The story begins two weeks ago when I purchased a new phone, and shifted from a long-time Symbian S60 user to Android user. Let’s fast forward to the bit where I needed to get an unlimited data connection, thanks to Android’s greedy data usage.
It’s been a few days since I’ve been trying to load Idea Cellular’s website to see what plans are available to me. Now since it’d be a bad idea to put up a video of what I was seeing and torture you along with me, I’ll do the good thing and show you this:
If that didn’t make sense, here’s the important bit: “real: 46.7 seconds” that means the command took upwards of 45 seconds to complete. The command ‘curl’ is supposed to download the web page just as a browser would do. And if you look at the ‘^C’ on second line, it says I asked the command to quit.
Idea Cellular’s page does not load even one bit after 45 seconds. It is broken. Calling it dead might not be much of an understatement. It just sits there doing nothing. It’s like looking into the abyss. Wondering about the meaning of life, and getting no answers. Not even echoes of your own voice.
I felt sad. Also, I was worried I’d soon run out of data that I can use for free. So I checked back in a few days. About a week later, it’s the same case. Bummer.
How a communications company can go without a website for over a week itself is an amazing question (somebody put this on Quora?) but here the things begin to get interesting.
Being a sort of a web guy myself, I tried https:// instead of the usual http:// in front of the URL. Holy smokes! It worked, wait no, it redirected to something entirely different. I was now logging into their customer dashboard instead of seeing their regular website which I expected on the same URL.
Anyway, maybe I can finally check the available plans from inside the dashboard, I convinced myself to go through. Now I’m presented with this:
Alright, so I can change the plan, but there’s no way to know what plan does what… I start to feel like only employees of Idea Cellular and some fools like me use their service, because everything is so mysterious and secret cod-y. Yay! I might be a part of an elite group of people, just that I don’t speak their language. Damn!
So I look around all over this small piece of website that actually works. Nothing is to be found. So I search by those plane names on Google, then pore over the cached pages (the main site is down, remember?) and still am not able to find the plans I’m being presented in the dropdown menu.
Now it’s getting slightly annoying. I know it’s can be a difficult task to make sure everything is updated, and it’s mighty difficult to tell your customers how they can give you more money. But it’s a business, and we sort of understand that since we want customers to pay us money, we go two dozen extra steps and call them when they’ve worked all of last day, and all night and just come home and hit the sack at 11 am. We tell them how much we value them for over twenty minutes before disconnecting their call to our customer care centers. And we also take the site down for weeks, so that they can save their money and thank us later.
Wait, bad rant. Come back on track. *pulls the leash*
So I have no way of knowing what’s the right plan for me, and my previous experience with call centers has left me with a bad taste, so I refuse to go that way. When I looked at their ‘customer help chat’ option, i realized that I’m late at work again and maybe I should call for dinner before the shops shut off for the night. Of course, nobody has issues to be solved after standard office hours. I can’t complain.
Okay, let’s tell the nice folks who maintain the website that their site is broken, since it’s been down for a week, quite obviously I’m the only one who has noticed it, and it’s my duty as a loyal customer to tell my beloved company that the site is down.
So I click on ‘Complaints’ and start typing away. I explain in detail what’s wrong. Because it’s common courtesy to tell a developer what’s going on when you find an issue with their product. I know because I’m a developer too, and terse messages saying “your shit doesn’t work” kind of rubs my feathers the wrong way. Yeah, just killed two phrases with one shot. Ha!
I have a satisfied smile on my face, knowing I’m helping a fellow developer and perhaps saving their butt before the boss finds out just how broken the site is. It’s like you poke it with a long stick and it doesn’t even twitch. I hit ‘Submit’.
I hit back button on browser to get back what I had just typed, and it shoves this in my face:
Well, now I can’t go back and retrieve the carefully written notes. Bummer.
I log in again, and go back to the complaint form again and once again write down, this time much shorter, about what’s going on. And I’m hit with something else. I try to edit it to make it shorter, and now I’m subject to the same session expired message.
I log in a third time, this time fairly frustrated, and type out a message,
Now it’s confirmed that I am a moron. I’m banging my head against a wall and expecting it to budge, even if just a little. Why am I even trying to communicate to a company that does not want to hear me in the first place?
So I decided to write this blog post, and about two paragraphs before this line, the site magically started working! So I quickly went to the 3G tariff page and checked out the plans to be presented with something entirely different than the plans showed to me in the ‘change plan’ dropdown.
I started looking for the generic plans, and unfortunately, the site went into another bout of polar bear hibernation. So I looked at the 3G tariff plans (the page was still open in a tab, so I had access to it) and decided to activate one of them before I’m sent an exorbitant bill.
Let’s look at the tariff:
So this is the new design that they have been working on for past don’t know how many days, because if they take a week to deploy the site, they probably take a decade to develop it. Which makes sense, because the website looks straight out of 1998. Wait, they probably took longer. Shit happens, right?
So, I’m not dealing with a horribly designed website in 2003, that can barely stay up. Anyway, I’m more afraid of the bill than this crap, so I dig deeper:
It makes me twitch when I see the two logos on left and right aren’t quite aligned. But that’s not the rant I’m going to talk about, so let’s see… how the hell am I supposed to activate these? Nothing on the page tells me how. Okay, another sign that the company doesn’t want me to pay. (except for the impending big fat bill when I over run the data usage limits)
Oh hey! Look! There’s hope
So now I can quickly send a text message and we’ll be done! Right?
Right. What in the hell did I just do? Why is it asking me for nuclear launch codes now?
Ah, so I’m supposed to check if I have 3G activated on my phone, because, even though I was using 3G for all these days, their system has no clue what’s going on.
Okay, let’s try checking status:
I am forgetting how to write English now. Also, What’s With The Title Case In A Transactional Text Message? Wait, I’m a subscriber and my phone number, that I am using for several years, is NOT CONFIGURED IN THEIR SYSTEM?
I seriously need to stop trying to get 3G on my phone, because the process is apparently making me hallucinate, or the service provider is definitely smoking something really dope.
So I read the previous message again, thanks to the hint by sending one reply twice. Okay, since my number isn’t configured, they probably mean 3G is not active on my phone, which I have been using, somehow. Gah, nothing makes sense now.
I send ‘Act 3G’ to supposedly activate my already active 3G connection.
I think I’ll still give it one last shot, I look through the Unlimited 3G plans on the open tab and the codes sent back in the SMS and figure out that I need to send ‘ACTUL3G650′ for an *cough* unlimited *cough* plan, with a limit of 3GB. That was not that difficult to play match-the-following. It could had been worse.
Alright, I’ve had it. I’m stopping writing this post pronto and tagging the twitter handle with the URL, with a bet, that their response will not be any different than this:
As you can see, i have alerted them about the issue before, but they are very reliable about the copy-paste response. There’s no way one can talk to someone who cares, only robots and broken interfaces everywhere.
If their twitter team sends me the same response, I’m open to switching to any other network provider. Suggestions are welcome.