Saturday, 6 November 2010

Starting Out With Plusnet

Well, it was going to happen eventually. We moved into a new property recently and getting a home phone and broadband installed was something that just had to be done.

I've never had contracts for either of these before (don't ask) and had a look round at what was available. A recent copy of PC Pro magazine listed the top ten suppliers according to a reader's poll. Top of the list was Zen Internet (seven times now!), but it's not particularly cheap. O2, my mobile provider, was also up there in the top five, but I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket. I'd heard good things about Plusnet who were also listed in the top five. Having seen the TV advert and checked out the site, I decided to go with the Plusnet Extra broadband and Talk Evenings & Weekends home phone packages along with a router.

So, on the 10th October, I went through the registration process on the website which was an entirely simple and painless process. As I was having a phone put in, I had to choose three dates for BT to send an engineer. My first choice of the 25th October (between 8am and 1pm) was the soonest date available, so that meant a two week wait. I don't know if this is normal for BT but it seems a little excessive.
A confirmation email regarding my direct debit setup quickly followed and a "Welcome to Plusnet" email arrived a few minutes later with various information regarding my Plusnet account.

On the 11th October, I received an email, "We've place your Home Phone order" and shortly after I recieved a call from Simon, who had a heavy Yorkshire accent, at Plusnet confirming the installation date. I also received an email saying Plusnet was now following me on Twitter.

The BT engineer turned up on the 25th October, just after 8am. That's pretty damned efficient! He checked the master socket and then the other sockets round the flat, one of which doesn't appear to work properly, but I wasn't planning to use it anyway.

The engineer's visit was followed on the 26th October by an email from Plusnet, "Your Home Phone is now active", containing my username, call credit and phone number.
Two other emails arrived that day with regards to payment by direct debit.

Two more emails arrived on the 27th October, one regarding advance notice of direct debit payment and the other informing me that my broadband order was being processed.

By this time, I was aware that my broadband would be ready for use on the 03 November after 12pm.

Then, on the 30th October, the router arrived. Or it tried to. I got home to find the postie had stuck one of the dreaded "We tried to deliver..." cards through the door and it informed me that I had to wait 72 hours before calling in at the sorting office to collect it..
Now, the first issue here is that if Plusnet had informed me that the router was en route, I could have arranged for someone to be here. As it was, I received a Service Notice on the 1st November saying the router had been dispatched.

Too late, Plusnet. You lose a point.

The second issue isn't a Plusnet issue. I called in at the sorting office on the 3rd November (the date my broadband was due to be connected) only to be told they couldn't find my parcel and couldn't provide a reasonable explanation as to what had happened to it.

So, I popped into Argos and picked up a Netgear DGN1000 wireless router/modem, as I really wanted to get online as soon as possible. I then raised a question on the Plusnet support explaining what had happened. They promptly replied, saying they would send out another router. Which was nice.

My broadband, however, wasn't activated until the 5th November. This does happen, I pretty much expected it, and it wouldn't have been an issue if Plusnet hadn't said that if the date of activation changed, I would be emailed about it. But no mail was forthcoming regarding this.

So, Plusnet, you lose another point.

Emails arrived on the 5th November regarding broadband activation, payment for broadband and one telling me that my Plusnet Protect software was ready for download.
Essentially, Plusnet Protect is an anti-virus package provided by McAfee, for which users are charged £2 a month for.
Sorry, Plusnet, it's all Linux in this household, so that's a non-starter.

So here I am, 27 days on from signing up and all is good. I still don't have a Plusnet router, but that's okay as the Netgear only needed my Plusnet account username and password to connnect to the internet.

Overall, the whole thing was really quite painless.

BT needing two weeks to send an engineer to install a phone and Royal Mail losing my router are par for the course, according to the general public, so they score no points.

Plusnet, you lose a point for failing to inform me in time that my router had been dispatched and you lose another for late delivery of my broadband. But you get half a point back for quick and efficent support with regards to my missing router.

Plusnet, you scored 8.5 out of 10. Well done!

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