Wherefore By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them…

Back in January, I blogged about the fact that my Internet Service Provider, XS4ALL, was going to be swallowed up by its parent company KPN. XS4ALL customers were not happy about this – over 50,000 of them (including me) signed a petition to keep the XS4ALL brand alive.

KPN naturally claimed that we would not notice any change in quality:

“With the focus on the KPN-brand we are going to extend the KPN service with the best elements of the individual brands, such as the highest rated service by XS4ALL, the affordable advantage services of Telfort and the personal service and expert business advice from Yes Telecom”

Well, pardon me for being sceptical, but the words “quality”and “KPN service” have not usually been used in the same sentence, judging by the experience of many of their customers.

And now, I have another piece of evidence of my own to add to that dossier.

Since 2017, to get increased speed alongside the slow ADSL connection of XS4ALL, I have been subscribing to a KPN service: Sneller Internet Buitengebied 4G (faster internet for the countryside 4G). It uses the KPN 4G mobile network to deliver internet connectivity to routers in the home.

There were some problems when I first started using it, web pages would frequently would not load, slow response, and loss of internet connectivity. However, after some discussions in the KPN user forum, the solution was found: the Access Point Name (the gateway between the internet and KPN’s Mobile Network) had to be given as “advancedinternet”. The other APNs were designed for mobile phones, and did not work well with the 4G router supplied by KPN for its Sneller Internet Buitengebied 4G service.

I suppose that I should have heard a bell ringing by the fact that the problem was not solved by KPN staff in the forum, but by other customers. Be that as it may, the problem was solved, and I was a happy bunny.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and all the old problems had returned, even though I was still using the advancedinternet APN. At the same time, customers started complaining on the forum that the port-forwarding function of the service had stopped working. Port-forwarding is necessary for customers who require to connect to their systems remotely – for example to check their security cameras when travelling.

After two days, the forum moderator eventually discovered that KPN had pulled the plug on the advancedinternet APN, and all traffic was now being routed through the basicinternet APN. This had three consequences:

  • Port-forwarding was no longer possible
  • The old problem of web pages not loading, slow response and internet connectivity problems was back – with a vengeance.
  • A speed cap of 30 Mbps download and 15 Mbps upload was imposed.

Forum moderators scrambled, and produced a link (to a hitherto unseen – by the customers – internal KPN document) – a FAQ that stated that port-forwarding was not supported on the service. This despite the fact that it had been happily working since 2017, and despite the fact that the service had been recommended by KPN salespeople to certain customers precisely because it supported port-forwarding.

So two weeks later, we still have a crappy service – for which I am paying €41.50 monthly. The forum moderators tell us that KPN is investigating what can be done – but we knew two years ago that this would happen.

Frankly, I think KPN would rather that we all go to their new 4G service for internet at home. Unfortunately, this requires an ADSL connection supplied by KPN, which many of the existing customers (including me) do not have, and I have no intention of being tied to a year-long contract. I shall just have to put up with KPN’s crappy service until our fibre-optic service arrives in a few month’s time.

As someone said on a forum:

Adjust the subscriptions so that existing customers lose features without informing the customers? The KPN manager who has thought that this would be a good idea urgently needs to be on a customer friendliness course. I will summarize what this manager is going to learn there: for existing customers you keep everything as is, for new customers offer new services. If you want a simple, unambiguous information structure, you make it attractive for existing customers to switch but you do not force them. And you do nothing at all without informing the customers!

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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