Vodafone #Fail & Goodbye

I posted a few months ago about the problems I was having getting a Vodafone (Huawei) K3765 USB dongle to work on Windows 7 64bit. I’m happy to say I resolved the fault however I failed to get the equipment working to my satisfaction.
I had time recently to follow up my case with Vodafone and get the software working on my laptop. I called the Vodafone contact centre on 1555 and got through to Valencia. I gave her my case number and SIM number and put me through right away to the Vodafone contact centre in Tasmania. I was impressed by that, its always a pleasure to speak to local people and for extra bonus the person I spoke to in Tasmania (Sonya) knew her stuff, understood my situation and did many things to try and resolve the problem.
Alas nothing she could think to try would make the dongle work. What I did learn though is that one should always use the software that comes on the USB key and not the software that comes with the dongle on CD-ROM or from the Vodafone website.
During our troubleshooting and the subsequent troubleshooting I did over the course of the following weekend I was able to determine that the cause of the issues appeared to be that Windows considered the drivers for the K3765 to be unsigned and refused to load them. By default Windows 7 64bit will not run unsigned drivers. Sonya had told me that she wasn’t working on the following Monday and that I should expect a call back from one of her work mates on Monday morning.
By 3pm the following Monday I had not had the return call I had been promised. I wended my way through the Vodafone IVR again and ended up speaking to Valencia again. She got me through to Heath in the Tasmanian contact centre. Heath put a lot of effort into troubleshooting and resolving the problems. He had me put Windows 7 into test mode so that it would accept the unsigned drivers. Hardly a satisfactory solution but hey, I’m prepared to try anything at this stage. Unfortunately the solution didn’t resolve the fault. After a reboot and reinstall of the software the same problems persisted. Heaths conclusion at this stage was that a reinstall of Windows 7 was the only way to go.
During the course of the call I had been poking a lot of fun at the reliability and quality of the Huawei brand of equipment and software. Heath was careful to not make any comments about my fun at the expense of Huawei.
I spent a few hours the next day gathering all the CDs and DVDs I would need to complete the reinstall. The day after that I completed my backups and reinstalled Windows. Once the base OS was installed and patched and the vendor drivers were all updated I installed the Vodafone dongle and Vodafone Mobile Connect software that comes with the key (not the CD in the box). Success! Worked first time, no errors, no faults.
From this point I ran through my software installation and patching. Once I had all my tools and apps installed I connected the USB dongle again and it failed to show in Device Manager, only one of its devices showed up. A few reboots and more testing later and my problem had returned. I was not impressed BUT at least I knew now that the cause was something I had installed.
I had a look through the list of installed applications and decided to start troubleshooting by uninstalling all the applications which had a driver component. First one to go was Daemon Tools. That didn’t resolve it. The next to uninstall was VMware Workstation 7.1.3. After a reboot I tested the Vodafone dongle again and it was now working fine.
So, having successfully identified the cause of the failure I had a decision to make. Stick with the Vodafone dongle or use VMware workstation. Hardly a pleasant choice since I use both to do my job.
At the moment I’m still using the Vodafone dongle. With all the ongoing problems Vodafone is having in Australia at the moment the company I work for is about to churn to Telstra Nextgen which hopefully wont have this problem.
The only task that remained was to contact Heath in Tasmania again and let him know my findings so that some other poor Vodafone customer wouldn’t have to suffer my fate. I contacted 1555 again, wended my way through their IVR and ended up speaking to Suraj who, on the quality Vodafone VoiP connected to sunny India, I was sure was telling me his name was Sewerage. I gave Suraj the case number and he tells me that he needs my mobile number and account password to access my history because he cannot use a case number to look up a customers history. I describe the case to him in a nutshell and request connection to the Tasmanian call centre and he tells me that Vodafone doesnt have any call centres in Australia.
At this stage I’m pretty unhappy. I’m going out of my way to help Vodafone and they are giving me the run around. I push on Suraj a little harder and after about 5 minutes on hold I’m talking to Heath. Heath laughs when I explain what just happened. I relay my findings to Heath who expresses gratitude and assures me the notes are going to his supervisor for further action internally.
So, what did I learn from this exercise?
– The software that Vodafone provides with the USB key package on CD isn’t the best software to use.
– Huawei USB keys don’t have a fantastic reputation for reliability and I suspect Vodafone knows this.
– Level 1 Vodafone support/customer service need substantially more training, particularly about what countries do in fact have call centres.
– The software that Huawei provide Vodafone is not compatible with VMware Workstation 7.1.X.
I’m glad that this exercise is over and I’m also glad that my employer has decided to ditch Vodafone as seems to be somewhat of a theme going on in Australia at the moment.