Monday, October 18, 2010

Telstra Sucks, And if they had a Complaint Department I Wouldn't Have Had to Write this on my Blog

Warning:  This is a long, angry rant.   If you would prefer to see something more entertaining and less hateful click here.   Everyone else, proceed below.

In Florida we paid about $30/month for home phone service, and it included unlimited calls across the U.S., not to mention the other necessities such as caller ID, call waiting, etc.  So you can imagine my surprise when I called Telstra prior to our Sydney move to organize (that's "organise" in American) phone service and they informed me, in cute Aussie accent and all, that their rates would also start at about $30/month... plus 17.5 cents per local phone call, plus 34 cents per minute for calls to mobile phones-- needless to say, I was shocked.  But the good news was that I would get Call Waiting and Call Number Display ("Caller ID" in the U.S.) included.  Um, yay? And too bad that in three years here, I still can't figure out how the hell to answer Aussie Call Waiting, wtf?

And looking at Telstra's current comparisons of home phone plans, apparently not too much has changed in the last three years, though now you can buy a plan with unlimited local calls (though not to mobile phones).  And mobile calls now cost $2/each for 20 minutes- that's TWO DOLLARS FOR 20 MINUTES.  And by the way, they don't say "cell phone" in Australia-- fyi.

So to avoid Telstra's ridiculous charges over the years, I resorted to using my mobile for almost all phone calls, the purpose of having a home line became mainly to have high-speed internet, etc.  And fortunately things with Telstra were pretty uneventful.  That is until recently...

A few months ago I called Telstra to update the expiration date on my credit card.  The girl I spoke with was even nice enough to suggest bundling my phone, internet, and Foxtel cable to save some money (about $50/month).   Obviously with a deal like that, how could I say no?  And with the technology these days, I assumed that a few minutes later I'd have a new phone/internet/tv combo plan, yay!

An hour and a half later, this crap still wasn't done.  And eventually I found out the girl I was speaking to merely requested the changes because another department actually had to make the changes---huh? Seriously?

Then, three weeks later, I received a bill for over $500!  Foxtel was no where to be found on the bill, and neither was my internet service.  So I call Telstra again, and India (and by "India", I mean the country) answers.  And India transfers me.  And after another hour and a half,  and approximately eight "customer no-service" people later,  I had gotten no where.  Apparently "that's not my department/job/problem" is the motto of Telstra... wow Telstra, that's impressive stuff.

Over a period of two weeks I spent about twenty hours trying to fix my Telstra account.  On three separate occasions, three separate customer service people said they were fixing it and would call me back to confirm it was done.  Did I receive one return phone call???  Um, no.

And when I got all high and mighty and called for the fifthteenth fucking hundreth time, demanding in a really ugly, obnoxious-American way that they solve this while I remained on the phone by calling the department who makes the godforsaken changes-- I was told-- okay, brace yourself-- that that department doesn't have phones!  At the phone company??? A department that doesn't have phones, at the phone company!  Are these people on crack?

Needless to say, I had them forgo all the changes they were supposed to have made.  I tried to make a complaint, apparently everyone and their mother at Telstra is a "supervisor"-- but there's no escalation department.  Try reaching the CEO, and you'll end up in an endless rotation of transfers in which ultimately, the operator will tell you- not only will they not connect you with him, nor his admin-- they won't find anyone else to help you either.

Royally pissed off and in unique form, I called another phone company (the competition)-- and guess what,  if I'm prepared for them to rewire the house and drill five bazillion holes throughout it, I can be lucky enough to be their customer.  Well why would the hell would I purposely walk into that mess when I can stick with the mess I already know and hate?  Do I want more needless convos (that's Aussie slang for "conversations") with India?  Fine Telstra... I give, I give....  I'll stick with you, the biggest, most unorganized company on the planet.  A phone company with a department that all changes must go through, but has no phones.  My head is going to explode just reliving this redonkulousness.

Then, weeks later, in the midst of an afternoon which included being swabbed for swine flu and cleaning up dog vomit, guess who called my mobile phone.... why of course, it was Telstra-- well hip hip fucking hooray.  And this lovely girl inquired about who my mobile service was with, and did I know I could switch my mobile to Telstra and get a fantastic bundle package deal?

And as I hacked violent coughs in her ear and explained I was sick, she continued on, delighting me with her fantastic sales skills and impressive offer.  And I went on to briefly tell her how horrible my experience has been with Telstra and how I cannot believe a company could operate with such disregard for customer satisfaction.

But she had good news!  There's a new CEO, and everything at Telstra is better.  They have revamped their customer service and she was calling only to help me get a better deal!

And as I wheezed into the phone, I managed to ask her what changes they had made?  Well here's the short answer-- NONE, no freaking changes!  And there's still no escalation department, if you have a complaint get your pen out, because you'll have to mail it to them.  And there's even still a department which all changes go through, and they still don't have phones... jeez, I'd like to work in that department, no way to call in sick, no calls from the boss... woo hoo.

So guess what Telstra-- just saying you've got "new" customer service doesn't mean you've made any improvements, you actually have to do something to fix things.  Let me give you some suggestions--
  • Build the technology to support all the things you sell; so when people want to order these things, or change these things, the first person your customer speaks to can actually make the changes.
  • Empower your employees.  Empower your employees to make changes without insane processes that make simple things become complex.  And empower your employees to rectify bad situations with compensation such as credits on their bills, etc.   If you need help with this ask American Express, every employee at American Express knows how to help customers so they go away happy.
  • Get rid of half of what you offer.  Why do you have three bazillion plans?
And when you implement these I'll be happy to take this post down, wad it up in a ball, and toss it to the moon.  In the meantime however, Telstra -- you can suck it... and by "it" I mean big monkey balls.



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48 comments:

rinniez said...

you know you're really a 'real' australian when you have a complant about telstra... welcome to our world haha.
they really do suck hey!?!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Hahaha-- okay, that actually makes me feel better about their suckage. When are you coming to Sydney girl??

The Baker Family said...

What ever you do don't get a bundle, it will be the end of you. I think I have spent 40 hours on the phone to them since June and there are still issues.

Once you get things sorted you will never be able to leave Australia after all that effort!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Skye- Too funny, even a week later when Foxtel had to come to my house, I told him I ALMOST switched my Foxtel to a bundle and he said I should thank god I didn't because every person with Foxtel thru Telstra is in a living hell. Btw, did you get my message about the Yakult?? Thank you sooo sooo much! It's a miracle after years of this eczema, it's cleared up-- his skin is bazillion times bettah! mwah-- when will we see you?

Jen said...

oh my goodness, i have lived this story!!! I HATE TELSTRA actually I think i am even a security risk to telstra, and I havent even been with them for at least 15 years!! The used to keep ringing me with offers i could not refuse, then not living up to the promises, and then yada yada yada, exactly what you ahve described, until i scream abuse at them and make them release me from the contract i signed... now if they call me to try and sell me someting, i tell them that if they call me again i am suing them for harrasment!! they dont call anymore, lol. And re your first words of the heading?? Telstra certainly does SUCK!!! massively. Now i am ranting too!! lol

NessaKnits said...

There IS a reason I am not with Telstra. For years I stuck with them, and they did nothing for me. No discounting their rates, no customer service. Then I changed to iprimus and I get free mobile calls, free local calls, and high speed internet for $70 a month and I got the modem. And I like that post about suing them for harrassment if they ever call me again.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Jen- My husband and I were hysterical reading your comment. I am so jumping on that harassment bandwagon. Next time they call with an offer I'll let them know we are organizing a class action against them!

Nessaknits- iprimus?? are they available in my area? I need to check this out asap!

steck said...

Perhaps surprisingly, I've been pretty happy with Optus. I get DSL+landline service through them. Not especially cheap, but it has been very reliable.

Maybe Optus is like that radio station that used to have a billboard on I-80 outside of Chicago -- "we suck, sure, but we suck less than the other guys".

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Steck- I really wanted to switch to Optus, but as we rent our house I couldn't go down the road of having them drill holes everywhere to put Optus lines in. But it would have been a good savings and lots of personal satisfaction to have left Telstra... which since you are always coming in with the hilarious oneliners-- I'm going to officially start calling them Hellstra...how's that for funny?

steck said...

May I suggest: "Telstra: an Ernestine short of a switchboard." (snooort)

formerly fun said...

I had a similar experience with Time Warner out here. They came by selling the bundle, telling us we could keep our old phone # and pay less...Of course they fuckered it all up, linked our phone to someone else, we were getting some Mexican lady named Rosa's calls. I spent hours trying to fix things, ended up in tears, canceling everything, telling the last person I spoke with that they were all a bunch of fucktards. I switched to Verizon(fiber optics) even though it was a hassle, they did a great job and I just couldn't give my money to idiots.

SuperMindy said...

Telstra is the worst company i've ever had to deal with. There internet plans are SHIT their mobile phone plans are SHIT their phone plans are SHIT and of course Foxtel is a complete waste of money with the constant repeating shows.

If you don't need a home phone anymore then you can get naked dsl which is broadband internet without the phone line. You'll be able to get rid of telstra.

antigonum cajan said...

There are a few Florida Girls from what I gather.

The other one, was offended when I, THE HUMBLE ONE, MOCKED her
bullshit plant, common place collection, not in the Florida context, mind you, but in Puerto Rico, USA.

So long until then.

Jill Stevens, Licensed Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist said...

I am SO sorry. Wow. That sounds crazy freaking AWFUL. I guess I should bow down & be seriously grateful for sbc/yahoo. (Weird) And I will also say I haven't laughed that hard in a while. You are a GREAT writer Laura!

PamelaRose said...

Yakult??? More info please...

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Steck- hahaha!

FF- They all suck, though I used to think that ATT sucked less than others. Btw, I put a link to your "manzilian" post on facebook yesterday because our babysitter was asking for volunteers for her to practice brazilians on, that post still cracks me up.

Supermindy- naked DSL??? wha??? how could I have not known about this?? I wonder if Hellstra does it? btw, did you get your laptop back?

Antigonum cajun- I think I'll just nod and pretend I understand.

Jillycakes- can you talk or what??? miss you.

Pamelarose- It's a fermented milk drink in an extremely tiny bottle, wow, doesn't that sound delicious? :0

Ute said...

One word (or Acronym, or whatever..) TIO~ http://www.tio.com.au/

Make a complaint there, and Telstard will bend over backwards to help. No shit.

We were without internest and had constant phone line cracking late last year, and had nothing but trouble trying to get it fixed...same as you, constant Indian call centres, and no one knew wtf they were doing.

Consant so called 'techs' who came out and didn't know a phone line from their arsehole... and we through out a completely good home phone, because one tech reckoned, "It's ya phone mate."

One TIO complaint later, and voilé... fixed in one day. After months of nothing.

You're not Australian, until ya hate Telstra. ;o)

Ute said...

omg... typos much?!


Sorry.

suzinoz said...

rey30suz18So sorry to hear about your troubles with Telstra. I've always steered clear of them because of stories like yours. Optus has been very good to us. Pity about the whole wiring situation. Hope you find a solution that allows you to be Telstra free and very soon! Good luck! BTW, despite the obvious frustration of the situation, your post is VERY, VERY funny!

suzinoz said...

Oops! Sorry about the extra characters at the beginning of my comment. Had a bit of help at the keyboard. Thanks Mr. 4.

Dina said...

I'm glad we have blogs so we can complain about this type of stuff.

At times I've been tempted to create a blog just for that purpose.

I agree with Jill. Your post is entertaining because you're a good writer.

Sorry you had to go through all that shit though. It's totally INSANE.

Jenny said...

I laughed when I read this last night. Not laughing so much when I opened my mail today and got a bill from Telstra for $1700. I am not kidding!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Ute- Well if hating Telstra makes me Aussie, I'm going to eat a vegemite sandwich right now! hahaha

SuzinOz- Thanks-- funny, but sad. Totally frustrating.

Dina- Thanks, and I'd be a contributor to that blog-- I often feel like complaining about silly things and have no where to do it.

Jenny- $1700 bill? What the heck was on it???

BUSH BABE said...

Oh Lord... don't get me started. We had a woman on her own out here who got disconnected (wrongly) and even after sustaining neck injuries and begging for at least emergency calls and incoming calls, was left without a phone for four weeks. It took (we estimate) over 20 hours of 'discussion' being transferred all over the South Pacific before she had any change of heart from them. I reckon they are responsible for serious mental health issues!!!

(Oh whoops - look who got started there!)

Lucky Aussies have a sense of humour - we'd all the the Antipodean equivalent of gun-wielding North American postal workers otherwise.
:-)
BB

Mimi and Joe said...

OMG - Every time I hear the work Telstra my blood pressure skyrockets and I start hyperventilating....

I so feel your pain. So so so feel it.

Every month......

Excuse me, I need to go eat some chocolate and lay down.

Juli said...

I wish I could say my experience with Telstra has been different on this side of the Tasman. But of course it's been a nightmare just like yours. The comment about the "techs" made me LOL. Just thinking about this is making my blood boil and my head ache. If I could switch, I would. But there is nobody to switch to.

Marvin the Martian said...

Ha, Telstra's borrowing their business model from British Telecom, I think.

The Taskers said...

You totally crack me up! We're back in Australia (got back 2 months ago, but still in temp accommodation as we have tenants in our house) and of course we're trying to suss out the best deal for internet/phone, etc. And there is NO WAY we're even beginning to look at Telstra. I also met a woman who just moved here from England, gave her my list of suggested places to look and purposely said "whatever you do, DON'T go with Telstra"!

As for Yakult, my hubby and kids LOVE that stuff (I can't stand it). The first thing they all do in the morning is sit on our bed and drink their "stomach medicines" together - its their daily ritual. At first I balked at the collective price (yes, I figured out our yearly grocery spend on Yakult alone), but he swears it will save us in medical bills, and I think he might be right!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Bush Babe- Wow, Telstra really knows how to not run a company! That is ridiculous.

Mimi- Omigod, I think I need chocolate just thinking about this again!

Juli- I'm considering how to get naked dsl my friend mentioned and use VOIP for phone... I'll have to keep ya posted.

Marvin- Oh, so they didn't come up with this crappy service stuff themselves?? They are aspiring to keep up with someone even crappier?

Taskers- Welcome back! You must be so happy to be here...

riesdownunder said...

OMG.... we had an experience just as bad w/ telstra, I can honestly say they are the worst company EVER. They are the devil. after 2 years - we finally have switched to optus... and it is great. I wish someone had told me when we moved here to stay away from telstra at all costs!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

riesdownunder- Hmmmmm.... maybe we should consider letting Optus drill five hundred holes in our rental house to install their lines??? Hey, it's a rental anyway... right?

Cassie said...

Haha, you are definately an Australian now, if you hate Telstra!
I love reading your blog, we moved from Perth to Florida 6 months ago, it's hilarious (and comforting) reading the differences you have found in the two places, even though you usually have the opposite thoughts to us!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Hi Cassie, Thanks so much! So where in Florida are you? Hope you've been to see the magic mouse... Cheers, Laura

Michelle Gerard said...

I meant to write this comment ages ago... I love love love that you included your handwritten notes. (i mean, sorry to hear about all that nonsense with the phone company. My mom just had a very similar problem and her office was faxless/phoneless for weeks!) anyway, I loved seeing your handwriting because it hasn't changed in all these years. it just made me smile. Did I tell you (or did you see my fb post) that I found 3 shoeboxes full of notes & letters ranging from middle school through college? tons from you in there. Old friendships never die, right? Miss you. Sorry you won't be in FL this year. When should Sam & I come to sydney? :)

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Michelle- Hi!! So glad to hear from you! Please come anytime, that would be so fantastic, Sydney is amazing. During your summer break, it's winter here-- chilly but not crazy cold. It's a great time to go to the parks and walking, etc. And I have a great babysitter so we can do adult stuff and leave the kids to play... if you're serious I'll call you and we can chat...

Catherine said...

ROFLMAOWTRDMC!!!!!

That's rolling on the floor laughing my A@@ off with Tears Running Down My Cheeks. Only because I can SO RELATE!

Now that I'm back in AUS, when can we meet up? Or should I wander the streets in search of your tiger?

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Catherine- I am soooo going to use that acronym in the near future, fantastic. I sent you an email back and would love to meet you! Cheers, Laura

ian said...

There is only one reason that Telstra is still in business and that is its network. Built when it was a monopoly state owned business it still has the best network coverage of any phone provider. All the other companies pay to use the Telstra network. So when you have that kind of historic advantage you don't need to gove a crap about customers. My recommendation is never call them - always go in person to a Telstra shop where they are empowered to sort things out. A telecoms business that has better service in its bricks and mortar stores - crazy!


We have our landline with Telstra, and our internet with TPG (really good) and our tv with Foxtel direct. Work has just switched all our mobiles to Optus from Telstra and it is a nightmare - constant call drop outs and voicemail issues.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Ian? Is that you? my friend Ian??

Anonymous said...

@jen have you tried using your brain when dealing with telstra?? or are you just that simplistic that you need to resort to abusive treatment of telstra staff......you catch more flies with honey then with vinegar dear.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Shall we assume "anonymous" works for Telstra in the department with no phones??

Kimberly Hiller said...

And this is why I am not getting a cell phone when I move to Sydney. :) Wireless Skype all the way.

Anonymous said...

Please stop living in the past constantly making comparisons to the 'right' life back home. Embrace what you got and hit it hard.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Kimberly, I have a feeling you may still need a cell phone :)

Anonymous- That's funny.

ozaussieoz said...

My husband and I have had similar issues with Optus... I'm so sorry that you too had to endure this. It sucks!

Anonymous said...

Telstra management (most) are psychopaths, same for many of the staff,I intend to destroy Telstra even if it takes me another 20 years.

They treat what's remaining of the technical staff like trash.

I know, I have worked with these trash for almost 30 years.

David said...

Well ... my wife and I had such similar feelings as you that I would swear that we had written the article were it not for the fact that it was so well written and extremely funny!
Very funny. Thanks for that. We don't feel so bad - after all misery does sometimes love company.

smiling,
Tallahassee guy in Melbourne!

James Lautner said...

I know what you me a telstra is so shit in more ways then one I still use my AT&T samsung phone & sim, it's better then dealin' with them. Lol