Friday, September 07, 2007

Blue In The Face

No, that subject isn't the cue for a naughty double-entendre.

It describes me trying to get sense out of Demon, the company that I use for home Internet access. My account was recently restricted, following a bit of an orgy of downloading, mostly of episodes of Babylon 5, my DVDs of which are in New Zealand. (I have legit copies, so I don't feel too bad about downloading for the purposes of watching it whilst I'm in the UK.)

According to the Demon Fair Usage Policy, my download activity is monitored, and if it exceeds 60GB on a 30-day rolling basis, the download speed during peak hours is restricted to 128Kbps. I fell foul of the policy last week, and consequently have had to endure some painful days when even the Google home page was failing to appear in anything like an acceptable time. It was like the bad old days of dial-up.

This prompted me to find out when the restriction would be lifted, because quite frankly, it was making my life a misery. The first person I spoke to implied that once the restriction is put in place, it stays there for 30 days. He then offered some drivellous crap about what "30-day rolling basis" meant in that context, and his definition, such as it was, would have been more accurately replaced with the phrase "on a monthly basis" rather than "on a 30-day rolling basis". So, I had a look at the Fair Usage Policy on-line. It pretty clearly defined what a 30-day rolling basis is, and it is exactly what I expected it to be. It also explicitly stated that the restriction would be lifted based on usage over a 30-day rolling period.

Here's an example just to make it clear what my understanding of the situation was.
  • Day 1 - I download 30GB of data
  • Day 2 - I download 30 GB of data
  • Days 3 to 29 - I don't download anything
  • Day 30 - I download 1GB of data
On day 31, my account will be restricted because, on a 30-day rolling basis, I have downloaded 61GB of data, exceeding my download limit. However, on day 32, the total for the preceding 30 days is only 31GB, so the speed restriction should be removed.

So, I call them again and take them to task over the differences between what they claim they do in their Fair Usage Policy, and what they claim to do when you speak to them on the phone. I didn't get anywhere. Even though, after much convincing, I finally got one call centre bod to put me through to his supervisor, the supervisor was no more able to understand that what he was telling me was completely at odds with the concept of a "rolling 30-day period".

I tried to get put through to a group within the company that I have successfully dealt with in the past, to no avail. At least they have sense, understand English, and don't try to contort pretty standard phrases to fit their (poor) understanding.

Just before I cancelled my account, I asked the last woman I spoke to to tell me what my usage was over the last 30 days. She told me, and then pointed out that the restriction on my account would be lifted in 9 days, when the rolling 30-day total no longer exceeded the download limit. That was exactly what I wanted to hear! So, my reading of the Fair Usage Policy is correct, the policy is implemented correctly, it's just the cretins in the call centre who had made it seem like there was a mismatch, because in fact, they don't know what they are talking about.


I know there are some lovely people who work in call centres, and having done a fair bit of process design specifically for call centres myself, I know how tricky it can be when you get a customer who ends up going off the stuff that's covered in the standard scripts. But this crowd were just a joke! Maybe I should pitch for some business from them, to come in and fix their munted processes, and get them some better scripts.

So, I'll put up with the restriction for the next 9 days, and then I'll get proper connectivity back again. In the meantime, I don't think the Skype phone is going to be doing a lot of work.


First Nations said...


boiler room HELL!

we used to have to do the same thing with our long distance provider. every month we called the helpline for a translation of the bill, and every month we played mail hockey with it five or six times until someone finally said 'screw it' and cashed the damn check. for example, its a bad sign when a first year accounting drop out has to go over the invoice and CORRECT the charges every damn month. what were they using to figure the total, their toes? a magic 8 ball? sheesh!

Mrs M said...

I had a similar and equally frustrating experience with my own ISP, PlusNet.

Last month I hit a 4GB peak-time usage limit, which resulted in my bandwidth being cut from 3Mbps to 256Kbps. However, they didn't tell me this. I just noticed everything going incredibly slowly, so assumed there was a fault, and logged a support call.

For 24 hours they fed me irrelvant boiler-plate suggestions, telling me to check my PC for viruses, try a different phone socket, etc. - and at one point telling me this was due to "natural variation in the speed of your product". Duh.

By this time I noticed that the speed had been fine in the morning, off-peak, but had reverted to 256K in the afternoon at peak time. I then asked whether this could be a limitation imposed due to usage limits. "Yes", they said, "That's what it is". By this time four different support staff had worked on my "support issue" and apparently not known about this.

Good grief!

Qenny said...

It seems we all have similar tales. I'm just about to post another one ...

Mikey said...

I have had the same infuriating experience with the 30 Day Rolling Period definition! They kept telling me that the restriction was for 30 days, even thought the FUP tells otherwise.

One thing that was quite infuriating, given that I was restricted on the *24th August*, was a response via email from them:

"Further, I would like to inform that your service will be restricted for a period of 30 days. I can also see from the records that your service has been un-restricted on 01 September 2007."

It does seem that they just cannot deviate from the "script" of 30 day restriction, even via email, and even when faced with their own evidence to the contrary!