Light at the end of the tunnel for Skinny sign ups?

Many partners have been frustrated for the last 12 months about a Skinny Jump sign-up feature that was changed on 25 March 2020 with the launch of the updated Jump service. Up until this time, customers with an existing Skinny mobile account were able to sign up to Jump by adding the Jump modem to their existing account, using the same email address.

This feature was lost when Jump migrated to a new platform in March 2020, and since then Skinny mobile customers have had to set up a new Jump account using a different email address. This was an unintended consequence of the upgraded Jump service.

Well, the good news is that this is going to change again in March 2021. Skinny is launching a smartphone App to simplify the Jump sign-up and top up processes and customers who use this App will be able to use any email they like, including one that they might have used before for a Skinny mobile account.

So, roll on March I hear you say!

Jump modem returns – alert for Auckland Libraries

Philip Miles from Auckland Libraries has alerted me to a problem with one of the modem return forms. This one has been created by the Spark Foundation using ‘tfaforms’ and any forms using this platform have been blocked by the Auckland Council ICT Department. Philip suspects that a phisher might have used this platform to penetrate corporate networks and this could be the reason why it has been blocked.

Philip has asked for this particular form to be unblocked, but is advising the Auckland libraries team to use a device off the Council network in the meantime.

Library staff in other Councils might like to check if this form has also been blocked for them and if so, ask their IT team to unblock. The specific form in question is http://tfaforms.com/4864829

New process for faulty Jump modems implemented yesterday (5 January 2021)

Thank you to Jo Cocker from Te Manawa Library in Massey Auckland, who was the first to discover a glitch with the new faulty modem process that took effect yesterday. The tiny URL for the Faulty Modem form was linking to an old version of the form; needless to say, this has been fixed. But we do appreciate this sort of feedback. As one of our famous Wellington retailers (LV Martin) used to say “It’s the putting right that counts!”.

So, to summarise the new process:

  1. Customers must contact the Skinny Helpdesk Care Team (0800 475 4669) if they suspect their modem is faulty; the Care Team will attempt to resolve the fault remotely, but if they can’t, they will advise the customer to return their faulty modem to a nearby Jump partner and pick up a replacement. The Care team will also initiate an internal Skinny process to de-link the faulty modem from the customer’s account (this means that by the time the customer arrives at a Jump partner to get a replacement modem, the modem will already be de-linked and the customer can use their same email to set up a new Skinny account with the new modem).
  2. For customers who for any reason are unable to visit a Jump partner, e.g. rural location, disability or otherwise house-bound, the Skinny Care Team will log the fault report with DIAA and we will send a return courier bag and replacement modem to them.
  3. When customers turn up with their faulty modem, Jump partners must complete the Faulty Jump Modem Returns form. There is also a link to this form on the Stepping UP website in the drop down Jump menu.
  4. Customers must use the same email address to set up a new Skinny account and they will then be able to transfer any unused credit balance on their old account to their new account. Note that customers can only use the same email address after the faulty modem has been de-linked, which is why this process is now automatically initiated by the Skinny Care Team when the fault is first reported.
  5. There should be no need for partners to email the Skinny Support Team (support-team@skinny.co.nz) to make a request for modem de-linking.
  6. All faulty Jump modems (B315s and B618s) are now to be returned to Telegistics, where efforts will be made to repair them; those that cannot be repaired will be sent to Sims for recycling.
  7. When DIAA receives a completed Faulty Jump Modem Returns form, we will send a pre-addressed courier label to the Jump Partner for sending the modem to Telegistics. Our goal is to send Telegistics courier labels at least weekly, so if you have more than one faulty return in any week, you can box them and send them together (the courier costs of sending 5 or 6 in a box is less than sending a single modem in a satchel).
  8. If partners are holding any B315s for recycling, that you received before 5 January 2021, these can still be sent to Sims for recycling. Please contact us on jump@diaa.nz and we will send you a Sims label.

Any questions or clarifications about the new process, please contact us at jump@diaa.nz

Seniors coming your way to sign up for Jump!

The December edition of the SuperSeniors Newsletter published yesterday has generated a tsunami of interest in Skinny Jump from Seniors throughout New Zealand. Today, our Jump partners have been reporting a spike in interest from seniors in signing up for Jump.

A record number of 57 people signed up for Jump through our partner network today and 30 of these identified as seniors. We welcome this support from The Office for Seniors in helping older New Zealanders discover Jump.

The article in the SuperSeniors Newsletter reads as follows:

For a lot of people cost is a major barrier to having internet access. Skinny is helping more kiwi homes access the digital world through their Skinny Jump low-cost prepaid broadband service.

Skinny Jump specifically focuses on providing service to groups that the Government has identified as being most at risk of digital exclusion, which includes seniors.

Skinny Jump is flexible prepaid broadband: Only $5 for 30GB of data, no contracts or credit checks, and the modem comes free of charge. Just top up as you go. You can get up to a maximum of 150GB every month (and it will only cost you $25).

Skinny Jump is a not-for-profit service and they don’t use your information to promote or sell other products either.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, or you know someone in this position, you can find out the areas where Skinny Jump is available through the Skinny Jump website

You can only sign up for Skinny Jump through one of their local partners that includes public libraries and other community organisations. You can find out about how to contact your local partner and make an appointment to sign up through the Skinny Jump website

Another barrier to using the internet is learning how to use technology. Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA) is one of Skinny’s partners for delivering Skinny Jump and is also one of the Office for Seniors funded providers for delivering digital literacy training for seniors. Their Better Digital Futures programme supports seniors to learn new skills and build confidence with computers and the internet. If you are interested in learning more or know someone you think could benefit from this training, go to their website www.steppingup.nz

A Jump data boost for Summer

To celebrate the end of what has been a difficult year for us all, the Spark Foundation is giving all Jump customers 15GB of free bonus data each month over Summer. This will automatically be applied to customers’ accounts on the first day of each month, commencing on 1 December (today!). This data will not roll over.

So even if your Jump customers have let their accounts lapse, maybe because they had forgotten how to top up or because there are simply too many competing demands on their funds at this time of year, their internet connections will have sprung into life again today. How good is that!

The last 15GB of bonus data will be applied on 1 March 2021. When customers use up their bonus data each month, they can continue to top up their accounts in the normal way.

Jump modem stocktake

Our records indicate that over 1900 modems are being held by 187 Jump delivery partners. We suspect the true number is somewhat less than this, because we are still finding partners who run out of modems without triggering the automatic re-supply process. This can only happen if modems are issued without Profile Forms being completed.

Spark has asked us to review current stock levels so that we can identify any that were issued more than 2 months ago and have not yet been issued. We are considering arranging for modems in this situation to be transferred to a more active partner.

The reason for this is that Spark’s supplies of B315 Huawei modems are now exhausted and from this week, we will be starting to supply B618 modems. But it is important that partners do not issue any B618s until all local stocks of B315’s are exhausted.

During the next four weeks (Monday 23 November to Friday 18 December) we are asking all partners to do a stocktake of modems being held. This involves advising us the IMEI numbers of modems you are holding in stock, awaiting allocation. You may send your stock count at any time during this 4-week period to jump@diaa.nz. Please make sure you tell us the location where the modems are being held. We will reconcile this with our Google records and update accordingly. This will put us in a good position for the start of 2021.

More changes are on the way for Skinny Jump in 2021, so watch this space.

You should never run out of Jump modems but if you do….

We continue to receive requests from partners for more modems and that is fine – remember to use the following email: jump@diaa.nz . But every time we do get a request we ask ourselves why? We have this very efficient system that alerts us when a partner is running low on modems. Each partner has a trigger level that determines when new modems are sent. To make sure you never run out, we set the trigger level to the number of modems that you are typically issuing each week – this means we have a week to get new supplies to you. We know this isn’t perfect and are always happy to receive your individual requests.

The trigger level is set in cell G2 of your Jump register; we remind you what this is every time we ship modems, so do check the next box that arrives. Or if you would like access to your Jump register, please let us know (jump@diaa.nz); this does need to be a gmail address, or an email linked to a gmail address. Many of our partners set up a generic gmail for this purpose that can be used by all staff supporting the Jump programme.

We almost always find though that when we receive an email request it is because some other element of our tracking process is not working. The most common causes are:

Modems have been issued but Jump Profile Forms have not been completed. We totally rely on a form being completed for every modem issued; this allows us to mark up your Jump register, which in turn decreases your stock levels by one. If the form is not completed, we have no way of knowing that the modem has been issued. This generally results in us asking partners to do a stocktake and advise us of the IMEI numbers of the modems they are holding; we can then mark out the others in the Jump register to get things back on track.

There is an unexpected surge in demand for Jump modems. We update the Jump registers every day, but if a partner is holding 6 modems with a trigger level set at 5 and then issues 5 modems in one day, there will be a delay of a few days in getting new supplies. The solution in this case is to increase the trigger level or if partners are able to anticipate the surge, we can help you stock up in advance.

A box of modems has been misplaced. We understand that our partners lead busy lives and often many people are involved in supporting the Jump programme. It is easy for a box to be misplaced – under someone’s desk or in a storeroom. We have records of all modems dispatched, including the courier track and trace details. This includes the name of the person signing for the box of modems when it arrives. We often discover this person is on leave and no-one else knows where the box has been stored. The Jump registers include details of all modem shipments, including the Post Haste tracker code, so it is easy for us or for partners to quickly confirm whether this is a courier issue or a local one.

Modems appear to be faulty during the set up process and are not recorded. It is easy to make mistakes when helping a customer set up their modems and their Skinny accounts and, at times, the most pragmatic thing to do is simply move on to another modem. But is is important to contact the Skinny support team by email (support-team@skinny.co.nz) and make sure the modem is delinked and reset, ready for issue to another customer. If the modem is genuinely faulty and has not been allocated, partners should indicate this by entering ‘faulty’ in column B of the Jump register. This then reduces your stock count by one, as the modem is not available for re-issue. Or if you don’t want to mark up the Register, you can always send us an email with the IMEI number (jump@diaa.nz) and we’ll mark it up for you.

Jump Demo Modems

We encourage all our partners to hold a ‘demo’ modem. This is useful for training new staff as well as explaining to customers what the different lights mean. You can also explain to customers how to connect their digital devices to the modem using WiFi when they get home and power up their Jump modems.

The modems do come with a lot of different codes and numbers on the stickers, so it is good to point out the WiFi Password, which could be on a sticker on the back of the modem or or the bottom. Some customers do get confused by the ‘Admin’ password and try to use this for their WiFi link, so it is good to highlight this during the setup process.

Note WiFi Password is called ‘Password’ on this sticker (not to be confused with ‘Admin’ Password)
Note WiFi Password is called WiFi Key on this sticker

When you power up the Demo modem, it will connect to the Jump network and the clock starts ticking on your initial 30 days 5GB that is pre-loaded. You do not need to top up your account when the initial 30GB expires, but if you wish to use the modem for other purposes, then it is fine to keep topping it up.

Even after the initial 30GB has expired, the Demo modem continues to be useful to explain the various features and the WiFi password.

Are you having to turn Jump customers away?

Many of our partners have reported an increase in the number of Jump applicants that they are having to turn away. My earlier post refers to this. Earlier today, the Spark Foundation team provided a Zoom briefing for partners in the areas most affected – Kaitaia, Whitianga, Coromandel, Huntly, Te Aroha, Greerton Tauranga, Fairfield Hamilton, Otorohanga, Palmerston North, Patea, Shannon, Picton, Kaikoura, Riverton and Otara. Their advice to partners in these areas (referred to as “stop sell” areas) is to remove any Jump promotional posters. We will update the information on the Skinny website about partners in these areas to alert any customers that they might not be able to get service at the moment. The situation is quite fluid and could change from week to week, so if any customers do request service in these areas, it could still be worthwhile doing an address check on the Skinny website. Our advice in my previous post was to ask any customers who do not appear to have coverage to complete our online application form so that we can double check for coverage as well as update our database on areas where there are coverage issues.

Our records are showing a much larger number of partners in areas other than the ones noted above are also having to turn some customers away. This depends very much on the particular cell tower they are connected to and even on the same cell tower, which of the three sectors the household is in (each sector covers 120 degrees – see photo above).

Our advice is the same – always check for coverage using the Skinny Jump address checker and for customers who can’t get service, ask them to complete an online application form. However it is important to manage customer expectations; completing the online application form is unlikely to change anything immediately, but does help us understand where there is demand for Jump. We will be reporting this to the government agencies responsible for broadband infrastructure and hopefully this will influence their investment priorities.

We also send the following message to the applicant:

Thank you for your recent application for a Skinny Jump internet connection. We have double checked coverage at your location and unfortunately, Skinny cannot currently provide wireless broadband service at your address. This may be because of limited network capacity in your area. Skinny wants to make sure that their Skinny Mobile and Skinny Broadband (including Jump) customers get the best service possible and this includes not overloading the cell towers near you. Skinny is constantly adding new capacity to their network, so please try the Jump address checker again in the near future and if you do have coverage please contact your nearest Jump partner again to sign up. We are sorry that we are not able to help you on this occasion.

“Broadband Compare” results can be confusing

Many partners encourage customers to use the Broadband Compare website to look for alternative internet options at their address when the Skinny checker indicates that Jump 4G service is not available. They are then surprised to find that Broadband Compare suggests that Skinny 4G plans are available at their customer’s location. We are seeking clarification from the teams at both Spark and Broadband Compare to understand how frequently the Skinny 4G data is updated, as this could be a possible explanation.