One of the great things about returning to study, is that it provides answers to ‘why is it done like that?’. Two of the best subjects I studied were Marketing & Business communication and the truly outstanding Outsourcing class taught by Dr Sara Cullen – one of the three leading experts on outsourcing in the world. Buy her book co-authored with two of the world’s leading academics in the area Dr Mary Lacity and Dr Leslie Willcocks. What these three don’t know about outsourcing, really isn’t worth knowing. As usual, I digress. . .
Last week, some contractors working for the Soviet Republic of Moreland cut the fibre to the home (FTTH) NBN cable to all buildings on the north side of my street. FTTH is the good internet, the one that really is what the rest of the digitalised world has. The cut in the fibres resulted in landline and internet outage for 4 houses and 2 businesses. Because of the way the NBN was established, each “retail” customer – businesses included, has to report the problem to its NBN service provider, and depending on the technical knowledge of the consumer & call agent, then if required each service provider eventually logs a service call with the NBN.
Having worked in technical support – I’d made sure I was prepared for my call with iiNET. It was quickly established that the problem was the line and a technician from the “NBN” was booked for the following day. The next day, one of the NBN’s subcontracted service providers Servicestream sent a technician, let me just say, Servicestream and their technician were fantastic. Everything you want from a technician visiting your home.
We are four levels down now between the consumer reporting the problem and the person who is going to fix it. Me, the consumer, iiNet my provider, NBN, iiNet’s provider, and Service Stream the NBN’s provider. The Service Stream technician quickly worked out the problem and then told me the solution. Every single building in the street needed to have the cable replaced to the home. By 9.15 a second sub contractor with a separate firm had been dispatched for one of the businesses. By 10.00 am a third NBN sub contractor arrived. I then witnessed a turf war about which sub contractor was going to get the lion’s share of establishing phone and internet access to the street. Full marks to Service Stream for escalating and managing what was now becoming a ludicrous display of the outsourced service economy going awry.
Service stream’s senior manager then embarked on futile frantic calls to Moreland, NBN and all and sundry to no avail. Each individual building would need to have a different sub contractor re-establish the cable. My house and one of the businesses were connected on the same day. My three neighbours and the remaining business are still without landlines and internet – relying on tethering via their mobiles for internet access and of course calls.
Yesterday, Moreland City Council re concreted over the pit at the end of our street which will now have to be dug up at least once but potentially three more times to recable the NBN to the houses who are now 6 days without phones and internet access. As a consumer I look at all this and think to myself – how does this save money? How is this more efficient, and the lessons I’ve learned from my Master’s degree is – it doesn’t. It just distributes the blame so that no single company can be held accountable.
Postscript: This morning the pit at the end of our street is being dug up again and more than half of the street is still tethered via their mobiles to the internet.