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Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,124
Thanks: 4
Registered: 14-08-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

For the last few weeks we have consistently been seeing issues of

Seriously Delayed mail
VMBU problems
gateway related speed issues (particularly slow first hops)
Impossibly slow phone support
unacceptably slow ticket support.
Portal logon problems/multiple logons required
OthersHuh....

You keep on telling us in all these individual cases, that the situation is improving, or that the "network" guys are working on them and expecting a fix soon. Often you tell us they are fixed only to retract the statement hours or days later. Worse, they are still problems (and sometimes returning problems - eg slow hops) days or weeks later.

Frankly, with a service as fundamental as email - if your network guys cannot fix it in a couple of days, you should either be asking if you have the right people in place, or if your hardware is just hopelessly underpowered for your user base. In either case it warrants serious questions about the professionalism of the organisation.

I have generally been supportive of plusnet since I joined a little over a year ago. But your seeming inability to provide a long term fix for many of these issues is seriously worrying.

Perhaps you could advise us of your longer term investment plans (people and hardware) to bring this seemingly sticking plaster approach to an end.
17 REPLIES
passer
Grafter
Posts: 381
Registered: 06-04-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

It's a fair point.
The way I see it, most of the current customer problems are DSLMax related. Other than over-selling the purported benefits of a BT sourced system, PlusNet are probably innocent parties here. BT are rolling out DSLMax to all ISPs, not just PN, so we're in more than one queue.

Like all BT systems, it can be flakey, and when PN forward faults to BT, they will be in a queue of faults from all the other ISPs as well. The PN queue-jump system is a good idea, as it will mop up the small but vociferous percentage who complain on the forums, and then it should quieten down and they can get on with a paced roll-out. I'd bet that the number of users who've gone for the queue-jump doesn't reach 4 figures.

As for LLU, well again it's poor presentation. The general vibe seems to be that LLU is actually a good thing. The fact that it's via Tiscali is unfortunate, due to the poor reputation of the brand, but no more than that. That's the way the industry is going. I suspect that the same observations about multiple ISPs in the Tiscali fault-queue applies. Unfortunately Tiscali are in the midst of a very aggressive product roll-out of their own, and I bet I know who gets priority in their stretched fault management systems, be it legitimate or not.

So really, what PN really shouldn't be doing is downgrading their CS systems at this moment in time. And No - from the customer perspective it isn't an upgrade, it's a downgrade. It might eventually prove to be beneficial to the company, but at this time of much change, change which is imposed, not requested, it is a bad time to redesign something so fundamental. People are averse to change which is imposed on them, and become agitated, and all you do is aggravate them further when you change even the way they can request assistance. So, poor timing. I'm afraid.

On a more esoteric note, I note that 16 new users have registered in the last couple of hours, so business must be trundling along nicely for PN. But beware - at this rate tomorrow will see the arrival of registered user number 66666. This may be one to watch..... :twisted:
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,124
Thanks: 4
Registered: 14-08-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

I deliberately picked the main issues which have nothing to do with Max, and can only be laid at the door of plusnet.

I don't want + to have the option of blaming it on BTW or other providers.
N/A

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

There has always been a problem with the ptn-ag1 gateway, it doesn't seem to be as fast as the other 2 for some reason.

MaxDSL performs really badly at peak times and for the majority of people it seems switching to this has been a disaster.
danep
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 30-07-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

Hi

Agreed. This complaint has nothing to do with the maxdsl stuff. It's about all the others issues. Very poor management from Plusnet. The move to the new buildings I presume has taken precendence over service levels.

Regards
Dane
passer
Grafter
Posts: 381
Registered: 06-04-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

As I said, it's a fair point, and I don't disagree with anything you said. I sought only to give my perception of the issues surrounding the main problems. I apologise for so doing.

I agree that the email thing is a shambles.
As is the implementation of VMU, the supposed "rock" on which all PN products are built.
As is the necessity to hop around the gateways looking for one which is in a good mood this evening. Fix the bad ones - if the users know they're faulty, surely PN should be able to see that as well?
As is the never -ending list of portal problems - achieve stability before attempting enhancements.
As is the implementation of a new CS phone system which has apparently not been tested or parallel-run.
glloyd
Rising Star
Posts: 1,652
Thanks: 20
Fixes: 1
Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

I think the problem with PlusNet is they keep changing/updating so many things before they have cured problems from other changes/updates. I feel very sorry for the network guys trying to keep up with the constant changes whilst trying to fix all the outstanding issues.

If they had any sense at all they would stop all the updates and changes until they have fixed all outstanding issues and then wait for a period of stability before making any further changes and then only one at the time.

Quote
For the last few weeks we have consistently been seeing issues of

Seriously Delayed mail
VMBU problems
gateway related speed issues (particularly slow first hops)
Impossibly slow phone support
unacceptably slow ticket support.
Portal logon problems/multiple logons required
OthersHuh....

You keep on telling us in all these individual cases, that the situation is improving, or that the "network" guys are working on them and expecting a fix soon. Often you tell us they are fixed only to retract the statement hours or days later. Worse, they are still problems (and sometimes returning problems - eg slow hops) days or weeks later.

Frankly, with a service as fundamental as email - if your network guys cannot fix it in a couple of days, you should either be asking if you have the right people in place, or if your hardware is just hopelessly underpowered for your user base. In either case it warrants serious questions about the professionalism of the organisation.

I have generally been supportive of plusnet since I joined a little over a year ago. But your seeming inability to provide a long term fix for many of these issues is seriously worrying.

Perhaps you could advise us of your longer term investment plans (people and hardware) to bring this seemingly sticking plaster approach to an end.
sinewave
Grafter
Posts: 297
Registered: 17-08-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

I with you totally Collinet.

I too have always a Plusnet supporter - and I've been through some problems in the past! Folk regularly wrongly blame plusnet. UK broadband is a complex beast with many organisations involved that provide and regulate. Indeed there are issues that really are down to government policy and historical practises but its the ISP that gets the abuse.

Plusnet have been far from perfect in the past but on the whole I've been able to make excuses for them, forgive them if you like.

But I really am developing a bad feeling presently.

Perhaps one can ultimately blame market forces or the free market economy. Perhaps its because the ISP industry is going through enormous changes, both technically and financially. Many ISP's currently successful will not be around in the future - I certainly wouldn't want to be in charge of running an ISP right now!

In this competitive arena though, its all the more important to get things right. Saying "oops sorry about that, we are only human" only works if it's occasional. It feels to me like PN is NOT delivering in core areas.

It feels to me like PN is going down-hill.

There's a sense of "it'll ok once we've got this bit sorted" from Mand, Ian, Stuart etc but I'm wondering if they really believe it themselves now. I really wonder if they are working within a structure that is failing.

CS is rubbish. I have a ticket I opened early this afternoon still unanswered (10 hours). Phone contact, ... well... LOL
VMBU is still not right, yet we have those caps (or whatever they're called at present) to deal with and we need to monitor our usage.
Email problems - inexcusable.
and...Well, you all know the problems.

PN and headless chickens come to mind

I am currently looking around for another ship to jump to if I need to. I haven't lost all hope yet, and yes, moving ISP is a hassle I want to avoid.

At the end of all this, I really can't help sitting back from it all and thinking that over the last couple of years my service from PN has been reduced not increased. (and before the increase of download speeds are mentioned, that is down to BT - and no-one likes them, do they!).

So plusnet, profits are up, customer base growing, Great!! erm.. what have you really done for me lately?
newinvention
Grafter
Posts: 139
Registered: 30-07-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

Agreed. I've just had an email through from Plusnet saying my broadband package will soon be upgraded to 8MB. Apart from the fact I live out in the sticks and am lucky to get 1MB (for which I'm grateful!), I really would rather have my emails coming in and going out in a timely manner. First things first. I have also just signed up for an annual contract with Pnet, having been with them for 5 or so years. I hope I haven't made a bum choice doing that at this point.
Mand
Grafter
Posts: 5,560
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

Hi

All of the issues you have mentioned are ones which we are aware of, and are working very hard to resolve. The resolutions to these issues may take a while, CS support for example, but we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to fix these problems, and try very hard to keep you guys aware of developments.

I appreciate your comment about myself, Ian, Stew etc coming in and saying it will be alright, but we do believe this. In terms of us saying issues are resolved when they aren't, there is only so much trial and testing you can do on a platform which is not live. The issue with the phone system is a prime example of this, as was the configuration change to the email servers. The timing of the current problems has been unfortunate but to be honest, there is never a good time to have these sorts of issues.

We will continue to update you on all of these issues throughout the coming weeks and hope to have them resolved very soon.
N/A

rubbish

PN seem to be full of it..

most other ISP's have resilience built in.

these guys just dont seem to have.
craign
Grafter
Posts: 122
Registered: 01-08-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

[astyler]
That's not helpful or very polite. PN staff who post here are not the decision makers at PN; if you want to have a go at the real owners of the problems, buy some shares and stand up at the shareholders meeting. And as a public company if any of their problems are really significant in terms of affecting profits, then I guess they would have to be very open about that to the market.

If you check the status messages you'll see mand was updating at 21:50 last night - and if my last experience of an installation going snafu is similar, she may not have been home.

IVR/phone systems not handling real life; let's open a book on

- poor installation
- hardware faults in kit
- insufficient site prep
- underspecced hardware (pbx processor/memory not up to job)
- supplier promises not being kept to
- 3rd party (chance to bash BT again) problems
- unforeseen compatability
glloyd
Rising Star
Posts: 1,652
Thanks: 20
Fixes: 1
Registered: 06-04-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

Mand, your comments are appreciated but from the customers point of view they are only repeats of what has been said so many time before.

Looking from the outside it does seem daft to keep making changes/alterations to just about everything before current issues are fixed and be proven to be fixed. If someone ran a book on everything plus net did going belly up they could make a small fortune. Customers now are suprised if someone new, e.g new phone system, works as planned rather than not working.
N/A

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

Quote
If you check the status messages you'll see mand was updating at 21:50 last night - and if my last experience of an installation going snafu is similar, she may not have been home.


the original poster was correct to highlight all of the issues and furthermore your own comments above only serve to confirm his opinions in that if the staff are working into the wee hours then management are not managing their resources correctly along with all the other problems they have.

Quote
if you want to have a go at the real owners of the problems, buy some shares and stand up at the shareholders meeting


I for one pay a monthly fee already, do I now need shares to have a voice?
craign
Grafter
Posts: 122
Registered: 01-08-2007

Plusnet - your infrastructure is falling apart

IMHO Wee hours working is acceptable as an exception, not the rule. Exceptional results requires exceptional effort at times. (Note I am speaking generally and not re PN in particular.)

Quote
I for one pay a monthly fee already, do I now need shares to have a voice?


My point was that PN is a quoted company. The normal hierarchy of importance (in decreasing relevance) is shareholders, directors, staff, customers Tongue Of course with no customers, there's no revenue. So there has to be a balance.

Which brings us back to the other issue which is that this forum is a very small sample of PN customers. Whilst I'm with PN I'd rather try to work with them to improve things rather than they decide the aggro they get is not worth the hassle of supporting the forums.