Life with an Orcon Genius - The Arrival
Saturday August 6
Last night, after reading two superb reviews of Orcon Genius (here and here) I signed up for Orcon's new offering (target date for switch over is August 16 according to the response I received from Orcon's system). I have been an Orcon broadband user for a number of years. Originally, it was when Orcon advertised on my NZMac.com website, but after selling the site I not only stayed with Orcon but changed plans - moving my phone to Orcon, increasing my broadband speed and data cap. Why I hadn't done those 3 things sooner I'm still not sure.
Having signed on to get a Genius I thought I'd write up some notes about the whole experience (for starters, my bill to Orcon each month is going to go from $107 to $85!)....starting with some caveats that Orcon clearly indicate you need to consider...
- It's your phone delivered over the internet. Keep this in mind..if the 'net goes down or there is a power cut, you lose your phone as well. I'm OK with this as I have a mobile also that I can use in case of an emergency. Orcon sum up the issue best when they say "Your phone will stop working as it relies on the modem in order to make and receive calls. If you need your phone to keep working in the event of a power outage, Orcon Genius is probably not the right product for you." Superbly straight forward and honest...good on you Orcon!
- If you have more than one phone in the house, you need to have think about how you'll operate in the future. I purchased the Genius Lite option and am going to plug my current phone into the Genius. The phone actually has an inbuilt answerphone, but I'll simply leave that off and use the Genius's much cooler voicemail option. Orcon sum up the issue best when they say..."Because your phone calls will go over the internet, all phones in your house need to be directed through the modem. This means any other jackpoint in the house (except the one that your Orcon Genius is plugged into) will stop working." A simple solution to this is to buy a phone with an additional handset or two, if you really need phones around the house. I'm lucky in that I live in a tiny flat.
- The Orcon Genius is not compatible with monitored devices (alarms, monitoring systems etc) as there will be no landline to your premises.
So I'm OK with all those issues and signed up accordingly. I was really impressed by the online form that covered all areas. I was also OK with signing up to a contract (and therefore getting the Genius free) as I have been with Orcon so long and will continue to be with them...or pay the amount indicated to say goodbye to them in the future I guess. I also have to think about if I move anywhere, as I'll have to make sure it'll be in an area that is able to provide the Orcon Genius service or else I might be charged for breaking contract...maybe? It's an interesting question...would I be breaking my contract if Orcon failed to offer the service to me in the location I moved to or would that be Orcon's responsibility?
If I have any criticism of the sign-up process, it would be that the two emails that I received don't remind me what I agreed to. If I'm sitting here thinking "now did I remember to set that data cap at 40Gb?", then I'm not going to find it in the emails. I'm also not going to find it (at the moment) by logging onto their site [Update - later on I could see when logging on to their site].
I had to have a think about where I was going to put the Genius in my flat. I had contemplated putting it where my phone is (in the room next door) and have my iMac use a wireless connection, but instead, the Genius will be set up attached physically to the iMac and a phone socket in this room, and the phone moved into here. Again not a big issue, but if I start to miss having the phone closer to the TV room, I'll just buy a second handset I think. Having the Genius here next to the computer means I can also plug in a second phone...a headset, for when people call needing help [Update - looks like I will have to buy a dual socket adaptor to have two phones connected to the Genius]. Once setup, I also intend to sell off my router on TradeMe as I can't see the need to have it sitting around.
So what did I sign up for? No national calls...can't remember when I last made one of those and email seems to be the main form of communication for me. No overseas calls either...just the Genius and 40Gb of data, which I tend to get close to on a monthly basis. Of the new phone features that will come with it, I'm not overly fussed about Caller ID and I consider Call Waiting rude (if I'm ever talking to a friend and they ask me to hold while they take another call I just end the conversation), so I'll be looking to deactivate that...but I am looking forward to how the voicemail works. Reading the articles, the messages get emailed to you, so it would be cool if it could be set to text you to tell you to check your emails for a voicemail! Anyway, I'm going to stop there and await the arrival of the Genius. Ordered around 5pm on Friday August 5, let's see how long it takes to arrive.
Tuesday August 9
An email from Orcon to say that the Genius was on its way from Auckland with a link to track the delivery. Interestingly it could be here today according to the details, and as I'm off work crook...who knows if I'll see it?!
Sure enough, in the afternoon the courier arrived. The Genius really just looks like any broadband router, but I liked how the package contained a sheet giving clear warnings not to set up the Genius until Orcon said it was OK to. Then, on reading the instructions, I had to laugh that one page said the set-up could take 3-5 minutes and then provided some sudoko puzzles to keep you occupied whilst this happened...amusing and nice touch. I'm really impressed with the quality of the user guide and of course the fact that the instructions for Mac users are much less than for PC users. I did note that there isn't any detail on the phone in terms of voicemail etc, but I assume that this might be emailed through later. I also note that while you can attach an external hard drive via USB, there's no suggestion you can access this from the net...only within your internal network [Update - actually on getting things set up, it looks like you can set it up to work as an FTP server, accessible on the net...very cool]
Sadly, I now have to pack up everything and wait up to a week for the switch to be flicked at Orcon's end!
Wednesday August 17
As I type this, my iPhone sits next to me on speakerphone, whilst I wait for Orcon to answer. I've cooked tea, eaten tea, watched the news and more whilst on hold. I've been on the phone for about 90 minutes so far over a 2 hour period, with the phone sometimes disconnecting me after 20+ minutes. Oddly, the voice that talks to you mentions some Australian facts about dialup (when I opt for Genius support), so I have either been diverted to an Australian call centre or did Orcon not listen to the pre-recorded fun facts and information people receive on hold after buying this system?
So what's happened? Well for the past two days I have had my iPhone on silent in meetings waiting to be told I was getting switched over to naked broadband. I got nothing...not even an email. Tonight I got home to find my phone line dead. I phoned Orcon via my iPhone as the instructions specifically said not to attach the Genius until you'd received notification, but it was clear that this was likely why I had no dial tone.
At first I pressed the button to get me through to Genius support, but three times in a row that resulted in the phone hanging up immediately on me...so I phoned again. It sounded like they were having issues as the opening comments on the help desk system told me there had been an update overnight that was affecting people and to restart my modem. OK, that's not what my issue is (my issue is a dead line more or less) and so I held on and got through to the standard help desk.
The chap that I spoke with said that all seemed good on their end, but couldn't tell me if my line had actually been changed over. He noticed there had been an attempt to email me yesterday (the day the change was meant to happen) but he couldn't tell me what the failed email was about. You'd have to think if they were making a change that would render my phone useless until Genius was working, they'd make really sure I knew.
So the chap agreed that I should try plugging in the Genius, and kindly offered to stay on the line. I said it wasn't necessary (oh silly me!) and set about setting things up. For the past hour or more I've had a solid blue ADSL icon on the Genius (suggesting ADSL is OK), a wireless icon (wireless is OK) and the wired icon is blue also (wired connection to my Mac is OK). However I cannot access the router via the IP address I enter in to a browser to administer it. The phone is now connected to the Genius (but no blue icon shows) and makes the sound of a disconnected phone...so I've had to email a few people on my iPhone to say not to try and call me.
8PM - I have no idea what happened. I was on hold (this time up to 30 minutes) and I thought I'd try the web access to the router one more time....and low and behold, I connected to the web admin system. But....
It seems clear that the settings aren't right in the router. I think maybe now I know what the email that failed to arrive possibly contained...settings information? Oh joy...methinks I have to stay on the line for longer....and the battery is running out on the iPhone!
I then took a look at the settings and was able to use my existing ADSL username and password to get net access. I still want to talk to Orcon or have a look on their site, as there are settings that I could play around with that I probably shouldn't...but in the end I just decided to rename the wireless network to something more meaningful and change the router password. Most of the other stuff looks fairly straight forward...however I still have no idea how to set up voicemail, call waiting etc...and again, do I just speculate this was in the email that failed to get to me? I'm off to the Orcon site to investigate...whilst still being on hold ;-)
Annnnnnnnd...I'm back. Still on hold (they definitely bought an Australian call centre system as I keep hearing a didgeridoo in the music!) but the only info I can find is how to use the Genius handset, and I don't have this. My phone is working though (which is great) and I'm currently asking a mate to test if it goes to voicemail at all. Will have to wait and see.
My friend got back to me and said he could leave a message...but it's never been emailed to me. I guess I have to set these things up.
It's now 8.38pm and I have been on hold for 30 minutes, and then sadly a Twitter mention popped up on my iPhone and disconnected me. Phoning Orcon back I was told by the system that it was now out of hours. I could use the emergency option but I have net access and will email the help desk instead. In fact, I might post this article and then point them to it. Hopefully someone will tell me how to get my phone working.
Really disappointing end to what was an excellent process to begin with. I've never had to wait so long on hold at Orcon and they desperately need to have their system tell you how long you have left to wait. I'm also not impressed that if their email to notify me the change was occurring failed, why didn't they pro-actively contact me another way (like mobile) to let me know or try and figure out why the email bounced. I can only hope that when they sort that out, somewhere, somehow, I'll get some instructions about the phone. We'll see.
Impressed that QR from Orcon took the time to privately message me on Twitter to point me to this page after I posted my gripes on Twitter! At first I thought that neither of the numbers listed were working, as I was typing them into my phone, pressing the button to dial and immediately hearing what sounded like an engaged signal. Then I noticed something on my phone's display which I had never seen before (remember this phone has an inbuilt answerphone with a blinking light when there's a call recorded)..."VM". Obviously it meant voicemail...and I realised that it was telling me there was a voicemail on the Orcon system for me. So I pressed to get a dial tone on the phone and still it sounded engaged...until I waited...and the dial tone came clear. Calling 789 then worked.
I've never had a phone that gives you an audio signal (like the engaged sound) that there is a message for you. But it looks like that is how it works.
OK...another tweet from Orcon and I'm impressed that they followed up with me to make sure I was OK. I didn't want to keep asking for help and I could set up voicemail and change my message, but I still felt like I was missing a lot. Then I was playing around and noticed the modem set up. Take a look at this screen....
See how at the top left it says "Wizard"? Well a wizard is meant to walk you through the settings you need to put in, isn't it? But where should I click? The button that says "Continue" seems right, but that doesn't take you to the next step of a Wizard...it only offers this....
Yikes! That's not what I was trying to do!
So I started to think that was either the world's shortest Wizard or something was wrong. So I clicked on the tab "2. Set up my wireless". At first I thought this should be the second screen of the wizard. 7 tabs across the top equals 7 screens for the Wizard. In fact, it appears (Dorothy) there is no Wizard. I'm not sure why that term is there, as you're not walked through anything.
Then, if you don't pay close attention (and I confess I didn't) you don't realise that each tab has sub sections...
I'm using the tab about Voip as the best example. I didn't pay the left menu much notice at all at first...but on a second investigation, I noticed it contained a lot of sub-sections, accessed by that left menu. There are a lot of settings there...mostly advanced ones you are unlikely to need to play around with (I'd suggest unless you know what you are doing, then leave them) but I do see it appears I can't disable Call Waiting (it's ticked but not able to be unticked) and I still can't see any option about voicemails being emailed to you.
Finally, I've had a mate ring and leave a second voicemail, but this time it came through perfectly...although (and this is a Mac thing...possibly with OS X Lion dealing with WAV files), it thinks the 9 second long file is in fact 74 minutes long!?
..so it seems that voicemail is working.
I got there in the end, and I freely admit some of this is about my initial reactions to something new. I tend to write like that...how we react is important. I think my initial experiences up until the Genius arriving was superb. Tonight wasn't a great experience, but I got there in the end. I do think Orcon needs to look at their call centre system and that if they are trying to contact a customer (and fail) they need to do more to make that contact.
I hope to come back in a few weeks and write some more about my use of the Genius.