Tom McFeely for Yarra/Langridge local council?!?

29 11 2008

Dear Mr McFeely,

While reviewing the stack of election brochures from my letterbox before deciding who to vote for today, I came across yours.

Let me first say that I admire any citizen who decides to stick their neck out and run for local council.  Good on you.

But then I read your brochure.

At first things were going well, but then I read your proposals for cyclists and “The Tunnel” and couldn’t believe my eyes.

In my view, any would-be elected official who still doesn’t embrace long-term sustainable solutions, especially to issues that impact more than just “traffic”, but go much further to the fundamental impact of vehicular transport – safety/accidents, financial, energy consumption, environmental – is NOT one I will ever vote for.

Undertaking such a massive infrastructure project to add capacity as ‘The Tunnel’ proposal does, is ultimately only postponing the problem of growing vehicular transport, and all the “externalities” that brings.  Our collective efforts MUST be to reducing car usage, NOT encouraging it, and PROMOTING better alternatives. Spending a billion dollars on a new tunnel/road system is really just saying “not in our back yard” and sweeping the problem under the carpetsuburb.  As a local citizen who thinks about more than just my own back yard, I reject this “build more capacity” mentality.

Which brings me to your proposed policy to implement a license system for ALL bicycle riders who ride within Yarra City, WHETHER THEY LIVE HERE OR NOT.  WTF?  So, if other councils were to eventually follow suit, I’d need a separate licenses – that I presumably would have to pay for too – for EVERY council area I ride my bicycle in?  I think you can glean from my tone where I suggest you put that proposal.

Then you have the hypocrisy to call for a change to the “deep-rooted ‘town hall’ culture that has been allowed to fester over the years which has helped stem the flow of common sense”?  By wanting to implement an utterly unenforcable and irrational bicycle rider license system for all would-be bike riders whether they live here or not, “BECAUSE THEY DON’T DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTE to any infrastructure…”?  Seriously?

My NOT putting another car on the road when I ride, and my NOT contributing to energy consumption and environmental burdens when I ride, and my contribution to the overall health of the citizenry FAR OUTWEIGH the few bucks you’d make from me for a ridiculous bicycle-riding license.

So on one hand there’s your pro-car/tunnel hammer, and in the other an anti-bicycle hammer.  I think you are certifiably NUTS, and my choice is clear.

Why am I not surprised that a man who’s almost singularly been unable or unwilling over so many years to lift The Peel from its musically indecisive, try-to-be-all-things-to-all-people-but-just-fester-as-an-ugly-dive-bar morass should propose such short-sighted, anti-sustainable, and utterly ridiculous policies?

Yours sincerely,


the bird just won’t take no for an answer!

29 11 2008

regular readers (do i even have any?!?) will recall my recent dummy-spit with Dodo when the 19yo idiot telemarketer found it inconceivable that i wasn’t prepared to sign up for a wireless broadband service right there and then that’s based on Optus 3G infrastructure when I (my parents) had already tried an ostensibly identical Virgin (aka Optus 3G) offering earlier this year but had zero coverage.

not content with my final statement (“Dodo, you can go forth and multiply, or go extinct, i don’t really care which, but those are the only two choices you have left with me.”), i received not one, but TWO more calls from Dodo.

it’s not clear whether they’d received and were acting upon my complaint letter; when i asked “did you not receive my letter of complaint last week?” he said “oh, this is just a follow-up call”.  ah, right.  the conversation descended rapidly from there, him pleading to explain, and me saying i wasn’t interested, and eventually having to hang up on him.

the second call was even shorter.  i quickly discovered that they have a ‘do not call list’, and i’m now on it.

we *were* going to upgrade to ADSL on Dodo, but i can think of plenty of ISPs to whom i’d rather that money go now.


Optus – Credit where credit is due!

29 11 2008

In response to my tiraed to Optus, I received an SMS:

“Hi, received your letter.for coverage issues on iphone plz contact iphone tech support on 133713.have credited $59 as g/will.-Optus, Chintu”

Well, short but sweet.  Thankyou Optus, the credit is appreciated.  I’ll call that number next week and see what news I can get on my speed & coverage issues.


Is it time to kill the Dodo?

21 11 2008

just got a cold-call from Dodo, trying to upgrade my dial-up internet connection (actually used by my parents interstate, not me, i just pay for it ;) to a wireless broadband thingy.

mum n dad have been talking about getting a faster pipe to the internets – frankly i don’t know how they’ve coped without broadband all this time, my life would collapse without it!  so i listened to what Dodo had to offer.  it was a ‘3G’ based system leveraging Optus’ 3G/HSDPA network.  oh boy… (see previous post!)

they’ve already tried a Virgin Mobile Broadband + HomePhone thingy earlier this year, and there wasn’t enough coverage for the box to even register their asserted presence in the area; so that box got returned and the service cancelled at no cost.  Dodo, like Virgin, are also resellers of Optus’s 3G network, so when Dodo came calling, i was more than sceptical at the salesman’s assertion that they had “full coverage” in their postcode, and i said as much.

not to be deterred, he directed me to their website where i could plug in their postcode and see in big bright friendly green letters that they did indeed have coverage there.  what was the point of that?  yeah, you’re right, i s’pose i shouldn’t be surprised that there’s such a mistrust of phone/mobile/broadband telemarketers and their predilection for misrepresentation that the average customer needs to pull the same answer from the same database as the telemarketer does…

he went over the details of the plan, 3.5Mbps (when i asked what the upstream speed is, he said it’s the same – yeah like hell it will be!), 70MB/month, excess charged at $0.17 (or was it .18?)/MB, capped at something like $25/month on a 2 year contract, same $9.90 i’m paying for the dial-up, we just pay $20something for delivery of the modem.  if it doesn’t work, a full refund & contract cancellation.  sounds ok as an introductory offer, right?

well yeah, but blind freddy can see this is only a drawcard plan.  almost everyone who moves from dial-up to broadband significantly (if not drastically) increases their consumption because it’s faster & much more tollerable than dial-up, so you ‘do more stuff’.  a realistic plan is gonna double that cost.  but that’s still ok.

what prompted this post is not only that this kid spoke so fast and slurred that i had to ask him to repeat himself several times, not only that he had a unmistakably cocky “i’ve got this sale in the bag” (despite the fact that the product probably won’t work in the location) tone to his sales pitch, but when i said “ok, i’ll have a think about it and discuss it with my parents” (and do a little more research, of course), he was totally flummoxed that i wasn’t ready to sign up there and then, seriously incredulously asking twice “what’s there to think about?”.  When i became a little terse toward his offensive sales tactic and asked “is it too much to ask that I discuss the matter with my parents?” he said “ok, bye” and hung up!

indeed, what is there to think about when it comes to navigating the snake pits of broadband plans and the half-truths and high-pressure or just plain offensive tactics used to sell them?

Dodo, you can go forth and multiply, or go extinct, i don’t really care which, but those are the only two choices you have left with me.


Optus 3G sucks

20 11 2008

My complaint emailed to Optus 13/11/08.  They manually acknowledged receipt and advised they were forwarding it to the Small & Medium Business department responsible for my account.  No further reply as yet…


” I wish to register my complaint about the 3G data performance I am experiencing on my iPhone 3G since I commenced using it on the Optus 3G network a few months ago.

At best I achieve an average 470kbps down / 270kbps up, often with latencies in the several THOUSAND ms – that’s several SECONDS, which is utter ridiculousness.  Often, like right now, i get ~120kbps/80kbps.

And too often I have no 3G connection at all.

My data speeds did not change at all with two firmware updates, whereas 3G phone call reliability did improve markedly, and other networks are achieving ‘somewhat’ better results, which suggests this is not an iPhone issue, but a carrier capacity issue.

This is not “3G”, it is not the product’s implied performance (yes, I noticed your sales documentation furiously avoided mentioning anything remotely resembling an assurance of any particular bandwidth performance), it’s barely better than GPRS.

Clearly your 3G network is at a similar level of maturity as your GSM network was until the late 1990s, but little do your customers or prospective customers know they’ll be stepping a decade into the past when they “upgrade” to Optus 3G until they’re locked in for a year or two – something you neglect to mention in your sales material.

Because of this my iPhone 3G is rendered much less useful than it needs to be, and I’m also paying for a lot more bandwidth than I could ever hope to use in a month at these appalling speeds.

When I read in the IT press that Optus had achieved the global distinction of having the poorest 3G performance, I knew my patience for the normal early adopter teething issues had gone on long enough.  Even then it took me at least another month to draft this complaint and still no improvement or communication.

You’ve been naively optimistic either that your 3G network would cope with the iPhone 3G (and its emerging ilk) era, or that there won’t be a major customer backlash.  When did Optus become a classic Corporate Psychopath?

I’d estimate you’re verging on being in breach of the Trade Practices Act as regards “fitness for purpose” and all the ‘class action’ fun that suggests; and as an Optus customer of over 13 years whose been pushed too far this time, that’s a bandwaggon I’d be only too happy to jump upon.

However I’d rather hear some good news, that you’re on top of the problem, a bucket load of new capacity is on the way and we should be through this within the next few months, oh, and sorry for the disappointment, here’s some of your wasted money back.

But so far you’ve been silent.  Were you hoping I just wouldn’t notice?  Time to ‘fess up, Optus, or that $40M you’ve supposedly lost because of the iPhone 3G will only be the start. ”