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Poor Business Support from PlusNet - YOUR experiences PLEASE

rdowns
Grafter
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎04-08-2007

Poor Business Support from PlusNet - YOUR experiences PLEASE

It pains me to write looking for confirmation that PlusNet are treating other Business users in such a poor manner as I have experienced – but I feel I have little choice.
In the past, PlusNet seems to value business customers and had a frequently updated product portfolio that reasonably reflected the market offering.
Sadly, this has ceased to be true – especially regarding their approach to business clients needing to move to Fibre based products.
PlusNet continue to make clients jump through hoops to try and get onto the “Fibre Trial” with no understanding of business needs to arrange appointments in a practical timescale (“we will book your upgrade within 5 working days”) – or to speak to anyone about the trial (“a small number of people deal with these requests and we can’t put you through to them, we have your information”)
While other providers – some smaller – some larger are completely able to provide a fully supported business fibre product, why are PlusNet NOT able to do so?  Previously, I have been told it is because the products are changing or expected to change in the near future.  Seriously, how hard is it to plan for an 80Mb version of the existing product? – Or any of the proposed FTTP services of 100Mb and above, are PlusNet even AWARE of the Openreach plans for FTTP services in the 300Mb+ range providing ISPs with a complete choice of end-user speeds?
Today, Phil Richardson has denied a long-standing business client access to the Fibre trial “As we were unable to come to an agreement” – Phil-speak for he didn’t like me pointing out the deficiencies in PlusNets non-business-like approach to business clients – And I should know, I have over a hundred clients with PlusNet and I provide the contact with PlusNet support for them on a daily basis.  All I wanted to do was to arrange an OpenReach appointment to suit the client when I could be on-site to configure the router for minimal down time. How is that not a reasonable BUSINESS request.
In recent months the attitude and approach of the first line support staff has been increasingly ill-informed, incorrect and obstructive for the most general of queries.  Queries relating to the Fibre trial have been fobbed off with the most generic, off-page and incorrect information imaginable, in every case with the swift caveat “it’s only a trial, no one has any training on the product”.  In one case I was told “anything over 25Mb means it’s working great”.  Oh dear.
Please reply with your bad experiences – especially from a business perspective.  Hopefully we can get PlusNet back where they used to be.
 
Otherwise, what are the alternatives? – Where do we go for GREAT business support? All ideas welcome.
RD
4 REPLIES 4
rdowns
Grafter
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎04-08-2007

Re: Poor Business Support from PlusNet - YOUR experiences PLEASE

Follow up...
I received notification to complete the customer satisfaction survey regarding the client DENIED ACCESS to the Fibre Trial...
Imagine my surprise when I found the survey had already been completed?!
I wonder how that could have happened?Huh
RD
prichardson
Grafter
Posts: 1,503
Thanks: 1
Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: Poor Business Support from PlusNet - YOUR experiences PLEASE

Sorry you feel this way over this situation and you certainly do paint us in a bad light with this message. It does however only cover part of the responses we have provided to you, and rather selective portions at that.
Plusnet Business products have only seen a single refresh in the product space in a little over 7 years. There is no hiding that we are behind the curve on some providers when it comes first to market FTTx services, including our own consumer brand. We do have every intention of doing so and at this time, we have extended the original trial from our residential base to allow access to Business customers, though this is 100% a trial.
One problem with out current products is they are built on the foundation to supply ADSL/ADSL2+. This is from the product model and pricing, through to support and traffic management. Traditionally business customers have higher usage patterns, so there are also significant amounts of capacity planning that we must do to allow this. We do have every intent in releasing a full commercial product though, but at present do not have time scales for this.
As indicated, I will investigate the responses to the second account we discussed in the call. You indeed have one ticket with over 5 days and no response has been supplied. This specific ticket had been highlighted to me earlier in the week and following discussion with one of the team members, I had been left with the impression that we had responded to you and the infact has not occurred, I'm sorry for this and will address this accordingly.
I can confirm that my response today does indeed confirm we declined this specific request to joint the trial. As per the message, we invited you to further request an invite once you are happy to proceed based on the conditions of the trial.
In this instance, we are not happy to accept your variation to the trial conditions. As noted, this is a trial and we aim to place orders within 5 working days of receipt of your request (the terms of the trial state "note it may take 2 weeks to reply to your ticket"). We have pretty much been rigid to this aim with exception of some recent issues with hardware dispatch, so new requests have been held slightly pending resolution to this. Outside of this, we are not prepared to apply significant priority to your request and push it to the top of all support queues.
Right now, we have commercial products that we are supporting to published aspirational targets. I appreciate this is not what you want to hear, but entry to the trial will indeed not receive the same priority as these tickets.
Once on the trial, support will be offered for the most part on par with our commercial products. Whilst we don't have the dedicated support available team wide, some elements of the support are done via Subject Matter Experts (SME), who have a sole function of learning the product inside and out in order to train others in preparation for commercial launch. In this case we have a SME for provisioning of service and faults elements are spread amongst of our core faults agents.
If you feel you are not receiving this support, by all means highlight any individual cases to us here on the forums so we can get this addressed, though I will repeat we are already looking at your main account and the (lack of) replies.
With regards to the survey you are seeing problems with, I have highlighted this to the project owner for customer satisfaction. I have been made aware it is a limitation of the survey software in use and a new survey link is issues each month for that reason.
Again, if you are happy to proceed, raise a new trial query and we will proceed in line with our normal aims on these orders. I would ask that you provide a third date for availability (as originally one two were supplied) and confirm if dates beyond the original nine and ten days are possible, as we do quote regional delays of four to six weeks in some area (though this is often none known until we have placed the provisional portion of the order).
rdowns
Grafter
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎04-08-2007

Re: Poor Business Support from PlusNet - YOUR experiences PLEASE

Phil.
Thank you for your reply – as it is quite defensive I will elaborate as to why I continue to be dissatisfied with the support received by myself on behalf of many of PlusNet’s business customers…
I have been supplying and configuring PlusNet ADSL accounts for over 10 years and in that time have seen many product and pricing changes.  I fondly remember when PlusNet used to drop their business prices in line with the market trend automatically and got great kudos from their clients in return.
I read with interest your decision to move to the Cloudmark anti-spam platform, something I have used and promoted for some years since being an early beta-tester of the original Cloudmark product. I have frequently mentioned it to your support staff as a much better solution, having had to disable the old spam filtering for almost all clients due to the false positives and poor filtering.
I act as first line support for my clients as they are not technical and do not want to get involved in trying to understand or diagnose issues with (in this case) their broadband service and so I not only see many issues well before they are reflected in your service status pages – but often report the issues to your support staff before they are aware of them.
Regarding the Fibre trial and my question raised regarding my own business account, you are probably not aware that our street cabinet was not scheduled for FTTC at all as it was “not commercially viable” according to OpenReach, while the surrounding area was scheduled to be upgraded.
I personally started and ran a campaign to resolve this and with local support from others on the same cabinet, in a little over three months got our cabinet not only scheduled for deployment – but in its own single cabinet rollout phase and later installed and commissioned before the rest of the estate that was originally planned to have FTTC.  This required working with OpenReach and others on a National and Regional level and resulted in over a hundred properties being able to have Fibre based services where there was to be no provision in the foreseeable future.
The campaign heavily promoted PlusNet as a preferred supplier despite the lack of public information regarding your plans for future residential fibre services that can compare to higher performance products with over 2Mb upload speeds.  Do not forget, apart from TalkTalk, no other major supplier restricts residential users to 2Mb and I would like to think PlusNet would aim higher than TalkTalk service levels.
The actual query I raised was to ask why I had been able to achieve a speed of about 37.4Mb for a couple of weeks until the router (not the modem) had to be moved and then the speed was now apparently capped or profiled some 2.5Mb lower.  As usual and only after your intervention, I have now received the boilerplate response that 34Mbps is within the product specification blah blah blah and so on. Not even attempting to understand the question asked, which was to enable a better understanding of the product offering and to assist in diagnosing client issues with the same.
The response further highlights a lack of understanding in that according to your staff, the maximum possible throughput is 37Mbps, which I had previously clearly exceeded – as had another BT Infinity Fibre user on this cabinet who can also still record over 37.5Mb on the same test at speedtest.net.
For your staff then to go on to quote the BT availability checker expected speed back at me is to add insult to ignorance, given how inaccurate and pessimistic the results are known to be in almost all cases.  Your staff also promised to post the test results returned onto the ticket – and again, this was never done.
Can you explain how you feel you can advertise an “up to 40Mb” fibre service and then appear comfortable quoting a maximum possible speed of 37Mb with 34Mb being perfectly acceptable in near ideal circumstances on a short (120m) line with the highest possible modem sync speed (39999 / 9995)?  From the information I can find, there is no justification for a 37Mb profile, the line sync is 39999 and there is no “overhead” as quoted by one of your staff, the actual achievable bitrate on the line from the advanced stats I have obtained is over 52Mb downstream, giving a huge margin to be able to achieve the 39999Kb rate if it is not artificially profiled to 37Mb by PlusNet.  It appears no such profile was in place when my service was initially provisioned and that is why I had a higher speed.  Perhaps this is one for the “SME” team to comment on?
It is apparent that BT infinity users can achieve higher speeds and in my experience installing and diagnosing issues with Fibre services for another ISP who does not impose such profiles, we are usually able to achieve real world speed test results (again on speedtest.net) of 37.5Mb with much longer line lengths of 400 – 700m, with over 34Mb at lines up to 900m.  It is with this in mind that I contacted your support staff to see what profile or speed cap is rightly or wrongly in place that has caused the drop in speed that I have seen. I was trying to get a better understanding of the service, possible issues and its limitations but the support received fell far short of expectations.  At the end of the day, I use and demonstrate the performance and speed of my real-world connection when proposing PlusNet services.  It would help if they met the expected speeds easily achievable by other more well known ISPs.
Others are also reporting upload speeds falling short of expectations and constructive, useful, technically accurate information would benefit everyone while off-sheet, generic boilerplate excuses do a great dis-service to all concerned.
Indeed, with the recent ASA ruling outlawing “up to” speeds from next April, I wonder when PlusNet will be open and honest about their fibre product being knowingly capped at 37Mb and unlikely to achieve more than 35Mb for any user – let alone the rule that it should be achievable by at least 10% of users.
I think it is only fair that your products should stand to be compared to others in the market in an open and honest manner…  Oh yes - But then again, it’s only a trial – not a real product.
On the subject of the terms of the “Business Trial” I do understand the terms but it appears PlusNet fail to appreciate the needs of their clients. Busy businesses in difficult economic times needing the best possible service from their suppliers cannot afford unnecessary down-time of their Internet connections and need to be able to arrange a suitable installation date and time and coordinate this with their IT staff in a practical and efficient manner.  To not only make the team responsible unobtainable over the telephone – but to enforce an “up to 5 working days” delay on orders makes planning engineer visits difficult and puts the clients own needs in a poor second place to your own poor priorities and procedures. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you where your customer – the client – should come in your priorities, but at present it’s clearly not close to first.
If you still really feel your business client should jump through hoops and come to you cap-in-hand and again beg permission to join your Fibre trial, only to be told no again for some other creative reason, then please say so and be judged on your actions.  Alternatively, you could action the previous request from a long-term business client in a professional manner befitting a professional company, just like the client and I expected in the first place – and how I expect most business users would expect to be treated.  It’s up to you – just let me know.
If you really do have a “SME” team then you should realise the benefit of experienced staff working to your benefit in the field where your staff never venture.  I have previously had critical information completely dismissed by staff whose lack of knowledge and understanding of real-world technical issues only served to delay and complicate fault resolutions.  While you are clearly at the mercy of the OpenReach systems in many circumstances, some recognition of those technically competent staff trying to resolve your own client problems would be a huge benefit to all and improve your reputation in a competitive and low margin business model.
RD
AlaricAdair
Champion
Posts: 5,658
Thanks: 652
Fixes: 1
Registered: ‎21-03-2011

Re: Poor Business Support from PlusNet - YOUR experiences PLEASE

My experience of PlusNet as a business user has been reasonably good. There were some initial teething problems which were dealt with when I was in contact with their business team. I've installed telecoms services around the globe for a range of demanding clients, so I have a reasonable base to judge.
Fibre Trial is just that, a trial service. I'd hesitate to offer services to my clients through a contended trial service for business purposes. I'd wait until it is a main stream service. With PlusNet acting in effect as an intermediary to OpenReach during the trial I'd be anticipating quirks in the service delivery. Certainly BR/OpenReach usually work to their own calendar when it comes to delivering services.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.