Telekabel - Good Quality Service?

This Customer Says NO!

Deutsch Version Hier

As many people know, Telekabel offers four main services, Cable TV, Priority Telekom, Chello, and in partnership with ONE, a mobile phone service. What many people do not know is that for some people, that service is less than satisfactory. Less than satisfactory, in my case, is something of an understatement. Appalling, unfriendly, unreliable, occasionally unavailable, damage left in my apartment, and with broken promises to fix these problems is more how I would describe it.

My original connection request included Priority Telekom, Chello, and a mobile phone with ONE. As a result of the problems with the installation, Priority Telekom, and Chello, I never took a mobile phone with ONE. I now have a mobile with Maxmobil, and because of the problems of Chello, have reestablished an internet connection with my old service provider at onlineloop.

I have made complaints to Telekabel about these problems, including sending a letter to Telekabel management two months ago. To date, the most Telekabel has done is make promises to fix these problems. Nothing more has been done, and the problems remain. The worst Telekabel has done is refuse to do anything and try to put the responsibility of these problems on to me, including the phone, all because I, as many others, choose to use Linux on my computer (look near the end of this page for some information about Linux vs. Windows).

As a result of Telekabel's refusal to do anything to fix these problems, I have refused to pay any bills from them (would you pay for a service that doesn't work?). That has now escalated with them threatening to cut off their "service" to me. Update: Telekabel has cut off the service and threatened legal action without any effort to address the problems or fix the damage left behind. Check the updates at the end of this page.

I am putting up this page because of Telekabel's actions towards me. I have no idea how many will read this, if anyone will read this, but maybe the threat of some publicity might force Telekabel to fix the continuing problems I have with their service, and to make them change their current position on me.

Installation - Sloppy, Unprofessional, And Unrepaired Damage Done
The installation of Telekabel requires a new cable to be run into the flat (apartment, flat will be used from here on). A hole already existed for cables to come into my flat and I expected that this hole would be used to run the new cable into my flat. That was not done, and a new hole was drilled without asking or notifying me that it would be done. That new hole was drilled in a place where the cable stands out very clearly, and in the process of drilling that hole, the installers damaged the inner wall of my flat, leaving a large hole there and a mess of wall fragments on the floor. They made no effort to clean the mess up, and did not fix the damage they did to my wall. I had to clean the wall fragments myself, and to date, I have had no time to fix the hole that was made in my wall. They also did not pin the cable, but left it to hang right over the entrance to my flat. The following photo shows that.

During the installation they also used my ladder. When they left, they did not bring my ladder back to me, but left it outside where someone else could have very easily taken it. I had to go and find where it had been left and bring it back myself. After all this, the phone and Chello internet connections didn't work at all.

The following day, a technician came to my flat to fix the connection problems. Although he did get these working, they have not worked reliably, and there are times when the phone, or Chello, or both do not work at all.

The Phone With Telekabel's "Priority Telekom"
The phone service I have with Priority Telekom, although sometimes working quite satisfactorily, has often had reliability problems.

Sometimes No Phone Numbers Exits, Not Even Mine
There has been many times when I have dialled a valid number, usually friends, and got the three tone "you have dialled a wrong number" anthem. Repeat attempts give the same result, even when making absolutely sure I dial the correct number. There have also been times when I have got a recorded message saying "an error has occurred, please dial again" (such error messages exist only in Microsoft systems). I have also had friends tell me they have tried to call me and had the same problem. They get the three tone anthem that they have dialled a wrong number, but they definitely have dialled the correct number. For them too, repeat attempts give the same result.

Broken Or Completely Lost Voice, Lost Connections, And No Service At All
On the phone calls that are successfully connected, sometimes the voice of either me, the person I am calling, or both, is broken up. We can only hear parts of words, or when it gets bad, only parts of sentences. Several times, the phone call had to be abandoned because one or both of us couldn't hear each other at all.

During some calls, even the ones that seem to have no trouble at all, the connection has simply been lost even though neither side hang up. Although this is known to very occasionally happen in most phone systems, it has happened more often in the Priority Telekom system than I would consider normal.

There was even one time when there was no service at all. There was no dial tone, no possibility to call in or out, and no explanation for this behaviour.

Chello - Unreliable, Sometimes Unavailable, Junk Data, And Email Problems
Chello, like Priority Telekom, does sometimes work, and when it works it can work quite well too. At other times however, it varies from slow, to intermittently unavailable, to completely unavailable. Junk data is also a concern, as is emails being lost, delayed, or deleted messages coming back weeks after deletion.

As a capable network engineer and system administrator, I have the skills to analyse these problems and find, at least in part, where they are.

Chello's Less Than Satisfactory Availability And Lack Of Performance
My connection with Chello has often shown reliability problems. It has been quite normal for me to get "network errors" or "no route to host" errors, or some other odd little errors. There has also been times when there is simply no network available at all. When these errors have occurred, I have often immediately tried to trace where the problem comes from. That has almost always been one of the computers in Chello's network. "Ping" and "traceroute" often show one of the routers in Chello giving very bad response times, or completely failing to respond at all. In such a closely connected network, such delays and non responses clearly indicate problems with the router/s in question. It is not uncommon for the router to which I am connected to itself show multiple timeouts when I do this analysis.

At other times when the network is working, it can show severe performance problems. While this problem occurs mostly during the afternoon and evening, it also occurs at other times when there should be almost no one using the network.

The often severe performance problems during the afternoon and evening shows clearly, and without doubt, that Telekabel does not have anything near the capacity they should have to handle the number of users of the network.

That lack of capacity aside, there have also been times, particularly late at night, where there have also been severe performance problems. It has not been uncommon for the network to become slower, eventually reaching a state where less then 1Kb per second is coming through the network, or the network simply dies all together. This situation has lasted at times for up to several hours. Considering that such problems have occurred after midnight, when most people are in bed, there is clearly some kind of problem in the network. Even allowing for the work that has to be occasionally carried out on the network at that time, the occurrence of this performance death is too often.

Through careful analysis of my computer, I have been able to completely rule out any hardware or configuration problems on my computer. As I said, I am a system administrator and such analysis is part of my job.

Junk Data - Masses Of Unstoppable Garbage
The one thing that has continued without a break is the constant "junk data" that is coming to my computer from Chello's network. Most of this data is the Microsoft Windows Netbios lookup, which is totally unnecessary for a Linux computer. A significant portion of the remaining data is simply uninterpretable. This data not only comes from the subnet I am connected to, it also comes from completely different netblocks. This data comes in usually at around 1 to 6Kb per second, but on rare occasions I have seen as much as 30Kb per second coming through. Here is a small sample. This sample is the junk data that arrived at my computer over a period of only one second, taken while I have been writing this page.

Almost none (ie: less than 0.01%) of this data is relevant to my computer, and in the sample taken none of the data was relevant to my computer. This data does however consume a considerable portion of the available bandwidth I have, further slowing my network connection. It also consumes processor time on my computer because it has to be interpreted, and that slows other processes on my computer down.

One remedy to this junk data problem, proposed by Telekabel, was absolutely ridiculous. They suggested I buy another computer to set up as a firewall and use that computer to filter the junk data so I didn't see it any more. Such a suggestion is idiotic and does nothing to stop the junk data.

Email - The Cases Of Vanishing Emails, The Returning Deleted Emails, And The Data Format Errors
Email, as with everything I have with Telekabel, sometimes works quite satisfactorily. At other times however, Chello's email server's behaviour defies explanation.

Some time ago I discovered that the email system at Chello is occasionally causing emails sent to me to simply vanish. People have sent me emails, although I have never seen these mails. Given that I have no SPAM filter, and no entries in any kill lists, such a problem can only be caused by the email server that Chello is using. There has also been emails that I have sent that have themselves simply vanished. Again, clearly after my investigations, this can only be caused by the email server that Chello is using.

More recently, I have been receiving a large number of very old emails which I had deleted from Chello's email server long ago. These deleted emails have simply come back and there is again no explanation for this behaviour. I have also been receiving emails that were sent to me weeks earlier. That is the emails were sent, but I did not receive them for up to several weeks. They seem to have become "lost" somewhere in Chello's email server.

Another problem with the email system from Chello is that sometimes I have tried to send email through Chello and the mail has been returned to me because of a "data format error". There is no explanation for this error, and sending the identical mail a few minutes later is completed apparently without difficulty. Here is a copy of two such error reports, although I have deleted the email and IP addresses. So far this error has occurred four times.

Telekabel Support - Not Really
As I stated at the start of this page, I have called Telekabel support several times because of the problems I was having. Each phone call has ended with me getting nowhere. The attitude of Telekabel is that because I use Linux, all problems I have with my Chello connection are mine. As I also said earlier, I am an experienced System Administrator, and therefore have the skills to analyse problems like the ones I have had. This fact has been completely ignored by Telekabel, and I have even had the feeling that they simply resent and don't want to know that I do know what I am doing and talking about. I have analysed every component of my computer and phone that I possibly can and come to the definite conclusion that the problems I am experiencing are not caused by any equipment I have.

One particular call to support was nothing short of insulting. After telling them of the continuing problems I was having, they said simply that because I was using Linux and not Windows, all problems, Chello and Priority Telekom, are mine and that nothing would be done by Telekabel to fix them. The fact that both Chello and Priority Telekom are showing significant problems clearly indicates that the problems are not caused by me and are totally outside my control. They are the responsibility of Telekabel.

My last call to support was on the 4th of November 2000. I had to make that call using my Maxmobile phone because there was again no phone or internet service available in my flat. That phone call lasted about 15 minutes where I was transferred four times without having a very simple question answered. The fourth time I was transferred, I simply hang up because I had had enough of being handed off from one place to the next, and paying for that on my mobile phone. The final area I was transferred to appears to have been for people that are not customers of Telekabel since I was getting the recorded message of if I was interested in one of the products of Telekabel. That was the point at which I hung up.

A Formal Complaint To Management
After that phone call, I immediately wrote a formal complaint to Telekabel Austria Management, giving information on what problems I had, and on what had happened since. That complaint included the above photo of the installation work that was done in my flat.

About one week later I received a phone call on my Maxmobil mobile phone from a man called Huber. That call was in response to my letter. Huber set an appointment with me to come to my flat to "fix the hole, pin that cable up, and do a full examination of my computer". He rang me on the evening of the appointment and said was unable to meet that appointment because of other work during the day taking longer than planned. During that phone call, I told him that now that I knew someone was working on the problems, and that everything would be fixed, it was no longer so bad and that if it took an extra week to get everything right then that was no problem. At least someone was now actually working on it and I knew that everything would be taken care of properly.

At the end of that phone call, Huber promised me he would call again the following week to make another appointment to come to my flat and fix everything. That phone call never came. I still have problems with my connections with Chello and Priority Telekom, and it seems clear that Telekabel has little, if any interest in fixing the problems that I have been left with.

There has recently been a slight improvement in the maximum transfer rate of Chello, and also a slight improvement in Chello's availability, however the reliability is still unacceptable. There has been no improvement in the Priority Telekom connection.

How It Stands Now (as at 26/12/2000)
From about the third week onwards from when I first had Telekabel installed, I reconnected with my old Internet Service Provider onlineloop. Onlineloop is a Linux system and has proven fully reliable throughout the entire time. I have often rerouted "on the fly" through onlineloop because the service from Chello wasn't working. All DNS lookups and all email continues through onlineloop for me because it works without fault there.

More recently, I took a mobile phone service with Maxmobil. Such a move became necessary because I needed to be able to make phone calls, and people need to be able to reach me. That service has also proven fully reliable and I have found myself often making and receiving calls on that phone simply because it works properly and Priority Telekom doesn't.

As I said at the start, Telekabel has threatened to cut my services off because of my not paying for what they have given me. Given the problems I have had, I think I am justified in not paying for their service. The fact is the service only half works, and no reasonable person is going to pay for something that only half works.

Telekabel's most recent action was to stop me from making phone calls from the phone service the gave me. Given that most of my calls have been made from my Maxmobil mobile phone for some time now, this action makes little difference to me. At present, people can still theoretically call me on my Priority Telekom line, although even yesterday (25/12), one friend tried to call me on that line and got the three tone wrong number anthem. She was later able to get through with no problem.

If Telekabel does completely cut off Chello and Priority Telekom, it will make little difference to me. Their service has been bad enough that such a move would in fact bring an improvement in the overall quality of phone and internet service I have in my flat. Having only onlineloop and Maxmobil, both of which work, will bring about a welcome change in that reliability. Regardless of their actions, I will not be paying for what they have given me so far. No reasonable person pays for a service with so many problems.

I have given Telekabel every chance to do something about the problems I have had with their service. They have done nothing to fix the problems, and have made empty promises to fix everything. The next step is in the hands of Telekabel.

Update (9 January 2001)
Telekabel sent me a letter, dated 20 December 2000, but received 8 January 2001. In that letter they stated that their reminders for payment remained unconsidered (note the complaint letter I sent in on the 4th of November), and that I am unconditionally bound to pay their bills. They also threatened that if I didn't pay, they would take leagal action against me to get that money, including the costs of that legal action, and that paying would save me the costs of a new installation. I sent a reply to that threat today which you can read here.

Update (31 January 2001)
Telekabel sent Huber to me today to fix the damage that was left in my flat. Although he did fix the damage and pin the cable up, he was very unpolite and insisted that there was no problem with the connection I had.

When he came to my flat, he said that he was tempted to simply take all of the equipment with him and leave me with nothing at all. I said absolutely nothing to this and just looked at him. It did become clear to him that I was not going to give that permission. He then said that he thought I was out to make money from this, to which I simply looked at him again without answering, merely raising my eyebrows. After that, he looked around my entrance room and said he thinks I have a "lousy" flat. My answer was the same as for the previous comments. Besides, lets see him find a 75m2 category A flat for 1700 Schillings per month! For what I have, most people pay upwards of 8000 Schillings per month, and yes, the flat is in reasonably good condition too. Additionally, I would like to know how I can make money out of this fisaco since I don't see how that is possible.

He then set about repairing the damage left behind, although the cable was left in the hole made during the previous installation with the excuse that it didn't fit in the hole that was already previously there. His repair work of the hole was also somwhat shabby, as this photo shows.

Throughout the 2 1/2 hours his work lasted, he commented that he thought there was no problem with the connection.

He also said to me at one point "do you know what the problem is? The problem is Linux". I responded that Linux has a proven track record of its reliability and stability and that I have never had a problem with my connection with onlineloop. He responded "Linux lets you see everything that's going on. Thats what the problem with Linux is". For me, I like to know what's going on, and I think most other people do too. It is being able to see what is going on and being able to analyse that information, visible with Linux, that has allowed me to prove that the problems do lie with Telekabel. This is something they do not like nor appreciate since they have an image to maintain and don't like having a customer tell them so conclusively that the problems are theirs and not the fault of the customer.

He also asked why I went to so much trouble to put these pages up. My answer is simple - Telekabel has shown no interest in fixing the problems they have left me, so therefore perhaps the threat of some publicity might force them to do something. I also want other people to know what has happened to me with Telekabel so that these people can see what Telekabel is like and what Telekabel does.

After completing his work, he took a report of what he had done, and noted the problems I was having, including taking a look at and getting me to explain to him a small portion of the log files I had from Chello. I showed him the Class A network that was there, plus a different sample of the junk data I was seeing. Although the log files were too large for him to take with him, I do make those files fully available to the Chello network administrators for examination.

Update (12 February 2001)
So far, I have had no response at all from Telekabel. They have however, on about the 3rd of February, deleted all email accounts from the Chello mail server. Chello has also been completely cut off, so now I have only onlineloop, although I had already been using onlineloop exclusively for a long time. Onlineloop is, as always, performing without fault, as is my phone service with Maxmobil. Curiously enough, these pages are still here at the chello members web server, although I do wonder how much longer they will stay given the position I have taken.

Update (23 February 2001)
Telekabel has still not done anything to address the open issues. They have completely cut off all service and it is clear to me that they don't care and don't want to do anything to fix the problems that I have had with their service.

I now see little chance that these issues will come to a amicable conclusion, and believe that it will be settled in court. Should Telekabel take that step, I am willing and fully prepared to fight them there. I will also take the issue to the media since Telekabel so obviously doesn't care about providing a reasonable quality of service, and only cares about getting money out of customers regardless of how bad their service is.

As has always previously been, the next step is up to Telekabel.

Items Of Interest:
Windows vs. Linux and UNIX
Junk Data Sample (same link as in text)
Data Format Errors (same link as in text)
Complaint Letter
Second Complaint Letter

Last Updated 23/02/2001