Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Ihug: still screwed?

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  • Kyle MacDonald,

    I have also lost emails, not particularly improtant, but annoying none the less. Interestingly, over the same period I also had delays of up to two to three days for emails sent to my vodafone.net.nz address, which gets alerted to me via text. It appears this may not have just been a ihug problem?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report

  • nic.wise,

    I'm actually curious why someone with a company is using an @yourisp.co.nz address. With the (lack of) cost of things like hosted gmail for domains, or even (if you are a PC + Outlook type like me) hosted Exchange, using the ISP provided email for anything except the odd personal email doesn't make much sense to me. Using gmail or similar frees me up from being tied to a single ISP, which I havn't been since I had an @iconz.co.nz address in, um, 1999.....

    Of course, I'm in a slighly different boat to most - I treat my cable connection as a packet pipe - I pay the bill, TCL pushes the packets. No email or anything else goes via their gear.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report

  • Andre Alessi,

    I'd be suprised if this was an ihug specific problem, the one thing they've always been known for is keeping their hardware and network ticking along.

    I know Xtra's had similar spam issues in the last month, leading to them announcing they'd be filtering outgoing emails for spam (to head off the trojans) and on a related tack blocking port 25.

    My work servers (I work for The Evil One, or at least I will until next month) have been similarly flooded, I get roughly 30 spam emails (not all of the image variety) straight through into my work email.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report

  • Chris Chambers,

    I agree with Nic. I do the same I never use my ISP email or web space I use them to connect to the internet an nothing else. I use fastmail.fm and have my domain parked at free parking pointing the MX record for mail to fastmail. The spam filtering is excellent I had no spam at all in my inbox for 2005 and only recently has it started to appear again. This was with filtering on 'moderate'. Fastmail have had their outages but the blog is updated regulary to let you know the status. Always followed up with an apology and explanation and never any loss of email.

    My ISP is ihug and I haven't had any mail hassles because I don't use them for mail. However they astounded me with their terrible service when switched to them. If it was not for Russ' intervention I would have been without a connection for a long time. On average I have found it is 40 minutes for the help desk to pick you from the queue.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report

  • Mark Walker,

    Not exactly on the same thread but my dialup to Ihug has been screwed for three weeks. Apparently "some exchenges" have issues and mine (Mangawhai) is one of them. When I dial the number I get a "Your call can not be connected at this time. Please try again later." message.

    Apparently it's due to a switching issue. It's been working fine for 3 years, what did they do? And why, after 3 weeks is it still unresolved? Engineers trying to sort out mail servers?

    I've signed up with another ISP for now, but as I have to use a satellite connection for "broadband" I'm kind of short on permanent alternatives.

    Mangawhai • Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report

  • Neil Smart,

    Peter Todd accusation that
    " Is it possible that Ihug have not invested sufficiently in their server infrastructure prior to their recent sale to an overseas company? I suspect it may be the usual story of the fast buck for today's shareholders versus investment in the future. It's just another reason why I am considering moving my business out of NZ."

    Not really fair it should be remembered that IHug major investor iiNet' was a cash strapped Aussie ISP desperatly trying to challenge an incumbent carrier in Australia. More likely it diid not have the cash.

    Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report

  • Ben Austin,

    I've never found Ihug particularly good at responding to technical issues, nor any other ISP I've had experience with - Xtra, Paradise etc. Part of that is due to the fact they have to abrogate a lot of control to Telecom for ADSl, part of it must be I don't spend enough for them to really care about my service.

    I've had a technical issue with ihug for the last 4 months, they've known about it for about the same length of time as customers have complained vocally, we have yet to recieve a specific, or indeed generic response to our queries. I'm not sure if they can even fix the problem, since the issue relates to one of their off-shore bandwidth providers (asianet) but they could at least give us a response or something, even if it is just to say "we are not going to do anything".

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I think problems with Ihug in terms of customer support and their help desk etc are fairly well known. If people ask me what ISP I use, I say ihug, who are fine, as long as you never need help. I've told my parents to go elsewhere on the basis that they're the sort of people that would need support, and half hour holds on support calls won't work for them.

    I've stuck with ihug however because I find that largely their system works, very little down time, and they've always been a market leader, and I hope they continue to do so. I'd like to switch to their home phone line and abandon telecom, but I never make toll calls so it's not financially worth it.

    I never had any problems that I noticed with ihug emails being delayed or going missing, but I don't really do that much email at home. The only way I could tell that things were haywire is that my spam mail count went up a couple of hundred percent (perhaps 10 a day after the ihug filter knocked out god knows how many).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • DPF,

    I was chatting to someone senior at Ihug yesterday and it seems their problem is being between owners. The sale transfer is in a couple of days, and the old owner won't pay for extra servers, and the new owner can't yet pay. If it were not for this they would have grabbed some extra servers as the spam started to impact.

    Makes sense. As someone who has sold a company (Domainz) it is very very difficult to do capital expenditure in the period between the sale deed and transfer day.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report

  • Juha Saarinen,

    I've run my own domain including mail server for the last six years. This isn't something that everyone will want to do (and it cost me boatloads on Jetstream) but I would definitely advise people to get their own domain and sort out mail hosting for it.

    That way, if your ISP fails to provide the service you pay for, you can move the domain elsewhere.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    I was chatting to someone senior at Ihug yesterday and it seems their problem is being between owners. The sale transfer is in a couple of days, and the old owner won't pay for extra servers, and the new owner can't yet pay. If it were not for this they would have grabbed some extra servers as the spam started to impact.

    Interesting. And pretty much what I figured was the case. You'd think something could have been worked out though - continuity is kind of important in that business.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Richard Bentley,

    I have used Ihug for ten years and their support service has always been budget grade, as have their phone connections. However, overall they were good enough until the company was sold the first time. Since then the general standard has declined and on one occasion I signed up temporarily with another ISP just so that I could be online while Ihug sorted itself out. I certainly lost email in the recent debacle, and it has put me off the idea of signing up with them for phone services.

    Waikato • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report

  • rodgerd,

    I've never found Ihug particularly good at responding to technical issues, nor any other ISP I've had experience with - Xtra, Paradise etc. Part of that is due to the fact they have to abrogate a lot of control to Telecom for ADSl, part of it must be I don't spend enough for them to really care about my service.

    Paradise used to be gold. Then Telstra bought them, told their staff they needed to move to Auckland or be sacked, and it's all been downhill ever since.

    Perhaps it's just me, but "moving everything to Auckland" and "purchased by Australians" seem to be harbingers of doom for many a company's quality.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report

  • Andre Alessi,

    There's been a general trend in call centres towards a reduction in staff skill and knowledge, but it's particularly obvious in ISP tech support lines. Partially that's to do with countering customer complaints about the time you need to wait for someone to answer the phone: you need more people, which means you want to pay them less, and spend less time training them.

    Partially it's also to do with increased staff turnover in many of these jobs. No matter how good your training, you'll still end up taking several calls a day completely outside your experience, so it takes time online to develop a decent wealth of experience to draw from in these situations.

    And at least part of it is simply managerial incompetence: managers focus their training and quality assessment on "people skills" like emapthy and active listening, not realising that those skills are worthless when the person taking the call doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report

  • sumware,

    Some of our clients are iHug customers and they have had problems e-mailing us since 27 September. It was fine a week earlier.

    Symptoms are the same - they can receive e-mail from us, but can't send to us. Analysis of our ISP's logs show that the e-mail does not arrive at our ISP's mail server from Ihug's SMTP server. The weird thing is that if the client copies the e-mail to other servers (e.g. gmail), these copies get through. That seems to indicate some sort of DNS error, not a spam problem.

    IHug of course don't acknowledge the issue. These clients are literate enough to understand how stuff works and together we are pretty confident it is something beyond the ihUg spam issue.

    One client solved the issue by discontinuing his ihuG account and we get now mail reliably from them at their new ISP.


    AKL • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Carmel B,

    This has been a huge problem with me also - I have been with iHug for about 7 years now and have always had great service, but the last month it has gone from bad to worse.

    Mail which never, ever arrived (contrary to the assurances that no mail would be lost - only delayed) problems sending mail and huge amounts of spam after having none to speak of previously.

    What this does to business and personal relationships can not be quantified - what you don't ever get you don't know is missing. People assume that when they send you an e-mail you will receive it, and when you don't reply (because you never got it) things enter a whole new realm. Offences are taken, business and personal opportunities are lost, stress is caused, misunderstandings arise. Simple stuff. E-mail has become the thread that seems to hold our society together these days and when it unravels things can go very, very wrong....we need better responses and better solutions than iHug has been fobbing us off with. I would just love to know where IS all my missing mail?

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report

  • Miker,

    That's it precisely - it's far more damaging than is easily estimated. I feel seriously let down by Ihug over this - they simply don't seem to be taking it seriously. I was assured yesterday that no email had been lost, but also that they don't know when it might be extracted. My problem is precisely that apart from a few specific items, I don't know what's missing.

    I've managed to extract two weeks refund our of Ihug, but this comes nowhere near compensating for the damage that's been done.

    Cambridge • Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report

  • David Ivory,

    Nic and Chris are on the money.

    Why use an ISP email address? By having myname@isp.co.nz you lock yourself into their service as people are understandably reluctant to change email addresses.

    Get your own domain name.

    Most registrars will redirect your email to wherever - an ISP account, or Gmail. I use pair.com as my host and registrar - I access this mail from my mail application via IMAP - but I also forward a copy of my mail to Gmail as a sort of backup and for webmail access.

    Don't use an ISP domain - you can drop iHug or whoever as an ISP and just move your email over to wherever.

    Hong Kong • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report

  • Mark Shaw,

    Leave your ISP for ever http://www.google.com/hosted buy a domain name and go for Google hosted it's the business and what's best it's free. I've been using it for a small business I have on the go and I've had no problems at all.

    Blenheim • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report

  • Richard Bentley,

    I have received the same emailed invoice twice from Ihug in three days. They obviously can't control their own system. I will be checking to see that they don't charge me twice.

    Waikato • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report

  • Peter Stayt,

    I have had the same problems with missing e-mail - and the same lame response when I have contacted ihug. Three e-mails sent on Mon 30th and one sent wed 1st (Iwas with the sender when it was sent!) have not been received (these are the four i know about!!). All have basic attachments.

    To date I have made four telephone calls and three web-based inquiries - and have one formatted e-mail response that did not deal with the issue at all!

    Maybe Telecom are not so bad after all? (choke!!!)

    Crusader Land • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report

  • Steve King,

    I've had no email on one of my ihug accounts since the beginning of last week. All emails to that account bounce back with a 550 error which- after calling them about it on Tuesday morning and getting no response- I discovered when I called again this morning a lot of customers are having a problem with and they're trying to fix but don't know what's causing it and can't tell me when it'll be sorted.

    This is the same Ihug with a story in this morning's Herald announcing that everything was fixed and working fine.

    Unfortunately I have an online booking form for my business which runs through this account (albeit through an outside host and mt own domain name) so don't know how many booking's I've missed in the last week as the clients will be getting a confirmation that the booking request has been sent but only the booking form page host will be getting the bounceback messages.

    As with most people my problem is with Ihugs handling of what are obviously major problems.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report

  • Richard Bentley,

    Further to my previous post I am utterly delighted to say that I have received a third copy of my November invoice from Ihug. It really is reassuring that they are so keen to ensure that I get bills from them, and it goes such a long way to making up for the poor service over the past two weeks. Who knows, I might pay them all.

    Waikato • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report

  • Matt Taylor,

    Agree with the above on paradise, I had the same problem & moved to iHug with the lure of the wired country connection (which I missed out on unfortunately...)

    But, given I was apparently "one of the few" people-yeah right- who needed to reconfigure their email client to be ever able to send/receive again, I was a little irritated to be told they don't support Thunderbird & that I should use Outlook 'cause "that's what most people use"

    Two words ihug. Supporting an email client as well used as Thunderbird is not difficult and besides, if I use Tbird, you should be able to tell me what sort of things I need to change to fix it myself, not just tell me you can't help.

    You guys are all tempting me to get around to sorting out a domain name for email & trotting off to another isp. Not that long ago ihug was the shining light in a battle against Telecom, now they seem to be well on par with them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report

  • Kiwiiano,

    Rich Bentley was billed twice, I received my bill 3 days after it was due to be paid.
    The trouble with losing mail is you may never know. I know I have because when I suspected something was wrong on the Saturday, I sent an email to all 4 working accounts at iHug, plus Gmail & my work acc at Paradise. Only one of the iHug mails returned. The Gmail made it that far but went AWOL when forwarded.
    Even the process of registering to post to this forum has been a bit fraught. I used my Gmail address, but after 10 mins or so still haven't received the forwarded email at iHug. I had to log into Gmail directly to pick it up.....
    ....something I might start doing more regularly. It's a good thought to make more use of Gmail. Effectively your own Domain

    ChCh • Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report

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