Customer care

Any South African readers with iBurst as an ISP will relate to the following. Anyone else may be utterly disinterested in this post, so the rational choice would be to move right along, maybe to the ever-excellent Pharyngula

I called iBurst customer service on July 13 to initiate cancelling my contract with them, making sure to build in more than a August’s notice period (they require a month, and I was anticipating screw-ups). The guy I speak to mails me the cancellation form as we speak, I fill it in and mail it back.

The reason I give for cancelling is: “iBurst is no longer competitive on price, bandwidth or speed.”

Having heard nothing by the 24th, I call and ask the helpdesk whether they have my cancellation lined up. Nope, no records. Who did you send it to, they ask, and I give them the name. “But he no longer works at this company, sir”. But, I say, he answered the phone and mailed me on the 13th. It turns out that he left the company that day, and my email was just sitting in his inbox – and nobody thought to have someone else tie up his loose ends. So I resend the form to the generic helpdesk address.

I call today to make sure they have it. Yes, and I get a reference number. A couple of hours later, I get a call: “We need to know more about why you are cancelling your service”. “Why?”, I ask, as I couldn’t see what it had to do with them. “Well, we need to understand so that we can improve”. “Um” I said, “I believe I said something quite clear, like ‘iBurst is no longer competitive on price, bandwidth or speed'”.

She asks if there is maybe anything they can do to help. She mentions MTU settings and distance from tower, typical solve-problems-by-flowchart-instead-of-thinking. As far as iBurst goes, I explain, I get a good deal – usually 80% of rated speed, few outages, etc. But with August’s Telkom price reductions, I can get a line 4 times as fast, and the same (3gb) cap, for nearly the same price. “You’re simply not competitive on any level”, I repeat.

“Oh. Thank you sir. Goodbye.”

It would be interesting to see stats of how many customers they have been losing recently, for these sorts of reasons. Unless you need mobility or can’t get a ADSL line, there really is no good reason to us iBurst, is there?

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.