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Unimpressed.

EnglishMohican
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 310
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Registered: 08-04-2009

Unimpressed.

Last Monday, my internet stopped working. At 8:30 it was working - at 9:30 it wasn't.  There was very clearly no sync between my router and the exchange.
I phoned Plusnet and the CS agent told me not to worry, most faults were cleared within 24 to 48 hours. I have been plugged into the test port on the master socket for ages so was asked  to find a way of proving it was not my router or filter. I shot out to PC World and bought a new router with filter and rapidly proved that it made no difference.
So I phoned Plusnet to report that and was told "Fine - we need to do tests for up to 48 hours and then we can start to cure it.". This was still Monday morning so 48 hours was Wednesday. Imagine my surprise when I checked up (using 56k dialup) and found that 48 hours after Monday was Thursday in the Plusnet world.
So I phoned up Plusnet and spoke to CS who now told me that it was not 48 hours but 72 hours- and that the service level agreement with the Plusnet engineering team was that they would pick the problem up within 72 hours - not cure it within 24 to 48 hours - and that 72 hours would only happen if there were no serious problems that the fault team had to deal with instead!!!!! And that when the fault team looked at the problem, they might need to arrange for an engineer to go to the exchange and do something or even worse,they might need to get a better engineer to come to my house which would take even longer. This with the weekend and Bank Holiday Monday and Tuesday looming.
He also told me that the fault could be between Plusnet and the exchange - yeah right, the fault was no sync - or might be the phone line - yeah right, I was talking to him down it - conceivable that the line could carry voice frequencies fine but had stopped carrying high frequencies but not what I would call likely.
In the end, it looks to me like a card in the exchange had gone into meltdown and cut off a number of customers. The other customers must have complained as well and their ISP's customer services had done something. The card was replaced and my internet came back as well as theirs very early on Wednesday morning.
On Thursday afternoon, eighteen hours after it started working, I was notified by Plusnet that they had checked my line and it was working - that must have taken some brilliant engineering.
So - three different CS agents and three different stories - successively worse  stories.  And worst of all, I do not think Plusnet cared. One of their customers was not receiving the service he had paid for but not enough real engineers had been employed for one to be able to look at it quickly. Much easier and cheaper to hope some other ISP would solve the problem and if eventually Plusnet had to do something - well whats a couple of weeks without the internet - Plusnet still get their money.
You may have gathered that I am unimpressed by Plusnet's concept of service.Too much money is being spent on advertising and not enough on engineering- or even training CS agents.
10 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,100
Thanks: 437
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Registered: 31-08-2007

Re: Unimpressed.

I have to agree with your last comments there regrettably. This is totally disgusting and unacceptable, I mean how dense do you have to be to realise it can't be the line causing no sync when you are talking on it  Roll eyes And whatever is this rubbish about having to wait 48 or 72 hours before they do anything? It doesn't take 3 days to run a KBD test, it doesn't even take 3 hours! The test should have been carried out and a fault raised to BT the same day. Frankly, I think I would be demanding someone be sacked because even if it turned out a fault was raised the same day, someone was incompetent at communication.
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: Unimpressed.

Hi there,
I'm really sorry you're not happy with the service and I can understand why given the conflicting information you received - I'll make sure feedback is issued there.
I hope you don't mind if I explain what happened with the fault though, in the hope that it'll show some reasoning to the above.
I can assure you it was escalated to BT on the 28th following the automated checks being run by the agent you talked to on the phone. He escalated it through to the faults team who, I will concede, didn't pick it up until Thursday which while not ideal is within our service level agreement.
Having said that when the fault was picked up we'd received notes from BT stating that the line had been affected by an MSF (major service failure) that had been resolved, hence the reply you received on the Thursday.
I hope that vindicates us somewhat, though I assure you your points have been taken on board and will be fed back.
EnglishMohican
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 310
Thanks: 54
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Registered: 08-04-2009

Re: Unimpressed.

Hi Matt,
Thank you for your reply - I can well believe that many ISPs would not go to the trouble to reply to a forum like this - or even have one.
I have been with Plusnet for several years and have been generally satisfied - or at least tolerant of the technology. While it works it is quite fantastic to oldies like me. We get to depend upon it more and more for banking, shopping, communication and entertainment. When it stops working it is a much more major loss than it would ever have been 20 years ago when it was an unnecessary toy. Plusnet, and BT as your sub-contractor, need to recognise that and in my opinion have not done so. So maybe your service level agreement is not good enough.
The story as I tell it in the first post is my genuine, best efforts basis of relaying the events and statements as I saw them and heard them. The vital difference between my story and yours is the contact to BT on the 28th, something that was not mentioned to me at any time. How vital that is depends on what BT do with the information. My guess is that it is little more than statistical analysis - if 10 ISPs report 50 customers off line at the same time on one exchange, BT might just take serious interest. Other than that, it is just one more problem to sort out sometime in the future. So my question is, What do BT do with information similar to that sent to them on the 28th, what response do you expect and how soon?
If I am wrong and BT are going to solve the problem quickly by themselves, what is your faults team for?  In this case, I do not believe anybody could think it was anything other than an exchange fault and totally within BT's ambit. So curing it comes down to BT curing the fault and possibly, PlusNet kicking them if they did not do it fast enough. So the 72 hours for your faults team to take action was irrelevant in this case - that's a question - not a statement!.
Finally-  yes, I am back on line and the internet works. However, BT's ADSL check reckons that my line should run at 7.5Mbps (on my present setup - faster on ADSL2). It never, ever has got anywhere near it. It gets close to 4 Mbps on very rare occasions - more normally 2 to 3 and recently (since 21CN arrived though maybe coincidentally) 3 to 3.5 Mbps.This appears to be due to interference at specific frequencies on the line that takes out several ADSL bins. Occasionally the interference gets so bad that the line loses sync and I lose the internet.. Before 21CN, that lost connectivity was maybe once a year and went unnoticed. Since 21CN (perhaps coincidentally) it happens several times a week, usually in bursts of several disconnections and then a period of OK operation. On Routerstats, you can see the interference switching on and off and getting worse and getting better. If you were AAISP of perhaps ZEN, I would expect you to take on BT and get my line speed up to the full  7.5Mbps and then provide sensible advice as to whether to try ADSL2. As you are PlusNet, I have never thought it worth raising this. In fairness, you are cheaper than either. But is that the right attitude? Should I be pushing for you to solve the noise problem? Or should you have detected it yourselves and solved it without me pushing? Or pigs might fly and BT might do it. What do you suggest?

EnglishMohican
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 310
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Registered: 08-04-2009

Re: Unimpressed.

Got fed up waiting for a reply- though maybe I am impatient rather than you slow. I have gone ahead and raised the noisy line officially so maybe we will find out just how bad the service that Talk-Talk, Virgin and Sky customers receive really must be.
I admit to some trepidation as to what can go wrong
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: Unimpressed.

Hi there,
I think that's for the best - apologies for the delay, I will be replying in full to this shortly but it's taking some time to put together as there's a fair bit to explain. Please bear with me.
Don't worry though, I was going to suggest raising the slow speed issues as it may well be something we can help with.
I'll be back with a full response a bit later on this morning.
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: Unimpressed.

Hi EnglishMohican,
I'll attempt to address the queries you raise here, hope it helps explain a few more things.
Quote from: EnglishMohican
When it stops working it is a much more major loss than it would ever have been 20 years ago when it was an unnecessary toy. Plusnet, and BT as your sub-contractor, need to recognise that and in my opinion have not done so. So maybe your service level agreement is not good enough.

That is a valid point, and I see what you're saying. The majority of investment into the network however (regardless of provider) is going into increasing speeds. That's not to say reliability isn't important or a factor though.
Having said that, we don't really sub-contract from BT - we rent the line and the service from them. This is why we have to report faults to them for fixing, the line and associated equipment is their property.
Quote from: EnglishMohican
What do BT do with information similar to that sent to them on the 28th, what response do you expect and how soon?

Well, it was reported in the same way that any fault is reported. Each line has an identifier which tells them where it is located (along with a lot of other information). If they receive a number of faults on circuits in the same area, then they'll investigate for larger issues which I suspect is what happened in your case, otherwise they'll investigate it as a single user issue - which is what they'll do for by far the majority of faults raised.
Quote from: EnglishMohican
If I am wrong and BT are going to solve the problem quickly by themselves, what is your faults team for?  In this case, I do not believe anybody could think it was anything other than an exchange fault and totally within BT's ambit. So curing it comes down to BT curing the fault and possibly, PlusNet kicking them if they did not do it fast enough. So the 72 hours for your faults team to take action was irrelevant in this case - that's a question - not a statement!.

Our faults team are here to test the line to identify possible issues and then report this with all relevant test information to speed up (and in fact enable) the investigation on BTs side. They're also there to be the interface between BT and yourself, the customer. They are indeed utterly essential, we would barely get any faults reported to them, let alone fixed, if they weren't there.

With regard to your final paragraph, I'd say it's absolutely worth raising. If there's any patterns to the interference they ought to be raised as well.
Usually interference is caused by electrical equipment that isn't properly insulated or possibly isn't working - we've had TVs and all sorts knocking out broadband for half of a street before (it's usually down to something having a faulty power supply).
I doubt this is something we'd have picked up unless we had cause to check your line and/or connection history, though as it's interfering directly with your line then it will have to be BT that fixes it based on information and testing done by our faults team. We'll get you an update on there as soon as possible, if there isn't one already.
Apologies that it's a little later than morning.
EnglishMohican
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: 08-04-2009

Re: Unimpressed.

Thanks for the extra information. I am sorry to be pernickety but when I try to understand something, I like to understand it thoroughly, so I need a further clarification.
The sequence of events based on my knowledge, your answers and the CS conversations is below but something is still wrong. Please correct me freely.
1. I reported a fault to Plusnet Customer Services early on the 28th. The CS agent ran some checks and could tell me that I was disconnected. He checked that I had eliminated  some possibilities of faults at my end and asked me to eliminate two remaining ones - the router and the filter.
2. I went away and did that and phoned up Plusnet Customer Services later on the 28th  and told them that it was not the router or the filter. I believe the agent who I spoke to did not run any more tests while I was on the phone but accepted that his colleague had run them earlier. I cannot be sure of that. A few minutes later, after the phone conversation, I did receive a text saying that tests were being run on my line but whether these were new tests or an old message I cannot tell.
3. According to your first answer, that CS agent notified BT of the problem and this kicked off the repair action.  So far, the Plusnet faults team have not been involved. I am distinguishing here between the Customer Service Agents and the Faults Team, maybe incorrectly.
4. BT - not Plusnet - beavered away and discovered the problem sometime on Tuesday night and did something that got my internet working again at about 2am on Wednesday. Whether they were responding to lots of fault reports or just mine is unknown but lots seems most likely.
4. On Thursday, sometime in the afternoon, my ticket came to the top of the Faults Teams job list and that was the first time the Plusnet Faults team were involved. By then the line was working and that was what the Faults Engineer discovered and reported.
I hope you can see why  I do not believe that the Plusnet faults team played a big part in getting my line working and why I question your statement -
"Our faults team are here to test the line to identify possible issues and then report this with all relevant test information to speed up (and in fact enable) the investigation on BTs side. They're also there to be the interface between BT and yourself, the customer. They are indeed utterly essential, we would barely get any faults reported to them, let alone fixed, if they weren't there."
If my sequence is correct then they did not do any of this in this case.
I keep saying "If my sequence is correct" because I do not think your two answers above are totally consistent and do not tie in with what the third CS agent told me when I complained about 48 hours becoming 72 hours so my sequence could be wrong.
Maybe my fault was not typical if it was a major fault with lots of customers offline and BT pulled their finger out. Maybe if only a single customer was off line, BT would have needed your Faults Team to kick them into action but then we come back to my original complaint that 3 days is too long to seriously start looking at a problem.
Sorry to go on and on but I hope that you can now see where my misunderstanding is and can correct it.
I guess my noise problem is much more in your Faults Teams scope and it will be interesting to see just what they can get out of their 21CN diagnostics abilities.
EnglishMohican
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Posts: 310
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Re: Unimpressed.

I thought I would just bring this up to date - a bit like dear diary.
The faults team have been testing my line. They believed that I would be better off on ADSL2+ and arranged to change me across. They also requested that I try a different router as they were concerned that my DG834 (Version 1 with an AR7 chipset) had compatibility problems with the exchange equipment (not clear whether that was the ADSL1 or ADSL2+ equipment). It would also reconfirm that it was not my router that was playing up.
I believe that I have now been converted to ADSL2+. ***** It would be nice to have been told that it had happened. ****
With the new router and presumably ADSL2+, my synch speed has dropped. It is now 2890kbps though with an even higher noise margin than before (18db now versus 15db before). I know I am slagging the new router off below but on ADSL1 it gave essentially indistinguishable results to the DG834. So two routers, one old and solid and the other new both give the same results. Unlikely to be the router then.
The faults team have re-assessed my line and have requested that an engineer call. I await his visit with interest - and trepidation - could he make it worse?
I have a very poor opinion of the new router that I bought - too much haste. It is a Netgear DGN1000 with an Infinion chipset. The wireless locks up after a couple of hours of work (or less) and occasionally it loses its brain. The router part continues to route but there is no response from the Web interface and no modem connection while in that state. Needs a reboot to get it talking again. Even worse, the diagnostics are not as good as the DG834. The software that runs it seems buggy to me. Avoid this router.
harps1h
Grafter
Posts: 142
Registered: 26-07-2011

Re: Unimpressed.

Hi EnglishMohican
I also have just changed over to 21CN and up until Tuesday I was using a year old D-Link 2740-R. this router was meant to be compatible with 21CN although its' max upload was 1mb. However I was getting a lot of dropouts and at one point there were 20 in 72 hours. After a brief chat with with a CS it was concluded it was the router had compatibility issues with the new equipment in the exchange. So they have sent me a PN router and there has been no dropouts since it was connected up (27 hours). So I would venture to say that the router maybe the issue , and as a side point, my speed has jumped from 18.50 approx. to 20.88 approx down and from 0.83 to 1.05 up
gswindale
Grafter
Posts: 942
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: Unimpressed.

Quote from: EnglishMohican

I hope you can see why  I do not believe that the Plusnet faults team played a big part in getting my line working and why I question your statement -
"Our faults team are here to test the line to identify possible issues and then report this with all relevant test information to speed up (and in fact enable) the investigation on BTs side. They're also there to be the interface between BT and yourself, the customer. They are indeed utterly essential, we would barely get any faults reported to them, let alone fixed, if they weren't there."
If my sequence is correct then they did not do any of this in this case.
I keep saying "If my sequence is correct" because I do not think your two answers above are totally consistent and do not tie in with what the third CS agent told me when I complained about 48 hours becoming 72 hours so my sequence could be wrong.
Maybe my fault was not typical if it was a major fault with lots of customers offline and BT pulled their finger out. Maybe if only a single customer was off line, BT would have needed your Faults Team to kick them into action but then we come back to my original complaint that 3 days is too long to seriously start looking at a problem.
Sorry to go on and on but I hope that you can now see where my misunderstanding is and can correct it.
I guess my noise problem is much more in your Faults Teams scope and it will be interesting to see just what they can get out of their 21CN diagnostics abilities.
It is annoying; and the only time I've had to contact PN with regards to a loss of connectivity; they were never fully able to explain what had happened & what had solved it., which was incredibily annoying as it was over the Christmas break 2010/11.  I never got a meaningful response to any of my questions, but as it mysteriously starting working again a few days later, I couldn't be bothered to psuh it.