Suspended three times by iBurst

Since January 2008, I have been a subscriber of iBurst. The package I am on is called Xtreme and allows for 5GB of broadband traffic, when that limit has been reached, the speed is throttled to 64Kbps. The monthly charge for this package (including a desktop USB modem) on a 24 month contract is R639. I also subscribe to their iCall VoIP service which is R50 per month, for a total bill of R689 per month. My contract with iBurst expires on February 04 2010.

On Friday, October 24 2008 17h00 until Monday, October 27 2008 14h05, iBurst first suspended my account without contacting me first. When contacted on Friday evening, the support people at iBurst would not reinstate my account. I was told that I was in arrears and that the problem could only be attended to on Monday at the earliest. On Monday, it transpired after asking iBurst accounts department why the account was suspended, that in fact they had screwed up. We had to fax bank statements to them to prove that the subscription had been paid. Eventually they worked out that the error was wholly on their side and my account was reinstated.

Up until this day, I have never received an apology from iBurst for this suspension of my service over an entire weekend. Emails to them asking for compensation have been ignored. It is clear that iBurst doesn’t care about me, nor do they care about any of their subscribers. They do not care how much they inconvenience their customers. The lesson here is that YOU should not do business with iBurst.

On Friday July 17 until Monday July 20 2009 iBurst again suspended my account for being in arrears. The pattern repeated itself. iBurst failed to contact me to rectify the problem before it summarily suspended me. Support staff over the weekend at iBurst were wholly unable or unwilling to attend to my problem and restore my Internet access. Only on Monday once we were able to speak to the “right person” could the problem be remedied. Again my account was not in arrears. iBurst had erred again and suspended my account again without cause.

This time I didn’t bother emailing them to ask for compensation. I knew that they would ignore me again.

This past week, on Wednesday November 11 2009 after 17h00, iBurst suspended my account for the third time without contacting me first. Apparently my account was in arrears again. This time it turned out that their billing system had failed to debit September’s subscription, due wholly to an error on their part. They had put through the debit order for October and November (and received payment). It took them until November 11 to discover that September’s debit had not occurred and instead of contacting me to ask me to provide funds and authorise them to debit my account, they simply suspended my account. Because iBurst does not care if they inconvenience their customers. Contacting iBurst’s support staff after hours proved fruitless – none of them would reinstate my account.

The pattern should be clear to you by now: iBurst suspends accounts after hours, without having staff on hand who can deal with suspension queries, because iBurst doesn’t care how much they inconvenience their paying customers.

On Thursday, I was told that my account would only be reinstated once September’s subscription had been paid. Never mind that they caused this problem in the first place – that did not enter into the equation. Funds were duly provided, the debit went off, and my account was reinstated, for about an hour, then iBurst’s network went down. Support staff told me that my account was active, but their network was down. So after paying the subscription, iBurst couldn’t even deliver me service. The next day,  Friday November 13 2009, I found my service active, but again for only about an hour,  and then it went down again.

I was then told that my service was offline because I had exhausted my bandwidth for the month! While this was true (I have indeed used up my 5GB quota), my Xtreme account, which is the second highest account, is still entitled to remain connected at the throttled rate of 64Kbps.

If you are on a Giga package or higher, your service will be slowed down (throttled) to a maximum of 64 kbps once your cap is reached. – iBurst’s web site

I was told that an iBurst representative would call me back, but that never happened. Eventually, my account was reactivated without anyone calling me to apologise or notify me.

All these calls to iBurst’s support come at a price – iBurst does not have a toll free customer support line. You have to call 087 720 7200 and wait in a queue, while your telephone air time is eaten away. All because they screwed up.

iBurst is just as bad as Telkom, if not worse. At least with Telkom, you can call their support for free.

As I said above, my contract with iBurst expires on February 04 2010. At that time, I intend taking my business to Neotel. I hope that they turn out to be winners.

UPDATE:

Nov 14 2009 19h30: After writing this blog post, my iBurst Internet connection failed again in the early hours of Saturday morning. When I called iBurst support I was again informed that I had no access because my bandwidth was exhausted. The support personnel could not be made to understand that despite this, I was still entitled to remain connected at the throttled rate. They simply refused to help me. So in desperation to get their help, I added 3000MB to my account at a cost of R499. This I did via the iBurst.co.za web site which is the only site my iBurst connection could access. I again called Support and they were just simply unable to help me. This is because iBurst deploys support personnel who don’t know how to do their jobs.

At around 17h00 today I tried again to access the Internet and saw that I was still offline. Eventually, after numerous calls to iBurst support, someone called Jacky called me back and told me that she had reset my account by suspending it and then reactivating it. She asked me to switch my computer and iBurst modem off, bring it back up and then try logging in again. This worked and I am now reconnected. However, I do not consider this to be acceptable service. iBurst completely screwed up my connection this past week and I have been offline for most of this week as a result, which means that I have been completely unable to do my work, which is all conducted online. Furthermore iBurst does not provide a toll free support line so getting their mistakes corrected costs me a lot of wasted phone time. Finally iBurst does not train their technicians to know how to do their jobs. I was incorrectly told that I needed to purchase more bandwidth. If only one person at iBurst knows how to fix things, then they are doing it wrong.

My conclusion remains the same – I refuse to put myself through the wringer with iBurst for another month longer than the contract I have with them says I must.

UPDATE:

Email to both Sandra Smit and Shaun Green of iBurst asking for compensation have been ignored.

Lest you think I am the only person afflicted with an iBurst connection, here’s another South African blogger who received similar treatment. It seems to me that South Africans cannot run a First World quality Internet or telecommunications company. Maybe we’re just too pathetic to do anything right?