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A few questions from a journalist

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A few questions from a journalist

I'll lay my cards on the table straight away here: I'm a PlusNet customer and I also work as a journalist on a national newspaper – two if you count our Sunday edition.

I'm one of the people who have had the dreaded warning email about going over the 20gig peak-time limit for this month.

I'm a medium-heavy user, I admit that but when the original limits first came in back at the end of the summer I changed my downloading habits, cut out the 4-12 peak-time downloads and games and mainly used the connection during the day.

Out of the blue, I get an email informing me that my connection is now capped during the day until the end of my billing cycle.

I'm not necessarily against the changes – I can live with the midnight-8am off-peak hours, even though they're inconvenient and will welcome the return of the 8am-4pm off-peak allegedly at the end of Feb. My point is, how can a company impose a rule retrospectively? If I'd been notified of the temporary changes which are running until the end of Feb, I would have stuck to them.

I spoke to our tech editor today and he couldn't believe it. As I said to him, when the government brings in the public ban on smoking, people who have ever smoked in public will not be arrested, merely those who do it from that point on. Not only that but the law will be advertised and people will be notified, it won't just be pasted up on a notice board for people to find and then be punished if they're unfortunate enough to have missed it. Why weren't people emailed, warning them what would happen?

He told me he was looking into writing a new-age of broadband piece for an upcoming edition in any case – about the 8meg / 24meg rollout and so on.

I've been with PN for about 17 months now and had no problems. Like I said, I'm not even necessarily against the longer peak-time zone – as long as it genuinely is temporary – I'm against the way this has all been brought in.

What do people in charge have to say about this ... I don't just want a toe-the-company-line we-could-have-done-things-better response. It wouldn't wash with a larger company and it shouldn't do here.
23 REPLIES
MysteryFCM
Grafter
Posts: 528
Registered: 30-08-2007

A few questions from a journalist

Though by no means anti-PN myself (personally love them, even with these "changes"), I can't see you getting anything more than the standard response that has been provided to other users over the same issues (though in saying that, if you really *are* a reporter, you may just be the lucky one amongst the rest of us).
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A few questions from a journalist

Why would I lie? I can send you some cuttings if you really want.
MysteryFCM
Grafter
Posts: 528
Registered: 30-08-2007

A few questions from a journalist

hehe, I was trying to be humerous Wink
JonathanW
Grafter
Posts: 2,648
Registered: 02-10-2007

A few questions from a journalist

These changes haven't been applied retrospectively. They were first announced on December the 7th, both on this forum and via the Service Status section of the Portal. There was lengthy discussion of the announcement, both here and on the AG forums. The management started shortly after this, and usage was only counted going forwards.

People were left on the old profiles, which included the 15gb of Clean Usenet which was first introduced at the start of November. They were only switched to the new system after being billed during December, and in some cases the first week of January.

Yes, in some respects, things could have been done better. But they only apply to the communications side of things, rather than the actual management itself.
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A few questions from a journalist

Nice post!

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These changes haven't been applied retrospectively. They were first announced on December the 7th, both on this forum and via the Service Status section of the Portal. There was lengthy discussion of the announcement, both here and on the AG forums. The management started shortly after this, and usage was only counted going forwards.


This has been my argument from the start. My line usage was changed prior to me being told about sup affecting premier customers the email notification stating this arrived only 4 days ago why should we be forced to look here for info which should have been addressed in your October vision for 2006 email. (according to another post i read it was because they could not handle the influx of emails so they postponed notifying us to make it easier for themselves)

The other point was the usage cannot be reset automatically as yet and is taking longer to reset as it has to be done manually also the extra 8 hours added onto peak as the current system cant handle it. Why was the sytem implemented knowing it was not suitable?
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,450
Thanks: 692
Fixes: 8
Registered: 10-04-2007

A few questions from a journalist

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They were first announced on December the 7th, both on this forum and via the Service Status section of the Portal. There was lengthy discussion of the announcement, both here and on the AG forums.

That is not good enough.

Our terms and conditions require us to monitor the postmaster mailbox.

They do not require us to subscribe the emailed service status postings (which anyway is provided not directly by Plusnet, but via the usertools site which is run by users), they do not require us to visit the forums to read postings in here and they certainly do not require us to visit the ADSLGuide forums.

Customers who could have been affected should have been warned by email.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
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Re: A few questions from a journalist

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I'm against the way this has all been brought in.

You are far from being alone!

If you want a flavour of opinions about how changes are made on Plusnet, I'd recommend that you read some of the reactions to unanannounced changes that customers on Broadband Plus discovered a few days back.

This thread may be useful to you:
http://portal.plus.net/central/forums/viewtopic.php?t=37902
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A few questions from a journalist

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They were first announced on December the 7th, both on this forum and via the Service Status section of the Portal.


But what does that have to do with anything? In all the self-glorification letters and emails I've received since I joined telling me how wonderful you are, never once has anything told me I should be checking various forums for company updates.

If you had given people 30 days' or 14 days' notice to adjust their online habits, people could have done that.

Your figures state that, on average, a PN user downloads 11gig a month and so your justification for not emailing people is that most are unaffected.

But ON AVERAGE, how many PN users visit your forums on a regular basis?
JonathanW
Grafter
Posts: 2,648
Registered: 02-10-2007

A few questions from a journalist

Initially, it was felt that emailing everyone about the changes would have too much of a detremental affect on the support centre, through calls and tickets coming in from people who aren't affected by it. This increased workload would have caused delays in getting everything else answered by the CSC.

It was therefore decided to postpone emailing everyone about it until those people who were most likely to be affected had either heard about it via service status, the various forums, word of mouth or been emailed as part of the management itself.

Obviously, this isn't ideal, but there again no solution would be ideal, when you're talking about informing close to 130,000 customers about this management, the vast majority of whom will never be affected by it.

The system is designed so that even if someone has no prior knowledge of it goes over one of the levels, they are notified of this and can make the decision whether to adjust their usage or not.

These aren't hard caps that we're talking about, and there is no long term detriment to the service for someone who finds themselves on level 1 management.

Similarly, advising people two to four weeks before the management was put in place would simply exacerbate the problems that people were experiencing with slow traffic during peak times. As this management has been put in place in order to improve the service for the majority of people.
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A few questions from a journalist

Thanks for that most-recent reply, Jon.

Explaining it like that – ie the disruption it would cause to customer services – does make sense.

My point would be though that, come the middle of the month when you have emailed people to say they have hit level one / two management or whatever, why not email them to say that if they were to keep those patterns up during the next month, they would be put onto a traffic-shaped platform instead of doing it immediately?

If you had done that, you would only be emailing the people most-likely to be affected as well as giving people a fair amount of time to change their download habits.

Finally, can you confirm that PN is planning to drop the 8am-4pm peak-time at the end of Feb as others have said is likely to happen (I've not seen that in an official post anywhere but that could just be me)
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A few questions from a journalist

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It was therefore decided to postpone emailing everyone about it until ........ .


....and in the case of changes to Broadband Plus, it was decided not to bother at all. Then, customers began to feel the impact of the changes/ read about them on the forum, and began to raise queries and complaints. Many got wrong answers about the impact they were experiencing (including slowing of http traffic) because Plusnet's customer service staff hadn't been briefed about the changes either. After the scale of queries and complaints became apparent, Plusnet belatedly informed affected customers about the changes.

Is there anything you'd add or dispute to the above?
Neil_A
Grafter
Posts: 450
Registered: 04-04-2007

A few questions from a journalist

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My point would be though that, come the middle of the month when you have emailed people to say they have hit level one / two management or whatever, why not email them to say that if they were to keep those patterns up during the next month, they would be put onto a traffic-shaped platform instead of doing it immediately?


Hi there, we are working on improvements to the system to introduce an email notification for customers prior to reaching an allowance or guideline figure which should help customers manage their peak-time usage.

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Finally, can you confirm that PN is planning to drop the 8am-4pm peak-time at the end of Feb as others have said is likely to happen (I've not seen that in an official post anywhere but that could just be me)


Our intention is to move back to 4pm-midnight measurement of peak and we are expecting to be able to do this in February when we have completed our automation of the management system.

Thanks for your queries, I hope that helps.
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A few questions from a journalist

Well, to be honest, your replies are a lot better than I thought I was going to get. I don't really know too much about the BB+ issue, because my connection is a premium.

Anyway, I just hope these statements are kept to – ie the dropping of the 8am-4pm period, the prior-warning emails and so on.

It's still very annoying that my daytime usage is capped right now and will be for another week, simply because no one bothered to tell me what limits I was supposed to be keeping to.

I guess I'll wait to see what happens from here.
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A few questions from a journalist

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It's still very annoying that my daytime usage is capped right now and will be for another week, simply because no one bothered to tell me what limits I was supposed to be keeping to.

That's broadly the nature of complaints that many Broadband Plus customers have been making.

I think Plusnet's approach to communicating with its customers is a great pity, because Plusnet basically operate a stable network, and the products- even with the changes- are competitive in terms of cost and value.