3 mobile broadband

  devilheart 11:31 18 Feb 2014

Further to my previous posting about the uselessness of the 3 mobile broadband network,I thought that I'd elaborate on my miserable experience of almost five years of being lied to and let down by them. To do this and to make things clearer,I will be using the analogy of running a car - you'll see what I mean. A bit about me - 60,male,a writer on many things,including I.T. I've been working with computers for 14 years,have a couple of degrees and managed a computer suite for four years. I initially chose 3 because it was the only network with any sort of signal where I was then living on the Herefordshire-Wales border. Even then,I had to drive six miles towards Abergavenny to get strong enough a signal to connect to the Internet. I moved back to Cornwall in 2009,and now live midway between two telecommunication masts in the county,supposedly in an area which has a strong 3 signal. The only reason I continue to use the 3 dongle is poverty. I'm a self-employed writer and times are tough. If I could afford something better I would,but after using 3 I have no faith that any other network's mobile broadband service would be any superior. As it would cost about £50 a time to buy and put credit on a new dongle,I'm not going to bother - and believe me,it's not a case of 'better the devil I know' - for 3 have made my life hell. The only good thing that I can see about their mobile broadband is that I use pay-as-you-go,which means that I'm not tied to a contract. I think that had this been the case,I would be suicidal,in a mental facility or imprisoned for having tried to blow 3's headquarters up ! Saying that I'm free of a contract is a bit like saying that I haven't signed a contract to have cow-pats flung at me daily,but that it's happening anyway - this is what using a 3 dongle feels like. You know that little thrill that you get inside each time that you log on to check your emails or surf the Net ? Well,that will soon be joined by a feeling of dread that 3 is going to ruin things - which it will. You have to realize from the get-go that 3 will never admit that there are flaws in their product or their service. Their standpoint is that they are perfect and if you can't get a signal,then you are somehow at fault. You're using the computer in the wrong room,you're not near enough to a window,your walls are too thick,your security programmes and firewall are obstructing 3Connect,you've got the wrong settings on your computer - the list goes on. I'm amazed that they don't say you're wearing the wrong clothing or deodorant ! To start with my criticism of 3's service,how is it that in 2014 we still have a system whereby any credit allowance that's applied to your account has a time-limit ? That is,it expires after a week or a month whether you're used it or not ? This was the way that mobile phones used to be in this country 15 years ago,which made people angry and they did away with it. If I fill my car's tank with petrol and don't use it all in a month,the petrol station doesn't come along and siphon my tank dry. So why are 3 permitted to steal what I've paid for ? I'm writing this in mid February 2014,when gale-force winds have been blowing for days. I presume this interrupts the signal,for I've been unable to get online for more than an hour in total in the last five days. It won't be that 3 will offer me five extra days on the month of credit I bought,even though I was unable to access their service. Oh no. For all I know the telecommunications masts are collapsed and unable to transmit. There's no way that I would know,as 3 never explain anything,never apologise and never ever offer compensation. They always lie to you. You would stand more chance of getting compensation from the present German government for the nerve-damage suffered by your granny's canary in the London Blitz than you do from 3 for their lies and couldn't-care-less service. 3 never tell you when they are doing engineering work which might affect your signal,even if they know months in advance. They never apologise when there has been an outage. Imagine another service-provider trying to get away with that... If say,your electricity was out for three days and the power company were completely silent on the matter. The only time that I have received advice that my service might be affected was when 3 redesigned their web site. This has occurred twice in five years,and when it did 3 were good at telling me weeks beforehand that I might not be able to apply credit to my account. That's a big clue to their attitude overall,as they're obsessed with getting your money,while providing you with as little as possible. They're also in love with how they look,and will bombard you with surveys as to what you think of the appearance of their site. This feels like a Gestapo officer asking you,the inmate of 3's concentration camp what you think of his new shiny uniform ? Their heavy promotion of their network through advertisements online and television commercials nauseates me,as I know how rubbish they really are. It took me a long time to find the page on their web site which is there to make a complaint about their service,so well tucked away is it. Using this form is a bit like writing your complaint on a paper aeroplane and throwing it out of the window. I did try sending a test question after the network was down for five hours one Saturday morning. I asked if there had been engineering work on the local mast ? Six days later I received a reply,which was a form-letter telling me how to plug my dongle into the USB port of my laptop ! I could have construed this as a deliberate insult,but I think it was more a case of 3 automatically sending out a reply that had the word 'signal' in it. It's still crap customer service,either way. This is the sort of thing that makes me incandescent with rage as much as the appallingly bad software,which is there to lie to you,not to inform you of anything factual. I realize the limitations of connecting to the Internet by a dongle,and don't expect fast speeds. I've seen 3's advertising promise speeds of up to 7 Mbps. That's as ludicrous as a car manufacturer saying their humble one litre hatchback can do speeds of up to 200 miles an hour. If they tried that,everyone would laugh at them,but 3 get away with it as most people don't understand the technical terminology they use. A typical connection speed for me is 1.5 MBps. I can just about work with that,but it's all of the other rubbish that's involved with their service which maddens and depresses me. Sometimes when pages are taking an age to open,I run a speed-test. That showed a connection speed of 250 KBps recently and took 20 minutes for the test to complete,but it's sometimes so slow that the test won't run at all ! I'm sure to forget something,as there's so much that is bad with 3,but here's a brief run-down of what doesn't work with their service. It sounds silly to say that a programme "lies" to you,but that's what 3's software does,and it's deliberately designed to be dishonest. It will insist that you're connected when you're not,and at a full five bar strength as well. I don't understand the point of this at all. Even when you do have a connection,their bar graph is meaningless. It will show that your connection speed is four bars,when it's actually running at 150 KBps. It's all twoddle - ignore it. 3 never tells you when it's disconnected,so you'd better get in the habit of backing-up work. You'll go to access a fresh web page and get the message from Internet Explorer that you're not connected to the Internet. Looking back at the dashboard of 3Connect,you'll see that it's still saying you're connected. Who do they think that they're fooling ? The only thing that 3 is connected to is its own imagination. If you were in a car that had stopped at the side of the road and looked down at the speedometer to see that it was showing you were doing 80mph and that the engine was turning over at 3,000 r.p.m.,what would you think ? To continue the car analogy,when you are successful in making a connection to the Internet 3 will boost your CPU up to 100%. As this takes three minutes to subside to normal levels,you're effectively prevented from doing anything else with your computer in that time,be it online or offline as pages won't open. It's like starting a car and the engine screams away at 10,000 r.p.m. for three minutes,stopping you from engaging gear and moving off. Lest you think that this is down to my laptop being rubbish,it'd done this on a dozen other computers. I never have too many processes running either,so that's not the reason for the high CPU usage and delay. I'm complaining about this,but it's really the only semi-accurate was to tell if there's a chance that your computer is really connecting to the Internet. It may not be so,but it certainly isn't happening unless the CPU use is at 100%. If it's dithering around at 10% it's doing nothing – it will say that it is,but that's another lie. To see the CPU usage open Task Manager. There are two ways of doing this – press the Ctrl-Alt- Del keys together or the Ctrl-Shift-Esc keys together. It's not at all unusual for this rigmarole to take place,and when you try to access a web page you find that there's no actual connection at all. 3 has gone through the charade of pretending it was connecting,but hadn't done a thing. To add insult to lie,3 will then take up to two minutes to 'disconnect',even though it's not connected to a damned thing at all...Five minutes each time of trying to get online is enormously frustrating - and it always a minimum of three minutes,even if you're successful. Perhaps that's why they're called 3 ! The record for my patience was 48 connections and disconnections in an eight hour period. You can do the arithmetic yourself,but more than two hours of that working day was lost to 3's lies. Imagine trying to do this with a mobile phone - if it took three minutes to connect to a number that you dialled,and then when you found that it wasn't connected at all, another two minutes to disconnect. How many people would use mobile phones if this were the case ? To be honest,most of the time 3's service is comparable to when I first had a home computer in 1999 and used BT's dial-up service - some progress,huh ? Occasionally 3 is quicker than the old dial-up download connection speeds,but it's much more deceitful. Remember my warning - 3 never explain,they never apologise and they never ever offer compensation. But they always lie. About their customer service helpline - this is in India,at Mumbai I believe. I understand from what I've read online that there's also a call-centre in Scotland,but I haven't used that yet. The people that I've spoken to in India have been impeccably polite - quite the most courteous helpline operators I've ever spoken to. True,it can be a bit of a problem to understand some of the accents that you'll encounter,as there's going to be a fair few rural accents among the more genteel Queen's English tones,but you can always ask to be transferred to another operator. To save money,ask them to call you back,which may take a few minutes,but they usually do. I found that each call was costing me a minimum of £5,and often double that,so why should you pay for sorting things out ? What you need to understand about help line operatives is that they are usually not technically skilled. Most are reading from a prompt list,which might well include the oft-quoted "have you tried turning it off and on ? " I learned about the lack of I.T.skills of those at the end of computer helplines when I was married to a network administrator in America. The company she worked for provided technology for many of the mobile phone and computer manufacturers. Some of these had their own helplines,but a lot of the customer complaints came to her employer. I naively thought that the personnel at the end of any helpline would be experienced information technology people with years of knowledge,and who could answer difficult questions with ease. Nothing could be further from the truth,as their single helpline operator was a young lad of 18 in his first job,whose only experience with computers came from what he'd learned at high school and from surfing the Net in his bedroom. He answered all questions by consulting a long prompt list on a clipboard. After three months of receiving abuse from disgruntled customers,he was a nervous wreck. What you have to remember,is that helplines are not really there to help you - they're premium rate money-making enterprises - they want the call to take ages,and if you ring off in disgust and call back again later,then more profit to them. The best thing to do if you're not getting a satisfactory answer is to ask for the matter to be 'escalated'. Keep doing this,and you might eventually reach someone more experienced and technically savvy who knows what they're talking about. The only times I've been forced to phone Mumbai was when I could not,no matter what I did,apply credit to my account. This was mainly by the use of vouchers bought in shops. The reason for using this method boils down to control and security,as my 3 account was hacked into. When 3 did their two web site redesigns all of the credit on my account which was there before the change of look disappeared overnight. That was a total of 3 Gigabytes of allowance. 3 denied that this was possible,but it happened,and they wouldn't offer me compensation. What could I do ? I'd wasted £10 on a phone call trying to get my credit reinstated,so was on a hiding to nothing,losing even more money with each minute of the phone call. I was forced to buy more credit allowance. Shortly after this a series of a dozen transactions for £10 of allowance took place on my 3 account,but as my bank was hacked into as well at that time I couldn't tell if it originated from Lloyds or 3. To prevent it happening again,I started to use vouchers. This is more inconvenient than topping-up online with a debit card,but offers me some peace-of-mind. I keep track of my usage of broadband allowance by accessing my account each morning when I log on and writing down the figure. I also keep all of the vouchers that I use,writing the date that the allowance was applied. I don't trust 3 to be honest in their dealings with me. Another reason for my mistrust of them is that it's very difficult to keep track of what allowance is remaining on my account. 3 prevent you from accessing an updated figure. If I look in the morning when I log on and there's 750 MB of allowance left,there will still be 750 MB showing five hours later,after I've surfed the Net and sent a dozen emails - even though that should have taken 200 MB off the total. When I first noticed this,I put it down to 3's inefficiency,but then I read several postings in online forums about how those on contracts were being stung with big fines for exceeding their monthly data allowance. 3 prevent their users from accessing the true state-of-play of their accounts for this reason. That's close to fraudulent practice. If a car maker deliberately falsified the petrol gauge reading on their cars,causing the driver to run out of fuel and be stranded,then charging him a fine for conking out,how long would they stay in business ? 3 have been doing the equivalent of this for years,and getting away with it. But that's the thing. Who polices the mobile broadband industry ? Would OFCOM be interested in my complaints ? I get the feeling that for this to be allowed to happen at all there must be massive bribes paid. No television programmes would be interested in investigating this matter,would they ? I suppose that Watchdog might,but Click wouldn't - they're more of a publicity programme for new technology and are barely critical of anything that comes their way. Why should they be - they'd lose all of those perks,jollies,free samples of new gadgets and trips abroad. I've left the most sinister complaint until last. I was looking around the joke of a 3 web site one day,which is full of so much double-speak,misinformation and meaningless opaque advice that it must have been put together by an ex KGB propaganda officer,when I glanced at the usage figures for my account. To my wonderment and horror,I saw that it showed I'd downloaded 6.5GB of data over a five hour period at 3am two nights before. Except I hadn't,I was fast asleep,the laptop was off and the dongle removed. 6.5 GB is about as much data as I download in two weeks. I sometimes buy a £25 7 GB voucher,but not often,and it always lasts me two weeks. I thought about this strange usage figure and quickly realized that someone had applied credit to my account,using most of it up,for the existing amount that I'd recorded wasn't altered. They hadn't done so using funds from my registered bank account with 3,so I have no idea how 'they',the hackers,did so. Nor do I know what it was they downloaded - it could be something innocent like music files or Hollywood films,or it could be something totally illegal,such as paedophilia,terrorist information or my account could have been used to hack into others. How would I prove that it wasn't me ? It was done via my account,after all. Thoroughly worried,I messaged 3,using their official complaint form - which had worked so poorly before,when I got instructions on how to plug my dongle in back as a reply. I received a slightly different form letter this time,which at least gave me the name of a case officer to ask for,as well as a complaint number to quote should I phone Mumbai. I thought about doing this,but was rather irked that they hadn't responded with a personal email message,and didn't believe that phoning the helpline would produce an honest or helpful response at all. It would have been a waste of £10,and though I'm sure that they would have made all of the right soothing responses to my predicament,I didn't believe that they would really do anything about it. For all I know,the fraudulent access to my account originates from activity by 3 personnel themselves. I have so little faith in them as a company that I think this is entirely possible. If I tried to sell you a car that lied about its top speed and which told you it was running when it was stopped and silent,and if this car couldn't be driven away for three minutes after you'd started it and ran on for two minutes after you'd turned the ignition off,would you buy it ? Added selling points are that its petrol gauge would lie to you,and you'd end up in the middle of nowhere,for which the manufacturer would fine you. And anyone can borrow your car and do whatever they like with it,running up the mileage and using the fuel,perhaps doing a few bank robberies while they're in it. If all of that doesn't appeal,don't forget that whatever fuel you put in the car will be removed by the maker if you don't use it. Would you buy that car ? Remember it's promised to do speeds of up to 200mph and be cheaper to run than any other car. How can you resist ? That's what buying into the 3 mobile broadband experience is like. If you believe all of the advertising for 3,then you're a fool. I've never come across a company that lies so much and whose service is so totally abysmal. If you like the idea of dealing with a firm which lies to you,fails to deliver what it promises,rips you off and allows others to infiltrate your account to do illegal things,then go ahead and buy a 3 mobile broadband dongle. Incidentally,should you ever read a review of 3 which is favourable,then it could be that the happy user is blessed by living close to a mast and has a great signal. I'm sure that's possible,especially in cities. I have a friend who is on 3 and who was satisfied with her service. She lives near to a telecommunication mast,which I thought explained her good fortune. I found out today that she accesses 3 by tethering to her 3 mobile phone. She couldn't get her dongle to work at all,though she's offered to send it to me to try out,as it may be more efficient than my 2009 version. The other thing that you should consider if you see a review that praises 3,that it could have been placed by someone who works for them. This happens a lot with all sorts of companies,and I'm sure that 3 do it too. As soon as I'm in funds,the very first thing that I'm going to do is smash my 3 dongle to smithereens,then hire a warlock to place a curse of the soul of the man who designed it. My detestation of this company is such that I now shudder when I see the number 3 anywhere. I hate them,I hate them,I hate them !

  wee eddie 12:24 18 Feb 2014

As a writer you will know that, no matter how many people claim to have read War & Peace, only a small proportion of them will have.

With that in mind, get your problem down to 5 lines and maybe, just maybe, someone will be able to offer assistance!

  devilheart 12:55 18 Feb 2014

To anyone who reads my massive post,I apologize for the length of it,but this was the result of five years of pressure building up. I had a good vent - and all of it's true. This is what happens when a writer is prevented from getting on with his job by an inconsiderate service-provider. For what it's worth,I can connect to the Internet again today,after five days of not being able to connect for more than a couple of minutes. As expected,there's no explanation from 3 for the outage on their site. They don't do customer service - what they provide is customer disservice.

  john bunyan 16:32 18 Feb 2014

I assume you have looked at alternatives, such as EE 4G mobile broadband. I only use normal Wi Fi so am just looking at such sites as this:

EE mobile Broadband

  Woolwell 18:26 18 Feb 2014

Will not get 4G in Cornwall and in fact 3G coverage isn't great and the same in Devon. I'm on the edge of 4G, most of time I can get 3G but 1 mile away I'm down to 2G or no signal.

I couldn't be bothered reading all of the post as the writer (a professional writer?) doesn't seem to have heard of paragraphs.

  Woolwell 18:29 18 Feb 2014

Will not get 4G in Cornwall and in fact 3G coverage isn't great and the same in Devon. I'm on the edge of 4G, most of time I can get 3G but 1 mile away I'm down to 2G or no signal.

Three's coverage in Cornwall is not good (see their coverage map). EE is better.

I couldn't be bothered reading all of the post as the writer (a professional writer?) doesn't seem to have heard of paragraphs.

  Woolwell 18:30 18 Feb 2014

Sorry about the 2 posts. PCA server error notification - yet again.

  HondaMan 11:15 20 Feb 2014

Frankly, I have neither the time or inclinaztion to read this overly long post, BUT as it concerns 3 I suggest you might like to read A Tale of 3

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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