It seems that, at last after seven months, TelstraClear will admit in a public forum they have a YouTube problem, and the fix is coming. Later today (17th Apr 2010 12:30pm ), John Bone, Head of Customer Experience at TelstraClear and I will be sharing comments about this problem on Radio New Zealand This Way Up.
The company will admit now there's a problem - one that affects mainly people accessing the popular YouTube service through TelstraClear's network. Some may say "is that a problem? Seriously, people complain about not being able to watch videos of cats playing with iPads?"
But then you have to realise that TelstraClear holds the #2 ISP spot in New Zealand, and YouTube is the fourth most visited site in the country. Add to the mix that some people do have business interests on YouTube (training, new product releases, social media interactions) and you realise that it does affect a lot of people.
We first saw comments about this problem back in September 2009. This is about seven months for TelstraClear to admit there's a problem, start a project to fix it, allocate a budget, and deliver. Will they deliver? Last night a tweet from the company said: "Caches to arrive in NZ on the 26th. They need to be optimised with expectation that YouTube experience improves significantly by mid May ^LP"
So this is pretty much confirmation of my previous post, when I explained the whole TelstraClear YouTube problem had to do with Google caches, local traffic and more.
What bothers me though is that although TelstraClear provides a great Internet service, and users are holding to it despite YouTube problems and bad customer service (I will get to that soon), the company seems to think talking to their customers is not necessary.
We have a discussion going on Geekzone about the TelstraClear YouTube problem since 8th September 2009. In about seven months the discussion had 30,600 views and 390 replies. The company didn't reply there once. Not a single line acknowledging a problem, or giving a hint of hope.
The same problem was discussed in blogs around New Zealand (not only here) but the company at best posted in a couple of blogs confirming there was an issue and that they'd do something.
Why, you ask, don't those users change providers? Because as bad as the YouTube problem is, the service overall is still good value for money, in terms of speed and reliability when comparing with other ISPs.
But TelstraClear don't stop here in "Bad Customer Communications Book, chapter 1". They also write "Bad Customer Communications Book, chapter 2" with their spectacular failure to provide decent customer services over the phone line.
Just this morning I read on New Zealand Herald how "A snapshot survey conducted by the Weekend Herald, which involved timing how long it took 10 of the country's internet service providers to provide human support, has uncovered some alarming waits. Of all the ISPs, TelstraClear proved the most inefficient."
They continue "During the first round of calls about midday on Tuesday, it took 30m 44s for a human voice to answer a call."
And the end is "[To its credit, TelstraClear warned on both occasions that the longest waiting calls were 36 and 65 minutes. Both calls were answered faster than warned - the first took 30m 44s when the warning was 36m and the second took 58m 8s when the warning was 65 - perhaps because some frustrated customers hung up."
But it's not just newspapers that have this problem. What about a tweet from Debra E Clark saying "OMG, another call to Telstra and the wait time is in excess of 1 hour... ever heard of hiring more staff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^dc"
Then there's the transparent proxy cache systems in place at TelstraClear. It seems the norm for the system to fail every few days now, leaving web users with nothing but experiencing timeouts or empty pages when accessing content hosted on international sites. Although I have to say there's at least one person I know inside the company that seems to look at this seriously when we complain.
I should just have summed it all up with "TelstraClear please listen and talk to your customers. Don't send newsletters only. And don't think posting on Twitter is all that matters for customer communication".
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