Telstra: The Vortex of Incompetence



  • I recently moved to Australia. A country infamous for deadly things and internet that sucks. Surprisingly it doesn't exactly suck in the way I expected. I was prepared for slow speeds, outages and outrageous prices. I wasn't quite ready to deal with Telstra though...

    For those unaware Telstra is the communications behemoth here. It used to be government-owned but it is now fully privatized, similar to BT in the UK. And Telstra fucking sucks!

    Allow me to take you on a guided tour of me desperately trying to give Telstra money for something resembling an internet connection. This is rather long so strap in...

    Day 1, Saturday

    I call them up. After making my way through the phone menu which seemed like it was infinitely deep I finally reach a human being. Some guy, I don't remember his name but for the sake of it let's call him Dave. Surprisingly he sounded Australian, I was expecting to dial in India or something. Hell, maybe he was just really good at faking his accent.

    In any case I explained to him my outrageous request: Internet at the place I'm moving in to on Tuesday. No contract lock-in (I'd rather pay A$120 fee up-front than the early termination fee on a 2 year contract).

    First problem: Remember when I said I just moved to Australia? As a non-citizen I don't have any Australian ID. Dave has to discuss this with his supervisor.

    After about 15 minutes of on-hold music torture he reappears. Apparently the problem is that due to a lack of ID they can't perform a credit check. This is a super-complex issue that his boss cannot solve either. More bosses and departments need to be involved. Back on hold...

    30 more minutes later, we have a solution! To put their mind at ease credit-wise, all I have to do is pay A$100 up-front which will go towards my first bill payment. OK, that's fair enough.

    Sadly it doesn't take long to hit another roadblock...

    Second problem: Despite the house being empty there is still an active line here. The previous tenants didn't get it disconnected. Thanks to that I will have to email a proof of occupancy to the Proof of Documents department. I explain that I won't be signing the lease until Tuesday. Dave says it's not a problem, the process will simply be on hold until I do provide the proof. He informs me that an "interaction number" will be emailed to me in case I have any problems and get need to get back in touch. I thank him and he asks me to stay on the line to complete a satisfaction survey...

    In a number from 0 to 9, how would you rate your Telstra interaction experience?
    I mean it took a while but we got it sorted in the end: 7

    In a number from 0 to 9, how likely would you be to recommend Telstra to your friends and family?
    No real opinion yet: 5

    Total estimated time on the phone: 3 hours

    Side note
    In the meantime I have developed a seething hatred for the previous tenants.

    When inspecting the place I have neglected to check the AC filter and the oven in detail. That was a mistake because I have never seen this much grease in my life. They must have been organizing some deep-fried parties here or something...

    I had to get a special oven cleaner that I'm pretty sure would be classed as a chemical weapon in the EU to remove the solid 5mm of grease from the oven.

    The AC filter had to be soaked in an entire bottle of a dish washing liquid overnight (yes, I should have used something more powerful but that was all I had at the time and I underestimated just how much clogged up the thing was...).

    They also haven't bothered setting up mail forwarding so I'm still getting their mail. Given the nature of the mail I suspect this was rather intentional on their part though. I haven't opened any of it but it's clear they are overdue bills. After RTSing a few loads the bills have stopped coming but have been replaced by nondescript white envelopes from various courts. I hope the bogans get their asses debt-collected.

    Anyway, let's get back on topic...

    Day 2, Sunday

    I get my electricity and gas sorted out. It takes less than an hour and my non-Aussie passport was a perfectly valid form of ID here (as it was for the bank).

    Remember the email Dave was supposed to send with the "interaction number"? Yeah, he never did do that... There is also no trace of that A$100 proof-of-credit on my card. Instead there is just a blocking charge of A$1. But I'm sure it'll work itself out!

    Day 3, Monday

    I get a text message along those lines in the morning:
    Hi from Telstra. There is a credit issue with your account, call us on 123456.

    I call the number. An automated system asks me to type in my phone number. Except I don't have one yet... Luckily it gives up after a minute and puts me through to some lady.

    I do actually remember her name (though it may as well be fake for all I know) I don't want to single her out. So let's call her Michelle.

    Michelle also demands a phone number. I tell her I don't have one. I don't have an order number either because Dave couldn't be bothered emailing me anything.

    She explains that this is the Accounting department and that I called the wrong number then. I tell her I simply followed the instructions they have texted me and that I would like to know what this "credit issue" is.

    Cue 30 minutes on hold...

    She's back, apparently the order is on hold until I provide a proof of occupancy. OK, as expected but what's this "credit issue" I was texted about then?

    On hold for 10 more minutes.

    She gets back to me with the revelation that she simply has no idea. As far as she can see everything is OK, I just need to provide the proof of occupancy.

    Survey time!

    In a number from 0 to 9, how would you rate your Telstra interaction experience?
    This is getting annoying: 5

    In a number from 0 to 9, how likely would you be to recommend Telstra to your friends and family?
    I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this company... 3

    Total estimated time on the phone: 5 hours

    Side note: Michelle does actually send me the interaction number.

    Day 4, Tuesday

    The lease has been signed. I scan it and mail it to Telstra.

    Day 7, Friday

    No news from Telstra. I'm getting impatient, especially because I will be away on business all next week so I ring them up to check up on the order.

    Phone menu, annoying music, "Hi, this is Julia"... I ask what the state of my order is.

    Julia: "Oh, it was cancelled."
    Me: ""WHAT?! I called you on Monday and I was told it was just waiting on the proof of occupancy!"
    Julia: "Oh, let me check."

    On hold for 15 minutes...

    Julia: "No, it was definitely cancelled because you didn't provide a proof of occupancy."
    Me: "But I sent it Tuesday evening!"
    Julia: "Sorry, you'll have to make another order."

    FML... Fine. So we go through all the motions again. "Telstra Large Broadband bundle please. No contract lock-in please. Unit 15 25 Some Street."

    And guess what, my ID is a problem once more. I tell her we've already been through this once and the solution is to pay A$100 up-front. Still, she's gotta check with the Credit department (I briefly wonder whether Telstra has an Ass-wiping department too).

    Sigh, on hold for 15 minutes. At this point I catch myself humming the shitty on-hold music. I start worrying for my mental health...

    "Yes, this is Julia, I'm still here."... Situation: Julia is on hold with the Credit department who are on hold with Fuck-Knows-What department (at this point I'm sure they have an Ass-wiping department). "Kindly stay on the line please."

    On hold. 15 more minutes. Call drops.

    Total estimated time on the phone: 6.5 hours

    My coworkers start to wonder why I am desperately looking for something sharp to cut my wrists with. I explain my predicament.

    A Telstra-savvy coworker reveals the secret: Call the Complaints department - the only department that is actually competent.

    I suspect it's not necessarily because people in the other departments are idiots as it is with your average department having to consult 55 other departments before they are allowed to flush the toilet. The Complaints department will have a little bit more cloud in this regard. After all, they are here to protect the company from the word that causes absolute terror: the ombudsman.

    They are so shit-scared of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman that when you google "telecommunications industry ombudsman" you get this:

    So equipped with this knowledge I call them up again.

    Apparently the best way to get through to them is to keep saying "complaint". The problem is that the system fights it!

    Welcome to...
    Complaint!
    Sorry, I didn't...
    Complaint!
    Please select one of...
    Complaint!
    If you are calling...
    Complaint!
    Please enter the...
    Complaint!
    Please wait while we connect your call.

    KL: "Complaints department, this is KL, how can I help you?" a woman asks.
    Me: "Hi, I have spent 8 hours on the phone with your company and I feel like we got absolutely nowhere! I This has honestly been the worst experience in my life!," I answer.
    KL: "I am very sorry sir, are you an existing customer?"
    Me: "No, I am trying to become one."

    I explain further my issue. She again says how sorry she is and that she will look into it. After I give her my details she finds the order put in by Julia and finally gives me a bloody order number.

    KL: "So just to verify, it is Telstra Large Broadband, 24-month plan?"
    Me: "No, month-to-month!"

    I think KL can somehow sense just how royally pissed off I am and tells me that they will keep it a 24-month contract but waive the early termination fee should there be one. This means I also don't have to pay the A$130 for the casual plan fee. Hurrah, at least some good news! As this went on I realized it was a rather poor compensation though...

    But now for some good news/bad news. The good news is I no longer need to provide a proof of occupancy. The bad news is that I no longer need to do that because suddenly no phone line exists at this property. It just up and vanished. And I will have to pay 200 bucks to have one installed.

    I find this super odd and inquire as to why I was then asked on two separate occasions to provide a proof of occupancy, why am I getting Telstra bills for the previous tenant and whether the phone socket in the wall is just for decorative purposes.

    KL says she will look into it and call me back! Holy shit, it's like we finally found somebody who realizes I have something better to do than spend hours listening to the same three shitty depressingly uplifting songs that permanently infect your brain. Fuck, even just writing this I started whistling one of them! And it was weeks since I last heard it!

    Total estimated time on the phone: 7.5 hours

    In any case, she calls me 15 minutes later. 15 minutes I actually spent working! I also learn that she's my case manager which makes me feel surprisingly happy.

    So guess what, remember when I said my address was Unit 15 25 Some Street? Julia put that in as just 25 Some Street. Well that explains a lot...

    So with the address corrected we're back to having a line but still being signed up to the previous tenant. We need the proof of occupancy again. I tell her I already emailed it to them on Tuesday. She tells me it's not on the record.

    Unfortunately this is where she runs out of competencies and the Proof of Documentation department needs to be called. Time to play a game of Chinese whispers again... Or maybe not, KL employs some real wizardry and creates a teleconference between me, her and some guy at the POD department.

    This guy has a ridiculously thick Indian accent. So far I've been dealing with people who either Australian or very good at holding back their accent (Julia). I don't remember what his name was but he had such a stereotypical accent it must have been Raj.

    Raj: "Yes sirrrr, I can seeeee it on our rrrrecooords. But you have to call us on 123456 from the connected line so we can cancel it."

    OK, so I guess they don't even know what line is connected? (I seriously hope they do and are just making sure they don't cut off the wrong person).

    KL thanks him and he hangs up. Unfortunately this is where the wizardry turns against her. As soon as he does that the teleconference is hijacked by the bloody automated "rate your Telstra experience" crap!

    In a number from 0 to 9, how would you rate your Telstra interaction experience?
    KL: "Hello? Deadfa..."

    In a number from 0 to 9, how would you rate your Telstra interaction experience?
    KL: "...can you..."

    In a number from 0 to 9, how would you rate your Telstra interaction experience?
    KL: "I'll call you...

    In a number from 0 to 9, how would you rate your Telstra interaction experience?
    KL: "..back"

    Total estimated time on the phone: 8.5 hours

    KL calls back a minute later. We have a bit of a chuckle over this rate your experience thing but get back to business. She asks me when I can call the number Raj gave me. I tell her at 6pm because I won't be able to leave work earlier than that (may have to do something with being on the phone with Telstra all week instead of working).

    She sounds surprised (I guess she figured I would have been fired by now) and tells me that she won't be at work until Monday at which point she'll call to check up on me. I tell her that I'll be away on a business trip so it may be a bit difficult to reach me and we hang up.

    Total estimated time on the phone: 9 hours

    I am finally about to leave work when I get a text message:

    Dear JIN CHENG, please connect the phone socket of your new premises and call 123456 with the ref #987654321. Thank you for being with Telstra!

    Well, thanks for the reminder but my name is not Jin fucking Cheng! In fact it couldn't be any more different!

    As I drive back I briefly consider just smashing the car into a tree and ending this madness...

    After getting home I plug in the borrowed phone (yeah, I had to actually borrow a handset from a coworker) and call the number. Some guy with slightly-less pronounced Indian accent answers. I give him my order number and he tells me everything should be sorted out.

    I ask him why I just got a text message that called me Jin Cheng. He has no idea... I am starting to see a pattern here. Telstra's text messaging system clearly works on a completely different plane of existence.

    Total estimated time on the phone: 9.5 hours

    Day 10, Monday

    KL calls me in the morning and tells me that everything should be connected by Thursday. That seems like a rather long time but I'm away from home all week so whatever, as long as it's done by Sunday it's all fine by me.

    Total estimated time on the phone: 9.75 hours

    Day 11, Tuesday

    KL calls again, apparently the Disconnection department is having some issues with doing their fucking jobthe disconnection. For some reason they couldn't even explain to her they won't be able to disconnect the line until Monday. GRRRR and here I was hoping to return to a working internet, silly me...

    Total estimated time on the phone: 10 hours

    Day 17, Monday

    Another call from KL in the morning. Good news, all is set! The line will be disconnected and all I have to do is call the BigPond connection department from the home line. Yay!

    I get home, all excited. Pick up the phone, dial the number. A guy picks up and I give him all the details.

    Guy: "I'm sorry sir, but it's showing you have two orders here."
    Me: "Yes, but only one of them should be active, the other was cancelled"
    Guy: *Type* *Type* *Type* "Oh yes, I see now"
    Guy: "Hm, but I see there are two active lines at the premises. I cannot activate the internet until you get one of them disconnected. You have to call the Proof of Documentation department and.."
    Me: "But I already did! My case manager, KL, called this morning and confirmed it would be disconnected!"
    Guy: "I'm sorry but I can't do anything until it is disconnected. Let me see if I can find the number for your case manager here."
    Guy: *Type* *Type* *Type*
    Guy: "I'm sorry, I don't see her number anywhere here."
    Me: "That's OK, thanks, I'll use one of those emails to request she gets in touch with me.

    I hang up.

    Total estimated time on the phone: 10.5 hours

    Luckily my coworker works down the street and when the stars are aligned properly I catch a whiff of his WiFi from my bedroom. If it weren't for that I'd be much more upset. This allows me to get to my email inbox to find one of those emails they send you (unless they can't be bothered, right Dave?) with a link you can click to request a callback. In every single call I had with KL she recited this piece of script:

    Please call me, I will call you. If you need to reach me please use the link in the email to request a callback and I will get back to you.

    I find the most recent email from KL and click on the link.

    Please Wait...

    A minute later...

    Sorry, we couldn't request the callback. Please call customer support.

    I try every single other email from her with the same damned result.

    Fine, whatever, it's late anyway so I'll try it in the morning.

    Day 18, Tuesday

    Try emails again, same bloody error.

    Alright, let's contact "customer support" then...

    Complaint! Complaint! Complaint! Complaint! Complaint! Complaint!

    Some other lady picks up, let's say Teresa. So of course I have to explain in great detail every single damned thing once again.

    Teresa: "OK, I will look into it and call you back."

    Total estimated time on the phone: 11 hours

    30 minutes later she calls back..

    Teresa: "Everything should be fine sir, I called the Activation department and they were able to activate it."
    Me: "Was that the same BigPond activation department I called yesterday where they told me the internet could not be activated?"
    Teresa: "Yes."
    Me: "So why couldn't they activate it then?"
    Teresa: "The system probably wasn't updated yet."
    Me: "OK, great. thanks..."

    Total estimated time on the phone: 11.25 hours

    And that was it! Now I finally have internet! Except for a minor incident...

    Day 41, Thursday

    It's evening, my phone rings.

    Me: "Hello?"
    Ramesh: "Hi, this Ramesh from Telstra, I'm calling about your order."
    Me: "What order?!"
    Ramesh: "You have a pending order here."
    Me: "I didn't place any order."
    Ramesh: "Sir, we need information so we can connect your line!"
    Me: "I already have a line and I'm perfectly happy with how it is connected! Please just don't do anything with it!"
    Ramesh: "The order here says you are waiting for a line to be connected."
    Me: "Oh hang on, I know, it's for 25 Some Street, right?"
    Ramesh: "Yes."
    Me: "That order is for the wrong address, it was supposed to be cancelled."
    Ramesh: "OK sir, I will cancel it then."
    Me: "Please I beg you just don't touch my current line!"

    Total estimated time on the phone: 11.5 hours

    I'm still connected so hey, I guess they did leave it alone in the end!



  • I'm getting my internet through AT&T U-Verse, but the bill goes to MilwaukeePC for some contrived reason. That means we don't actually have an AT&T account. So when we need them to fix something, we need to call MilwaukeePC, then have them call AT&T and get back to us.



  • @Deadfast said:

    tells me that they will keep it a 24-month contract but waive the early termination fee should there be one

    HA HA HA HA HA

    Yeah, no. Good luck getting that to happen.



  • @Deadfast said:

    Some other lady picks up, let's say Teresa. So of course I have to explain in great detail every single damned thing once again.

    Yep. This is an absolutely typical Telstra experience. Believe it or not, Australia's largest communications provider doesn't have an issue tracking system with anything resembling a proper ticket number.

    @Deadfast said:

    I'm still connected so hey, I guess they did leave it alone in the end!

    Sucker.

    (eagerly awaiting the followup WTF after @Deadfast's first encounter with Telstra's billing system)



  • @flabdablet said:

    (eagerly awaiting the followup WTF after @Deadfast's first encounter with Telstra's billing system)

    I already encountered it. Other than the $1.50 credit card processing fee the fuckers neglected to mention there was surprisingly nothing too alarming, other than the price of course.



  • They have not yet begun to bill.

    Edit:

    @Deadfast said:

    other than the price of course

    Seriously, now that you've actually gone through the pain of getting an ADSL service operational at your house, you really would be better off shopping around for a different provider and doing a rapid transfer aka churn from Bigpond to almost anybody else.

    Because they have no issue tracking, then unless you have a written copy of the contract that specifies otherwise, you will almost certainly find that they will attempt to ding you for early termination of your 24 month contract and you'll need to spend more hours on the phone to sort that out. The sooner you do it, the less time you'll waste on it.

    Personally I use Exetel. That's because I'm in a rural village where Telstra has the only DSLAM, and Exetel is one of the few retailers who resell Telstra wholesale ADSL. If you're in a city, your local exchange will almost certainly contain DSLAMs owned by Telstra, Optus, TPG, Internode and probably several others. Optus is almost but not quite as woeful as Telstra on billing and issue tracking, but lots and lots of retailers resell Optus wholesale ADSL at reasonable prices with excellent service. TPG costs bugger-all but their support is not much chop. Internode is rock solid if a little pricey. Have a poke around on whirlpool.net.au and see what's available where you are.



  • Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into it.

    Regarding the price, please keep in mind that I am seriously spoiled from Europe. Unless I can get my 50/50 Mbps unmetered connection for A$60/month back I'll keep right on bitching ;).

    BTW, if you are serious about the lack of a proper ticketing system that would explain a lot...



  • This story has left me wondering why you didn’t, after a few weeks or so of going around in circles, give another company a try. I find it hard to believe this Telstra would literally be only one in the whole country.



  • @Deadfast said:

    if you are serious about the lack of a proper ticketing system

    Never once have I had a Hellstra helldesk person give me an issue reference number. Closest they can ever do is an employee number, which is utterly useless, or a callback link. Retelling the whole saga is SOP when dealing with them.

    @Deadfast said:

    Unless I can get my 50/50 Mbps unmetered connection for A$60/month back I'll keep right on bitching

    You won't get that for at least ten years. You would have been able to get that if the conservative Coalition government hadn't nobbled the previous Labor government's National Broadband Network fibre-to-the-premises project in a blind short-term cost-cutting frenzy to score "responsible economic management" political points.



  • @Gurth said:

    This story has left me wondering why you didn’t, after a few weeks or so of going around in circles, give another company a try.

    It wouldn't have helped because ADSL is all I can get here and the previous tenant kindly left his line connected. So either way the disconnection would have to go through Telstra and I don't believe a third party could get them to do it any faster...

    @flabdablet said:

    Never once have I had a Hellstra helldesk person give me an issue reference number. Closest they can ever do is an employee number, which is utterly useless, or a callback link. Retelling the whole saga is SOP when dealing with them.

    They have the "enquiry reference number" too so that must link to something. But then again, you probably need a cooperation of 63 different departments to access that system.

    @flabdablet said:

    You won't get that for at least ten years. You would have been able to get that if the conservative Coalition government hadn't nobbled the previous Labor government's National Broadband Network fibre-to-the-premises project in a blind short-term cost-cutting frenzy to score "responsible economic management" political points.

    What, you mean fibre-to-the-node is not going to solve all of Australia's internet problems? How preposterous!



  • Why don't you send your tale to the omnibusman? He might enjoy it.



  • My friends used to play a game called Alien Swarm, which had a weapon called a Tesla Cannon.
    After a while, we started calling it the Telstra Cannon because all it did was slow things down and waste your time and ammo.
    I don't know a single one of my friends who has not had a problem with Telstra.



  • Damn, this sounds like my experience with Spain's biggest telcos: Vodafone and Telefonica (a.k.a. Timofonica)

    Everything went fine until I moved. First time with Telefonica, it was in the same building, different apartment.

    "yes sir, everything should be fine"

    No, it was not. They still chase me after I denied to pay 200€ for a service they didn't gave me.

    Same situation with Vodafone, but this time we were moving to another postcode. Funny thing is they had this 4G + DSL router, so they told me I could use 4G while the process happened.

    Well, it didn't and they tried to bill me for a whole month of 4G at 400€ that I denied to pay and also I'm being chased after.

    Now, every time I move out or any one asks I recommend to cancel the service and get a new contract.


  • area_can

    @Deadfast said:

    I think KL can somehow sense just how royally pissed off I am and tells me that they will keep it a 24-month contract but waive the early termination fee should there be one.

    They won't.


  • Fake News

    @bb36e said:

    They won't.

    Nope, if you didn't get it in writing, you be :oral-anal:.



  • @Deadfast said:

    either way the disconnection would have to go through Telstra and I don't believe a third party could get them to do it any faster...

    OTOH, another company might have enough experience navigating Telstra’s waters to be able to get it done (more) quickly. The gamble, of course, is finding out if that’s really the case :) Though I’ve never changed ISPs in over 20 years, AFAIK here in the Netherlands changing to a new ADSL or cable provider shouldn’t usually be more complicated than contacting your new provider of choice and they’ll take care of pretty much everything. Of course, chances are that Australia’s providers aren’t that enlightened.



  • @flabdablet said:

    HA HA HA HA HA

    Yeah, no. Good luck getting that to happen.

    I was going to say, "did you get that in writing?" but then I realized: it doesn't really matter.

    This experience makes Frontier Telecommunications look competent and on-the-ball by comparison. It's actually kind of refreshing to see a country worse than the US at providing broadband.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Why don't you send your tale to the omnibusman? He might enjoy it.

    You totally should.

    When my mom's nursing home tried to screw up by raising rates (despite their contract saying the rates were set for a minimum of 1 year-- they pulled some bullshit where they changed the name of the company then decided all the old contracts didn't apply), just having an ombudsman in the room during the meeting changed the entire environment. My mom didn't want to call him because she was like, "this is way too petty for his time", and I was like, "mom this is EXACTLY WHAT HIS JOB IS" and she called him and basically Blakeyrat was right again.

    Speaking of which, another thing you should do is find their nearest office and physically enter it and sit down with your shit. It's easy to give people the runaround on the phone, much, much harder if you're physically there in a room meeting with the morons face-to-face. Sure it takes a lot of time, but probably less time than 20 hours of phone tag.



  • Main issue with Australia is the way our low population density feeds into the telco market.

    Telstra used to be Telecom Australia, a publicly owned monopoly. As such, its function included providing landline service to as much of this country as practicable. It did a bloody good job of that, even into quite ridiculously remote places.

    When I was a kid, phone line rental cost four fifths of fuck all, local calls were cheap enough not to matter, and long distance was fairly expensive. Telecom Australia cross-subsidized the entire country; people in places that were stupid-expensive to provide with landline service paid the same amount for a home phone connection as everybody in the cities did. Telecom Australia also had a well deserved reputation for prompt, courteous and competent service and quite outstanding engineering. It also made about a billion dollars a year for the Australian taxpayer.

    Then in the early 90s, Telstra got privatized and the Australian domestic telco market was opened to competition, at first from Optus.

    Things I noticed happening fairly soon after that:

    • massive shedding of Telstra engineering staff
    • appearance of insanely irritating advertising from both Telstra and Optus
    • inexorable rise in cost of phone line rental
    • loosening of restrictions on devices that could be connected to phone lines

    Telstra, though trading as a private company, was still obliged to provide universal phone coverage to the entire continent. Optus, and later AAPT and Vodafone and everybody else entering the Australian market, had no such obligation. So all Telstra's competitors cherrypicked the lucrative urban markets and started offering long distance calls at prices that Telstra could simply not make money on. Telstra responded by shedding more engineering staff and more customer service staff. The competitors responded to lowered prevailing expectations about phone company customer service by introducing overseas call centres. Telstra followed suit. And it's been basically downhill, customer service wise, from there.

    Telstra does have a pretty amazing high-speed mobile network in place; the universal service obligation means it pretty much had to. But its internal IT systems are just a dog's breakfast. It's still the biggest telco in Australia, despite its high prices and shitty service, largely on the strength of sheer market inertia.

    The National Broadband Network Corporation got launched in 2009. It was a really ambitious project: the idea was to use public funds to get fibre to the premises in 95% of Australian households, then let retailers compete for selling access to that. But really ambitious also means fiercely expensive, and when the conservative Coalition government came to power it got pretty much gutted. At this rate we'll be lucky to have anything significantly better than ADSL available to most places by 2030.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    another thing you should do is find their nearest office and physically enter it and sit down with your shit.

    Trouble is that the IT systems the physical offices get access to are exactly the same ones the call centre people do, and they work every bit as shittily from the offices as they do over the phone. Seriously, just buying a mobile phone from a Telstra shop involves 45 minutes of watching some poor underpaid schlub get screwed over by their bullshit excuse for CRM. It's truly pathetic.



  • You know when the US broke up the phone monopoly, we immediately created like 4-5 different companies that all had incentives to compete with each other and phone service got significantly better. (For example, party lines finally disappeared.)

    Of course our phone company wasn't really known as being good:

    phone company sketch - we dont care - Tomlin – 01:06
    — Lb

    We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    when the US broke up the phone monopoly, we immediately created like 4-5 different companies that all had incentives to compete with each other and phone service got significantly better.

    That's exactly what I'd expect as the result of breaking up a private monopoly.

    Having lived through the results here of breaking up publicly owned monopolies on water distribution, electricity generation and distribution, and telecommunications, I can tell you for a fact that publicly owned monopolies can work far better than their privatized replacements, even given so-called efficiencies due to competition.

    Depressingly often, it seems, those "efficiencies" are achieved via loss of staff, the result being a bunch of fucking idiots competing with one another for a share of the work that used to be done far more effectively by a single organization with actual Clue.

    The key difference between privately and publicly owned monopolies is that the private ones have the market by the balls and can get away with doing whatever makes them the most money; publicly owned ones typically have a whole bunch of regulatory obligations to comply with, and need to make only just enough to keep them sustainable.



  • @Deadfast said:

    similar to BT in the UK. And Telstra fucking sucks!

    So quite similar to BT, then.



  • @Deadfast said:

    A Telstra-savvy coworker reveals the secret: Call the Complaints department - the only department that is actually competent.

    This applies to pretty much every telco ever. They're the only department that can overrule the several idiocy departments. Either that or find the CEO's email address and send it to them with "complaint" in the subject, where it gets picked up by the CEO complaints team.

    edit: I've said it before (I say it most days at work) and I'll damn well say it again - all telcos are incompetent. All of them.



  • is there a country where the broadband providers aren't either incompetent or scammers?

    i doubt it...



  • @Jarry said:

    is there a country where the broadband providers aren't ... incompetent

    No.



  • That's a perfect example where deregulation was a bad thing. It took a good service company and forced it to be bad.

    As Blakey already pointed out, in the US deregulation was a good thing. It took a bad service company and forced it to improve (somewhat).

    The main difference appears to be:

    @flabdablet said:

    Telstra, though trading as a private company, was still obliged to provide universal phone coverage to the entire continent. Optus, and later AAPT and Vodafone and everybody else entering the Australian market, had no such obligation. So all Telstra's competitors cherrypicked the lucrative urban markets and started offering long distance calls at prices that Telstra could simply not make money on. Telstra responded by shedding more engineering staff and more customer service staff. The competitors responded to lowered prevailing expectations about phone company customer service by introducing overseas call centres. Telstra followed suit. And it's been basically downhill, customer service wise, from there.

    The US demographic wasn't anything like that, so we didn't experience that dwindling spiral of service.

    But even in the US, privatization is not a fix-all for revenue (or service) woes. The Chicago Parking Meter scam is a perfect example. Excerpt:

    … Everyone, I suppose, dislikes parking meters. Chicagoans hate them even more. That’s because Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2008 struck a deal with the investment consortium Chicago Parking Meters LLC, or CPM, that included Morgan Stanley, Allianz Capital Partners and, yes, the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi, to privatize our meters.

    The price of parking—and the intensity of enforcement—skyrocketed. The terms were negotiated in secret. City Council members got two days to study the billion-dollar, seventy-five-year contract before signing off on it. An early estimate from the Chicago inspector general was that the city had sold off its property for about half of what it was worth. Then an alderman said it was worth about four times what the city had been paid. Finally, in 2010, Forbes reported that in fact the city had been underpaid by a factor of ten.

    The deal, you see, is structured like this. Not only does CPM get the money its meters hoover up from the fine upstanding citizens of Chicago. It gets money even if the meters are not used. Each meter has been assigned a “fair market valuation.”If the City takes what is called a “reserve power adverse action”—that can mean anything from removing a meter because it impedes traffic flow, shutting down a street for a block party or discouraging traffic from coming into the city during rush hour—“CPM has the right to trigger an immediate payment for the entire loss of the meter’s fair market value over the entire life of the seventy-five-year agreement.”

    Everyone in Chicago went :wtf:, but no one was held accountable.



  • @Gurth said:

    AFAIK here in the Netherlands changing to a new ADSL or cable provider shouldn’t usually be more complicated than contacting your new provider of choice and they’ll take care of pretty much everything.

    Yes, but that is because the operators were forced to do so by the telecommunications watchdog (OPTA, nowadays ACM).



  • @AlexMedia said:

    changing to a new ADSL or cable provider shouldn’t usually be more complicated than contacting your new provider of choice and they’ll take care of pretty much everything.

    That's how it is in Australia as well, unless the new provider is Telstra. It's supposed to work that way with them as well, but because their internal IT systems FUCKING SUCK, it rarely does.



  • @Deadfast said:

    ...they will keep it a 24-month contract but waive the early termination fee should there be one.

    Let me get this straight: you went through 41 days of hell, during which Telstra proved they couldn't remember your address for thirty seconds...and you expect them to remember this for 2 years?

    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:



  • You forgot to mention the lack of separation between Telstra Wholesale and Telstra Retail.

    Basically, Telstra is required by law to wholesale access to their lines to other ADSL/Phone providers, while their retail side competes with them.

    They got caught out years ago providing priority access to their retail arm to their scarce ADSL ports, denying wholesale access.

    At least wholesale ADSL prices were reduced by the govt by 10% this week. Telstra wanted an increase.



  • It would still make sense for providers to want to make switching to them easy — but at the same time more difficult to switch away from them. I suppose you would need rules imposed from above to make sure they didn’t try to stall their competitors’ attempts to cancel the subscription of someone who just switched.



  • When Telstra were still in NZ (before Vodafone bought them) I tried going into one of their centres to have a face-to-face meeting with them. Even though there was 4 floors of call centre staff that you could see from outside, the receptionist claimed that no one here could help me with my problem, and sat me down on one of their entry foyer couches and gave me a phone so that I could call their standard support number. The best bit was that the call center staff recognised the caller ID and laughed that I was in the same building :|


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mratt said:

    You forgot to mention the lack of separation between Telstra Wholesale and Telstra Retail.

    And that is the key regulatory fuck-up that screwed the pooch. We made the same mistake with BT in the UK, and it hurt us for years, but eventually the politicians and the regulator grew a pair and forced it down the telco's throat. It was definitely for the best, and it was intensely resisted so don't expect Telstra to be happy about it if you guys decide to sort it out.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Eldelshell said:

    Vodafone

    That's a company I currently refuse to do anything with at all over their billing practices. If they bought some company that I'd had a long and happy relationship with, I'd consider that to be an entirely reasonable cause for immediate termination of the contract. May they die in the fire of ten thousand hells wreaked by demons wielding four hundred and thirty-seven foot purple cactus dildos.

    I don't like them very much. ;)



  • @flabdablet said:

    Believe it or not, Australia's largest communications provider doesn't have an issue tracking system with anything resembling a proper ticket number.

    Discourse. It explains all.



  • @dcon said:

    Discourse. It explains all.

    "Hi, it looks like you're really enjoying the discussion with our Telstra tech support but please let other customers have a voice too!"



  • "Your customer support request is too similar to one you've already filed."



  • Wait, I can't find the thread! Where'd it go?


  • BINNED

    Jeffed to the other department. Read more support requests and give out some likes to get access to the CSTL3 categories.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    OK, guys, stop it now, or they might get ideas...


  • Fake News

    "My phone doesn't work!"

    Mobile? That's different.

    CLOSED, DOIN_IT_RONG


  • area_deu

    @lolwhat said:

    "My phone doesn't work!"

    Mobile? That's different.


    :one::zero:/:one::zero:



  • "Your last complaint to us is now over 2 days old. Your complaint will go to the bottom of our list and fail to include anyone previously involved in your complaints.

    Are you sure you want to continue with a new complaint?"



  • I had fun with Telstra a few years back. Not as bad as this, mind.

    Somehow, during the course of my sleep, I managed to use all of my 1GB mobile data allottment, and then some, which would have resulted in a huge bill. So I upgraded the data pack to 2GB, which would have covered it. For some reason, my data usage went down, and all was well with the world.

    Come the next month, I go to downgrade my data pack, and it errors out. Oh well, it's the weekend, I'll try Monday. (I don't know why that would have made a difference but whatever, didn't hurt to try.) So I try Monday and still no go.

    The next day I toddle into the Telstra store and talk to a lovely woman there, who proceeds to spend an hour on the phone and computer trying to sort it out while I sit and play Angry Birds on my phone. In the end, she comes over and says "well they can't put you on the 1GB data pack again, so what we'll do is every month we'll credit you the difference and you can keep the extra data." Well, that's strange that nobody can seem to remove it. But cool! Free data! What's not to love?

    Well, the next bill comes and there's no credit on it for the extra data.

    So off I toddle to the Telstra store again and explain what had happened, and they tell me that they can't automate it, and I'll have to come in every month and get them to apply the credit for me. I think I did that for another month before I gave up because I couldn't be bothered (and didn't have time, I had started a new job that wasn't near the store) to keep going back there.

    Also, when I signed up they put me in the Legacy system and I couldn't sign up for online account services as a result, so I had to get all my bills by post and had limited ways to check my usage during the month. When asked how I could go about being switched to the new system, they said that they couldn't force it and it would just happen one day. It eventually did happen, but why they put me in the old system in the first place is beyond me.

    EDIT: also I've had fun with The Department Of Human Services (what we call Social Security here) where they managed to nuke my entire account. But that's another story.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Douglasac said:

    The Department Of Human Services

    How wonderfully ironic that name is. No service. No humans.



  • I love how their solution to "customers have a typical hold time of two hours or more" was "sack call centre workers".



  • @dkf said:

    @Douglasac said:
    The Department Of Human Services

    How wonderfully ironic that name is. No service. No humans.

    Ironic acronym too: DOHS!



  • @Deadfast said:

    So either way the disconnection would have to go through Telstra

    Not sure if that's true in the case of taking over a line from a previous tenant, it may well be.

    We were on iiNet internet / Telstra phone line combo for years, but after Telstra sent us a letter recently saying "hey we're going to increase your line rental again, haha suckers" we churned the line over to iiNet. Their phone package was a bit cheaper than Telstra's line rental, call rates were a little better, and we got our internet quota doubled for bundling. All I did was ring up iiNet and ask them to put it through, was done a day or two later. And now we never have to deal with Telstra again. :rainbow: :sunflower: :why-is-there-no-unicorn-emoji:

    Also, everything @flabdablet said about the history of Telstra.



  • The sad thing? BT still manages to dig themselves a deeper hole than this.

    Some years ago, I wanted to switch my office line (one line, PSTN + ADSL: about as simple as it gets while still having broadband) to a new tariff. Nothing technical changing, just moving from one charging arrangement to another. Nice and simple, couldn't possibly screw that up without special training, right?

    A few days later, the phoneline goes dead. No dialtone. Broadband still working fine though. So, I phone Faults.

    "It's been shut off, because there's a Cease order on the line."
    "No there isn't."
    "Yes th- oh. Whoops. It's a cease & reprovide [BT-speak for removing a service from one package and putting it on another], but the reprovide bit got missed so they actually ceased it. You'll need to order a replacement phoneline."

    A few days later, the broadband bit went dead too. Then we received hundreds of pounds of bills for early termination fees. Then they sent an engineer to the building next door to install the "new" line, since they'd auto-incorrected the address to be the wrong building. (They inserted a 1 in the street, spotted that there was a company at that address and inserted that company name too, rendering it totally wrong.)

    After a few weeks, I gave up on SOP and called an unlisted number in Regulatory who had root-like powers over everything. He put me on hold while he called the exchange (fortunately, this is a large exchange which actually has staff based in the building) and ordered an emergency re-patch to reinstate dialtone immediately, and data service that evening when the router was reloaded, and waved a magic wand to cancel off all the various bills, plus a hefty service credit to compensate for the mess.


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