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Why I sacked Optus after 25 years – and it had nothing to do with the data breach

I was an Optus customer for 25 years until last week when I had no choice but to sack them. And it had nothing to do with the massive, embarrassing data breach. No – this was for gross incompetence.

Optus could not deliver no matter how hard they tried.

You’d think a simple Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) upgrade to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) and moving from Optus Speed Pack 4 (100/40) to Speed Pack 6 (400/40) would be a piece of cake. A couple of keystrokes.


I expected so much more from a company I had been loyal customer for 25 years – but to Optus that amounted to nothing. If you’re an Optus customer thinking of upgrading your NBN plan – save yourself the heartache.

I found out I was eligible for the fibre upgrade back in July – and I had a couple of calls with an Optus Australian-based tech team member who admitted he hardly knew anything about these faster plans and speed expectations despite them being spelled out on the Optus website.

The fastest figure Optus quoted was 400Mbps – and my hope was to exceed that and achieve close to 1000Mbps which was being offered by Aussie Broadband.

I was advised by Patrick Larobina, a former Optus senior employee and now head of Connect My Tech – an independent telecommunications consultancy.

Optus Speed Pack 6 – note the 400Mbps quoted speed despite the plan being capable of much higher speeds

Patrick had heard of one other Optus customer on Speed Pack 6 with FTTP who was enjoying speeds in excess of 900Mbps.

I suspect Optus quoted 400Mbps to manage expectations – or to discourage people from upgrading.

I decided to stick with Optus. I had called Aussie Broadband and had a conversation and they sent me a detailed email on everything I needed to know. Very professional.

In August I decided to pull the trigger and stick with Optus. Another reason was to keep mine and my wife’s Optusnet email addresses which we’ve had for a quarter of a century.

I discussed the new plan cost with Optus and they said they would contact the NBN and get the ball rolling. I was told I’d hear from them in two weeks.

It took four weeks to hear about the next step – an NBN technician would come to my house and bring the fibre on to my property.

This was on September 9, but they turned up at my house and left without doing anything.

I found out through the NBN there was an issue – some obstruction that needed to be dealt with by another team.

They turned up a few days later and had to dig under my fence and garden to get the fibre to a box on the side of my house.

The NBN fibre box outside my home

I called Optus expecting the inside box would be completed in a matter of days.

But I was disappointed to hear they earliest the NBN could come back would be October 27 between 1pm and 5pm.

So far, the NBN had done all the heavy lifting by bringing the fibre from the pit outside my house to a box on the side of my house before a friendly and professional installer on the 27th brought the fibre into my office and installed the NTD (network termination device).

The NTD is a like a modem with ports to connect to a modem or directly to router.

This was a big day – I was all set up.

The NBN technician said Optus should have contacted me. They’ve had a month to prepare for this day but instead of them contacting me – I had to contact them.

And this is when everything started to break down.

I assumed wrongly that the activation of my new service would be quick and easy.

Once again, I was talking to a gentleman in India who took ages to confirm my identity and follow his script to get my account information.

I was told that the activation would take at least 24 hours – something to do with the NBN adjusting things at their end.

But everything was done, and I still had to wait.

Optus had a month to prepare for this day and I thought I would have a call or text from them and possibly even a new modem.

I didn’t even know if I needed a new modem – and neither did this person who was supposedly from the Optus activation team.

Nothing I could do till tomorrow – October 28.

I was hopeful I would hear something in the morning and I did receive a message at 10.30am.

The message said all I needed to do was connect a cable from the NTD to my current modem – the Sagecom Gateway Fast 3864V3 – a modem I’d had for almost four years.

The NTD inside the NBN box – network termination device

I needed to unplug the router and let it configure the new connection which would take about 15 minutes.

20 minutes later I’m on the phone telling them it wasn’t working. I still had no internet since 3pm the previous day – 21 hours.

Could this modem handle these faster speeds? The guy from Optus seemed to believe so and now the call turned into troubleshooting the modem. He got back to his script for the next step.

At one point the Optus guy asked me to switch networks – how the hell can I do that without the internet?

Eventually the modem would not even respond.

I looked at the Optus website again to look up information about the Speed Pack I wanted to sign up for.

And what do you think I find?

It was this:

“Speed Packs 5 & 6 require equipment capable of achieving plan and Speed Pack speeds such as the Optus supplied Sagemcom F@st 5366TN modem or 5366LTE modem (i.e. the Optus Ultra WiFi modem) and only available to eligible Fibre to the Premises and HFC customers who have a maximum line speed capable of supporting these Speed Packs.”

It said on the Optus website I needed a new modem

It actually said on the Optus website that I should have been supplied with a new modem.

My response to the Optus guy in India was that Optus should have known this.

I didn’t want to spend one more minute without an internet connection.

It’s a good thing I don’t run an online business – wait a minute! I DO own a website and online business!

Being offline was literally costing me money.

It was all too much for this Optus guy and he switched me to another Optus person on the activation team located in India.

My current Optus modem for my FTTC connection – Optus thought I could use this for FTTP – they were wrong

A new person took over the call and he had to identify me again send me a one-time code and well as inform me that Optus has been involved in a data breach. He was reading his script again and my patience was running thin.

By the time we actually got to talking about the modem I needed I was told it would take up to five days to receive it.

I said this was unacceptable – someone needed to get me a modem today. I even said to the man on the phone to get in his car drive one over to me right now. He laughed at that, but I wasn’t laughing.

I repeated that Optus had weeks to prepare for this. And for this to happen on the day I should be connected is appalling.

You’d think Optus would take pride in the fact they could provide me with a faster connection. Not at all.

The best they could do was get me to pick up a modem from my local Optus store at Westfield Eastgardens – a five-minute drive from my house.

They called the store and let them know what I wanted and then told me who I needed to ask for.

I was at the store half an hour later and the guy I was supposed to ask for passed me over to another gentleman who had to identify me – I showed him my licence and expected someone to place a modem in front of me and I’d be on my way.

Well imagine my surprise when I was asked by the same person to talk to the person on the phone he was holding.

I said all I need to do is pick up a modem, but the guy insisted I needed to talk to the person on the phone.

I took the phone and discovered I was talking to the Optus Indian call centre once again and he was taking me through the identification process and the fact the call was being recorded for quality purposes again. I’d already done this five times today.

I explained that I had the FTTP set up completed and that I was switching from Speed Pack 4 to Speed Pack 6.

The guy mentioned something about cancelling my account and recontracting me so I could get the new modem.

Curiously I had already received an email saying I was going to lose my landline – I use the landline to do my many radio segments during the week.

I was told I would get a temporary number and they could then reinstate my old number. OK, seems like an odd way of doing things.

I also received a text message from Optus saying my connection was complete – but it wasn’t.

The guys in the store got to work and immediately I noticed there was confusion– they kept asking how to do things and why the new modem isn’t appearing as an option on my plan.

Another young guy took over who seemed a little savvier with the system and the options but he also kept running into brick walls.

An hour and a half later and I was still waiting for them to work this all out.

Was this happening?? I thought at one stage I was on a hidden camera show and the host would be popping out to say “gotcha!”.

Three staff members working on my account but to no avail

No, unfortunately this was real. Optus, the second largest telco in Australia, could not complete a very simple request. And I was prepared to give the company more money per month for them to do it.

Do you think someone from the Optus team would see that a 25-year customer was having troubles and get someone from Australia to call?

The nearest I got was a couple of calls from a Sydney landline number – but the person at the other end was in India.

At this point I asked how much longer it was going to take and they couldn’t give me an answer.

They kept saying this is usually something you do on the phone

That was it – I’d had enough. The way Optus handled this was so poor – and I wasn’t going to hang around for another minute.

There was now a team of three guys who were working on sorting this out and they still couldn’t do it.

I said that’s it. I’m out.

I told them to not bother – they obviously can’t deliver what I wanted.

I told them to cancel my account – I’m taking my business elsewhere.

And do you know the response I got? They said I’ll have to ring up to cancel. That would be right.

I walked out of the Optus store at Eastgardens and called Aussie Broadband as I was walking back to my car.

By the time I got in my car and reached the turn off at my street five minutes later I was already an Aussie Broadband customer on the Power House NBN plan 1000Mbps down and 50Mbps Up with unlimited data.

Optus had a one-month headstart and couldn’t do it.

The person in their Australian call centre for Aussie Broadband said they would contact the NBN and take over the connection.

They sent me an email – I had to provide credit card details and I was not only their latest customer, but I had paid for a modem that would be sent express post.

In the meantime they said I could just connect my Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6E main router to the NTD to get online.

Two hours later, the Aussie Broadband connection was activated and I was back online.

By now the Optus guy who called the Optus store called me back to see how it was going?

I’ll tell you how it’s going? I’m done. I’ve moved to another company. There was silence at the other end.

Hello?? Are you there? Did you hear what I said.? The script didn’t offer this option.

I was told I needed to be transferred to the Optus cancellation team.

I had to go through the ID process and all the other crap again and by the time we got to account details the phone call was disconnected for some reason.

Not sure if Optus realise I’ve sacked them. I was only an internet customer and I was no longer connected through Optus – I wonder if they even noticed.

In the wake of their data breach and the appalling way Optus handled that, you’d think they’d go out of their way to keep customers satisfied.

Customers are leaving Optus in droves after the hack like rats leaving a sinking ship.

But it wasn’t the data breach that did it for me – it was the disgraceful customer service, the lack of knowledge and initiative by the staff and the willingness to let workers pretending to be experts reading from scripts like an actor to deal directly with customers.

You’d think a customer who has stood by them for 25 years would get a better result. Sadly, no.

Goodbye Optus. Good riddance.

* If anyone wants to give Aussie Broadband a try – use my referral code 9187964 – you’ll get $50 off your bill and I’ll get $50 of my bill *