Guy Trafford indulges in a bit of therapy, recording a day's frustration with modern-world services that never seem to work right in the country when you need them

Guy Trafford indulges in a bit of therapy, recording a day's frustration with modern-world services that never seem to work right in the country when you need them

By Guy Trafford

The joys of living in such a developed world with a focus on customer service is boundless or apparently so.

Unfortunately living a massive 25 kms out of Christchurch the benefits are yet to reach here.

We lost landline and therefore internet service yesterday. We finally figured it wasn’t a router or operator error (me) and rang Spark to speak to a computer who confirmed we indeed had an area fault which would impact upon landline and internet capability.

If we had decent cell phone coverage this would reduce the problem as we could, as we are meant to be a developed country, piggy back on the cell phone. Unfortunately, because we live so far from mainstream civilisation we can only get 1 signal bar on 3G, never mind considering any 4G options.

Twenty hours later there is still no improvement and so ringing the friendly Spark robot who cheerfully informed me I would have a 47 minute to 1 hour wait before they could ring me back on my cell phone. This incidentally requires me to stand on the BBQ table. Happily it is a fine day today so no major dramas there, although with getting into my 7th decade what would ACC think if I damaged myself getting back down and the plastic chair collapsed? I have now just received a txt (the major form of communication here) informing me that the 47 minutes had been extended to 71 minutes.

We, on a daily basis get visited in the lounge by at least one very friendly fantail, sometimes accompanied by partner and seemingly son son. Maori folklore, to my understanding, is that having fantails inside your house is bad luck; however for my part I find them such cute and friendly little beings I can’t take it too seriously - although I’m starting to wonder lately.

We have a pretty comprehensive gas water heater which runs on 2x 5 x 45 kgs banks of gas bottles, and though only 18 months old, we found (after wondering why the gas was disappearing seemingly too rapidly) that there were at least six leaks in the joints. That led to a reasonably volatile conversation, but it is meant to be getting fixed today.

Last week we sent a large package by the major chilled freighter company up to the Cheese Awards (we have vain imaginings) only to find they hadn’t arrived. But no problem, they would cover the value of the lost cheeses, unfortunately not the entry fees (over $500) or lost opportunities. Apparently, that’s all the law allows ‘us’ to claim. Thankfully, they turned up 36 hrs later and the Cheese Awards organisers kindly granted us an extension and so apart from a lot stress, no harm done - other than a complete lack of confidence in the freight company and their systems.

Spark have been back in touch and I spoke to a real person, although I suspect she was in India. The real issue was, even up on the BBQ table, reception kept dropping out and so having a conversation was difficult. But have just received a txt telling me that a technician will be out to look at our property by March 5 (today is the February 28), so I feel a really valued customer. We obviously cannot download Netflix and the like and so we have long since given up imagining we might be able to follow the Rugby World Cup.

Given this experience I have serious doubts of a happy outcome even for those people closer to civilisation.

So, for those living in towns and cities, think yourselves lucky at having water, gas and IT at your doorstep and don’t underestimate the trials and tribulations for those beyond the town boundaries and what they have to put up with and pay for. We may be lucky here, our communications network are due for an upgrade in 2022 a mere blink of the eye in the Chorus time frame.

So, having penned this down I now need to find a way to get it to Auckland and online. Perhaps one of the pigeons nearby might oblige? In the meantime, I’m starting to wonder about this fantail.

If Shane Jones is looking for a way to spend his $3 billion regional development fund, putting some into some decent logistics and communication networks for the South Island would be money well spent.



Later in the day I met some Chorus guys fixing a cut cable 2 kms down road (not a farmers doing, I may add) and low-and-behold we have internet etc. Which is why you are reading this.

It seems the left hand doesn’t know a lot.

And the gas man has all of a sudden fixed our leaks; apparently a manufacturers supplied “tight lock” that cannot handle Canterbury heat - somebody stuffed up.

In the meantime Fonterra has come to the party and lifted its 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to $6.30-$6.60 per kgMS, up from $6.00-$6.30 - but then revised its forecast earnings down to 15-25 cents per share.

So all is now right with the world - and the fantails are safe.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Time to learn some Morse code, perhaps, Guy?

Worse than the city. Perhaps not by much.

Chorus are a bunch of hacks. Workers no doubt illegally underpaid and their vans undercapitalized.
Two foreign workers came to my rural property with a 50m duct snake and nothing to blow the fibre through. The conduit is 70m so of course this did not work. I had to guard over them all day so they didn't just drive off. One of the guys drove to the hire shop to rent a longer snake rod and reported back to me that the hire shop didn't have it on hand. I called their boss to see what could be done - he was more keen to blame the problem on the trenching company not installing the conduit correctly than come up with a solution. The other guy just sat around doing nothing and told me his workmate is an idiot and he foresaw this problem happening as it was a rural job.

Eventually I lent them some CAT6 cable which they sellotaped onto their snake rod and somehow MacGyver'd to work.

You are so lucky we live a whopping 3Kms out of ChCh city boundary and we get 1 bar on the cell phone if we stand in one particular location, roll up my left trouser leg, whilst scratching my left ear with by right leg. Apparently we are exactly equidistant between 3 cell towers all less than 5Kms as the crow flies but our trees have the wrong kind of leaves preventing a decent signal so we may have to buy a signal booster. The Landline is hilarious we can only get ADSL in the Farmhouse but the workshop 50m away served from same roadside box gets VDSL and Fibre will be available in 2055. I really do believe that 5G will solve everything when good Friday falls on 25/12 or politicians stop telling lies whichever comes first.

I'm in a bush suburb of Auckland. On the side of a hill. No tv reception, poor mobile coverage and the copper landline goes out every 6 weeks for 3 days or so.

Apparently we'll get fibre some time this year.

So we're not even in a rural area and still get crap service with all these utilities.

Scratch a bit harder for other options. We moved business premises to rural area on edge of town. Existing four lines into commercial property of which two needed replacing to give us the needed lines. Contractors came to install VDSL only to find too far from cabinet. No more lines available in the street. Went to an air fibre (mobile broadband) connection supplied by Rural Wireless, the local monopoly Inspire Net wasn't interested. We now have a 40GB up and down very stable connection enabling full cloud services for accounting, publishing etc and a hosted 3CX VOIP giving us multiple lines through An Auckland Company - Uphone. Cost effective, reliable and no physical lines to the property at all. Very little upfront cost too. We now have a subdivision going in right next door with Fibre. I dont see any need to change to Fibre as we can upgrade our connection if needed. Beats me why so much obsolete infrastructure goes underground with wireless options advancing rapidly.

Sounds like a lot of First-World pointlessness

Guy - take the time out to read this:

I wouldn't consider buying a property that didn't have fibre and 4G coverage.

The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies and in time may go

Gershwin nailed it.

So does Martenson

I don't think having coverage is all that important, where we're taking ourselves......

... so ... your advice for the looming end of the world as we know it crisis would be to heavily short Netflix stock ?

... if you follow Mr PDK's wise advice , and hunker down in a cave with tin-foil hats , candles , rifles and tins of beans .... you'll still get your fibre ... open the beans !

Thank you for an interesting article. I can totally identify with the frustration. 10 years ago, when I first moved to NZ, I thought I was coming to a first world country too. When it took me a month to have internet set-up and running I realized how wrong I was. :)