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Great Idea, Shame About The Complaints 21 December 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Wireless Internet offers some very attractive promises. Low cost, high bandwidth, and freedom from the tyranical grip of the major telcos.

Many months ago I received an email from a reader who thanked me for bringing their attention to Walker Wireless. He said he was very happy with the price and performance of what they delivered.

At this stage I am bound by my ethics to disclose that I've had less than satisfactory dealings with Walker Wireless's head-honcho, Bob Smith (formerly the head of Telecom's XTRA) in the past. I have however, put aside any past "baggage" when preparing today's column and treated the information presented to me by readers in a totally objective fashion.

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Recently, I received an email from a reader who had a rather sad tale of woe to tell regarding Walker Wireless and their support. In fact, he's so pee'd off that he's even put up a web page detailing his dealings with the company.

Now I'm smart enough to know that even the best-run companies with the greatest products will, from time to time, find themselves at odds with a customer for some reason or another -- hence my request this week for others to share their experiences with WW.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Well done... - Brian
  • Thanks... - Lindsay
  • Sky TV... - Jade
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    Since the prospect of a low-cost, flat rate wireless Internet service sounds pretty damned good, I was hoping that the feedback I got from readers who had dealt with WW would be positive.

    Unfortunately, although there were a few positive replies these were outnumbered about 5:1 by those who slammed the company over a number of issues.

    One unhappy writer described their customer service as "atrocious" and a common theme was that emails requesting help and support often never raise a response.

    Several people complained about static IP numbers being changed without notice -- causing problems with email and firewalls

    Problems with installation is another common theme -- and when things go wrong the ball gets bounced back and forth between WW and those contracted to do the job -- neither being particularly keen to accept the responsibility for putting things right.

    Then there are the problems that many respondents cited regarding the performance of the RF link. It has been reported that some ISPs who resold the service ended up copping flak for the speed problems. One former ISP staff member described the problems as creating an "inordinately large" number of complaints.

    Suffice to say that not all their resellers seem completely happy with he product offering or the company's attitude to doing business either.

    It was suggested that the video used in the WW TV ads might well depict the frustrations experienced by some of their customers rather than the irritations associated with using some other service.

    Now I should make it clear that I have no personal experience of WW and the information I've included here comes from others who have.

    What's my opinion, would I deal with Walker Wireless?

    Well if I absolutely had to have a very low-cost broadband connection and was a bit of a gambler then I might. However, if I were setting up a mission-critical system then, based on the strong consensus amongst most of those who responded to my call for comments, I'd probably give them a wide berth.

    It's a shame really. If WW got its act together and learned a little more about support and customer service, they might really have a winning solution on their hands.

    Unfortunately, their decision to dive off the deep end and base a service on unproven 3G gear is unlikely to make things any better.

    Unrelated But Interesting
    Here's a rather interesting and sobering story which suggests that NZ's favourite possum poison, 1080, might be just the thing for up and coming terrorists to add to their arsenal of chemical weapons. Let's see the greenies rattle a few cages with this one!

    No More Aardvark!
    Well -- not until after Christmas anyway.

    I've decided that it's time to catch up on a whole lot of loose ends so unless there's something of mind-shattering importance to report, I won't be publishing on Monday -- but you might want to check just in case.

    I'll probably throw something up between Christmas and New Year so check then too.

    Normal transmission will be resumed on January 3rd when I'll make my predictions for 2002.

    Of course this page, and all the archives, will remain online over the holiday, which is more than can be said for Infotech.

    All the best for the festive season -- take care.

    Hey, Christmas Is The Time For Giving
    Every month, Aardvark scores over half a million hits, at least 150K page views and delivers more than 6GB of data to visitors.

    All this traffic has meant that I've had to shift the site to a new server to ensure that your daily dose is always fresh and delivered to your browser with minimal delays.

    I also invest over 300 hours per year writing the daily column and compiling the day's news index -- all for your illumination and entertainment.

    If you haven't sent any money to help offset the costs of running this ad-free, 100% Kiwi, always fresh, often controversial site then you can give yourself the warm-fuzzies this Christmas by doing so now.

    Just drop by, click on the Aardvark, and hand over your loot.


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