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Friday, August 14, 2009

My Experience with Streamyx--A Lesson in Dealing Bureaucracy

Streamyx is not exactly not the best ISP in the world; a search of "Streamyx problem" on Google yields 82600 results, with yours-truly's complain comes in the third place. Let me now share with you my recent encounter with Streamyx, and hopefully there are lessons to take away with after you finish reading it.  

As I am going to move to a new apartment, I have to apply for a Streamyx account. I didn't do this last time because my housemate did it for me. 

Now, although Streamyx is not exactly a government body ( its parent company, tmnet is a subsidiary of Telekom, which is semi-private), but everyone knows that it is no less bureaucratic than Malaysia's government body. For a developer whose natural inclination is to optimize and reduce waste, dealing with bureaucracy can be a very frustrating experience.

At first, I wanted to setup my Streamyx account online. But the problem is that I didn't have a telephone line yet. So I still had to visit the tmnet point to register the phone line. As I reached the tmnet center, I quickly filled up the form for both phone and Streamyx application. I was told that after telephone application I should allow for 3 working days for the phone activation,  and another 3-7 working days for Streamyx account activation.

Now, with the prevalence of handphone, who really needs a home phone? The majority of the home users who hook up a telephone line do it because they want a Streamyx account. Strangely Streamyx couldn't recognize this and insisted on making the process a two step exercise, which is very inefficient and very frustrating for us the customers. This means that it could take up to 2 weeks to get a broadband account. 

That's simply ridiculous.

After I submitted the application I went home. To my great surprise a technician came the very next working day and installed the telephone line for me. Wow, that was surely fast. After the installation he told me to check the availability of the line that evening or the next day. He also told me that after the telephone line is submitted, the Streamyx application will be processed automatically and I should, barring all the irregularities, get the broadband service three days later.

That meant that it would only  take four days to jump on the Information Highway. Not bad.

But knowing how efficient the government body was, I decided to take the matters into my own hand. Instead of waiting passively for the account to get activated, I would simply just call actively until it was activated. I just called and called and called, all the time asking the same question-- whether my account is already activated. You might think that this is redundant and annoying-- after all if it's already in the queue it will be processed eventually, whether I make calls or not won't make a difference. The operators were very helpful, they wanted to always get the best for me. They verified that my phone line was OK, and they asked for my Streamyx user account and I replied that I didn't have any. They were surprised, and asked me to be patient for it. 

I did. For 3 days.

At the third day I knew I needed to do something. Instead of calling the operators to check my account status, I headed to the tmnet center to resolve the thing. I was stumped when I learnt of my account status.

My Streamyx account was not even registered.

It was not even registered even though it should by then, or even right after my telephone line was activated--that was what I was told. 

I was told that I could get my broadband service in three days time. And now, after three days, it wasn't even been registered yet

If this was not bureaucracy and inefficiency, I don't know what else is.

The clerk quickly entered the information into the computer ( yes, registration is just a matter of some data-entry job, and yet they made a big hassle out of it), and told me to wait for another 3 working days for the account activation. 

Imagine what would happen if I just sat  idle, my application would now still be piled under a heavy stack of papers, waiting to see daylight. I could wait, wait, and wait, for days, for weeks, and my account would still remain unregistered.

Sometimes in order to deal with bureaucracy, you just have to be a bit nagging and paranoid. Also, don't believe everything they told you, you have to make sure that they really do the job. 

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