Brian Edwards Media

‘Sometimes I wish I was still on Fair Go’ – A Farewell to Telecom

 

telecom-paul-reynolds1

Judy and I recently got back from a week in Rarotonga. Sun, sea, sand, books, eating out, sleeping. Choice! Not one cloud on the horizon.  Well one: The only messages I could get on my (Telecom XT) mobile phone were  ‘Emergency Calls Only’ and ‘No Networks Detected’. And after a few hours, nothing at all. My mobile wouldn’t work in the Cook Islands. Judy and I rely on our mobile phones to keep us in touch with clients and bring us new business when we’re overseas. So being incommunicado isn’t good for the balance sheet.

The cloud was even bigger when we spent three weeks in Vietnam earlier this year. My (Telecom XT) mobile phone wouldn’t work there either. ‘Emergency Calls Only’, ‘No Networks Detected’… You get the picture.  When we got back from Vietnam Telecom replaced the ‘faulty’ sim card and said that would solve the problem. Clearly it didn’t.

And the explanation wasn’t all that convincing either. The phone worked perfectly well in New Zealand. It looked as though the XT system was the problem when you were overseas, not the sim card.

Or maybe it’s unreasonable to expect your phone to roam in remote places like Vietnam and the Cook Islands. But Melbourne isn’t remote, is it? I ask the question because when I was moaning to my close friend Joe about ‘bloody Telecom’ not working in Vietnam or the Cook Islands, he told me he’d just come back from Melbourne where his (Telecom XT) mobile phone wouldn’t work either.  And then Joe, a globetrotter, went on to list all the other countries where his phone wouldn’t work. Fortunately his partner is with Vodafone, so she at least got to hear from home.

I’ve had enough. I shall be saying goodbye Telecom and hello Vodafone later this week. I don’t want to lose any more business.

But I can’t resist a parting shot at the outfit that for decades has had, and continues to have the worst PR of any company in New Zealand – Telecom.

The latest example is the TV commercial with the five million dollar man, Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds, fly fishing on the Greenstone. I gather this was Mr Reynolds’ own idea. My free media advice to him is that the cobbler should stick to his last, though where PR is concerned, Telecom is woefully  short of talented cobblers.

 In his fly fishing gear against the background of this remote and beautiful mountainous landscape Mr Reynolds conveyed the impression of a Scottish laird on his estates rather than a CEO worried about the poor service his company was giving its clients. The commercial, it seemed to me, added insult to injury: Here I am, in one of the most difficult parts of the country, getting wonderful reception, while you poor buggers… Is it too unfair to say that the ad has echoes of BP CEO Tony Hayward yachting in the crystal clear waters round the Isle of Wight, while his company’s oil continues to gush into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico? Perhaps it is.

But then is it fair for Mr Reynolds to tell me that Telecom’s XT problems have been sorted out, when my phone won’t work in the Cook Islands, Vietnam and god knows where else?

And the ad itself insults every New Zealand with its presumption that we can be seduced by flattery.

‘You know, the thing I really admire about New Zealanders is your fearlessness. It’s that almost mad give-it-a-go mindset. And when it all goes pear-shaped, as I found out recently, there’s that old Kiwi pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps and give-it -another- go sort of thinking.’

You’ll forgive me if I put my finger down my throat, Paul. We’re not fools. We won’t buy it, any more than we’ll buy your ‘buck stops here’, ‘yes we can’ tough-talking interviews on television. If you’ll pardon the cliché – the time to walk the talk is long past.

Sometimes I wish I was still on Fair Go.

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51 Comments:

  1. It mighta’ helped a bit if he weren’t wearing crisp brand new fishing duds as he spun his yarn. Not a skerrick of palpable sincerity from woah to go….
    Vodaphone rules!

  2. Brian,
    having worked with an English boss – with the same haircut, and lack of understanding of the New Zealand psyche, as the 5 million dollar man – I know exactly what he’s up to.

    The ad wasn’t about Telecom, it was about him and his CV…he’s looking for a job, and once the smoke clears, that ad and stills from it, will be dominant parts of his portfolio. It’ll be one of the most expensive CVs ever produced.

    I found my bosses portfolio just before he left the country – it was full of other people’s work. Which was fine, cos he’s now working on the Falkland Islands. I wonder if they have a telco there too?

  3. There is a rumour, which I am anxious to spread, that (a) the Telecom commercial was not filmed in the Greenstone valley at all, and (b) that there is not now, never has been at any time and never will be mobile phone coverage in the Greenstone Valley.

    The existence of this rumour is true. That does not mean that the rumour is true…although given the track record of the highest-paid and most inept PR team in the country I’d bet that it is.

    At least the Gummint is going to regulate to lower mobile termination rates. So don’t sign up to a long term Vodaphone contract, Brian.

    • There is a rumour, which I am anxious to spread, that (a) the Telecom commercial was not filmed in the Greenstone valley at all, and (b) that there is not now, never has been at any time and never will be mobile phone coverage in the Greenstone Valley.

      I find that extremely unlikely.

  4. Interesting, – I would have thought that Telecom would have sorted out it’s international peering agreements a long time ago. It’s not like they are newcomers to the game, – they could have just contacted their existing peers and asked them to duplicate the agreements for the new XT network.

    Interestingly enough until recently I could not send a SMS to Brazil using 2 Degrees; however that has been sorted (presumably due to improved peering agreements)

    Perhaps it is not peering though, perhaps it is the decision to use a 3G UMTS network (and relabel it as XT) on non standard frequencies due to our ‘rugged terrain’

  5. Not only that, but Paul Reynolds (odd the initials PR in the circumstances)…

    • Not only that, but Paul Reynolds (odd the initials PR in the circumstances)…

      I’ve deleted the rest of your comment, Ben, as gratuitous and potentially defamatory.

  6. What phone model? Was it locked to 3G only?

    A Sony Ericcson 508a. Supplied for this purpose. You need to understand that when I took the phone back, the Telecom guy said the problem was a faulty sim card.

  7. What phone were you using? What network was showing when you did the scan?

    I know that there are only GSM networks in Vietnam so if you had the phone on 3g mode as you normally in NZ (since telecom dont operate a backwards 2g gsm network like vodafone do) when you roam to a place with no 3g networks, then you will get no signal. A quick call to telecom would have had them suggest this to you, and checked other things too.

    Telecom have far more roaming options available than vodafone offer so I doubt that you were constantly in a location with no networks to roam on, but it was just a poor handset setting causing problems.

    Did you even call telecom to check what was happening, or was it just easier for you to vent on the blog when you got back?

    • What phone were you using? What network was showing when you did the scan?

      I don’t recall anyone telling me when I bought the phone that it wouldn’t work in countries XYZ unless you changed this or that. For the record, however, I tried every option I could find under ‘select network’, ‘search networks’ etc and nothing would work. Ditto in the Cook Islands. Are you aware of the difficulties of ringing Telecom Help from somewhere like Vietnam? In any event, I want a phone that works around the world without my having to have a Ph.D. in electronics or phone home. That’s what I was promised.

  8. Hello,

    Since roaming is more under the control of the handset than the network, it would be more useful to know which handset you were using. It used to be that people on Telecom’s network couldn’t roam because they used a different standard. Now, since they have moved to GSM, it is all about frequencies and handsets. Choose the wrong handset, and you won’t be able to roam anywhere.

    • Hello, Since roaming is more under the control of the handset than the network, it would be more useful to know which handset you were using.

      It’s a Sony Ericsson. I bought it from Telecom with the precise purpose of roaming on the XT network. That’s what they sold it to me to do.

  9. Perhaps you should give the newcomer, 2Degrees a go. They’ve got the right attitude going on.

    • Perhaps you should give the newcomer, 2Degrees a go. They’ve got the right attitude going on

      Pehaps I should. But I’m a fairly conservative person in my business dealings and worry slightly about the new kid on the block. Mind you, the old hand hasn’t served me too well.

  10. The doctor is indisposed.

    General answer:

    My ancient (GSM) roaming phone worked perfectly in Vietnam, Cambodia, Rarotonga. So it had nothing to do with a) Telecom availability or b) his handset (because his phone worked fine with my SIM card in it, but it then became my number.). It had something to do with the XT network. But if we ever go overseas again and we have days and weeks of angsting over non-working phones, then on return I will take a machine gun to the network and possibly the cheerful CEO. These two trips cost us heavily in terms of business, and were fraught with the sort of anxiety you go on holiday to forget.

  11. 11

    Don’t be too sure that Vodafone will be the answer to all your roaming woes. There are lots of dissatisfied customers there, too. And their customer service is nothing to crow about. There have been plenty of gripes about their rudeness and off-handed attitude.

    Remember the adage: “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”

  12. For all the talk of “difficult” reception areas and Richard’s idea that it was YOUR fault BE, not Telecom’s, can I just point out that my daughter (who being 16 is attached to her phone at an organic level) couldn’t get any bloody service in Warkworth on the weekend. My Vodafone service was smooth and uninterrupted, but her XT service was – in her words – “gone all retarded again”. If they can’t guarantee coverage within what will soon be part of the Auckland Supercity, how do they expect anyone to believe that coverage exists in the more remote outposts of the country?

  13. From “anonymous”, we’ve got:

    1) Sony Ericcson 508A, a quad-band GSM phone with and tri-band 3G
    2) It worked with “anonymous”‘s sim card in it.

    So the next questions are:

    1) Was the XT SIM card a prepaid one? Prepaid roaming is much more limited than post-paid roaming.
    2) Is “anonymous” on XT as well?
    3) Is “anonymous” using a prepaid SIM?
    4) Did the problematic SIM work in New Zealand?

    The piece of information indicating that you tried another SIM in the phone and it worked is very important, and would have given your post much more weight. Typically, when people have problems roaming, it’s because (in order of likelihood):

    1) They’re on a prepaid account.
    2) Their phone doesn’t support the frequencies required.
    3) Their phone doesn’t support the standards required.
    4) Their phone has been reported stolen.

    And only after all that do you get into the situations where the account doesn’t allow roaming, or there is a problem with the network.

    • I think you must be new to this site, Jason. If you want the identity of “JC” you only have to look at the Home page.

      However, to answer your questions:
      Of course we’re not on pre-paid – we’re business people.
      I am not on XT and have been avoiding it until Brian’s problems are sorted out, so that we have one working phone.
      The problematic SIM works in New Zealand.
      The phone has not been reported stolen!

  14. Interesting analysis Brian,

    I would like to add that this TVC was a total BS cover-up – HA HA – I’m Sorry – Jokes – LOL propoganda. But it seems to have worked its magic on the NZX with the Telecom shares going up at least 10c since this advert launched when they were going at all-time lows.

    Coincidence….funny that…I don’t think so…and unlike us, there are still many people who are falling for that age-old “water under the bridge” gimmick.

    Any thoughts anyone?

  15. Hello Brian,
    Mobile phones:…they can connect you to Facebook, Internet, download games, music, ringtones, piccys, FM radio, etc:..
    However, they don’t seem to work too well…as a phone…
    So, my question to Telecom is…..wait for it!!…..just what are they good for??
    I recently visited our Blenhiem Telecom representative shop to inquire about cell phones, a good quality one that would take pictures that I could Email to my computer, as well as having a keyboard that my blunt labourers fingers could accurately press without also pressing the others at the sides, most inconvienient when texting, and of course…affordable.
    XT seemed to be the obvious choice from the salespersons point of veiw: when I commented on the history of less than satisfactory service, I was assured that it had all been “fixed”, I could sign up with the assurance that all was well, I would get satisfaction for my money.
    After reading the above-mentioned customer “approvals”, I’m glad that I did’nt subcumb to her blandishments.
    Does the CEO of Telecom read these editorials?? If so, what would his comments be if he had the testicular fortitude to put his money where his mouth is…
    And, more importantly.. would those ” assurances” be believable…

  16. Having just come back from a month in the UK I had exactly the same problem with my XT phone. No blasted signal in central London, Paris, occaisionally in the New Forest but strangely enough I got a signal when I was on the Solent heading out to the Isle Of Wight.
    I sold my telecom shares for a bit of holiday spending money ( it covered two coffees and a scone).

  17. JC, I’m definitely new to the site. :) I’m a Telco guy, but not a TNZ telco guy. :)

    When I originally put in “anonymous”, the posts weren’t titled with JC, they were posted as anonymous, so I replied in kind. It seems they’ve since had their author made public, so hello!

    I hate roaming with cell phones. It’s been the only time that I have ever wanted to take it and throw it against the wall.

    The fact that your SIM worked just fine over there limits the number of problems, all on TNZ’s side, with perhaps some bad behaviour on the part of the other carrier network (roaming carriers tend to lie to get foreign phones on the network). Speaking as a developer, I hope that the person in the store passes the problem higher, otherwise people will keep on having it!

  18. “I’ve deleted the rest of your comment, Ben, as gratuitous and potentially defamatory.”

    You astound me; the comment was clearly tongue in cheek and a similar observation was made in the
    DomPost a short while ago.

    What astounds me even more is that two blogs ago you published the following.

    “Meanwhile blog accusations that PM Key and Wyatt Creech are co-investors in the dairy business and cooked up the ECan sacking for their benefit remain uninvestigated by our self-obsessed TV journalist sleuths.”

    I am amazed that lawyers have not been beating a path to your door at the suggestion that the Prime Minister “cooked up the Ecan sacking for their benefit”.

    That is an incredibly rash statement to print. My mischievous comment pales into insignificance beside it.

    Apart from that I am delighted to have joined Merv in the Hall of Fame for defamatory comments. “Hi, Merv.”

    • You astound me; the comment was clearly tongue in cheek and a similar observation was made in the DomPost a short while ago.

      The comment implied that the CEO of a major company was a psycopath. The fact that you considered it tongue in cheek is irrelevant. You clearly know bugger all about defamation. I know plenty. As publisher of your comment I would be as liable as you to a writ for libel. I’m not prepared to face that in order to humour you. Thank you, however for bringing the other comment to my attention. I missed it clearly.

  19. My partner and I both have Telecom business phones. We live, according to Rodney Hide, in Auckland. Both phones drop out at the end of our driveway. “No network connection” is the general rule in the house. It’s impossible to answer a call, if one manages to get through, though both phones happily text us repeatedly to tell us we have new voice messages.

    PS. I hope Telecom’s PR department remembered to get Paul Reynolds a fly fishing licence. Though I doubt he caught any.

  20. Ah Tony,
    So the great white hunter is phishing for a job.
    Has he heard if B.P’s hiring?

  21. “The comment implied that the CEO of a major company was a psycopath”

    That is totally absurd. I merely said he was the spitting image of a TV fictional character. And yes because of my profession I know a great deal about the law of defamation.

    • I merely said he was the spitting image of a TV fictional character

      No you didn’t. You went on to say the character was a psychopath. If you want to invite defamation actions, start your own blog site.

  22. Interesting.

    A very good, NZ based, friend has just come back from a brief sojourn in Brisbane.
    (A week)

    Her NZ cell phone worked well over there (her work requires international calls).

    Returned to NZ and could not raise NZ contacts.

    Sigh.

  23. William Said:
    There is a rumour, which I am anxious to spread, that (a) the Telecom commercial was not filmed in the Greenstone valley at all, and (b) that there is not now, never has been at any time and never will be mobile phone coverage in the Greenstone Valley.

    In response to (a): The ad was shot on the Greenstone River (near the mouth, as the visuals clearly show) not up the Greenstone Valley.

    In response to (b): The ad at no point ever makes this claim. No subsequent press or PR around the ad ever made this claim either.

    For the record (I was on this particular shoot) by the way: The location of the shoot was recce’ed the day before the shoot with 20 separate, consecutive calls successfully completed from a XT handset and logged through the repeater station with accompanying GPS co-ordinates as proof. All done just for people like William.

    • William Said: There is a rumour, which I am anxious to spread, that (a) the Telecom commercial was not filmed in the Greenstone valley at all, and (b) that there is not now, never has been at any time and never will be mobile phone coverage in the Greenstone Valley.

      Thank you, Nic. Precisely what I imagined.

  24. I thought the fly fishing advert was brilliant !!!

    (A Vodafone customer)

    • I thought the fly fishing advert was brilliant !!!

      In production terms I agree. In improving Telecom’s image, definitely not.

  25. Telecom XT is still below par to a world class network.. I have done testing driving from Auckland CBD to Orewa HBC between our 2 main networks Vodafone and Telecom XT. Telecom XT dropped many times I stopped counting around 7. Vodafone NZ dropped once going over the Auckland Harbour Bridge both tests were done on a iphone 3G. Nice try Telecom but XT still needs alot more work

  26. @ Ben. It’s more like the ‘Hall of Shame’.

    A bit like taking your prized beef stroganoff along to a pot luck dinner, only to have the host, unceremoniously, tip it into the waste disposal unit. Kinda bewildering, leaving you feeling hurt, embarrassed and diminished — esp. when you spent time in the kitchen, using your best ingredients.

  27. Lucky this post didn’t appear two weeks ago; I might have been tempted to vent my anger about Telecom’s service, or lack thereof … most likely in rather unflattering language.

    And while my gripe is with in-the-ground services, rather than the XT network, it echoes the same underlying arrogance and apparent incompetence from Telecom.

    You see, for 15 days(!) I had neither a business phone landline nor ADSL due to a Telecom lines problem which they, or rather Chorus, seemed unable to repair within a reasonable amount of time. Geographically, we’re talking spitting distance to the CBD.

    Since phone & internet are vital for my business (as for most others too, I imagine) – the impact has been massive. I’ve missed client deadlines, lost business and damaged my reputation in the process.

    And yes, Telecom was ‘kind’ enough to divert the phone to my mobile (however refused to refund the mobile calls I had to make). Oh, and after 5 days they graciously loaned me a data card which afforded one computer extremely patchy mobile internet access.

    The whole sad experience shouted ‘woeful inadequacy’ in every respect. It frankly left me bereft of words (and made me contemplate all manner of irrational ‘responses’).

    What’s really depressing is that while we can change telco providers, we’re stuck with dud infrastructure and a network owner who has bled the system dry.

    It’s enough to make anybody bitter and twisted.

  28. While not a telecom fan but on a telecom corporate plan I have to say that while I travelled in Feb March this year I had no problems with coverage on the XT Network. From Freiburg, Germany continuing with two and a half weeks flash-packing through Morocco followed by a further 2 weeks up through Spain and across to Romania and back to Frankfurt, with a three day stop over in Hong Kong on my way back to NZ, my Telecom XT phone worked fine the whole way! It crossed over between countries effortlessly. No complaints there. However we do still have a few blind spots in our NZ home which weren’t there before updating my phone to XT last year! Go figure!

  29. “No you didn’t. You went on to say the character was a psychopath. If you want to invite defamation actions, start your own blog site.”

    Sorry, Brian but you usual impeccable logic is failing you on this occasion. In context I do not believe that my comment was in any way defamatory, but obviously we do not agree. What you have done is take part of that comment out of context and ‘published’ it in a form that is in fact far more defamatory than the original comment.

    I am also amazed that the allegation concerning Key and Creech remains on your blog. I can only assume that members of the National Party do not read your blog because I would have thought that Messrs Key and Creech would be very upset at such an allegation.

    I am very conscious when posting comments on blogs to be sure that they cannot be construed as defamatory. I do not rely on the moderator to censor comments. I can only assume that the ‘blogosphere’ in general is given greater licence because I frequently see commmnets on blogs that make me cringe in terms of defamation potential. Presumably those defamed believe the expense and wider publicity is not worth the effort.

    • Sorry, Brian but you usual impeccable logic is failing you on this occasion.

      Don’t think so. The issue here is subtext. If I say, ‘Interesting how much like Hitler, the anti-Semitic bastard, Rodney Hide looks’, the subtext is that RH is an anti-semitic bastard, which he isn’t and which I haven’t actually said. I can nonetheless expect a lawyer’s letter next day, proabably hand-delivered. By the way, I’ve been involved in half a dozen or more defamation cases, on both sides. It’s a lottery and usually has very little to do with natural justice.

  30. *Disclaimer – Not a lover of either of out two main cellular network, but a reluctant Vodafone customer.*

    I have to say that apart from the appalling data charges before I wised up, I have never had problems with accessing a network whilst travelling.

    Ever since roaming became available, I have travelled hither and yon used a wide selection of handsets and have to report that apart from the very rare (Settings->network->search-> find network manually) tweak on the odd occasion I am always hooked up.

    I cannot say the same for poor old Telecom loyalists. The drama Telecom friends and relatives I travel with endure seems archaic and bizarre. If they’re not rummaging through folders of printed and complicated instructions, or emailing feverishly back home to Telecom, they’re bumming mine. I gotta say that there have been occasions I have felt like that mug at the party with the only packet of fags.

  31. OK I wave the white flag!

    • OK I wave the white flag!

      Worn down rather than convinced, I suspect, but I’ll mark it up as a victory anyway.

  32. How can anyone take seriously someone who sounds like Billy Connelly?