I have just given my parents a new computer, and part of the upgrade process lost their email passwords (which were stored in KDE preferences – this seems to happen every time KDE is upgraded). The only password that is not under my control is the password for their Optus account. So I had to get the password changed, I got my mother to phone Optus but they decided that my father had to make the request (not that I would have had any difficulty impersonating him, any of the details that they asked for which I might not have known could have been provided by my mother). So my father requested that my mother be listed as someone who is authorised to make changes to the account.
It turned out that changing a password for a mailbox is a difficult operation and I needed to talk to the phone-support guy. He needed to get permission from my father for this (he didn’t seem to realise that he had just granted my mother full access so that she could authorise such things on future calls). After my father had given permission for the second time I got the password changed, the new password was “changeme“. The call-centre guy advised me to change it as “it’s a very common password“! An ISP with any clue in their call centre would get the password changed to a semi-random string.
Then there was the process of changing the password. The web site didn’t work at all with Konqueror (the call-centre guy told me that only IE is supported). I used Iceweasel (Firefox) and it allowed me to change the password. The Optus web site is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and redirecting to the MS site live.com as part of the process was only part of it.
Another bad thing that Optus does is punish customers who do things that they don’t like. My original Optus contract specified unlimited uploads, the first time they cut me off for actually uploading a moderate amount of data (running Bittorrent) they disconnected me and claimed that it was a DOS attack. On a later occasion they disconnected me on a Wednesday because I had uploaded some files on the weekend. They alleged that the upload was continuing on the Sunday (although I had a very clear recollection of ending it on the Saturday), but we all agreed that the upload had ceased before the Monday. But apparently I needed to be disconnected on the Wednesday to teach me a lesson.
The lesson of course is that Optus sucks really badly. They do have reasonable prices and at the time their cable network offered download speeds significantly higher than any ADSL plans could match, which is why I have continued using them (and subscribed again after buying a new house).
Recently ADSL2+ has started to become common and prices have been falling. For my use and for most people who I know ADSL is now either cheaper than cable or close enough that it’s worth paying the extra to escape Optus. My parents are on an Optus plan that gives them 100MB per month of data transfer (which counts both download and upload) before they are limited to modem speed. This is enough for them, but I expect that when their Optus contract runs out there will be an ADSL plan that’s not much more expensive and they can cease using Optus too.
I just wish there was a real choice of providers for the base phone service. Currently there is only Telstra and Optus, both of which are expensive and suck. Fortunately Telstra has an insane CEO who is determined to make sure that everyone in Australia learns that Telstra is a nasty monopoly that needs to be broken up or severely constrained.