So I finally decided that paying between $27-$35 a day for hotel internet access when I’m traveling was a stupid idea and signed up for mobile broadband. After some solid advice on Twitter, I ended up going with Three mostly based on price, $29.95/ mth locked in for 24mths for 3G access with 2GB downloads/ month. I may well end up using more and upgrading, but I felt better about being locked in at a lower price.
So far the service is good. Down speeds of between 1mbps (in Sydney) and 1.5mbps (in Melbourne). Up speeds are a worry though, seem to be around 50-60k, so gaming or anything that requires uploads is out, but for the context of my use I can live with it.
The story with the signup process could only have happened with me. I walked into a Three shop on George Street Sydney, down the China Town end, so not surprisingly the staff were Chinese. English wasn’t their strong point from the start. So I explain what I want and sit down. I’m told that there is a plan, but it’s not explained to me. No big worry as I’d done my homework anyway, but zero disclosure from Three. I hand over my WA Drivers License and explain that I’ve just moved and I’m not at that address. The first response is that they need (seriously, I’m not making this up) an Australian Drivers License. After a quick geography lesson, they give in. I try to make them understand that I’m no longer at that address and get more blank looks, and she then proceeds to sign me up at my old address in WA. I try to explain again, more blank looks, so I give up. I’m then asked (seriously) to enter the rest of the information into their internal computer system myself. I could have made it up, and indeed I didn’t give a correct phone number because the system wouldn’t take my mobile number (not enough digits) and I don’t have a landline number at the moment. So essentially Three doesn’t have a contact number for me, and they have my incorrect address.
So we proceed some more, the credit check is done, and I’m in. All the time nothing has been explained to me about the contract or the service. She then tells me to sign a number of papers relating to the contract, without giving me the opportunity to read them. I sign, she then hands me my copy, inserts a sim into the USB modem, then puts it in a bag and it’s all done. Efficient Yes, but no explanation on the number for the sim card (which I need to check use on the Three site). It’s probably on the contract somewhere…. No explanation or disclosure on the contract…indeed no nothing, which I’m sure probably breaks some financial contract laws somewhere along the line, least presuming that telco’s have similar disclosure laws to banks and insurance companies.
Anyhow, I’m not complaining too loudly, reasonable service when using it, but it would have been rather easy to give completely false information along the way and not have had it picked up. They wouldn’t even take a credit card for monthly payments! I could have made up a bank account number and had it free for the first 6-8 weeks until they cancelled it for lack of payment 🙂