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Well... I've recently decided I was brave enough to give up my land-line and join the VoIP crowd. After extensive research Primus Talkbroadband came out on top, at least insofar as price and "advertized features" are concerned.

This is a long posting so I'll provide a quick summary: Primus has sub-par customer and technical service and are not genuinely interested in providing a service that is usable. Depending who you end up talking to, you get one version of the truth or the other :). "Our way or the high-way" seems to be their motto. Fair enough... they should however give people consistent and correct information before they sign up so that their service can be evaluated for what it is, not what they would like you to believe it is. If you want to know the details, continue reading.

I signed up for the service and 3 days later, the delivery man was standing in my door looking for my autograph :). The box contained the Primus VoIP gateway along with a nicely worded welcome letter from the Higher ups at Primus.

I opened the manual, yes I am one of those who actually read the manual :), and read through, paying special attention to their configuration instructions. Nothing revolutionarry here, just follow the steps for the "dummies" and you are set, so the manual claimed.

For my "first" :) set-up I followed their instructions to the letter. I connected the cables, and powered the unit on... lights were blinking... hurray... it's allive!... but wait... can I actually make/receive calls?... nope... back to the beginning. I checked the wiring, etc. and found everything to be as instructed. I powered it up again performing a hardware reset... and waited ... the ominous blinking red light turned green within 30 seconds. I immediately picked up the phone and got a dial tone!... I am hard to impress but at this point I was getting quite excited as things were looking up. I then called my new number assigned by Primus... "The number you have called is not in service!" the voice was telling me... so there it is, there is always something that will go wrong... Murphy got it right :)

I called technical support and got through after an almost 20 minute wait. I described in detail what the problem was and the guy on the other end cermouniously asserted that I must have made a mistake while setting up the unit... OK I said somewhat uncertain ... tell me what to do. He walked me through the wiring and setup proceedure step by step, no news here as I have done exactly the same before I called in. After about 20 minutes, he concluded that the problem is not with me, gee thanks :), then he put me on hold for about 5 minutes... I guess it was time to check with the "real" techies about this problem ?!? He got back on the phone and instructed me to fire up the configuration utility again... to save my fingers I will not detail it all suffice it to say that we kept at it for a half an hour, try this try that, until we ran out of things to try. Finally, he asks me what the MAC address of the unit is, I turn it over and read back the number off the sticker... then I notice that the number as shown in the configuration utility is different. Well that's a problem, he says, "... we'll have to forward a request to provisioning, your account is not set up correctly as the hardware MAC is different from the MAC on the sticker and that will cause problems. Somebody will call you back as soon as it's done... So no working service yet...

Next day I waited paitently for someone to call... no call. 2 days later I made another call to the tech support, a 10 minute wait. The fellow is telling me that provisioning has not completed the work order yet, they are busy... busy with what I asked.. don't know the man replies... someone will call you back. This was sounding like deja vu so I asked at this point to talk to someone who can expedite the problem. You've got to call Customer Service as there is nothing more we can do for you in the Tech support department... so he transfer me to Customer Service, this time I was on hold for another 10 minutes before I got to speak to a lady who kept asking me, "Why did they tell you to call us, there is nothing we can do". You should call them back and talk to them. At this point I am still amused as at that time it seems more like a joke, but I digress. I did ask her for an escalation but she tells me that she can only escalate a customer complaint not the tech support issue, OK then, I'll make a complaint... she gives me a reference number, then tells me : "someone will call you back" ... but wait havn't I heard this before :). 36 hours after my support issue still no resolution, on the fourth day I called the tech support department again and was told that provisining still hasn't addressed my issue because they "... must be very busy", besides, it has only been 3 days the guy says. Yes.. three days for which I am being charged for a service that is not working yet I replied... so I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager. He puts me on hold while he is looking into it, then tells me that there is nobody available, "somebody will call me back...". I can't reprint exactly what I told him next :)... but the next thing I know I am talking to a supervisor. He makes the changes in their systems in less than 2 minutes... I reboot my box and voila everything works... I did ask him why the tech support people would not do the same, he tells me they are not authorized... OK... as I'm happy that my box works, I thank him and go back to testing my setup.

As mentioned Incomming/Outgoing calls are now working, but I am having problems with internet access!... what now I'm asking myself? It turns out that if the Primus router is sitting between my computers and the broadband modem the problem is there. I call tech support back, more waiting then and tell them about the new problem and ask whether I could put the Primus router in the DMZ connected to my original firewall router. The excellence in the Primus Tech Support is revealed to me again when the guy tells me that my alternative is not a supported configuration and as such he will not help me ... then he hangs up. As I have nothing to loose, I decided to experiment myself and rewired things... now the Primus box is in the DMZ... after a few hard resets/reboots, etc., I can make and receive calls again... it's time to test distinctive ring on the alternate number ...

The default setting from Primus is such that depending whether calls are local or long distance, even the main line rings differently. Overseas calls have the same ring pattern as the distinctive ring on the alternate number, a feature that has a surcharge... great way to waste money. Even bell has this feature, but you can deactivate it by dialing a certain *## sequence. Not so with Primus, you have to call Tech Support... so I am making the call. On hold for 10 minutes again, just to be told that he can't make the change. Why not, "I don't have the authorization " the rep says. I told him about the track record with the provisioning department and that I don't have much confidence in receiving timely service. He puts me on hold and 10 minutes later, he tells me he asked a supervisor to do it and that it's done, my calls will ring the same and the distinctive ring is only on the alternate line now. He also tells me that if there is any other configuration issues with the distinctive ring, I should give them a call back! Nice, the first time I got the type of service that actually solves problems.

I'am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel... problem is it's a train :)... The distinctive ring is "Ring D". Seldom used by fax devices and fax software. Neither of my 3 fax machines, 4 fax software picks up the Ring D pattern! It took me while to try all the configurations so I put the call in the next day. I got to talk to a very categoric rep who told me that Primus does not make any changes to the ring patterns on its lines. I know better by know than to argue with him, so I ask to speak to a supervisor, ... "someone will call you back..." is the answer. I did receive a call the next day, but the supervisor gave me the same answer. I then described to him what configuration changes were made to the ring pattern by tech support already. He did not belive me... he said that is not possible... I politely asked him to talk to the people involved and get his facts straight. It took him another day to call me back. he now confirmed that they could change the ring pattern but they won't. It's ring pattern "Ring D" and that's the way it goes as there are too many technical problems with other ring patterns. I asked him to explain to me exactly what these "problems" are as I may be willing to make a tradeoff... he did not know the details but was quite sure they are horrible ... as I was trying to decide whether he is dishonest or incompetent, he asked me whether there is anything else... yes I said, escalate my request to the appropriate level as I am unable to use the alternate line as is and based on forum postings I am not the only one having these problems... so I reasoned there must be a solution... yes there is he said, buy another line from primus $14.99... Gee, nice, I wonder whether they plan for these or these brilliant ideas just happen.

To cut a long story short, after 5 days I am still waiting for a call back while thay are still "looking into" the Ring pattern change. I am continuing to experience sound quality issues regardless whether the Primus VoIP gateway is located behind or in front of my router. With each passing day, I become less certain that I made the right decision by using Primus.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Just something that did not fit in the first posting....

Some callers complain that they hear a terrible echo during a conversation. A few times, even I can hear it... you just simply can't carry out a conversation like that. So I call Tech. Support again, on hold, yada, yada, yada... The fellow I get to describe the problem to, tells me that this is a common problem for people with problematic broadband connections. He tells he won't even attempt to help me unless I move the Primus box out from behind my router to the internect directly as my setup is not a supported configuration. Ok I say, give me 30 seconds... To proove to me that my broadband connection is at fault, he directs me to a web site that tests my upload/download bandwidth. He asks me to email him the results, then he goes on to explain that my upload speed is insufficient as it is only 83 Kbytes/sec. I ask him what should it be, he tells me typically he gets values between 400-800 bytes/second, it should be at least 100bytes/sec, obviously mine does not cut it... but wait a minute I tell him, 83 Kbytes/sec = 84992 bytes/sec... somethings funny with his argument I tell him besides, I ran the test while I am using TalkBroadband, so the 83 KBytes are excess capacity if any ... oops he says... he didn't notice the K in Kbytes... but I should make sure I call them back when the problem occurs again as at this point he is convinced that is not Primus's problem... alternatively, he can configure the service for "lower voice" quality, then likely the problem will not occur. Very helpful guy... but no thanks... I've tried that setting already and the sound has various artifacts that make the voice unrecognizable.

I give up!
 

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digital-phoenix said:
This is a long posting so I'll provide a quick summary: Primus has sub-par customer and technical service and are not genuinely interested in providing a service that is usable. Depending who you end up talking to, you get one version of the truth or the other :). "Our way or the high-way" seems to be their motto. Fair enough... they should however give people consistent and correct information before they sign up so that their service can be evaluated for what it is, not what they would like you to believe it is.
Right on the button!

Agree 101% :)

You can read my experiences and adventures with Primus also (in several other threads in Primus and even other VoIP sections)...

Regardless if i will ever try VoIP again... regardless if it will be with Primus again or with other provider.. - for now i am NOT with Primus VoIP (after almost 6 weeks... and them doing ABSOLUTLY nothing to port my landline's phone # over to Primus VoIP.. misinforming me about primary Long Distance Provider at the time of sign up, etc) - And i am genuosly Happy :)

I hate to put up with BS.. and my duration of being with them WAS absolute 100 % BS... from "head to toe" they were full of it... it was all over them.... and what seemed really retarted about the whole matter.. it seemed like they did NOT really give a crap about the whole matter, etc etc.. Didn't feel responsible at all ..and MOST of them neither didn't even have a clue where they went wrong nor simply didn't care...

:-(
 

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I've no excuses for any poor service you may have encountered. However, in terms of any ongoing problems, just about everything with which you have reported problems so far is covered in the Primus FAQ on DSLR (link in my SIG file). Always check there first before waiting on hold for service or support.

Steve
 

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Styvas,
I have a hunch that you work for Primus ;). If that is true (and even if it is not true) then try to understand that a company's first image which it shows to its customers is its Customer Service.
To quote you :

However, in terms of any ongoing problems, just about everything with which you have reported problems so far is covered in the Primus FAQ on DSLR (link in my SIG file)
I think you have conveniently ignored that digital_phoenix went line-by-line through the manual provided by Primus.Here is what he/she says:

I opened the manual, yes I am one of those who actually read the manual :), and read through, paying special attention to their configuration instructions
If after reading a setup manual you still have to read the FAQ then i am sorry to say that someone did a pretty sloppy job on writing the manual (which implies that the FAQ will be sloppier as well)

Bottom line is: Customers go to providers who take care of them. To quote our Company CEO:
If you do not take care of your customers, someone else will

Hope that helps...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Styvas, that's a great FAQ. Maybe Primus should refer customers to your FAQ rather than theirs ;) .

My issue is really not the lack of appreciation for the technical challenges, but the approach of Primus to Tech/Customer support. Based on the information from some Primus reps themselves, it is possible to solve all my issue... Primus just doesn't care, end of story. Even if they get this setup working correctly, I still don't have the confidence that any future issues will be dealt with appropriately.

Then there is the WAF, the wife approval factor :p ... I may appreciate the "coolness factor" in VoIP and even make some compromizes but she just wants a working phone ... oh but wait, Primus has told me Talkbroadband is not intended as a phone service :eek:, then why are they comparing their service to Bell's right on their web site? :rolleyes:... a subterfuge at its best!

My practical question for the day is, are all VoIP providers the same, is there any VoIP provider providing services in Canada that one can use?
 

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I have had great service from Comwave....service very reliable...only complaint is a little too long wait for CSR...

I gave them a real challenge...my wife took our phone box(whatever its called) to Mexico. Her daughter, whom she was visiting, fell in love with the idea of a Canadian phone line in Mexico for $10 a month....I called the CSR and they sent me a new box...allowed me to keep my number...and set her up with a new number on the old box which stayed in Mexico...the box arrived at my place in Newcastle, On one day after I called them....all with absolutely no technical hassles...it was customer service one rarely gets these days....I would never go back to Bell after Comwave
 

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digital-phoenix said:
Thanks Styvas, that's a great FAQ. Maybe Primus should refer customers to your FAQ rather than theirs ;) .
Since we (John and I) did it out of the goodness of our heart (more bluntly, since we don't work for Primus, we didn't get paid to do it), we've stated explicitly in the terms and conditions that the FAQ is for non-commercial use only. I am aware that Primus Customer Service and Tech Support do refer customers to the FAQ fairly frequently, but if they were to post a link on their corporate website we would expect to get paid for our work.

Having said that, the Primus portal (accessible through the Primus website) has explicit links via the forums to the FAQ. Unfortunately, not every subscriber signs up to use the Portal and may miss those links.

As I said in my earlier post, I make no excuses for any poor customer service or tech support you have received. Different customers have different experiences when calling Primus (mine have been more or less positive), but there are enough complaints to lead me to believe that some of the Primus staff are not doing they job very well--others, IMHO, are extremely competent.

My reference to the FAQ and your problems was only to illustrate that there are answers to many of these questions/issues readily available, and should you need further assistance in the future, most definitely check it first. I wasn't suggesting (in case you or others took it the wrong way) that you shouldn't have had these problems and should have known to look there.

Regards,

Steve
 

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When it comes to CS (Customer Service) with most telecommunication companies whether it be Primus.. Vonage.. to cell phone companies like Rogers, Telus, Bell, etc.. They are all the same. They all have their pros and cons when dealing with CS. I've had good experiences with Rogers and the bad. I've Chosen Yak - Worldcity as my VOIP provider. I've spoken to their CS/Tech support people many times and sometimes I speak to someone whos actually knows what they are talking about and whom actually call back when they say they will. I've also been with CS who seem to try to rush you off the phone call basically saying they can't help you. I mean, my point is well, when you read about the bad experiences people may have with Primus, well just think aswell, that 9 times out of 10 when someone has a good experience.. they are not one to advertise such experiences here in these forums or speak about it to anyone else.

You basically get the same deal with most companies. I've never heard of one company inwhich customers haven't reported some sort of bad service. We as people like to biatch than to state 'wow, that was amazing service. Good job Primus'.

In the end, if you are not getting the service you feel you should have from a particular company, thats fine. You switch and try another. But it doesn't mean other customers will be treated the same as every tech/CS person is different. But dont think just because you are now with a different provider, you'll get 100% service you think you should have. Otherwise you'll find yourself quite disappointed with the whole chabang.

I'm pretty much on the fence with this issue, because I myself am a tech support agent for Dell Computers. I consider myself to be a great tech, I help and solve most all issues/concerns. but I also know people in this call centre do not perform their jobs well. And basically the customer rates their experience with the company based on these CSReps. And then when they speak to me, they are all happy. Which makes me happy. Because now they love me, and they love Dell.. LoL..ok, anyways, I hope you all get my point.

If not, I hope you finally find the company to which satisfies your every request in service. :)
 

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yep, primus service is garbage for the most part. but im single, dont care much about my phone, and its only $30.

ive been with them for several months and called THREE times about my "free phone with signup". every time its "oh it was a mistake but its being sent now!"
bullshit.

i also called 3-4 times about getting an alternate number in a different area code. same thing. i just told them to forget about that one cause i dont need it anymore.
 

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I had EXCACTLY the same experience with Primus as digital-phoenix. Its customer service was terrible and the service never trully worked. I especially disliked long waiting times to speak with customer service or the technical support. Finally I got tired, cancelled the service and I got regular phone line from Bell Canada. It is more expensive but it works! Two years have past since then nd now I am ready again to try VOIP...only not from Primus.
 

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Two years have past since then nd now I am ready again to try VOIP...only not from Primus.
You don't work for Bell do you? Primus has not been around for two years.

Certainly Primus and Vonage had issues in the beginning but I think that they have gone to some lengths to fix a lot of the early issues.

Many of us have had problems with Primus and have cancelled (myself included) . Many have been quick pleased with the service so blanket statements are rash since many of the problems maybe ISP related rather than VoIP provider related.

I recommend people reading this thread consider Primus but be sure to try the Primus VoIPtest before signing up. (see sticky thread in Primus forum for details)
 

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Thoughts on Primus TalkBroadband

Primus just announced support for area codes in a whole bunch of new cities around Canada, including Oakville. I remember a year ago, there were complaints about their service. What about now? I've been waiting for them to come to Oakville, because I want to transfer my existing phone number.
 

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asif9t9 said:
Primus just announced support for area codes in a whole bunch of new cities around Canada, including Oakville. I remember a year ago, there were complaints about their service. What about now? I've been waiting for them to come to Oakville, because I want to transfer my existing phone number.
Until you are satisfied I would not recommend transferring your number. Have Primus assign you a new number, and then once you've decided (after a month or so) to port your old number, make sure that Primus waives the fee to change numbers (which they will if you tell them you were testing it to see if it was for you). You'll pay two phone bills during this time, but it will save you money in the long run if you decided to port, and then weren't happy and wanted Bell to port you back and hook you up again.

Steve
 

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As this case illustrates Primus Talkbroadband is not a plug-in and use kind of thing. It takes a lot of configuration and I dare say hours of troubleshooting to get it running smoothly. I used it for 9 months or so but have now switched to Shaw Digital Phone in the end I just found it was no fun being an unpaid beta tester for Primus. Basically I do not recommend the Primus or Vonage VOIP offerings to any of my friends just because I know they don't have the time or the patience for all the troubleshooting that I went through. In the end I realized the price and features were no substitute for a simple easy to use phone with all the basics that I need. I am sure with time the Primus Talkbroadband product will mature into a good product but at the same time I am sure the price will increase with this stability.
 

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Newbie

I am new to Primus, maybe I shouldn't be surprised but I thought I would receive better reception.

I just called Mastercard or at least tried and had to hang up because they could not hear me properly and I was cutting in and out at their end. I could hear them fine though.

Thank god I never bought the adapter thingy.

Do people have these similar problems regularly?
 

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Terrible

Update:

Horrible product this far. Voice cutting in and out...other side can't hear me, voice very shaky.

I wonder if all VOIP carriers are the same?

Dunno what to do. Try another or goto regular land line?
 

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trellaine said:
Update:

Horrible product this far. Voice cutting in and out...other side can't hear me, voice very shaky.

I wonder if all VOIP carriers are the same?

Dunno what to do. Try another or goto regular land line?
What does tech support have to say? You've called them, right!?

Steve
 

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Styvas said:
What does tech support have to say? You've called them, right!?

Steve
Well I am trying a new phone with a chord. :eek: See if that makes any difference as the previous chordless phone hasn't been used in probably 3 years.

Barring that, I will then call TechSupport and see what they say.

Thanks
 
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