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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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15.01.2011

All I wanted to do was to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Telstra Clear

I seem to be to computers what Frank Spencer is to life.
   Long-time readers will know that in 2009, Vox locked me out. We went round and round for months, with the company suggesting all sorts of solutions, usually putting the blame back on me or the ISP.
   I had tried logging in to blog from three cities till I got fed up, gave them my password, and said: log in from San Francisco, where your offices are. And tell me if you can get in.
   Only then could they confirm that I was, indeed, (effectively) blocked from using the service, but no one knew why. It was never remedied. I left the service in December 2009. It ultimately closed in September 2010, pissing a lot of people off in the process for the short notice it gave, taking a multitude of sploggers with it.
   Through 2010, it was the constant crashing of Firefox (one down already today—I expect three more), despite Mozilla claiming it was its most stable release ever. I’m not alone: as I meet more friends and discuss it with them, they all report constant Firefox crashes. The difference is I have an obsessive–compulsive streak so I stay on it. Fact: Firefox 3·6 is the most crash-prone browser Mozilla has ever made. And how can you misuse a browser when all you do is blog and surf?
   Let’s not forget Google and all its constant mess-ups (here’s one), or Facebook in 2009 making false accusations over copyright that could not be appealed.
   The latest is with the folks at Telstra Clear, whose website seems to behave at odds with what they believe.
   It all began when I sent a tiny suggestion via its site about Telstra Clear’s decision to end the unmetered broadband for Ziln and Ecast TV.
   I got a very nice email from a Susan Taite and I wanted to thank her for her courtesy.
   I clicked on the link in the email, ‘To access your question from our support site, click here.’
   Unfortunately, I could not log in at all, despite having only three passwords since 2000. None of them worked.
   I called the company and listened to several numbers from Carl Doy’s Piano by Moonlight to make sure my thanks to Susan was recorded. Two Telstra Clear reps responded, one to pass on the thanks and one to sort out my access problems.
   I was told a new password, which, interestingly, was my 2006 one but all in uppercase.
   I could finally log in to the Customer Zone but could not fill out my profile. My postal address would disappear from the field immediately after entering, and I failed every one of its Captchas. After yesterday’s blog post, I began taking screen shots of the Captchas and my responses, just to make a point:


Neither of these were, apparently, correct.
   So I told them.
   Again, a very nice person responded, Luke Tipa, who gave me my password again (in lowercase) and noted:

Although there are no known issues with Customer Zone at the moment, this does sound like a fault and I apologise for any inconvenience it has caused. Can you please advise what username you were trying to set up as a Customer Zone profile so I can see if this has been partially or incorrectly created by our system.

This is already music to my ears: someone believing me instead of blaming me with ‘You must have entered the Captcha incorrectly.’ Thank you, Luke.
   However, to respond to Luke, I had to click, again, ‘To access your question from our support site, click here.’
   Guess what? It doesn’t work.
   I tried re-entering the Customer Zone, which I still could at this point, to see if I could get to the support site. If it’s there, I couldn’t see it. Support seems to be totally separate from the Customer Zone, or, perhaps, one cannot reach it if one has an incomplete profile on the Customer Zone. And, as we now have established, it is impossible for me to complete my profile in the Customer Zone because the Captcha always says I am wrong—that’s 100 per cent of the time.
   With me so far?
   So, I had to fill out yet another support request from scratch and paste Luke’s and Susan’s emails into it so the customer service rep could see that this has been going on for a while. This time, it was to tell Luke the username I was trying to use.
   New person responds:

You should be able to log into the Customer Zone website with your account number: … and account password … [in uppercase this time] I have checked that your account has not been locked and everything is fine from our end. If you still can not access the Customer Zone website, please let us kow [sic] how you are logging in.

This is the classic ‘It’s your fault’ response, but I can’t hold it against Karolina, because she’s only telling me what she knows after checking Telstra Clear’s system, and she worded things politely enough.
   So I told her. I’m using the link you give. I use the passwords (upper- and lowercase) and all I ever get is this:

And when I now click to enter via the Customer Zone, all I now get is this:

Your system, just like Vox’s, has it in for me.
   Here’s another thing: despite my constant failure to complete my profile, I have six automated emails from Telstra Clear, which came long after my attempts to register, thanking me for registering. So can I indeed fail a Captcha and register? If so, how come I can’t get in to the site?
   Bear in mind this all began because I was trying to send a thank-you note. What can I say? No one has yet made a Jack-proof website.
   To those of you who were able to blog at Vox from 2006 to its demise in 2010, whose Firefoxes don’t crash, and who can use the Telstra Clear site, you don’t know how lucky you are.
   And people want me to do online banking. Not while websites remain totally unreliable I won’t. I want a bill of exchange, in print, which is governed by an act of Parliament (Bills of Exchange Act 1908) that I know, and which hasn’t been corrupted by poor drafting.
   I am available for bug-testing. But I expect to be paid.

PS.: Karen Hardie at Telstra Clear finally sorted it all out (January 16)!
   1. The passwords are not case-sensitive.
   2. My original password—which, I might add, has worked for most of the last decade—doesn’t work today because the new system hates punctuation. Karen changed my password to omit the punctuation and I was able to get in and create a profile. My address still disappears on entry but the Captcha now works!
   3. The Telstra Clear Customer Zone and the support site (telstraclear.custhelp.com) are actually two separate sites governed by two different passwords. I was never given one for the latter—which suggests a problem with their emails always providing me a link to the latter. It’s also a little tricky considering both sites look exactly the same—I think it was natural to presume that one password would work on both of them. I explained in my final response that since I had accomplished what I needed to—sending feedback and a message of thanks—I would decline to set up yet another account for custhelp.com, and I was satisfied with the registration process for the Customer Zone. Phew!—JY

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Filed under: business, humour, internet, New Zealand, technology—Jack Yan @ 01.48

3 Responses to ‘All I wanted to do was to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Telstra Clear’

  1. jaklumen says:

    To those of you who were able to blog at Vox from 2006 to its demise in 2010, whose Firefoxes don’t crash, and who can use the Telstra Clear site, you don’t know how lucky you are.

    I still think Linux might have something to do with it. Or my proximity to the Internet network backbones of Silicon Valley.

    I suppose I’m lucky I have a Linux distro that works for me, and figured out how to upgrade Firefox from 2.0.12 all the way up to 3.6.15 (but I’m leaving the 4 beta alone)

  2. Jack Yan says:

    You might be right, Jak. I haven’t tried any other browser, so it could be Firefox-related.
       I think Windows is only up to 3·6·13, but I may be wrong.

  3. jaklumen says:

    You’re right– the latest is 3.6.13– I was trying to remember the version number from memory.

    2.0.12 was what was in the repositories by default; I had to go with Mozilla builds (before repos packaging) to get up to 3.6.13.

    My point again, though, is that Mozilla apparently is having some problems with Windows builds. It’s been known for a while that Firefox has been optimized to Linux. The problem goes the other way, too, though: I stopped using the Picasa software shortly after I learned that it relied on Wine, meaning it was built for Windows first. Font display (as it was parsed through the Wine API) was CRAPPY. (Add that to your Google ammo– I won’t mind, much.)

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