Since 19 July 2007, I've had 1024/512kbps two way satellite broadband through Bluemaxx Communications. The plan includes 1GB of downloads monthly, after which the speed is throttled to 64kbps. The contract does not restrict uploads. From the beginning of 2008 to 28 September 2008, the service was of less than merchantable quality (while that term might not be technically appropriate, I do believe that Bluemaxx was in prima facie violation of the Trade Practices Act). Bluemaxx gave an undertaking to compensate me, but subsequently dishonoured that undertaking. Strangely, they'd earlier honoured a similar undertaking.
In June 2009, Bluemaxx finally agreed to honour their undertaking. That was after I'd lodged a formal complaint with the TIO. Bluemaxx is evidently unable to grasp the concept that, in order to atone for their appalling behaviour, they need to do more than just what they should have done from the beginning. As at 8 January 2010, I can't say that Bluemaxx is meeting its contractual obligations.
Here is my best-effort reconstruction of my experiences with Bluemaxx. It's long and a little tedious.
After a few complications,
the service was installed
on 19 July 2007. Bluemaxx was prime contractor
the installation and retained ownership of the hardware.
The turn of the year brought problems.
On 24 February 2008, I had no service for 11 hours.
Service failed completely on 26 February 2008, so I was given temporary (shared) dialup access.
On 20 March 2008, Bluemaxx gave an undertaking to reimburse me for the poor service.
On 9 May 2008, faulty hardware was replaced. I had difficulty connecting (due to configuration errors at Bluemaxx) and ongoing problems with dropouts.
Despite ongoing problems, on 8 June 2008 I foolishly reported my service as restored from 9 May and requested the promised reimbursement.
On the same day, I detailed the ongoing problems.
Two days later, Bluemaxx honoured their undertaking to reimburse me for the poor service.
On the same day, Bluemaxx support suggested that ongoing problems must be caused by my equipment.
I responded that the modem shows a constant connection. I also pointed out that Bluemaxx's own usage page showed about 30 dropouts in little more than 2 hours.
Bluemaxx then said they'd send in the tech's.
When nothing happened, I gave details of a peculiar pattern of regular dropouts.
On 20 June 2008, a technician turned up. While he was on site, everything seemed fine. Of course, it couldn't last.
From the beginning, I had problems with slow Web access and corrupted downloads.
On 13 July 2008, I complained about the poor service and sought compensation for the period from (at least) 24 February. On 15 July 2008, Bluemaxx agreed.
Also on the 15th, Skybridge made a booking for the 19th, which they didn't keep. Soon after I complained, Skybridge phoned me to make a new booking.
They kept that appointment and confirmed the problem, but couldn't do anything about it.
Toward the end of July, I hooked up a new Vista system which, trying repeatedly to update itself on a link that corrupts downloads, consumed most of my download allowance before I realised what was happening.
Bluemaxx subsequently revealed serious deficiencies in their Client Relationship Management system (assuming they had a system, it evidently didn't record details of my installation).
I directed them to the most likely source of information, then asked what's been changed that degraded service quality.
Shortly afterward, Bluemaxx began to show signs of desperation: implying that I'd done works for which I'm not qualified and that any fault must be my responsibility.
I interpreted their behaviour as an attempt to bully me into accepting the unacceptable. My reaction may have been a little testy. I pointed out (among other things) that I'd done nothing for which I'm not qualified, then asked for the evidence on which Bluemaxx's assertions were based.
Bluemaxx's response revealed that their assertions were based on a lack of information and agreed that, on the available information, some were improbable. It also asserted that no change had been made that could account for the degraded service.
On 6 September 2008, I responded, giving evidence that something had certainly been changed, pointing out an apparent error in their response, suggesting testing that should have been carried out and seeking further information.
Two days later, Bluemaxx responded, providing signal strength data and asking whether I'd had problems recently.
I answered, giving my geographic coordinates and replying that problems are pretty constant.
Bluemaxx's reply exposed a surprising geographical ineptitude and revealed deficiencies in their interpretation of signal data. They were probably guessing well beyond their competence. They also attributed problems to weather events which occurred after the problems and admitted an error to which I'd previously alluded.
I pointed out some more of their errors and reiterated my suggestion that they follow up on whatever has changed.
Bluemaxx then enquired further about the installation, then suggested isolating the modem, which I did. Nothing changed.
On 17 September 2008, I reported details and effects of service problems, reminded Bluemaxx that I have their undertaking “to compensate me for the period during which my service is not of merchantable quality” and gave them until the end of the month to fix the problem.
Bluemaxx responded, in a manner that I consider attempted to establish excuses for denying liability, offering to send a technician. I did my best to give a civil response.
Bluemaxx replied in characteristic tone, with familiar distortions of fact. Though interpreting their behaviour as an attempt to bully me into silence (&/or to fabricate an excuse for evading liability), I did not respond.
On 25 September 2008, Skybridge technicians replaced some electronics and (yet again) adjusted the dish.
Between 10 November 2008 and 28 January 2009, I emailed Bluemaxx three times, reporting small problems, confirming that the service quality issue has been resolved and seeking the promised compensation.
On 29 January 2009 Bluemaxx replied, with reasoning significantly vague, that they have decided to dishonour their earlier undertaking. They followed by further demonstrating shortcomings of their Client Relationship Management system (assuming they had a system, it evidently didn't record details of my plan speed).
I responded immediately, suggesting that they reconsider and giving due notice of potential consequences. Had the record genuinely supported their decision, I believe they would have provided evidence.
Almost three months after my last message reporting issues, I was contacted by Bluemaxx support. That was the day after I'd invited Bluemaxx to comment on this reconstruction.
As at 22 May 2009, Bluemaxx hadn't responded to my suggestion that they reconsider their decision to dishonour their undertaking, so I lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. The TIO suggested on 29 May 2009 that I contact a Mr Russell Smith at Bluemaxx.
After three attempts, I managed to speak to Mr Smith, who referred me to Chris Rodriguez of Bluemaxx Sales. After failing to contact Mr Rodriguez by phone, I sent him an email on 2 June 2009.
Shortly after, Mr Rodriguez phoned. I subsequently received an email, confirming their intention to honour the original undertaking. Though the formal complaint may be resolved, Bluemaxx has a long way to go before their reputation is restored in my eyes. The apology letter mentions a change of management at Bluemaxx. If they perform well, I might stay on after my contract expires. Miracles do happen.
That miracle looks less and less likely:
On 18 August 2009, major changes were evidently made in Bluemaxx's setup. No warning was given.
The changes affected the satellite usage meter in a way that gives no cause for confidence in Bluemaxx.
On the 10th of October, I received a request from a former employee, asking that I remove their name from this site. They had evidently not enjoyed their experience with the company and did not want to be associated with it.
In October and November, I ran some basic tests on my shaped bandwidth. The results were not promising.
As at 1 January 2010, the usage meter still gave no cause for confidence.
On 18 January 2010, following further unpromising test results on shaped bandwidth, I transferred to one of Bluemaxx's new plans. As usual, all did not go smoothly.