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Level 1: Cadet

Breach of contract, telstra not taking calls, change plan, service disconnected, cancelling plan

Hi all

 

I have a mobile plan with Telstra that I believe is called the X-Large plan. The plan expires in Apriil 2021. Pursuant to that plan I pay a base amount of $129 per month and in exchange I recieve 160GB of data along with unlimited calls etc.

 

The reason I have a plan with such a significant data allowance is that at the time I commenced it I was living in a highrise apartment that didn't have functioning internet. The selection of this plan was calculated so that I could ensure I had access to enough high speed internet to cover recreation, work, and mobile usage. This seemed more simple and efficient than for example purchasing a separate Telstra 4G dongle for my home. That said, it took a great deal of consideration before I settled on this as the appropriate course of action, given the cost involved.

 

I purchased the plan in person at the Telstra store in Queen Street, Brisbane CBD, from a friendly young Telstra salesman who I will not name on this forum. I had carried out a lot of reserach and was comfortable with my selection. I only wanted reassurance on one point: that I would be able to CHANGE THE SIZE OF MY PLAN WHEN I NO LONGER REQUIRED THE USE OF THAT MUCH DATA.

 

I knew that I would not remain in my shabby apartment for the 24 month duration of the contract, and I certainly knew I did not want to be tied to such an expensive data plan beyond the point in time that I no longer required the data to support my work and recreational use. I explained my situation in great detail to the young salesman in the Brisbane CBD store. I explained it to him because I wanted certainty that he understood what I needed, and why I needed it, and so that I could rely on any representations that he made to me based on my requirements. He reassured me expressly and repeatedly that I would be able to change my plan (either to decrease it or increase it in size) as often and as extremely as I wanted throughout the contract at no cost whatsoever. I made him repeat this point at least 5 times during our discussion. Reassured, I signed a contract there and then.

 

Fast forward 11 months to the start of March 2020. I finally moved apartments and signed up to a cheap and reliable broadband home internet arrangment. I was excited to cast off the shackles of my oppressively expensive monthly mobile bill. Of course, COVID-19 hit at the same time. Suddenly, Telstra was not taking phone calls in relation to almost every topic (beyond what it classed as urgent - suffice it to say, I've never yet satisfied Telstra's urgency threshhold). I attempted to resolved the issue online and on the Telstra mobile app - both mediums told me that I was not allowed to amend my plan without incurring fees reflective of the cumulative amount left outstanding on my plan (i.e. over $1000). What could I do? The country was in lockdown. Telstra wasn't taking any of my phone calls. I spat the dummy and refused to pay another bill until someone would talk to me. 

 

On Friday last week (19 June 2020) Telstra suddenly cut my mobile service. It was approximately 1.30pm and I was standing on a street in Brisbane's CBD trying to order an Uber when I realised what Telstra had done. It is very difficult to manouvre through life in 2020 without the ability to access internet or make a call. I couldn't even log onto the Telstra website to try to work out what to do. I did the only thing I could. I trekked over to the same Telstra store in which this saga had commenced (Queen Street, Brisbane CBD) and decided it was time to work the sorry business out once and for all.

 

I entered the store and explained to the attendant that my service had been suspended because I had not paid for my last few bills. I explained that I had intentionally not paid them because I had been unable to revise my plan down (as I had been promised that I would be able to) and I could not get into contact with any support people at Telstra to assist (given Telstra was not taking calls of this kind due to the COVID pandemic). I insisted that I needed to get my phone working immediately because I could function without a mobile service (I do not have a home phone and I spend alot of time away from home - being unable to make calls or access the internet is an impossibility for me). I expressed that it was imperative to get the service back online, and that I would, reluctantly, pay any outstanding bill to get reconnected.

 

The friendly sales girl said that if I paid the bill there and then, my service would be immediately restored and she would also be able to revise my plan to a lower amount. She said further that she could help me take steps to be refunded the difference in cost between my current plan and the new, cheaper plan since March 2020 (the time at which I would have revised the plan had I been able to get in touch with anyone).

 

Satisfied, I paid approximately $670 on the spot to the assistant. I did this because the assistant assured me that: (a) my service would be immediately restored; and (b) my phone plan would be reduced.  The assistant had me call a phone number to inform Telstra that I had paid the outstanding bill. I was told on the phone that it could take up to two hours to reconnect the service. I was annoyed about this - I had the impression that the reconnection would be instantaneous. However, I said nothing, wanting simply to be through with the whole experience.

 

The attendant then led me to a seat while she looked at my plan. After some time she informed me that my plan was unable to be revised downward without incurring fees and charges equivalent to the amount outstanding on the plan. I explained that when I entered the plan her colleage had made express reassurances that I would be able to adjust the plan up or down free of charge.  She said there was nothing she could do. I asked to speak to the manager of the store. The manager came over and after a longer period also said there was nothing she could do. She was polite and extremely apologetic. She was horrified that I had been given the assurances I had - but there was nothing she could do for me. She offered to lodge a complaint on my behalf - and did so. She generously remarked that she thought I was handling the incident with courtesy and pertinence (I say that only to highlight that at all times I have treated the people with whom I've dealt from Telstra with respect - often against powerful impulses).

 

I noticed that the service had not yet been reconnected (it had been about an hour since the payment).  I left the store - piggybacking on their WIFI to message a friend to request them to come and pick me up, as without mobile service I could not order and meet up with an Uber.

 

Later that evening I noticed that my service had still not been connected. I called the same number the the Telstra attendant had given me in the store. After about 25 minutes I got through to a young gentleman who informed me that the wait was 24 hours rather than 2 hours. I was incandescent with fury at this point. I had paid a significant sum of money (money I otherwise objected to paying until the resolution of the dispute) because it was the only way to get my service restored. Telstra effectively extorted me to pay it by depriving me of something that people today cannot live without - a phone and mobile service. I paid the $670 on the bases that: (a) I would be immediately reconnected; and (b) that my plan would be revised downward. INSTEAD it turned out I was locked into this plan, and despite paying the bill (in exchange for the assurance I would be immediately reconnected) I would continue to be deprived of the service for 24 hours. 

 

I asked to speak to the person's manager. He put me through. After about 10 minutes I was connected to an Australian girl named "Kate". Kate heard me out, put me on hold, and then the call disconnected. At this point I had been on the phone for about 40 minutes. I am almost certain that she cut the call intentionally because she didn't want to deal with my problem. I was not called back. By that stage I was too drained to call Telstra back either. My whole afternoon had been lost to Telstra - that was sufficient.

 

24 hours later (Saturday afternoon, 20 June 2020) and my service was still not connected. I tried to call the number at least 5 times, but every time I called it I was informed by the familiar voice recording that Telstra could not help me on the phone today, and was automatically disconnected from the call. 

 

It is now Monday afternoon on 22 June 2020 - and I still haven't been reconnected. My opinion of Telstra is now beyond reparation. They, by their agent, induced me into an expensive contract by promising me expressly multiple times that I could amened the size of the plan at my leisure for no cost. I relied on that representation when I agreed. They then cut my service - extorted some $670 out me in order to reconnect it "immediately" - and 3 days later they still haven't reconnected it. They have been impossible to get into contact with. 

 

I think the cumulative effect of the above gives me grounds to terminate the agreement. I think the misrepresentation at the outset gives me grounds to terminate. I think the deprivation of my service for days, despite being promised that if I made immediate full payment of my outstanding bills that I would be instantly reconnected, evinces an intention on Telstra's part not to be bound by the terms of the contract, and Telstra has therefore repudiated, and I can terminate.

 

I've found Testra impossible to deal with. I simply cannot get the benefit of the this contract in circumstances where Telstra does not comply with its promises, takes unilateral punitive action against me, and does not make itself available to speak with when its actions are affecting me detrimentally or when it has made an error. I've felt beyond helpless throughout this entire awful experience.

 

I want now to terminate and never deal with this company again. Do you agree that I have grounds to do so without penalty?

 

 

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2 REPLIES 2
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Level 1: Cadet

Re: Breach of contract, telstra not taking calls, change plan, service disconnected, cancelling plan

Get in touch with the Telecommunications obudsman and go through everything with them. They’ll let you know what to do. I’ve called them in the past and they were very helpful. 

good luck 

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Level 25: The Singularity
Level 25: The Singularity

Re: Breach of contract, telstra not taking calls, change plan, service disconnected, cancelling plan

On the type of plan that you were on, you could not downsize below the plan that you originally signed up on. If the Sales consultant in Store told you differently, they were wrong.

 

What they should have done was to sign you up to the smallest plan, then told you to upgrade to the size that you needed. That would have allowed you to move back down to any of the smaller plans (assuming they were still available at the time you wanted to change).

 

According to the contract you signed (that is why we tell people to read contracts before signing), you would need to pay the Early Termination Charges. Given the amount of time that has gone past, it may be difficult to argue that you were told otherwise.

Never be afraid to back yourself when trying new things, just always make sure you have 3 escape routes if things go wrong.

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