Monday, 28 February 2011

My gripe with Telstra

In Australia it seems that every second person you meet has a gripe about Telstra. Until recently I wasn't one of them. I've never really had any reason to point the finger -- but I'm coming to realise that this may be because I've only been dealing with them for a single straightforward service: my home phone line. Given that I make very few calls or phone plan changes, there's been very little to go wrong.

Since finishing my job, however, my relationship with Telstra has grown more complicated. I've had to transfer my mobile phone service into my name (which turned out to be far simpler than I envisaged) and ditto for my ADSL connection (which is turning out to be far more complicated than I could possibly have imagined . . . as I write this I am once more on the line to technical support. . .)

So, what has gone wrong? The litany of evils is so long I hardly know where to start. And with each new day, it's one step forward, three steps back. It's been going on for three weeks and I've lost count of the number of calls I've made, let alone the number of phone consultants I've spoken to in about five different departments.

I'm not going to painstakingly retell the story here -- partly because it's so complicated I can't remember it properly, and partly because I'm sure it wouldn't be that interesting. But I am going to attempt to summarise all the things that have gone wrong:
1. Double invoicing since August last year, when the account was first transferred into my name (but remained on the 2nd business line into my house). It took an hour on the phone to untangle the twin accounts and figure out the invoicing.
2. Incorrect records on Telstra's part. They have at least three different computer systems with conflicting information. Some of these systems stated (incorrectly) that the ADSL service was already on my home phone line, which made a request to transfer the service to this line confusing from their point of view. So confusing they simply did nothing.
3. When I finally received a call from Telstra stating that the ADSL service had gone onto my home phone line, the entire line ended up dead. This meant I had to wait five days for a service technician to come out to repair the line. (The technician informed me that it had been wired incorrectly at the exchange.)
4. Once my home phone line was up again, still no ADSL service to my modem. Telstra's systems stated that I should have it, so this eventually led to a second call out.
5. Reconfiguration of modem, which took out the existing ADSL service (on the business line).
6. Morons on the end of the phone, who took 20 mins to figure out they didn't know how to reschedule the call-out for a time when I'd actually be home, and said they'd ring me back to confirm a rescheduled time -- which they never did.
7. The second call-out went ahead this morning, despite my attempts to reschedule it, but it seemed I wasn't needed anyway. Received a call from call-out guy number 2 while I was on the tram, stating that he'd fixed my ADSL (once again it was apparently 'wired incorrectly' . . .) and he'd confirmed a signal from my modem. Low and behold, returned home to find ADSL working today! (yay)
8. When I began writing this post, I thought it was all over . . . but no! Received a call from my mother half an hour ago to say that my home phone was now ringing through to some unknown man . . . Back on the phone to Telstra and now we're up to escalation number 3. How long until I have a functional home phone number is anyone's guess.

This has been the nightmare of all nightmares. I will say that 80% of the Telstra consultants have been polite and seemed knowledgeable. The rest have been morons. But the bigger problem is that there are so many phone help desks responsible for specific things, that it's very tempting for the phone consultants to fling you to another department if they don't know how to solve something. I think on one call I spoke to four or five different departments. And then every time I call, I have to speak to different people and explain the situation from the beginning -- AGAIN.

And what's with getting you to type in your phone number into the phone keypad, only to have to repeat this information to the consultant anyway? (I asked one of the consultants this, irritably, and was told it was for security/identification purposes . . . bollocks.) And what's with the stupid voice responses that then get repeated back to you and then you get transferred somewhere else anyway . . .? Aaarrrgh!

Yep, I now have a gripe with Telstra, and it's going to take me a while to get over this one. I have wasted so many hours -- I reckon five or six by now -- ringing or thinking about ringing (not wanting to ring, because I know it's going to blow my afternoon). That company has a lot to answer for. And their share price is crap. No wonder.

And the ordeal still isn't over . . .

UPDATE Monday 7 March:
All seems to be working as of 1 March.
The Age featured this article (very similar story!) on 6 March


  1. Sounds like it is time to switch to another provider :(

  2. Friend of mine had to have her Telstra phone moved to the new address. Done, but at the same time she lost her bigpond connection linked to the phone. She rang to have it fixed, but the answer was - you never had bigpond linked to your phone. They stopped invoicing her for internet, so there was some consistency. So she moved to Optus with her phone and internet. Simple.