Bypass Telus’ IVR Voice Recognition Hell

I’m not a big fan of Telus – our incumbent telecomminications carrier in BC. I’ve had many run-ins with them over the years. Their customer service sucks. Last year, they added insult to injury and installed a hellish automated voice recognition system that you have to navigate before you can actually reach a human. It’s infuriating. It insults you. Pounding zero gets you a “Here at Telus, we have several kinds of operators. Tell me more about what you’re looking for so I can direct you to the right kind of operator.”

After another morning wasted getting bounced around from department to department at Telus (at one point, a Telus employee gave me the number of 310-1010 as the ‘short-cut’ to the department I was looking for. That number actually directs me to Pizza Hut!) I finally got through to a Telus employee who was actually helpful. In fact, the most important piece of information I got was a phone number to completely bypass the IVR hell! The number is 866-468-3587. Write it down. Use it. It works! Tell everyone you know!

Telus vs. Shaw

For several years, my main internet connection at home has been via ADSL service from our incumbent telecommunications carrier Telus. These people aren’t exactly known for their customer service, and I’ve had many, many run-ins with them over the years (both with my residential services, as well as my company’s business Internet services, voice, and cellular services). For the last six months or so, they have been sending me threatening emails explaining to me that my excessive bandwaidth usage violates their terms of service. Now please understand that I’m not talking about your everyday $20 residential service. I pay $85 per month for 2.5Mbps business service with two fixed IP addresses.

I thought that I had better do something to help with the bandwidth consumption before I lost my internet connection. My first attempts (which were quite successful) were to set up a wifi card on my main linux router machine to ‘acquire’ a connection from one of several neighbour’s wifi connections.

This worked fine for several months, but started to become more unreliable (such as some neighbours enabling WEP, and others moving their access points, possibly to move them away from me??) Then a stroke of luck – Telus told me that I could ‘upgrade’ my service to 2.5Mbps for only $40 per month. As I mentioned before, I already have 2.5Mbps, as well as fixed IP addresses, which cost me $85 per month. I pounced on the offer to upgrade my service and drop my monthly fee. The sales person on the other end assured me that I would be able to keep my fixed IP addresses and drop my monthly fee to $40 per month. This sounded great, so I signed up. Everything was fine for the first month, so I decided I would take my monthly savings, and splash out on a residential cable Internet connection from Shaw. For $30 plus $40, I now had a dual homed network in my basement. Everything was beautiful for several months.
Then I checked my credit card statement. It appears that Telus was billing me $85 again. I immediately telephoned them and asked them waht was going on. They explained that their system had discovered a configuration error with my account, and fixed up the billing. After explaining the entire story, they proceeded to tell me that the employee was in error, and if I wanted to keep my fixed IP addresses (which I wanted to do), I would have to continue to pay $85 per month.

I thought ‘f*ck this’, and thought I’d look into fixed IP address services from Shaw, and drop Telus completely. I called their sales office, and discovered that I could get their SOHO business class service, with two fixed IP addresses for $85 per month (sounds familiar…). I decided to go for it, with every intention of phoning up Telus and cancelling my service.

I upgraded the home Shaw service to SOHO. And then the problems began. I unplugged the Telus connection, and did some speed tests using only the Shaw connection. Quite frankly, it sucked. I couldn’t get anything more than 1.5Mbps, and most of the time, it was worse. I felt like an idiot. I checked the Saw website again. There it was – ‘Up to 5Mbps’. I sure wasn’t getting that! A call to tech support confirmed that I wasn’t getting that, and after some troubleshooting, it was recommended that I replace my modem. Instead of waiting for a service call, I went to the local Shaw office, and picked up a replacement modem. I plugged it in, and discovered that the speed was exactly the same. This time, the tech told me that I was getting a perfectly acceptable rate, and I should be happy. Well, I asked for a supervisor, and explained the whole sorry story. Unbelievably, this guy was very understanding, and conceded that the current network design wouldn’t get me the consistent speeds I was looking for. He was very helpful in crediting my account and closing it.

Now, I’m back to my Telus service. I’m glad I didn’t get around to disconnecting! At least I have my 2.5Mbps back. But I still have the problem of not enough traffic allowance per month…

Telus Censors to Protect it’s Subscribers

Telus, my ISP and one of my work’s upstream providers, is currently in the middle of a bitter dispute with it’s workers over a contract. Today, they decide that a website that is maintained by supporters of the union involved in the dispute is a security threat, and they block access to the site for all of the Telus network. This means all ADSL, dialup, and leased line customers can no longer access the website. The story is just starting to make the media. No doubt there’ll be many more stories come Monday.

I’m not one to take sides in a union dispute like this, but it’s my opinion that Telus has overstepped it’s bounds by censoring this website for “security reasons”. How about blocking sites like this for security reasons? Sounds a little more dangerous than a forum for disgruntled union members to voice off about their employer.