Hard News by Russell Brown



I'd forgotten we didn't have a working landline -- it just seemed pleasantly quiet -- until Saturday afternoon, when my elderly neighbour, George, got himself across the road. He was a bit upset, because his medical alarm relies on the phone system, and he isn't well.

Once I'd worked out the problem, we called the helpline for the alarm service, where the chap advised me to call Telecom to see if we could get my neighbour to the top of the list of the 3000 people in Pt Chevalier who had their voice service cut off by a clumsy contractor on Friday. (Oddly, my DSL was unaffected.)

The 120 number didn't work on my Wired Country phone (we haz redundancy at our house), but I found the appropriate 0800 number, and was explaining the problem to a Telecom operator almost immediately. She checked with their faults team and told me the line had been reconnected. It hadn't.

So I called back, and got George on the "medical escalation queue". The operator asked me if I wanted a redirect for the line, which hadn't occurred to me. I commandeered my son's mobile and had the divert for George's number go to that. I took it over to George, with the news that his regular line might be back by 7pm. It wasn't, and it wasn't until the next day that I realised he didn't actually know how to work the mobile phone. I showed him how to make a call, and we got his friend to call him to test the redirect.

That was the point where it occurred to me that perhaps we should get a diversion for our line. This wasn't so easy. I called Telecom and got through immediately -- only to be gently reminded that Telecom isn't managing my line any more. Cue 40 minutes waiting on the line for someone from Vodafone (during which I tried setting up a redirect and was told it was "pending" even though I'd had no opportunity to end a number to redirect to) to be told that it would be done, er, sometime.

It's a moot point now: the landline just rang, and everyone will be reconnected by tomorrow. I have no idea what has become of the redirect, but it was a reminder that getting shot of Telecom is not an unalloyed blessing: the new, competitive world needs some management yet. Anyway, thanks to the call centre people who helped George: he needed it more than me.

Update: I have email from Voda/Ihug informing me that my immediate redirect is now active and telling me it'll cost me $4. Ironically, it's clearly not working because I'm receiving calls on the landline. Yes, I am confused. Oh, and I'm not paying the redirect fee. People, it's __your__ service that failed ...


There is grim comedy to be found everywhere in the Winston Peters donation row. There's Peters himself, of course, gamely insisting he has no case to answer and he knew nothing until Friday night and that it's still the media's fault. There's National, mindful that it might actually need Winston Peters (especially as its huge poll lead starts to shorten up a little) and thus trying to find someone from the Labour Party it can blame. There's Labour, spending the weekend behaving like it's never even heard of this Peters guy. There's Rodney Hide, loving it.

And there are, it must be said, a good many centre-right commentators trilling triumphantly over the way a leaked email has Peters blown up by his own bomb. But, er, shouldn't that be "stolen" email? Just sayin'.


Moving on to some quite lovely people: that being everyone involved in Underpants on the Outside, a comics and sci-fi market day at the Grey Lynn Community Centre on Saturday. We went as a family -- our geekiness unites us -- and had a really nice time. The prices were reasonable, there was stuff to see (a vintage radio-controlled K9 from Doctor Who!) and we ran into James Griffen and his family. Leo and I even let one of the stallholders have a play with PhoneSaber on my new iPhone after she'd sold us Godzilla vs Hedorah on DVD (we were won over by the card on the DVD: "Best Godzilla movie EVAR!!"). You can't bond better than that.

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