Telus, how may I (not) help you?

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post a few times with ongoing issues. Almost every month I have had to call Telus to correct a billing or service issue, most of which is detailed below up until April 2011, with subsequent issues at the bottom of this post.

We subscribe to a great new internet service here in Surrey, British Columbia called Optik, a combination TV and internet offering from Telus. It promises downstream speeds up to 15Mbit/s and upstream speeds of 1Mbit/s (better than average for this part of the world, but still not awesome compared to the rest of the planet). They come to your home and wire everything up, including installing a Wifi router.

It’s a brand new service utilizing new technology (IPTV via Microsoft’s MediaRoom), and so I expect a certain amount of growing pains on Telus’ behalf as they figure out what works and scales up. Since we signed up six months ago in October 2010, we’ve had the following issues:

  • Telus didn’t receive our online install request, so we had to wait an extra 2 weeks for them to install it.
     
  • Telus installed an inferior router (802.11g, megabit ethernet) relative to our own home setup (802.11n, gigabit ethernet).
     
  • Telus missed an installation step that stopped our entryphone from working for many weeks. It took two hours over two separate support requests to convince Telus it required intervention from them, as told to us by our building supervisor. Telus showed up, confirmed they missed something the first time and had our entryphone working again in a few minutes.
     
  • Confusing billing during their promotional period (multiple lines for discounts, partial billings, costs, free installation, rentals, almost a page long one month).
     
  • Billed a strange tiny amount for a phone line we didn’t order.
     
  • Too little billed one month, which made our next bill huge.
     
  • Unable to record with the PVR for 3 weeks in January, diagnosed as a problem with Microsoft’s Mediaroom software running on everyones PVRs.
     
  • Telus never called us back about the recording problem despite their promises, we had to again call them.
     
  • Inconsistent / unreliable connectivity, during which Telus replaced the router with a new Actiontec V1000H, featuring 802.11n and gigabit ethernet, yay!

Which brings me to my latest interaction with Telus! This new router seemed great. It finally had gigabit ethernet and 802.11n networking, which means I can route more of our internal network through it. Integral to many home network setups for any slightly network-savvy customers, is the ability to modify port forwarding, firewall settings, DHCP assignments, and more. So I logged into the router expecting to be able to do these, and upon attempting to access the “advanced” tab, my HTTP connection with the router drops. Upon attempting to access the same page (or any other admin URL), I’m redirected to the login page and logged out.

I can work around a router lacking a few features, so I wasn’t too worried. However, I couldn’t tell if the router was faulty in its behaviour dropping my connection like that, or if it was intentional in order to prevent users from mucking about with basic home networking settings. Nonetheless, I figured a quick online support chat with Telus would help straighten things out.

I was gravely mistaken! I spent over an hour dealing with the representative, with whom you may see in this transcript was completely disinterested in helping beyond the simplest of connectivity tasks. In summary, if the TV worked and if I can access websites, then there’s nothing they’re willing to help with.

It’s a very hands-off approach that I wish Telus didn’t adopt, as it easily alienates users with any kind of home network savvy. If I bought a $60 router and plugged it into a cable modem connection (or standard non-IPTV non-QoS ADSL modem) like most home internet Wi-fi, I would have access to identical communication speeds with far more network integration options than the Telus-supplied Actiontec V1000H has.

After posting on DSLReports.com, I’m happy to report that I solved the problem thanks to a fellow user who replied in 5 minutes with an answer. We’re now on a dual-band 802.11n wireless network, with the entire house on gigabit ethernet, with a media server, Netflix account, central file/photo/music repository, still all with pretty good internet speeds and a decent television setup.

The moral of the story is to not expect much except frustration from Telus Support if you have even the slightest proclivity for technology.

UPDATE (May 15, 2011): I had to phone Telus again about our Optik bill. It turns out they raised the rates for TV and internet access by 2-3 dollars each, and I missed the small line item on a bill a few months ago explaining this would happen. Anyway, I thanked them for pointing out my mistake, and they still offered to give me one month free of internet access. So, while not necessary it was certainly appreciated. Thanks Telus!

UPDATE #2 (June 30, 2011): My next statement actually back-billed me for 75% of the free month they gave us. Crazy! Details to follow.

UPDATE #3 (July 2011): I had to talk to two different customer service reps, because the first one was convinced I didn’t understand the concept of pro-rated billing, belittling me by telling me it has already been explained to me and refusing to analyze the situation closely. The second rep recognized the problem was indeed theirs, fixed it and apologized.

UPDATE #4 (October 2011): I called to upgrade from 15Mbps to 25Mbps. Ports available, but unable to provision, so I was told to call back in a month. Called back three days later and got the requested service. Speeds never increased, as I was checking daily/hourly with Speedtest.net and a quiet home network. Called to check on status, all is well, wait a few more days. Again, no change in speed one week after Telus started billing me for it. More time spent on the phone, Telus admitted it was their mistake, transferred me a few times, and finally got the speed I was paying for. The whole ordeal was more headaches and wasted time. That said, the speed is consistent throughout the day, very low latency and otherwise great. Technically Telus has a lot of good things going for them, they just have a strange view towards customer service and ensuring things are done correctly.

UPDATE #5 (Nov 2011): A couple months ago we were tempted by a free one-month trial of the movie channels which we were told we could cancel anytime. I canceled shortly after the first month, and on my latest bill I noticed they billed me up until today at $20/month. I waited on hold for 75 minutes (which they were unapologetic about), I explained I was being improperly charged, waited another few minutes, and was informed that this apparently is the way they do it. Cancellations take effect on the next billing cycle, not when you tell them you want to cancel. Because I wasn’t explicitly told this when I called to cancel originally, the representative reversed the charge, and made a specific point of explaining this to me now so that their a** is covered should it come up again. Ignoring the fact that instant activations/subscriptions and delayed billed-for cancellations is nothing but a cash grab setup favouring only Telus, I’ve seen first-hand that Telus often jumps to the assumption that their customer is wrong, placing the burden of proof on the end-user. I have wasted far too much time with this company.

Explore posts in the same categories: Technology, Television

10 Comments on “Telus, how may I (not) help you?”

  1. Drew Says:

    Hey there, I’m a new telus Optik customer who would like to use his own router instead of the Actiontec V1000H installed by telus. But the Actiontec’s firewall won’t permit it, so says the telus “tech” I spoke to. I’m not that savvy with home networks, any suggestions?

    Thanks

  2. Kerry Says:

    Hi Drew,

    After everything I tried, I ultimately decided to just live with Telus’ Actiontec V1000H as my main router and plug my own router into that one (with my router in bridged mode so that the Actiontec handles everything). My router basically acts as an extra set of ethernet ports now, and provides a 5GHz wifi signal in addition to the 2.4GHz signal from the Actiontec. But pretty much everything (port forwarding, etc) I’ve set up on the Telus router.

    The reason Telus doesn’t want you to use a different router is because they’ve programmed theirs to prioritize Optik TV data, which is necessary if you don’t want your TV to cut out whenever you download a large file since they’re both served over your internet connection. They don’t trust nor provide instructions on how to prioritize the TV data on other routers. Therefore, the best thing you can do is use theirs and work around it.

    The best place to go to find out about these routers on Telus is the DSLReports forum.

    I have heard that you can use your own router if you put it in the DMZ zone on the Actiontec, but I haven’t tried it personally (and Telus too told me it’s “not supported”).

  3. Drew Says:

    Awe poo. I guess I’ll just have to lower my standards for wireless on my laptop. Thanks for the info!

  4. Kerry Says:

    Hey Drew,

    I have the Actiontec and my own router providing two Wifi signals for our condo. The key for me was to set my router into “bridge” mode and then plug it into the Actiontec, which basically means it hands off all the administrative stuff (DHCP, port forwarding, UPnP, etc) to the Actiontec, meaning it will play nice. Then if you want to configure port forwarding for example, you’d do so on the Actiontec. If you’d like more details or more help, just post here and we’ll get it figured out 🙂

    I generally like Telus’ Optik internet, but there have been some growing pains getting everything figured out (and they sure don’t make it easy).

    Cheers!
    Kerry

  5. Bruno Says:

    Hey Kerry,
    I’ve been having the exact same issue for a long while. It happens in the same places, attempting to connect to the advanced settings tab, and also the dmz hosting. I’ve read the post on the dslreport website, and (preferably in a “user friendly” version) could you give me instructions or steps to take to attempt to solve it on my end? We have the same problem and it’s happened eth our last two modems
    Thanks!

    Just like to say, I can completely relate to telus support.’switching to shaw soon 😀

  6. Kerry Says:

    Hi Bruno!

    To get full access to all the pages on the Actiontec, you could upgrade the firmware on the device to the one in the DSL Reports forums (do a google search for telus actiontec firmware). The instructions there should be easy to follow, but let me know if not and I’d be happy to help.

    One problem though is that Telus has recently remotely updated the firmware on many Actiontec devices to a version that tries even harder to prevent you from customizing some of the settings, including upgrading to the firmware from the DSLReports site.

    Visit 192.168.1.254 (the Actiontecs setup pages) and look on the very first page for the firmware version. If you have “31.30L.48,” then you can use the firmware from DSL Reports. Otherwise, you’ll have to find out the root password for the firmware version currently installed on the router.

    The tricky part is in finding someone who knows this password. I don’t, but I believe there are a handful of people on the DSLReports forums that do. You would have to create an account on that site, and then send a private message to someone who sounds like they may have it (or has recently asked for it).

    I hope this answers your question, but post here again or go to spaceman.ca and click the “Contact Me” link at the bottom of the page to send me an email, and we’ll see what we can do!

    Cheers,
    Kerry

  7. Joe Says:

    Hi Kerry,

    You’ve hit the nail on the head! The Actiontec does NOT integrate well with existing home networks. It sucks for anyone who is even remotely network saavy, let alone more advanced users like me. It makes me want to switch back to Shaw.

    When I was on Shaw, I used an Alix router running the very powerful pfSense router/firewall software. It can do almost anything, including being an OpenVPN endpoint.

    Currently I am running my pfSense router in DMZ mode behind the Actiontec crap. Unfortunately, one of my network segments is still on coax so I need to use the HPNA adapter on the Actiontec. That means I’m still connecting my PVR and other digital TV boxes directly to the Actiontec. So I have some devices connected to the Actiontec (on the 192.168.1.0/24 network) and some other devices connected to the pfSense router (on a separate 172.x.x.x network). My main server straddles both networks so I can share printers, files, streaming movies, etc, to both networks.

    The good news is that yesterday I finally replaced the last segment of coax cable with Cat 5e cable. I will soon be putting EVERY device behind the pfSense router. I tested this scenario several months ago and it worked great, even with IPTV. The trick was to use IGMPProxy, which comes with pfSense. I also created traffic shaping rules to prioritize the IPTV traffic.

    I hope to roll that solution out in a few weeks time, at which point I’ll probably post a story on my blog.

    In the meantime, I have written a couple of interesting stories about connecting additional wireless access points to the Actiontec. I even fixed the IGMP flood problem. See these:

    How to Block IGMP Multicast Flood on a WLAN When Watching Telus Optik TV (IPTV)

    Cannot Access Windows Network File Shares Via WLAN on Telus Actiontec V1000H Modem Router

    While I’m at it, here another story about some gripes with Optik TV:

    Telus Optik TV is Great But Needs a Few Improvements

    Regards,
    Joe

  8. Concerned Citizen Says:

    I also wanted to use my own router instead of the supplied Actiontec V1000H. The easy way to do this is to enable bridging mode on the Actiontec. To do this you’ll need to access hidden settings in your actiontec router by entering in a “secret” root password. This can be done on the latest firmware of the Actiontec – 31.30L.55.

    For more info see my blog post on the subject:

    http://telusinternet.blogspot.ca/2012/10/using-your-own-router-in-tandem-with.html

  9. jtl999 Says:

    You could get a gateway such as this one.
    http://www.zyxel.com/us/en/products_services/vsg1435_b101.shtml?t=p
    Your router has to support VLAN’s or IGMP proxy and QoS however.

  10. Dave Says:

    I am having trouble with the actiontec V1000H router supplied by Telus as well. I play online poker and while playing it drops the connection. Telus was here and replaced the router but the same problem is on going. It will drop it for about 5 seconds then reconnects again.

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