Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Finally Madasafish live up to their name
I succumbed to the lure of a Broadband connection in August 2005. I'd just come back from Canada and finally realised that dial-up was stone-age after experiencing always on, super fast Internet. However having come to such a breakthrough decision I promptly made a big mistake. I signed up with Tiscali. Tiscali were TV advertising a market leading low price and I had previously used them for a very cheap dial-up package. Tiscali was a Bad Choice. After over a month of waiting several 'live dates' came and went so I called their ever so unhelpful off-shore call staff (why is it that when you sign up the operators are all in the UK, but when it all goes tits up you're speaking to someone 5000 miles away who's working the night shift?) to cancel as they were in breach of contract. "No problem" they said.
That was when my problems began. It's now well known that you need a MAC code to migrate your broadband to another provider. Would Tiscali give me a MAC code? Silly question. I tried to order with another provider 'And your MAC code?' I haven't got one. 'Phone us back when you have'.
So Tiscali were 'squatting' on my telephone line. I couldn't shake them off and I couldn't sign up with another Broadband supplier. These are the situations regulators are dreamt up for. In my time I've complained to quite a few regulators and threatened to complain to quite a few more. It doesn't always work - there can be quite a lot of hurdles to jump through before they'll help. But when it came to evicting Tiscali, Ofcom - the telecoms regulator - were more than up to the job. One phone call explaining the problem and I got a phone call from Tiscali and a letter from Head Office explaining that following contact from Ofcom they were releasing their marker on my telephone line.
It was then that I began my love affair with Madasafish. However like many love affairs it would one day turn stale. That day arrived late last year when Madasafish 'The Friendly ISP' got involved with someone else. Then there were three of us in the relationship and sadly the 'other party' was BT. It may have been a co-incidence but after BT went shopping for small successful broadband suppliers they managed to screw up the very thing which had made them successful in the first place - excellent customer service.
A few minor niggles with Madasafish turned into a string of disasters during which their customer service team (based in South Africa) managed to undo all the good work of two and a half years of service with barely a glitch. My speed had dropped - I needed a new computer they said, a new router...a new service provider I began to think. I began to research (the first stage to any complaint) and discovered that I had been taken for a mug. New customers were being offered a far lower price - not just as an introduction (as I had been) but forever! Now I noticed that the forums where techy types swap broadband horror stories - in particular the excellent www.thinkbroadband.co.uk weren't so glowing about Madasafish as they had been when I signed up.
It was while I was following the posts on Thinbroadband that I realised Madasafish were actually providing better customer service via secret PM's (private messages) between an omni-present poster named 'Samara - proud to be part of the Madasafish team' than they were from their own customer service centre. Suddenly my speed problems were being investigated, a new deal was on offer - cheaper than any on offer to other new customers. I received telephone calls, and attention. Madasafish were courting me again. But then their new systems intervened to destroy the best efforts of their loyal staff. I didn't receive the crucial email confirming a new deal and my technical problems didn't get resolved. When their metering of my broadband use appeared to be broken (I was away from home but my 'usage' was sky high) they suggested I sign up for a higher allowance - at a special nudge, nudge, wink, wink rate of course. I had made my mind up, the love affair was over. Not only that, I was now feeling just a little bit 'mad' with them. Not perhaps 'madasafish' but certainly they had driven me 'mad'.
Finally after two and half years 'madasafish' lived up to their curious name.
Two and a half years is a long time in the broadband world. Now there are deals for under a tenner a month which will give you a free wireless router, super-fast speeds up to 8mb and unlimited downloads. Sign up for a package bundled up with satellite TV, cable TV, a home phone or a mobile phone and you can even get broadband for free (although of course I do believe you get what you pay for - free is very rarely the least hassle - ask any Talk Talk customer about their 'free' broadband).
Tomorrow I expect to be rid of Madasafish, their broken promises, their secret whispered messages and offers of token gifts. For the last week I've been receiving lovely texts, emails and gifts from my new interweb partner. I hope my new found love affair with O2 won't end in tears. At least BT sold off O2, so there's little chance I'll ever find myself back in bed with BT...