Speaker by Various Artists

Network complaints

by James Littlewood

I've had a gutsfull. I need to complain. First, why I'm going to sack Xtra. Second, my day on the trains, or A Transport Hub Doth Not A Network Make

First up, Xtra. We hooked up with them because we were sitting around at about 11.30 one Tuesday night and thought fuck it, let's get the Internet, and they were the only ones who answered the phone, so call that credit where it's due. Hey, I'm still waiting for the guys at Walker "Woosh" Wireless to clear their answerphone

Trouble is, the majority of our email recipients don't get our attachments. We found out pretty quickly, and spent about 5 or 6 hours on the helpline over a week or so trying to get to the bottom of it. We fixed a few other things we didn't realise were wrong along the way, but still no fix for the attachment problem (and if that sounds psychoanalytically dodgy, all I can say is that I've known a few)

So then I started sending emails. Trying to find help on the Xtra website was like trying to speak to a software engineer in Microsoft - it's everywhere and nowhere to be found. Still I eventually discovered a button by which I could send a help request, and got a response immediately. Sadly, it was automated, saying that somebody would get in touch with me in the next 24 hours. More sadly still, nobody did, nor have they yet, even since numerous follow up emails on my part

I've even suggested to them that it might not be their fault, it might be something to do with my system, but nada, even though they claim to support my platform.

So I'm over them. I quit.

Transport. What a completely lame joke. Somebody needs to sort it. I'll do it, if no one else wants to

We looked after a house in Devonport. Perfect. Commuting to Ellerslie, I thought, would be a cinch. Ferry, train, done. Ferry, good. Arrive in Britomart 8.15 am. Sweet. Picture 4 counters: Tickets, Tickets, Tickets, Information. Only the Information counter is staffed, and it has a queue 5 people long, most of whom have large backpacks

I ask for a train to Ellerslie. There isn't one. That's not possible. Well, there is, but you'll have to wait 40 minutes. Oookaay. Alternatively, there's a bus leaving NOW, if you run. I say I'll wait (I want a train) - so where do I buy a ticket? On the train, cash only. I haven't seen cash since I did a paper round for the Auckland Star. So much for a world class transport centre. Kind of the exact opposite, really. Nice architecture, in parts, though. Sort of. Who cares? There are no trains!

And I have to actually degrade a fellow human for the completely robotic task of purchasing a ticket. In the country stations, that's fine. Enjoyable, even. But downtown? God knows what's gonna happen if people actually start using the trains. I see ticket booth congestion

I make periodic attempts at the Auckland rail system, because I like trains and I think public transport is a good idea, for God's sake. In Auckland though, it's a bit like the way my parents feel about art, it's something that one ought to support, like some kind of sick person, when you've lots of time

On another occasion I get into Britomart and navigate no fewer than 5 pieces of misinformation on public display before locating a train at the wrong platform at the wrong time. I know it's my train - don't ask me how. Somehow I found out. Then the goons show up, uniformed ticket sellers. Lots of them.

"Right" announces one, "off round the water".

This is bad: Ellerslie is nowhere near water. Orakei, Meadowbank stations are by water. Different lines. One to Manukau, the other to East Tamaki. More goons show.

An argument erupts, "nah, over the hill." "Bullshit, it's round the water."

"Nope. Over the hill."

Shrewd questions come to mind. The train starts moving. It goes over the hill. The goon residing in my carriage looks one part pit-bull, one part Cornish pastie. I resolve to write a blog about it. The electronic sign announcing the next station reels off stations at high speed, out of order, and far away. It's surreal, embarrassing in an anxiety-nightmarish kind of way

What a completely incompetently bungled load of crap! Whoever emerges triumphant from the highly entertaining mayoral race - and the more important council elections, needs to just sort this. From my point of view of a lowly passenger, it has the distinct appearance that nobody in management is turning up for work

I think I'll put my money on Dick, partly because he's not John, but more so because he seems to be more or less smart and reasonable, which is about as much as you can hope for in an employee.