PlusNet had been my ISP for years — despite the many problems I’ve had with them (metered usage, not disclosing MAC key, secret packages). On top of all this, the actual service had degraded so much — with an outage pretty much every day — that on 18 July I finally decided to leave, and move to a more expensive but much faster BT deal. Hurrah!
So needless to say, they have continued to bill me.
Well, what do you know? I left the phone ringing as I wrote the last post, and it did get picked up. I got through to a helpful man who was going to send a new MAC key, but managed to get me to explain why I wanted to move.
Beyond simple frustration, PlusNet simply don’t offer the package I need, which is unlimited bandwidth with a static IP address. Well, I was right: that package doesn’t exist. But they do have a package which gives me 120 GB per month rather than the current deal which starts throttling me to death around 30 GB. So for now at least, that’s good enough — it’s past the I Don’t Want To Even Have To Think About How Much Bandwidth I’m Using threshhold. (Because that’s the real issue. It’s 2012: I should not have to think “better not watch that on iPlayer this month, it might push me past the threshhold”.)
Not only that, I can have a static IP address with the 120 GB package for £5 a month, which is fine. It’s actually going to come to significantly less than I am paying now.
So I am staying with them after all.
But here’s the frustrating bit: I only found this out because I phoned. x There is nothing on plus.net that admits the existence of a 120 GB deal: it’s a closely guarded secret. Their site only shows 10GB and 60GB deals. And there’s nothing that says you can get a static IP address with either of these deals. In fact the whole site seems coy on the very existence of static IPs: for example, nothing in my account page admits that I have one under my current package.
You only find out that the 120GB deal exists, and that it can have a static IP address, if you phone up and are prepared to wait twenty minutes.
What’s that about?
I’m trying to change ISP, because my current sorry excuse for an ISP (PlusNet) throttles my connection down to sub-modem speeds towards the end of each month as punishment for using too much bandwidth.
To move away, I need to know my MAC key. This, they will not tell me.
A sequence of four of five times around with the online support system resulted in their flatly refusing to tell me. In the end I had to write them a paper letter.
I did this, and they finally sent me a MAC address. Then other things intervened, and I only now return to that issue, ready to progress it. Now I find that the address they sent me expired after one month.
So I have to go through the whole wretched process again.
This time, rather than writing, I tried phoning the number they gave me. It took nearly two minutes to make my way through the auto-answering system. When I finally did, the automated voice told me that there would be a twenty-minute wait before I could speak to a human.
A twenty-minute wait. To obtain information that they could easily send me online. But won’t.
DEAR PLUSNET. THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO DO CUSTOMER RETENTION. What you need to do is make me want to stay with you, not make it hard for me to leave you. Because I will leave you, but I will do it kicking and screaming.
Check it out:
The good news is that my “broadband” connection is capable, apparently, of downloading two and half times faster than my old modem was — although it certainly doesn’t feel like that with all the timeouts. The bad news is, is can only upload one fifth as fast. It took me more than a dozen attempts to upload the screenshot above, because my browser kept timing out.
This is because “Your peak-time monthly usage has exceeded 30GB” according to an email from PlusNet. Which happens when you work from home, when your whole job is Internet-dependent, and when all five members of your family use the Internet all the time. Plusnet say “Remember that your usage outside of peak-times doesn’t count towards your allowance”, but (A) who watches the BBC iPlayer with their family outside of 4pm-midnight? And (B) in my experience it’s just not true anyway: my usage meter keeps on racking up.
“But Mike, why don’t you upgrade to a bigger plan?” Because the one I’m on is the biggest Plusnet offer that has a static IP address — which I need for work. Upgrade to more bandwidth, lose the static IP.
“But Mike, why don’t you leave Plusnet and go to a sensible ISP?” Har har har. I have tried: it’s another lobster-pot, just like Network Solutions. (Details to follow in another post when I’ve calmed down a bit.)
It’s 2012. The whole idea of metering network use is stupid.
I will leave Plusnet, however difficult they make it.