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A Tale of How Telstra Lost a Client for Life
N.B. I am posting this here, rather than the ‘Complaints’ section, as the ineptitude of Telstra cannot be expressed in under 2000 characters.
We’re moving to a new house on April 16th and need to set up NBN at the new property. I researched 10 ISPs and even though Telstra proved the most expensive, I assumed the support and efficient processes of a large entity would warrant the additional cost at a stressful time.
How wrong I was.
In addition to my research of ISPs, I also performed some research on the NBN connection process and requirements via the NBN Co. website. I discovered that if a property already has had an NBN connection, no NBN technician appointment would be required and the chosen ISP can connect simply if their client has the correct modem. Knowing that the property was currently occupied, and that they had an internet connection, I hoped that it was via the NBN to ensure a quick connection for us. After deciding on Telstra, I attempt to place my order via the Telstra website, but no facility existed to nominate a future connection date, which of course is required if you are yet to move into a property. I then called Telstra to arrange the NBN order over the phone, and here’s how that played out:
March 29th - Call #1 = 1hr 17min
I expected a long wait time, given the impact that COVID-19 has had on telco operations, and the contact centres of all organisations. After this expected hold time, I was greeted by quite a cheerful and seemingly helpful Telstra operative who was able to take my order. They confirmed that the property in question does indeed have an existing NBN connection so no NBN technician would need to attend the property to install any hardware. They also confirmed that the activation can be future dated so that the current occupant doesn’t get their own internet disconnected while still there. The operative arranged for a modem to be sent to my current address prior to the move, and recommended an activation date of April 14th, so we could plug in the modem and activate as soon as we arrive on April 16th.
March 29th - Call #2 = 4mins
The operative calls me back after realising they had not read me 1 verbal consent piece, regarding the porting of my existing home phone number.
April 1st - Calls #3 & #4 = 43min
While I had received an email (A) on the date I had placed my order, which confirmed my Account # and that I had agreed to email billing, I had not received any emails/SMS confirming the details of my order. This seems odd, so I decide to call Telstra again. At the IVR menu, I choose the obvious ‘check order’ option, at which point the recorded prompt tells me to go online using my order number (that I have not been given) and automatically disconnects call – see the problem there? I call back and ask for ‘sales’. The operative advises that emails don’t get issued when I order, only when the order has been processed. This is such a strange practice as all other telcos, utilities etc. generally issue confirmation emails as soon as your telephone interaction is complete. The operative assures me the email will arrive in due course, and confirms the order looks fine with all the dates and conditions previously arranged.
April 6th - Call #5 = 57min
2 emails arrive relating to my order – (B) Estimate for Your Order & (C) Service Order Confirmation. Email (B) contains an attachment stating my plan’s monthly cost and a timeline for the various steps in my order. Email (C) contains my order #, my service’s assigned phone #, and a link to the order tracker. Both emails seem to have incorrect details in them. The timeline states: Order Placed = April 2nd (I placed order on March 29th) / Modem Delivery = April 8th (seems good) / Activation Date = also April 8th (remember, this was agreed as April 14th) / Bill to be Issued = April 11th (before the account is even due to commence). The phone # that has been assigned to my service is also a different one to my current number that we had arranged to be ported to Telstra. I call to get all this cleared up, because we cannot have our service activated on April 8th. The operative has no idea why the email says 8th for activation as apparently Telstra systems do show an activation date of the 14th. They assure me that the Telstra systems also tells them that the modem is already with Aust Post and will arrive at my current address on April 8th. As I am becoming less confident in the ability of Telstra to complete my NBN activation correctly, again this 3rd operative confirms for me that no NBN technician will be required and I will be able to simply connect the modem at the new address to commence activation.
April 8th - Call #6 = 1hr 20mins
No modem has arrived by the end of the day, so I access ‘Order Tracker’ from email (C) in the mistaken belief that it would provide me the delivery status of the modem. Not only did I discover that this info is not contained in the ‘Order Tracker’ service, but that there was a notification stating that I need to be present on between 1pm – 5pm on April 14th so that an NBN technician can enter the property to install equipment. Gobsmacked at this new detail, and the fact that I had not been contacted about it and only discovered it by accident, I once again was forced to call Telstra. Here’s where things became horrendous.
The operative (identified as D943569 – she may have said her name was Tamara) that I had the misfortune to be “assisted” by was the most unhelpful, ignorant, obtuse person I have ever encountered. Not once did she listen and process anything that I was telling her, and once it was established that there had been significant mistakes made by Telstra, she failed to offer any solutions and continuously told me what “you need to do” to fix things. Originally, she couldn’t say why a technician was suddenly required and why I was not notified etc. “That’s between you and NBN Co., it’s nothing to do with Telstra”. I explain to her that a technician appointment isn’t needed because NBN is already in place at the property with current occupants (something that I would’ve expected someone in her position to already know) and that 3 previous Telstra operatives confirmed this. Remember, this appointment has also been made without my consent for 2 days prior to me taking possession of the house. She responds with “If the message says you have to be there for an appointment, then it’s up to you to be there if you want NBN connected, there’s nothing I can do”. She refuses to investigate further or to transfer me to someone who can. She refuses to get a supervisor or technical advisor so that I may complain.
She would not accept there could be an error, even though 3 other Telstra employees (and the NBN Co. website) state I don’t need a technician. Because I won’t accept her responses, she places me on hold to speak with a support officer. She returns with new information and states that the operative who placed the original order has made an error by ordering a second NBN connection for the property. She also states that the order has been placed on hold for error correction. Contrary to previous Telstra advice, she states that there is no modem in transit with Aust Post. She states there is nothing she can do to fix problem after I ask her how Telstra plans to rectify THEIR error. She then attempts to repeat her earlier assertion that there is no way to future date a connection if the property currently has occupants. She states my only options are to either (a) be there on the 14th, enter a property I don’t yet occupy and pay $200+ dollars for a second connection, or (b) wait until after I have moved in, ring up and commence the order again and then wait approx. 2 weeks to have the connection completed. Again, I request to speak with someone with more knowledge and/or authority to fix this issue. She places me on hold and returns with the comment “There is not a supervisor in the building that is available to speak with you”.
It is at this point my language becomes colourful as I lose my s*@t at the ineptitude demonstrated to this point. I tell her what I think of her and your organisation, and demand that the order be cancelled. I request a confirmation email that the order has been cancelled and she refuses, stating it’s my responsibility to just keep checking the ‘Order Tracker’ site to see a cancelled status (BTW – it states ‘On Hold’ at time of writing this). I ask to be put through to Telstra’s Complaints dept. as I intend to make a complaint about her service. She advised that Telstra do not do that, and that I have to tell her the details of the complaint I am making about her and she will write it down for me. Again, exasperated by the absurdity of this policy and not able to bear speaking with this person a minute longer, I terminated the call.
Following this unbelievably infuriating interaction with a complete moron, I called another well-known ISP, who were offering the same speed plan at $15p/m less than Telstra. Have a look at how this client experience transpired and maybe your organisation could learn a few things about customer service –
April 8th - Only Call = 19mins (yes, only 19 mins including hold time).
Explain situation to operative. Operative checks address and she too confirms that no NBN technician is required and is bamboozled as to why Telstra insisted one would be. Asks me about my current modem used for ADSL at existing connection and advises that the model is NBN compliant, so I don’t even need to pay for, and wait for a new modem to be sent out. Advises there is no need to set activation for 14th like Telstra did, but the 16th and it would still be ready to plug in and connect on the day. Order complete! Call concluded! Confirmation emails for account, billing, and plan details received 1 minute before the call was even finished.
Telstra = 4 hours and 21 minutes of “on phone” time over 11 days for no positive outcome for any party.
Competitor = 19 mins “on phone” time with service ordered and confirmed via email in one transaction.
I never really consider changing ISPs or utility providers unless we are moving. The property we are moving into now is to be our ‘forever home’, so Telstra have indeed lost a customer for life. So just from this internet account that’ll be well in excess of $40,000. Not a great deal to Telstra, but couple that with members of my household who will now be changing mobile phone providers away from Telstra, and another relative who was going to switch ISPs to Telstra based on my plan comparisons, then that adds up to a fair bit more. Throw in the value of ‘badwill’ that we plan to generate by simply retelling this experience to anyone we encounter who is thinking of becoming a Telstra client, and you have cost yourself a great deal more.
The bad old days of the Telecom/Telstra monopoly have well and truly ended, but your organisation still seems to treat clients as though they have no other options. I’d say ‘get your act together’, but I really don’t care what you do because I know I’ll never have the displeasure of trying to utilise your services again.
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Re: A Tale of How Telstra Lost a Client for Life
Rather than posting a complaint, I would leave feedback via https://say.telstra.com.au/customer/general/forms/positive-feedback
I'm not sure if that has a Character restriction number, but you can be contacted for a follow-up.
I did that awhile ago and had a positive outcome.
Footnote: I don't work for Telstra, I just try to help out fellow Telstra customers.
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Re: A Tale of How Telstra Lost a Client for Life
Thanks OzMoz - I went to Feedback after trying complaints and it has a character restriction too... but I'll see if it will let me post a link to this thread in either submission form. Cheers.
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