Friday, August 11, 2006

Telstra Suck

Telstra are the worst company I have ever had to deal with in my life. This is not an exaggeration. You have no idea unless you have actually been forced to try and deal with them. Let me give you an example. When I initially signed up for the Wireless Broadband plan I had to choose between time based charges or usage based charges. Because I naively assumed that the speeds quoted by Telstra on all their marketing material would be the sort of speeds one might expect whilst using the service and because they call it BROADBAND, I assumed that about an hour a day should be fine for me. All I want to do is connect check my email and upload to my blog and Flikr. The sad reality is that the speeds that Telstra use to name the plans, like say the 512/64 are just marketing lies as usual. Hey I'm not stupid, I started my own broadband ISP and have been in the IT industry for a long time, but even when I was in Geraldton a Major Regional Centre I could not get anywhere near the  advertised speeds. Yes I know on the back of the marketing materials it has terms and conditions and they quote "Speeds on the Plans are the Theoretical maximum speeds" which is pretty standard. Also lets not confuse reception or signal strength with a crappy company. I am talking about when I am parked under a mobile tower and with 100% full signal strength here. It looks to be like the Telstra network is hopelessly over congested, uploads are nearly always fine, but downloads are completely unreliable and sometimes it takes a minute to download a couple of KB.

So anyway last night I decided I had better check my usage, after trying to talk to someone I gave up and logged onto It took me an hour to register and then be able to view my account, however every time I tried to make a change I get an error message from Telstra about temporary system problems. What I learn was that I need to get off the time based charging ASAP. Drop-outs are very common here, sometimes it takes a few attempts to get a stable connection or just half a dozen re-connects to send that email. Naturally Telstra being the bastards that they are charge you 80cents for every 5 mins block of usage, so if you re-connect 10 times in the space of 5 minutes they charge you $8 for 5 minutes of trying to get onto the Internet. Out here in Exmouth where Telstra SUCK as badly as everywhere else this is really common.

So I check my balance, have a heart attack, and realise that I need to change my plan ASAP. Aside from the fact that its so slow its completely useless, technical problems mean I cannot change anything in my account. So this morning I ring Telstra Customer Support. Straight away the call is answered by a voice recognition system, I hate these, and I love technology that works. To be fair it went something like this and I was actually impressed for a few seconds.

"Welcome to Telstra, to help me direct your call please say a few words describing what you want"

"Mobile, Broadband, Internet, Change, Plan"

"Would you like to change your mobile plan? Please say yes, or no"


Then I get asked for my account number and mobile number and am told I am being put through to a consultant who will help me.

Now I can tell I am being transferred to a call centre in India, the clicks, the second or so delay on the line. I don't care who I am talking to or where as long as they can help me.

After a few minutes an faint delayed female Indian voice greets me. We go through the same details I have already provided once and then she says that she cannot help and needs to transfer me to the Internet department.

Another 5 mins on hold and then I get a recorded message telling me about technical problems and the call is dropped, congestion on their single isdn voip line to New Delhi no doubt.

I woke up this morning hating Telstra, nothing has changed.

I call back again and go through the whole same routine, this time I tell the lady in India that I already rang once before and she tries again to transfer me.
This time I get through to another Indian lady in the Internet Department, Oh no, I cannot help, you need the wireless data people, let me transfer you.

This time I get a guy in India, I am trying hard to remain polite and calm, these people are actually in a worse position than me, they don't just have to deal with Telstra they have to work for Telstra,I pity them,I don't upset them. Very calmly I point out that this is now the 4th person I have spoken to and that I am about 20 mins into another really expensive Telstra phone call to Telstra themselves and going around in circles.
I must have hit the magic button and I get transferred though to a call centre in Australia. I get a pretty miserable sounding lady. I ask to change to a data based plan (data pack) rather than the time based plan as it is killing me, I even proffer a quick summary of my case and reason, just in the hope that someone there might care a little about my plight, not likely at Telstra.
When I signed up I was given a printed Telstra flyer with the plans on it. I have it here. It has a 1GB plan for $59.95/Month with excess charges at 15c per MB. That is the plan I want. The lady tells me there is no such plan, I point out that its on this flyer and the Telstra website, she tells me she is an expert in these plans and she cannot find it on the system. She actually tells me I am best off going back to the shop where I bought the card and asking them to change the plan. I point out this would be a couple of thousand KM round trip for me and I would really rather if she just changed it for me now.
I can tell that she hates her job, I can tell that she hates me, I can tell that she just wants me off the phone as quickly as possible so that she can  keep her AHT' s down and not get hassled by her Team Leader. I can also tell she is about to drop my call and make me go though this all over again, I am scared now. I don't want to spend another hour of my life on hold to Telstra. The only plan she can find is one that costs $99 a month and includes 1GB and excess traffic at 35c a MB. Its daylight robbery of the worst kind, but I have no choice. Perhaps one day I will be able to change to the plan that they are advertising, and that I really want, and get the sort of speeds that they advertise you will get, and be happy with the service. But I seriously doubt it as long as Telstra is Telstra.


I cannot wait to get back to civilisation where my VMC card and Vodafone mobile will work again, Vodafone are the exact opposite of Telstra. They are always polite, helpful and friendly, the people there take ownership of an issue and take pride in resolving it quickly for you. Everyone knows what is going on at the company and when you occasionally get someone who does not know the awnser they are very quick to admit it and either put you though to the correct person or call you back. Now that is customer service.

It looks like light SE at the moment, I'd rather be flying than bitching about Telstra. Why am I still here?

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