Am I A Dodo For Choosing Dodo

I've often wondered why Dodo regularly features in the Telecommunications Ombudsman's annual complaint result list. As it stands, Dodo is one of the most complained about telecommunications companies per number of customers. I decided this week that it was time to stop wondering and try them out. It's not fair to bag a company just because everyone else is, is it? Internet access is important to me, so when I choose a provider, I need to be able to count on them. Here is my experience with Dodo.

I needed a new mobile broadband dongle because I was travelling interstate to complete some filming for CyberShack TV and my iPhone will not tether to my notebook because my mobile plan is via TPG. So I put on my phantom shopper hat and thought “what things would I need if I were shopping for a prepaid mobile broadband service?” What is the best price, what is going to give me the best service and what is going to give me the best overall mobile service? Australia Post were selling prepaid service kits from a variety of telcos. I had a choice of Telstra, Optus, Dodo and Grl Mobile (whoever they are!). Dodo was the best price - for $99 I got the USB modem and 12 months of internet data at 250 megabytes per month. It was the best priced deal.

The first thing you need to do is Activate the service. I rang Dodo at 9:30pm. They were closed and I was told by pre-recorded message to call back at 10am the next day.

I called the next day from the bus on the way to the launch of Panasonic's AV lineup in Melbourne. I spoke to the call centre operator who took my name and control number and told me the service would be active in 24 hours. 24 hours? I pointed out politely that nowhere on the packaging did it say there was any delay in activating the service. Silence ensued. I decided that was the way it was, so we ended the conversation. Besides, this person was in some far off country being paid some rubbish hourly rate and I wasn't going to make her day worse. I could wait 'up to 24 hours'.

After the Panasonic event, I was at Melbourne airport and paid $6 for access to the airport wifi service. Jumped on the plane and after my PC crashed at cruising altitude, the next time I was able to try the Dodo service was in my Brisbane hotel later that evening at 7:30pm. I tried logging in and the software said that it could not recognise a local service provider. It was no big deal because the hotel had free wifi (free – I know, I was stoked to!), so I logged in got some work done.

The next day I tried the service again. Again the same thing as the night before, and still no Internet access. I left the hotel and headed for our first shoot of the day. Nokia had sent me some new smart phones with the free turn-by-turn navigation, so we were going to get around Brisbane with the devices providing the way. After the Nokia shoot, I headed to the Triple8 racing head quarters in preparation for an interview with Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, and the engineers who work in the garage.

At the end of the shoot, at 3pm, I tried the service again, thinking I could download my mail and respond to a couple of important emails. Again, the service said the same thing and would not connect. I headed to the airport, more than a little puzzled. Could it be that Dodo is a bad provider?

After getting to the airport I called the Dodo help desk and after pressing #* about a hundred times, I got through the maze of options companies put between the customer and their phone operator. I spoke to the tech support people and Marnie the operator told me – wait for it – I had to activate the account! Hang on, I did that yesterday I said. He said it was not activated and had no understanding of why it would not have been done the day before. “No problem”, he said. “I will do it now”. Woah, “hang on their Marnie”, I said. “This will take 24 hours to activate”. “30 minutes to 24 hours is the time”.

Now I was annoyed. The airport had no wifi and I had a really important email to draft and submit and here is Dodo stuffing up my service and I have not even had the opportunity to try it working yet!

That night I went to bed wondering whether my Internet account would ever work. The next day I woke early, got ready for a segment for the Today Show and a second on the Kerri Anne Show, and waited outside for the taxi. My Internet had to work! I was going to need to kill an hour in between Today and Kerri Anne this morning and I had emails to get out.

Alas, it happened. At the conclusion of my Today Show segment I headed downstairs to Channel Nine cafeteria, booted my notebook PC and hit 'connect'. There was a pause and then it happened. Dodo wireless Internet logged in to the network. For a moment I thought that it was not happening. I felt teary, then I looked up at the TV and Georgie Gardner reading the news. The first BA flight out of London was taking off and there was vision of travellers, teary as they were finally going home after weeks of being stranded. I stowed the tears, opened my email and got to work.

Dodo's prepaid internet connection was purchased at full retail rate of $99