Well, it wasn’t planned, but it is kinda fun for a change. When life gives you lemons, make rum & coke (with a slice of lemon). Our office has been out of commission since Monday morning due to an ‘upgrade’ that Telus had planned for our office internet package. Instead of going from 6.0 mbps to a whopping 15, we lost all internet connection.
It is amazing just how much we depend on it for daily communication. I would estimate 90% of our communication with our clients is via email. 50% of our in-office communication is email or IM. And nearly all of our work requires an internet connection. Even when I am designing a website, logo or print piece I am constantly referring to the web for inspiration, research, and confirmation. We kinda felt lost without it.
After two days of sending my staff packing to various coffee shops and partner offices for internet access, I finally decided to make a stand. We cleared out some space in our house and curled up on couches by the fire to work. Three pots of coffee, a round of Plato Combinado lunches from the Cancun, and several pairs of slippers later, we managed to get our first productive day together since Monday, no thanks to Telus.
I am constantly mystified by the lack of action that Telus shows for it’s clients when something goes wrong. I realize that when we look at the perspective of the greater world, the crisis in Haiti, AIDS in Africa, and even local poverty and homelessness, lacking internet for a few days doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I know it is not a matter of life and death, but when a small business owner bears the responsibility to make sure there is work, space, and resources to make sure that my staff of 4 are busy, efficient, and paid, I do take it very seriously. This year has been a truly challenging one for almost any businesses big or small. Many are holding on by a thread; we have had lots of work, a few hiccups along the way, and we have emerged more or less in the black, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
I guess it is different when you have a monopoly on your market. I spent probably 5 hours on the phone with different divisions and people in the Telus company structure. Many of them were kind, understanding, and concerned sounding. The problem is they still couldn’t get in movement on my problem. Their corporate structure is set up to a) foster adequacy rather than excellence and b) perpetuate a lack of concern for the people that pay their bills month after month. I suspect that over the years I have given more money to Telus than to my bank for my mortgage. Why, then, do they not have systems in place to cope with problems simply and effectively? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase “I’m very sorry but…” over the last 3 days, I would be a wealthy man. When pressed for some sort of ‘consolation’ prize, I was offered 2 months of internet free. Thanks, Telus, but that’s not much consolation.
If you calculate our billable hour rate of $95/hr., over two days, counting 5 billable hours per employee per day, times 4 employess ($95/hr x 2 x 5 x 4 employees, you get nearly $4000 of lost potential revenues. So a discount of $180 is not even a 5% consolation. In an economic environment like the one we are presently surviving in, that’s a big hit. Corporate taxes are due this week as a special additional prize.
I have, after consideration, decided to create my own consolation prize. I hope it doesn’t come off too much like an embittered whine, but I realize that accountability is essential for all organizations to remain human and understanding. This is true for government, small businesses like mine, and large multi-nationals also. This morning we were watching the video of the musician who’s guitar was wrecked and not replaced by United Airlines, so he wrote a series of negative-publicity songs that went viral on YouTube. In the end, that got the attention of the airline, who ended up deciding it was worth it to ‘make it right’. That is really the only power we consumers have over larger corporations and monopolies.
To that end, I have decided to do what I can to let Telus know that we are not impressed with the ‘upgrade’ and repair process. We are web professionals, and giving people a voice on the web is what we do. As a result of our frustrating experience trying to get Telus to deal with our ‘upgrade’ quickly and professionally, I am interested in doing what I can to give people a voice. As a result, keep your browsers poised at www.deartelus.com where we will be installing a copy of an application called Twessage, built by one of our staff (logo by yours truly) that allows @ replies to be posted to a web page (For samples go to www.dearie6.com and www.deartwilight.com). We’ll see what people really have to say to Telus, maybe if we get enough people they will take notice and make some changes.
As an aside, just hours after posting my frustrations on Twitter and Facebook, and a mere 15 minutes after Telus restored our office internet, I got a phone call from Shaw who offered me a fantastic deal on internet, and likely soon home digital phone. At least I know someone is paying attention! …I think we’ll make the switch.