With thanks to Rick from the Young Ones.
Well I have no idea if my threatening Optus got a result, but "Sam" did say they didn't want to lose us. And well they wouldn't since we pay then $75+ a month for our connection.
So here's the story now. Having exchanged my Dick Smith supplied 'does not compute' modem for one that according to Optus does, I reconnected to the net with a DSL-200 D-link. Hooray! Many hats in the air on that one. Giddy I was. Giddy at the thought it was sorted.
Two hours later the top-row-of-the-keyboard dropped out again. For about the 12th time I contacted Optus and got "Sam". Fortunately the 2nd job I logged with Optus was still active and the '72 hours' had expired. So "Sam" contacted the techs. They had allegedly got onto Telstra and would find out what was happening. "Sam" promised to call back and tell me the good oil.
So, here it is. Apparently a big storm hit Canberra over a week ago and damaged the exchange. The boards I connected into had been suffering power fluctuations. When it dropped too low it would drop the connection. Oh not enough that the LEDS on my modem(s) would die, but enough to make the connection unconnectable. It would also mean my modem would go into sleep mode and the only thing that would wake it up would be a complete reboot of my machine.
So it wasn't Optus. It wasn't (allegedly) Dick Smith since the 502T according to Mr Smirky the staffer 'would work great / Optus don't know what they are talking about'. It was Telstra.
I have written back to Optus with my precis of what I understood the error to be according to "Sam". Since Telstra have told Optus the fault will be fixed within 24 hours I will give them until Sunday afternoon. Then, if it's still happening, I will go the full TIO.
And when my Optus account gets near the end of the next period I will switch to a different ISP.
Optus were shit during this ("It's you, not us"). As were Dick Smith ("Yeah, it fully works mate, it's fully supported"). And so were Telstra ("Mysterious power fluctuations").
Suffice to say I am pissed off. Pissed off they labelled the original job last Sunday as "completed" when actually it was a real exchange fault with Telstra. Pissed off they didn't replace my original modem. Pissed off Dick Smith sold me two modems that were fucked (broken disk, fucked splitter box). Pissed off that Telstra's downsizing of the last 'ever since the coalition was in' years has meant less technicians to do things like make the fucking phones work.
Wait a second! That's who to blame! John Howard! Howard sold off Teltra and they arsed the number of techs as a result of fitting a commercial profit system as opposed to the long term service delivery that I am entitled to under the fucking constitution.
So there we have it. Yet another reason to vote against the Liberals.
PS Muchos thanks for the support / suggestions RE ISPs, TIOs etc.