want the new modem delivered there.” “Sorry, I can’t do that”. AND HE HANGS UP ON ME. I know he hung up and the call didn’t drop out because the robot woman came back on and asks me to rate the call. Sure I rated the call. The score wasn’t high. :-/

Exasperated, I call again. I get to the stage, “I want to upgrade to 4G.” “You’ll have to pay a $17 cancellation fee”. “Why? It’s out of contract”. “That’s what the computer says. I can’t help you.”. At this stage I gave up. I said “ok, thanks” and hung up.

I’ve been a Telstra customer for years. Heck, I’ve worked for Telstra. Never in my life have I suffered such appallingly horrid customer service. How hard should it be for an existing customer to call and say, “hey, your stuff is so good I want to give you my money for another 24 months?!”.

With Bigpond, very.

Special offer! (Everyone but you)

I’ve always been impressed with Amazon. They can find and post me almost any book ever published half-way across the world for a reasonable price within a few weeks. I’ve bought heaps of books from them and their service has always been excellent.

As happy as I am, Amazon have one annoying flaw. It’s their marketing department.

The offer

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

As someone who’s shown interest in books and magazines on science, you might like to know the Magazines store is offering two-year subscriptions on select science magazines for the price of one until April 30th.

It’s like getting a full year free. Or like getting a bonus zoo pass.
Renew, start a new subscription, or give a gift today.

In this email (targeted enough that it has my name in the subject line) is an offer for Popular Mechanics – $10 for 2 years. What an offer!

Taking the bait

Intrigued, I click on the offer.

Blah blah, log in, choose a shipping address. All smooth sailing, or so I thought:

Important Message

* Popular Mechanics (2-year) cannot be shipped to the selected address.


I try my other Australian postal address address. Same error.

No reason is given. Nothing in the Amazon online help seems relevant. I give up. Amazon loses a sale.


So, Despite Amazon knowing:

    All my previous purchases have been posted to Australian addresses
    My profile is set for Australia
    I’m coming from an Australian IP address

Amazon marketing still still send me an offer that they have no intention of honouring.

The email was nothing more than bait to get me to visit the Amazon website. (Perhaps so I’ll buy something else while I’m there) The offers it contained weren’t genuine. The email was nothing other than spam.

Skewing the results of a survey before the results even arrive

The Perthnow/Sunday Times website is promoting “WA’s biggest law and order survey”. Questions on police, justice, road laws, bikie gangs and that sort of thing.

Perhaps you’re even willing to ignore the unanswerable question 31, “Do you view bikie gangs as social clubs or as
conduits for organised crime? (tick one box)

Yes No Don’t know”


Have a look at the instructions at the bottom of the page for returning the survey: “Please return your
completed survey (no stamp required) to: (address)”

Okay. So a survey on law and order published on the Sunday Times’ website, links to a PDF file that has to be printed out and mailed in! Who, under the age of about 40 has posted a letter in the last 5 years?!

Is this survey actually targeting the opinion of a broad range of Perth citizens or is it only for those of a certain demographic? Sunday Times, put your survey online. Post it on Twitter and Facebook. Give a chance to include the opinions of us who see posting a paper letter in this day and age as anachronistic and absurd.

Holden lemons leave a sour taste

I’ve just read this article by John Connolly about a poor Holden Vectra driver stuck with a four grand repair bill after the cam belt died prematurely. John invites responses about what car should win the award for car so bad it should be “taken out… and shot”.

Here is my reply. Enjoy 🙂

Hello John.

I have just read your article and I would like to tell you about my most miserable driving experience in my entire life, called a 1997 Holden Commodore VT.

I bought this vehicle with a fair share of its used-car warranty remaining from a Holden dealer in 2000. Apart from the usual joy that accompanies buying a used car from a dealer (such as them losing the spare key) I drive home and happily showed my new car to all my friends.

Then, it started. If I had known back then that a fault with the alternator wiring was the mere needle head tip of the iceburg of weird and expensive faults with this car I would have sold it there and then. Heck, I would have given it away…

After the alternator wiring caught fire and was promptly replaced under warranty by the dealer, I started noticing that most of the interior plastics where becoming extraordinarily brittle, especially with the door speaker grilles, snapping at a mere touch. Very annoying.

If a bit of interior wear was all there was to this story then this car would hardly warrant an entry in the Dog and Lemon guide, but I have yet to tell you of the various horribly expensive mechanical faults, many caused by poor design and cheap materials.

I had the power steering pump rebuilt twice. Due to the seals prematurely perishing, this resulted in a spectacular failure mode where stinky hydraulic fluid sprays all over the hot engine causing a rather alarming escape of smoke from under the bonnet while driving.

Due to a poorly designed suspension, tyre life was extremely poor. Some two thousand dollars later for a totally new suspension and the bi-monthly replacement of tyres was finally cut back to yearly.

Naturally, there were many electrical faults with this vehicle which left me stranded. My mechanical engineering knowledge has only increased since I’ve discovered the many complex and expensive components that make a modern engine tick (since over time, I’ve replaced just about all of them) and I can now pepper my conversations with works like “ignition module”, “engine management module” and “crank angle sensor” to impress the best of them.

Then the automatic gearbox died. The gearbox mechanic was baffled that a box that had done 160,000 Kms had broken in such a thorough and spectacular way that he couldn’t even begin to figure out what had caused it.

This is just small sample of the many, many faults I’ve had with the poorest designed, most expensive to own, biggest lemon ever manufactured – The 1997 Holden Commodore VT.

By selling such a spectacular failure of a product Holden have guaranteed I will never spend a single cent on another one of their products ever again. Nor will any of my family, my friends or anyone else willing to hear my story.

(I’ve just got rid of this car and got myself a good deal on a new Mitsubishi 380, with 5 year warranty)

Stamp duty on new cars – thems expensive stamps!

So I make the carefully considered (yeah, right!) decision to buy a new car, then the dealer says that there is a tax called stamp duty that I have to pay. So I expect to receive with my new car two thousand dollars worth of stamps inside! 🙂

What does stamp duty actually buy, anyway? I though the state government was supposed to make all its money from the GST…?