Telstra caught vote-rigging!

Telstra has confessed that a ZDNet Australia survey which questions whether the telco's Internet service provides value for money was rigged by someone within its ranks, just days after its ramped up Net access toll fell under the investigation of the competition watchdog for possible breaches of the Trade Practices Act.

The full article is here

ZDNet Australia set up a poll at 3pm on Thursday, which asked readers: Does Telstras BigPond Internet service provide value for money? At about 5pm, 25 respondents to the poll said no, value for money wasnt provided by the national carrier, with just one reader saying otherwise.

Within half an hour, the survey had bulked up dramatically, sparking a disbelieving turnaround in Telstras favour. Within those thirty minutes, a massive 287 respondents had apparently logged a favourable vote for Telstra a response rate never seen before in previous ZDNet Australia polls and a bit of a dubious blackflip in light of the widespread criticism Telstra has attracted in response its Net price hikes.

ZDNet Australia logs showed that a "bot" on IP address, registered to Telstras Internet Managed Services (IMS) division, had indeed been set to fix the survey results and consistently hit the yes option of the poll every second.

When contacted, Telstra confirmed that an in-house IP address was responsible for the surge in its favourable results and said it was doing some further investigation, presumably to locate the poll-rigging culprit within its ranks. Spokesperson Stuart Gray said such behaviour is not sanctioned by Telstra. Its not a Telstra endorsed initiative, he said.

The poll fixing comes just weeks after it was revealed that Microsoft had rigged a similar ZDNet UK poll, putting .Net in a more positive light than Java for building Web services.

This weeks suspicious result did not escape the notice of ZDNet Australia readers themselves.

Did Telstra do a Microsoft? reader John Butler asked after viewing the poll results. I just voted No to the question does Telstra's BigPond Internet service provide value for money? To my absolute astonishment the poll showed that 87 percent think so. As this is of course an absurd result, I cannot exclude the possibility that Telstra does manipulate opinion polls.

With the integrity of the survey obviously corrupted, the poll was removed at 10am Friday and replaced with another asking: Should Telstra compensate its customers for regular service interruptions? Obviously on a roll, Telstras insider poll-rigger got to work again, setting the "bot" into motion and registering hundreds of votes in Telstra's favour after early responses had been squarely aimed against the telecommunications giant

"The results of the voting here are totally unbelievable and obviously....telstra have been manipulating it," another ZDNet Australia reader said of the second poll's suspicious results.

"No way would anyone who has been keeping an eye on ZDNet's coverage of complaints against Telstra and stories of outages say clients and residential users do not deserve credits or even compensatoin within reasonable boundaries for business."

That poll has also now been replaced.

(Published on 26-Jan-2002 14:18 by RossW, read 184 times)
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