Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair



  • As you may well know, I have a bit of history with Telstra, Australia's largest telco.

    With NBN finally coming to my area, the chance to ditch Telstra offered itself. I took it the second I could. I called them and told them to go fuck themselvescancel my service. I thought I was done with them forever. Ah, how naive!

    See, the problem is that I cancelled the service in the middle of the billing period. This means that Telstra owes me A$64.52. Not a lot of money but if there is one corporation I'd never forgive a single cent to, it's Telstra.

    Few days after I cancelled the service, I get a BPAY bill for -64.59. Yes, MINUS 64.59. Needless to say, I can't exactly pay a negative amount. Plus it's not exactly me that should be paying anything. Is this an attempt by Telstra to issue a refund via a service that doesn't work that way? I call Telstra to inquire as to what exactly is going on. I'm told that a cheque was sent and to wait 14 days for it to be delivered. The fact that in the 21st century anyone would mail cheques is a WTF in itself but whatever. My fault for not making the refund method clear.

    14 days later, no cheque.

    I decide to be all fancy and use their online chat facility to resolve this problem. I tell the chatperson everything and they agree that the situation needs to be remedied immediately and that I should be re-issued the refund. I am informed, however, that this is not something that can be done over the chat, and that somebody will call me ASAP to arrange this. True to their word, I do get a phone call. Unfortunately, as I really should have expected given that this is Telstra, the women on the phone has absolutely no idea why she's calling me! I have to repeat absolutely everything again. Worse yet, this woman has a pretty strong accent and likes to mumble...

    :woman_tone3: Yes sir, I can see the cheque has been sent. You have to wait 14 days for it to arrive.
    :boy_tone2: It has been 15 days already.
    :woman_tone3: ...
    :woman_tone3: Oh, yes, you are right. But the cheque has been sent, which means the account has been settled.
    :boy_tone2: Yes, but I have not received the cheque so as far as I'm concerned, it has not been settled.
    :woman_tone3: I see, unfortunately the system says it's settled so I can't do anything.
    :boy_tone2: I'm sorry, but that's unacceptable.
    :woman_tone3: I will speak with my manager.
    :clock1: :clock1: :clock1:
    :woman_tone3: I have spoken with my manager and since we can see that the cheque has not been cashed, we will send you another cheque.
    :boy_tone2: On no, not again! Please transfer the money to my bank account.
    :woman_tone3: OK. Please tell me your bank details.
    :boy_tone2: hunter1
    :woman_tone3: Thank you, please wait 5-7 days for the funds to arrive. The lodgement number is 987 321.
    :boy_tone2: Thanks, bye.

    Today, 8 days later...

    I wake up. I don't feel very well. I soon establish that my condition is caused by a severe deficiency of $64.59 in my bank account. It's 13 22 00 time!

    I call them up. I'm talking with another woman. This one at least speaks clearly. I'm told that she can see both refunds and that, given the problems, she will escalate the case to the "Refund Department". I am told that they will call me back within 3 business days to discuss this problem.

    I should note that last two times I called, I did not receive the usual email with the interaction number. I don't like this. Makes things harder should I ever need to escalate this. I ask her for the number and she provides it. We say goodbyes and that's it.

    I quickly realise that nowhere through this whole exchange had she asked me for the phone number the Refund Department can call me on... Are they smart enough to call me back on the phone number I called from? Will they try to call me back on the phone number associated with the service in question, the one that was cancelled and I never even used? Will I have to call the Complaints Department on Thursday? Place your bets!

    Oh, also, remember my Telstra department Bingo from the last time? Well, we have some new fields!
    0_1495346169271_telstra_bingo.png


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    It's 13 22 00 time!

    800-288-2020 should be AT&T Uverse support. I've never had the service myself, but I did work for AT&T. Like, six years ago.



  • I would swallow the 60 dollars loss and just scream at tech support to go fuck themselves and then destroy their equipment in retaliation. But I guess we can't all be reasonable.



  • @cartman82 said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I would swallow the 60 dollars loss and just scream at tech support to go fuck themselves and then destroy their equipment in retaliation. But I guess we can't all be reasonable.

    I don't have any of their equipment. That does remind me of one thing I forgot to mention: when I cancelled the service, Telstra wanted me to pay them for some stupid IPTV box I never received or asked for. It was surprisingly easy to convince them of this.


  • sockdevs

    @cartman82 it's not the monetary amount, it's the principle. Swallowing the loss is what reasonable people do, which is why arses like Telstra can do this.



  • When I cancelled a business service they told me over the phone I'd have a small credit, under $3, so I didn't worry too much about it. Six months later and I got a call on my mobile from a debt collection agency demanding why I didn't pay my ~$60 bill and there was going to be all kinds of repercussions to my credit history and possible legal problems. What?

    Luckily for me when I called Telstra back I actually got a competent person, eventually, and she saw a charge on the account that was in error so I indeed had a credit of $2.something. I guess since it was a business account they actually care. I did have have a phone line at home (HomeLine Budget FTW, just for ADSL) so that credit could be transferred. Looking back, I should have accepted the cheque so I could have framed it.

    Why would they send such a small debt to a collection agency? How much in water time and effort did that small billing error cost everyone? Why didn't Telstra actually send me the bill in the first place?

    I can't wait for NBN at my place for similar reasons to OP. But I'll be on Uncle Rupert's network so time will tell how much the current government has screwed it all up.


  • area_deu

    @Deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I wake up. I don't feel very well. I soon establish that my condition is caused by a severe deficiency of $64.59 in my bank account.

    Upvoted for this line alone XD



  • BTW

    Whirlpool

    I see what you did there.



  • @cartman82 said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    scream at tech support to go fuck themselves and then destroy their equipment in retaliation

    That happened in 2001 when "unlimited" cable and ADSL plans were changed to a 3GB/month cap mid-contact. And overage fees of 20c/MB from memory. With a history of metering problems this could be disastrous.

    Telstra told everyone they had to suck it, until they were advised that they'd have to let anyone who wanted to leave leave without break-contract fees. But you had to return the modem. Lots of stories of people returning ash remains of the Alcatel Speed Touch Home or packing the modem with fish or banana skins. MMM lovely after a week in the post.

    Eventually Telstra saw the light (flickery candle light) and allowed breaking contract while keeping modem. There were actually three get-out-of-jail-free events that year and my group of friends actually had to move so that was convenient. We used that modem with another provider until it died in a thunderstorm, but that is a story for another day.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    BTW

    Whirlpool

    I see what you did there.

    I don't. Am I missing some context?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @masonwheeler said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I don't. Am I missing some context?

    It's the name of the brand that Telstra uses for their service (or something related to it like that).


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Telstra told everyone they had to suck it, until they were advised that they'd have to let anyone who wanted to leave leave without break-contract fees.

    Well, duh. A legal system which would allow one party to completely change the most important parts of a contract without consent from the other party would be pretty fucked up.



  • @masonwheeler said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    BTW

    Whirlpool

    I see what you did there.

    I don't. Am I missing some context?

    Telstra's broadband division used to be called BigPond. I can't take much credit for this however, given that Whirlpool came up with this first ;).



  • @asdf said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    A legal system which would allow one party to completely change the most important parts of a contract without consent from the other party would be pretty fucked up.

    Apparently it was a clause that Telstra could change anything at any time. Of course that was deemed invalid by the consumer watchdog. But we couldn't keep the unlimited downloads for the contract term. It became "accept the 3GB cap or leave". I don't remember exactly what other changes to the contract happened soon after, definitely nothing as drastic as cutting the amount of data you could use by two orders of magnitude (this was 512kbps ADSL and we were doing about 100GB/month, which became 2.9 GB/month for a few months).



  • @Deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I can't take much credit for this however, given that Whirlpool came up with this first .

    I've been a member of that Australian Broadband Users Group since 2001.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Apparently it was a clause that Telstra could change anything at any time.

    Well, contracts can contain a lot of clauses. Whether they're actually valid is another matter. ;)

    I know the legal situation in other countries is different from Germany, where the contents of all kinds of contracts are heavily restricted and subject to interpretation by a judge.* (In fact, German contract law is so restrictive that German companies frequently choose Swiss law for their B2B interactions.) But it's good to know that despite that, other countries also have effective means of protecting customers.

    *Technically, this doesn't always apply; only to contract clauses which have been used at least 3 times and have not been individually negotiated. In practice, however, almost all contracts fulfill those requirements.



  • Holy shit, @flabdablet, you're going to love this one!

    So since nobody called me, nor have I received my money (what a shocker), I called Complaints this morning.

    I was told that the reason nobody from Refunds Department called me is because when the consultant email them a case, they email them back to report on the progress. It is then the consultant who calls the customer to inform them of this progress. The fact that this consultant may not work 24/7 is not a concern, I guess.

    I was then told that the Complaints person has to check with the consultant to see if she had received any emails and that she'd call me back by 5pm today. She also said she's email me the interaction number and the link to get back in touch. Apparently, since I last spoke with Telstra, they have actually gotten worse, as neither of the things she promised to do have happened...

    I'll call them again tomorrow but at this stage I'm starting to wonder whether I get to involve the TIO :).



  • A few years ago when I left Telstra, I was in a similar situation. I was in credit with them (I paid my last bill twice), they said they'd send me a cheque. I promptly forgot about it.

    At the time I was living away from home at uni, so I would occasionally get a text from my Mother saying "oh there's a letter here for you, do you want it posted up". This time, she opened it by accident thinking it was for her and saw that it was a cheque for me from Telstra. Inadvertant mail tampering aside, I said "sure post that one up". I figured that they got confused with my address as I had previously had home as my address with them, but that still didn't explain how they were able to send everything else to me at uni.

    When the cheque arrives to me, and I look at the address on the cheque itself, and am baffled as to how it got delivered at all - they spelt the street wrong so that it only vaguely resembled the actual name and they used the postcode for where I was living at the time instead of the postcode for where they were actually trying to send the letter to.

    Based on this and your experience, I'm going to hazard a guess that there isn't a "Send Cheque" button that they press but some kind of manual process that they do to release the cheque that results in insanity, where they manually type things in and do it badly.

    Also, Australia Post are involved so they'll find new and interesting ways to screw up the simple task of delivering mail.



  • @Douglasac said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Also, Australia Post are involved so they'll find new and interesting ways to screw up the simple task of delivering mail.

    Ah yes, totally. I was very much willing to chalk the lost cheque up to AusPost losing it. I find it difficult to believe that they lost the bank transfer too, though!

    In any case, I called Complaints again today and it looks like it may not have been complaints I reached yesterday at all! Looks like Telstra made it extremely difficult to contact them nowadays - after the utter incompetence displayed yesterday I made the point of asking the woman that answered if she were from Complaints. Turns out she wasn't, she was from Billing! I asked her to transfer me to Complaints which she wouldn't do without first delivering a patronising lesson about how one has to wait 14 days for a cheque to arrive. When I explained to her that a) it has been a month now and b) that it's a bank transfer that I've been waiting for for over a week now, she still wouldn't transfer me. It look threatening to hang up and call the TIO next that finally did it.

    Once I finally reached the Complaints department, I was told that not even they can contact the Refunds Department directly. Apparently they can only email them, but this guy at least (claims to have) emailed the manager. He also finally gave me a case number... He was also the first person to actually ask for the phone number to call me back on!

    I also find the little exchange at the end of the phone calls amusing:
    :fa_phone: On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend Telstra to your friends?
    :boy_tone2: 0
    :fa_phone: Just to confirm, you've rated us zero. Is that correct?
    :boy_tone2: Yes.
    :fa_phone: What's the main reason for giving us this score?
    :boy_tone2: Everything.



  • Would you look at that! Just got a phone call from my "case manager." Turns out they never even tried to wire the money to my bank account! Supposedly they will do so immediately now. Given that this is the first time I actually received the get-back-in-touch email I'm cautiously optimistic that it might actually happen too!


  • BINNED

    @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Why didn't Telstra actually send me the bill in the first place?

    My wife opened a business bank account for a business that didn't end up going anywhere. After a year of no activity, (the first year was free after this fees would apply), the bank got in touch to say that since the account was unused they would close it unless they heard otherwise. Six months later, she got another letter saying they'd tried multiple times to contact her for payment of the £60 she owed.

    Phoning the bank on this occasion resulted in them seeing the mistake and closing the account with nothing due.



  • @Deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Given that this is the first time I actually received the get-back-in-touch email I'm cautiously optimistic that it might actually happen too!

    :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:



  • @Deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I'm cautiously optimistic that it might actually happen too!

    Make sure you sacrifice a chicken and you might just get lucky.



  • Holy shit, it's an early Christmas miracle!

    0_1495881549120_telstra_win.png



  • @Deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    @cartman82 said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I would swallow the 60 dollars loss and just scream at tech support to go fuck themselves and then destroy their equipment in retaliation. But I guess we can't all be reasonable.

    I don't have any of their equipment. That does remind me of one thing I forgot to mention: when I cancelled the service, Telstra wanted me to pay them for some stupid IPTV box I never received or asked for. It was surprisingly easy to convince them of this.

    I remember when I cancelled by Netvigator subscription, the CS staff also said they'll come and collect the cable modem.

    A week later, someone who claims to be their on-site support staff phoned me and said I can keep the cable modem because it's an old model they have no use (I've used their internet services for 6 years before). They'll not send people to collect it. :P



  • @cheong Most providers here don't rent equipment to customers, you either buy a shitty router outright from them or get a free shitty router that you get to keep when you leave.

    Telstra will, though, let you split the payment of their fancy router over 24 months (if you terminate the 24 month plan early you have to pay the remainder owing), but given that for less than the $384 you'd pay for their fancy router you can get an actual decent router from a competent manufacturer, I'd do that if I absolutely had no choice but to use Telstra.



  • Was there still a discrepancy of 7c or was that a typo that carried through?

    Go them for it! On principle!



  • @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Was there still a discrepancy of 7c or was that a typo that carried through?

    That was a typo on my part. It was always 52c.



  • @Douglasac said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Also, Australia Post are involved so they'll find new and interesting ways to screw up the simple task of delivering mail.

    Don't get me started on Australia Post! We constantly get wrong mail, including once to something completely wrong. Name, address, suburb, postcode, state (!) were all wrong. The only common thing was the street number. Even putting it into the postbox, scribbling out the routing barcode and writing "misdelivery" on it got it back. Luckily there was a phone number in the return address so we called them to tell them that they couldn't rely on Australia Post to do their One Job.



  • @Zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Don't get me started on Australia Post!

    I hate Australia Post.

    I use their parcel collect service, so parcels go to the post office and stay there instead of going into a van, the postal worker leaving me a card and the parcel going back there. I figured it's free and cuts out the middleman of the postal worker giving my parcel a tour of the town.

    The main post office down here, without fail, called every parcel a letter and sent me an email saying "this isn't a parcel it's a letter so we'll deliver it to you".

    Despite repeated complaints, pointing out how this was confusing (the first couple sat there for nearly two months as I thought they were actually going to send them to me), and pointing out that they had called both a 5.5 kilo box 50cm by 45cm by 45cm a letter as well as a postpack with the word "PARCEL POST" on it (white text on a red background) letters, they were unwilling or unable to do anything about it. I even threatened to send everything up to that size with a single dollar stamp on it but yet, nothing changed. I confess, I very nearly did try do that to see if that would change their tune.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Douglasac said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I very nearly did try do that to see if that would change their tune.

    Can you do so semi-anonymously?
    Like, drop off a brick-infused box of appropriate size with the single stamp with no return address and the PO box of yourself?

    Or would they then charge you postage for delivery?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Tsaukpaetra said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Can you do so semi-anonymously?
    Like, drop off a brick-infused box of appropriate size with the single stamp with no return address and the PO box of yourself?

    Or would they then charge you postage for delivery?

    Better yet: send it to a prominent local politician's office.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Like, drop off a brick-infused box of appropriate size with the single stamp with no return address and the PO box of yourself?

    Or would they then charge you postage for delivery?

    In that case you reject the package rather than paying for postage. (At least, I assume there is that option in Australia, not just around here.)

    @dkf said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Better yet: send it to a prominent local politician's office.

    The CEO or some other high official of Australia Post might be a good choice too.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    Or would they then charge you postage for delivery?

    They would card me and say "You owe postage".

    But I guess I could reply "How on earth is that possible when 5.5 kilos of box is a letter when this is a mere two kilos!"

    @Gurth said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    In that case you reject the package rather than paying for postage. (At least, I assume there is that option in Australia, not just around here.)

    It is, yes.

    The CEO or some other high official of Australia Post might be a good choice too.

    I was complaining at them on Twitter, and they were ignoring me. I found their CEO's twitter handle and tweeted at him and them and that got their attention pretty quick.

    Didn't fix anything, mind. But they replied!

    (Auspost's soon to be ex-CEO was on a salary of $5.6 million a year. Our Prime Minister is on a measly in comparison $507k, but he's obscenely rich anyway so this salary is probably pocket change to him.)



  • Telstra, you fucking morons... Just got this email:

    0_1497322911211_telstra_fail.png

    So clearly they never sent the cheque in the first place!



  • So I have no intention of cashing this cheque but I figured I should probably call Telstra anyway, since I suspect this fact may not stop them from going after me should they realise their mistake. The complaints guy sent me a callback link so I clicked on that:

    0_1497323859936_telstra_fail2.png

    Sigh...

    Whatever, no way am I going through the whole drama to reach someone competent again, unless I really have to! Should the cheque actually arrive, I might just frame it...



  • I guess I am fortunate in my experience... we used to have our communications split between Telstra for the landline, Optus for mobile, and iiNet for internet. We eventually ditched Telstra in favour of bundling the landline with out internet (the proximate trigger was yet another price rise from Telstra) and that went through smoothly with no problems at all that I can recall.

    Then we switched mobile phone providers and that went through reasonably smoothly; I did have to contact Optus to work out exactly how much I needed to pay on our final bill, and some months later we had to go in to the Optus shop to get them to stop sending my wife a text each month saying "your bill for $0.00 is now available on Optus MyAccount".

    The part that didn't go smoothly was due to my own lack of knowledge. I didn't realise that our kids' phones weren't compatible with the Telstra 3G range (our new provider uses the Telstra network) – in fact I didn't even know that the Telstra and Optus networks used different frequency bands for 3G – and once Telstra switched off their 2G network I needed to buy new phones for them.



  • @Scarlet_Manuka said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    in fact I didn't even know that the Telstra and Optus networks used different frequency bands for 3G

    Am I a massive nerd because I did know this? Also, for a while (post Vodafail: 2010-2015ish) Vodafone used both bands for 3G but have now refarmed the 850 (the "Telstra" band) to 4G leaving only 900 for 3G. They all have 2100 but Telstra's 2100 is very limited.

    My eldest is 7 and I have a SIM for him with his name in phone words, that I use for data, but still not sure when he should get his own phone! I got my first mobile when I was 19 but the world has changed since then.



  • @Zemm We've been buying our kids mobile phones on the day they graduate primary school. Our youngest is frustrated at being the only one without a phone of her own, but we just tell her that she'll have to wait the same amount of time her brother and sister did.



  • Oh for crying out loud...

    0_1498434221949_telstra_fail3.png

    In case it isn't apparent, Telstra just billed me for the amount they finally managed to refund last month.



  • @deadfast so no cheque in the last fortnight? Obviously their system sees two refunds so now it's a big pain to sort it out. Again.


  • :belt_onion:

    @deadfast Reminds me of my run-in with Dish Network.

    I had ordered their first model of built-in-house PVR. It had a UI that was essentially the same as their receivers, designed for recording to VCR. I called to get an RMA and sent it back within the week.

    They refunded to my credit card, then on the next bill charged me for the refund. Cue three months of calling in, explaining the history from the top, getting promised a refund, and no refund.

    Eventually an agent read me some of the history on the ticket. I'd call in, the agent would initiate the refund, and then later a manager would cancel the refund due to "customer already got a refund to their card". Finally got it escalated to someone who figured out receiving didn't credit the return to my account.



  • @zemm said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    @deadfast so no cheque in the last fortnight? Obviously their system sees two refunds so now it's a big pain to sort it out. Again.

    The biggest pain was to actually get a hold of complaints, again... That took about 40 minutes. Highlights of that were:

    • I somehow reached billing again.
    • "To reach complaints, call 13 22 00 and say 'complaint'." That's exactly what I did!
    • "Wait 14 days for the cheque to arrive."
    • Getting put on hold for an obscene amount of time just for the guy to come back and tell me to hold some more.
    • Getting a call from the complaints department while I was still talking to the first guy.

    In any case, once I did actually get through to complaints, it was the same guy from last time. It took him 30 seconds to cancel the erroneous bill.


  • BINNED

    @deadfast I'm awaiting next month's repeat performance with baited breath.

    @deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I did actually get through to complaints, it was the same guy from last time

    Is there only one guy in their complaints department? Might explain why it takes so long to get through to them



  • @jaloopa More likely it's like dealing with O***le support. You have to keep trying until you get in touch with the one person who actually knows what they're doing.



  • @jaloopa said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    @deadfast I'm awaiting next month's repeat performance with baited breath.

    @deadfast said in Telstra: The Inescapable Whirlpool of Crushing Despair:

    I did actually get through to complaints, it was the same guy from last time

    Is there only one guy in their complaints department? Might explain why it takes so long to get through to them

    That makes sense. They probably don't get a lot of complaints, so a single guy to handle the few cases not properly handled by the regular support team should be enough.

    [/sarcasm]



  • Found this in the mail today, brilliant!

    0_1498608411763_telstra_fail.jpg

    I love that the cheque is dated 26 April and yet the postal stamp on the envelope is 21 June...


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