Warning: this blog post contains a rant.
Before I begin, let me point out that I have experienced my fair share of telecommunication problems. At university I was issued a joint bill with one of my housemates who then left, and it took a change of telephone provider before I was able to get her name taken off the bill. When we lived in a flat in Aberdeen, our internet provider got the flat next door mixed up with our flat all the time and kept cutting us off, then trying to charge us to reconnect after their mistake. They even went as far as reconnecting a line at our previous address in our name and then billing us for it. We changed provider again.
So I am no stranger to things going wrong, and things certainly aren’t perfect in the UK. But over the past six weeks we have experienced the frustration of Brunei service at its best.
Our internet connection was getting worse and worse. So we called our internet provider. Eventually someone came out to have a look and told us that the modem was broken, probably after experiencing a power surge after a thunderstorm. But they didn’t have any in stock so we would have to go and find one ourselves and get the person who sold it to us to configure it to their settings. So my husband went to town to buy one, only to return empty handed a few hours later – no one had any in stock. But the man who had been round had obviously been confident that we would go out and buy one straight away because he had reset our struggling modem so that it no longer worked at all – effectively cutting off our internet connection completely. It took my husband the best part of an evening to work out the settings and restore our internet.
A week or so later we managed to buy a new modem second hand from another expat who had bought it and then not needed it. Finally, the internet would start working again. But, much to our annoyance it didn’t. So we called them out again.
“Oh yes, the settings on the modem are wrong.”
So the settings were reset and off they went. This time the internet went off completely a few hours after they had left. Again, we had to wait for the best part of a week before they came out again, during which time our internet dropped in and out, but mostly out.
This time when they came round it was the same story – the settings were wrong on the modem.
“Again?” I asked. But the irony was somewhat lost. Possibly I should have been more direct – I was the next time they came out. But, they got it to work again by resetting the modem and when I pointed out that they had done exactly the same thing last time and that it stopped working again half an hour after they had left, the guy just replied that it was working now wasn’t it? Job done.
Finally, another half a week later we got someone out who seemed to know what they were doing and didn’t just reset the modem and then spend twenty minutes watching videos. Eventually one of the men said they’d fixed it, although obviously the secret to his success couldn’t be shared with me – an ignorant woman – I just got invited to congratulate him on how our connection was apparently faster now.
“I’m just glad to have a connection,” I said.
Was that the end of it? On Friday it cut out, and again yesterday. My husband went outside to check the line and found that it had been wired in wrong. Now our internet is flying.
Couldn’t we just change providers? There are only two companies here and we’ve already left the other one due to very poor connection speed. Market competition doesn’t exist and as a result service can be very poor. Not in all cases, but often. If it doesn’t get fixed, it doesn’t really concern them and neither does threatening to leave. There’s nowhere else to go.
The good news is I am married to an engineer.