Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Telstra T-Hub what a Joke!

Telstra has given our company 5 T-Hub devices in order to evaluate whether we'd like to sell these to our customers. I was given the task to get the thing online, as nobody who had tried before me had any luck.

Upon firing up the device, and following the setup wizard, step 3 (of 5) involved a software update. This software update promptly failed, and crashed out of the setup wizard. Luckily, the device simply started working as though the setup wizard HAD been completed, and away we went.

While the user interface is very clunky, and is far inferior to competitors devices (iPad?) it did, for lack of a better word, work. I was able to surf the web on my wi-fi, listen to on-line radio, look at footy scores, check out you-tube, and if it wasn't blocked by the proxy in my office, play around on facebook.

The music, videos, and photo systems seem to work well, though the screen resolution isn't great, and the frame rate for full screen video sometimes lags. I particularly dislike how the video freezes momentarily while you change the volume up and down.

I was even able to make phone calls to our receptionist with relative ease.

However, my success was short lived, the device started doing a software update (the update that had moments before, failed) and this time it seemed to be working. The device promptly rebooted in to a newer version of the OS and once again I am presented with the setup wizard, seemingly resuming from where it crashed out earlier.

This time, I was thwarted by step 5, the final step of the setup process:
Please enter your Bigpond login details.

I was somewhat puzzled, as the device is a Telstra T-Hub, not a Bigpond T-Hub.
Since I intended for the device to remain on-site so as to allow staff to play with it, I didn't want to enter any Bigpond internet connection login details in to the device. I didn't understand why this should be necessary.

I called the 1300 Number in the back of the manual, followed the prompts to technical support, and ended up at Telstra Line Activations. A gentleman there kindly explained that I had the wrong number, gave me the correct 1800 number, then transferred me to the "T-Hub technical support department", it rang, and I ended up at Bigpond Technical Support.

After explaining my situation to Bigpond Technical Support, they said they didn't know anything about the device, and that I should contact the T-Hub technical support department.

You can imagine my frustration at this point, but I persevered (explaining the process I'd been through on the phone system already). The monkey connected me back to the 1300 number that I had already called in the first place.

I followed the prompts, and ended up with having my call answered by a voice-less Telstra employee (who I suspect was the same bloke I spoke to already). He refused to acknowledge me, even though I could hear him breathing and typing on his keyboard.

After being magically placed on hold a couple times, he eventually hung up on me!

Getting pretty angry by this point, but I called the 1300 number again.

This time, I chose the "T-Hub Sales" department, and my call was answered almost immediately. Amazing.

I bit the ear off the guy who answered, who finally sent me through to the T-Hub technical support department.

The lady I got through to was somewhat frazzled by my call, I was a little upset by this point already, and she clearly had very little knowledge of the device.

I explained to her that I was stuck at Step 5 of the T-Hub setup process, It's asking me for Bigpond login details. How do I get past this without entering bigpond login details? I'm a telstra customer, why do I need to be a Bigpond customer too?

She seemed puzzled by this question. I think she's under some illusion that every person in Australia is a Bigpond customer. Apparently, Bigpond is the only ISP out there, and to use another provider would be silly.

As though she was reading from the fine print, repeated: "The T-Hub requires a Bigpond username and password in order to function." over and over again.

I explained to her that I was quite capable of using the device without bigpond login details moments ago (when the setup crashed). It worked fine, right up until the involuntary software update took over.
"The T-Hub requires a Bigpond username and password in order to function."

I explained to her that these were demonstration units sent to us by Telstra themselves, and that if I am unable to evaluate the product, there's no way I can recommend to our Managing Director that we should sell these devices to our customers.
"The T-Hub requires a Bigpond username and password in order to function."
Whatever, if you can't help me, please put me through to somebody who can!
"The T-Hub requires a Bigpond username and password in order to function, my manager will tell you this too.!"

After a bit of aggression, she took my number to have someone "more qualified" contact me, we ended our conversation.

I give up. I logged in to the system we use to store passwords, and I entered the login details of one of our Bigpond Cable internet connections. Made it past step 5, and the device started working again.

I demonstrated the device to my managing director, who seemed somewhat unimpressed...

Since the device was now working, I decided to take it home and see if I could find some practical use for it.

I've set it up next to my home computer, connected to my home wi-fi, and my Telstra phone line. I can make calls with it, and everything seemed to work fine for a couple of days.

My wife and I got home on Monday night, and we wanted to have a quick look at a mapping service. Since it was late and the computer was off, I picked up the T-Hub.
Finally, I've found a situation where the device can be somewhat useful. Finally, I've found a purpose for the device.

I turned on the screen, and the device booted up (I should have mentioned, the device shuts itself off completely every time you turn the screen off. And you have to boot it up every time you want to use it. Annoying, but only takes about 30-40 seconds to boot up). I was prompted with a message: "This device has detected that you are not using a Bigpond Internet connection. Broadband services will be disabled until such time as you are using a Bigpond Internet connection."

My internet connection is with TPG. But my phone line is with Telstra. Once again, I fail to understand why I can't surf the web on this device without being locked in to a Bigpond internet connection!

Shocked and pretty damn angry, I pressed OK, and sure enough every useful application on the device was grayed out, and all I could do was make phone calls.

I turned the device off, and have not touched it since.

I returned to work on Tuesday after a long weekend, and received a phone call in the middle of the day. It was a bloke from Telstra, he sounded like he was calling from Sydney, and spoke with an Aussie acsent. Finally I thought, I'll get this issue worked out and get back to my testing.

"The T-Hub requires a Bigpond Internet connection in order to function."

What a F**king Joke!

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