Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Telstra Story - Coda

Aaah, if only it were so simple as for Telstra to do what they actually say they're going to do.

It's not over.

I'll update in a few days!


Friday, July 4, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 10 - The Finale?

Hi All,

I present to you what is possibly the last (and you'll see why I use the term "possibly" at the end) post on Telstra. Also, I quote from the conversation. I was making notes at the time and fleshed them all out immediately after my conversation finished so it'd be pretty close to word for word.

So, without further adieu.

On the 20th of June I received a call from Senior Complaints handler at Telstra. She informed me that she had personally reviewed all the material and the letters from the myself and the TIO and that "While we stand by all the charges, we are making a commercial decision that it's not in our best interests to pursue the matter."

ME: "OK, that's great, but just out of curiosity, if you've read all my documentation, do you think what I've had to put up with from your company is acceptable?"

TELSTRA: "Well no sir, it's clear that you've unfortunately had to deal with people who really didn't know what they were talking about and as such it has made things more difficult. But I think there's been some miscommunication from both sides."

Ruh Roh! That's gonna get me started!

ME: "Really? Well I can understand that after months of being stuffed around I documented everything in a unique manner, but how can wanting to get an accurate bill be confusing?"

TELSTRA: "Well as I say we stand by all the charges. We're making a commercial decision that it's not in our best interests to pursue the matter."

Yes, it was exactly the same sentence.

ME: "Well if you stand by the charges, I realize it may be academic, but can you please tell me what they are?

TELSTRA: "Certainly. Aah, when you were originally put on to a different plan, your call usage did go up and you also had some roamin..."

ME: "Hang on. that issue is resolved."

TELSTRA: "Ah, no. In the letter from the TIO it states that the plan change resulted in higher charges."

ME: "No it doesn't. After you ignored the first letter from the TIO, they asked me for some more specific information on the history of the relationship and that's where that becomes relevant. The current issue is that for about 3-4 weeks of usage, you've charged me $1800 odd dollars."

Incidentally, I never brought it up, but I was not travelling (roaming charges) at that time either.

TELSTRA: "Well there are some early contract termination fees as well sir."

ME: "If you're completely familiar with this as you say, can you please tell me when I signed a new contract that's now been terminated? I was off contract."

TELSTRA: "Well as I say sir we stand by all the charges and we are making a commercial decision that it's not in our best interests to pursue the matter, as long as both parties agree to release the other from further action. I'm happy to confirm that in writing."

Now, this last one threw me a little. You'll agree to write off the amount you reckon I owe you, if I agree not to take action against you? What, for the invoice I sent you? For being a bunch of dicks?

ME: "I notice you're using very specific words like commercial decision and not in our best interests, but I find it amusing that you would just write off this amount when if you could actually prove these charges are legit as you say, Telstra would just sell the debt to a 3rd party company. So frankly to me it seems as if you actually can't prove these charges and that as a result it really is in your best interests not to pursue it. Fine, you put it in writing and I'll have a look and make a decision from there."

We made our goodbyes and hung up.

That was 2 weeks ago.

I'm still waiting!


So what does this mean for Telstra Woes? Well whether this is the final installment or not, it's become apparent that other people have their own hellish customer service stories and as such, I'll eventually be migrating this blog to a new "generic" blog which will deal with a number of different companies and also draw upon stories from you, our gentle readers.


Monday, June 23, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 9

OK, so I receive a letter from Telstra (dated 7/4/08) from Jai. You remember Jai? She was the lovely lady at Telstra who helped me out last time and made the "goodwill gesture" on Telstra's behalf.

Now, by this stage I have already gone to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and detailed my complaint. They not only wanted details about the current problem (the $1,800 charge) but also the historical problems. So I gave them copies of all the correspondence.

The lovely Jai in the meantime has sent me a letter informing me that they've received the letter I sent them dated 25/2, but that as per their correspondence dated 4/9/07, the matter is closed.

For those not keeping up:

Unable to distinguish between a historical problem and a new one, the newly minted High Priestess of Muppeteering has decided simply that as they've "dealt' with one matter, they've dealt with them all (that'd be nice!). Now had she bothered to actually, I don't know, umm, frikkin' read the new documentation I'd sent her, she would have instantly realized that this is a completely new issue. No such luck.

So as action had already been taken with the TIO, I didn't respond to this letter. It did say however, that if I was unhappy I could got to the TIO or the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner and (although it didn't specifically state as much, I'm sure it was meant) I could go and penetrate my ass with a rather large, blunt object.

As appealing as that last option is, I've already taken the TIO option, but thanks.


Tracking back a little now, I've sent all the info to the TIO, they've logged the complaint, written up a letter detailing my complaint (which is approved by me for accuracy) to be sent to Telstra and we await their response. They've got four weeks to respond or the TIO escalates the issue. The letter is very impartial and states that a claim has been made to the TIO and they've heard one side of the story. They want to hear Telstra's side before forming a view.

As it does, time passes and Telstra sleeps. The TIO contacts me again several weeks later to ask if I've heard from Telstra. "Not a thing," I respond. So, the TIO escalate the issue.

This time the same letter goes out with some additions. Not only does the TIO now want answers to Telstra's conduct regarding the historical issues I had (which were "resolved") they also now ask for answers to very specific questions about the case, as opposed to a general response. Telstra have to (among other things):

1) Detail why they recommended a change of plan (twice) that resulted in bills going up. Provide full system notes and voice recordings.
2) Provide all records of customer complaints and responses regarding billing disputes since late 2006.
3) Provide copies of all responses to written complaints from the customer.
4) Provide an explanation as to why late fees were applied to bills that were in dispute.

They also ask Telstra to confirm that they have complied with the ACIF Code and to supply the information confirming same. They also note that as part of the investigation now, regardless of the outcome with the customer, the TIO requires confirmation that the Code has been complied with.

They give Telstra another four week to reply. Stick around, we'll see what happens...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 8

Long time, no update. Sorry. Let's press on.

So, after sending the fax to Telstra Specialised Recoveries I called them an hour or so later to make sure they got it. I was told that as all faxes go to a central server, they would not get the fax for review until the end of the day. I should call back tomorrow if I wanted to check, but the number I'd sent it to was the right one.


The next day, I get a call from Myra. She's ringing to find out when I'm going to pay the outstanding amounts. I ask her if she's received the fax that I sent yesterday? She says she has no record of it. I told her that I specifically called up yesterday to get the fax number to respond to, recited it back to her and told her that I'd sent it through.

She responded by telling me that I had to send the fax through to another number. I explained that I had done this yesterday and that if she wanted to get a hold of the fax, she could chase the relevant department for a copy. "I can't do that," was the response.

I told her that I had responded to Specialised Recoveries via fax on a fax number given to me by them and that I had made my position clear. It was up to her whether she wanted to chase the other department, but that I would not be resending the fax. I also informed her that in my fax I had said that if Telstra issued a default in any manner that would affect my credit rating, I would take immediate legal action. Again, I said she had all the information she needed and she could either chase it up or not.

I said goodbye and hung up. This was on the 25/2/08.

On the 27/2/08 I called Telstra Specialised Recoveries to make sure they got the fax. I spoke to a lady who told me that they have no record of a fax and the notes they have say that Myra tried to give me a fax number, but that I refused to take it!!!

No doubt you can guess my response. But just in case...

I fucking' well flipped! I retold her the discussion I'd had with Myra and said that it was a disgrace that she had plainly lied in the notes. She interrupted me and said that she'd go see if they had the fax.

Lo and Behold, they had it! Problem solved, the other department will get back to me...

I asked her to amend the note regrading the fax and the garbage story Myra had put in there. She told me that this was unnecessary for 2 reasons. Both are bullshit reasons, but the 2nd is an absolute kicker.

The first was that they now had the fax. Aaah, big frikkin' deal. I want a note made that your staff member lied.

Secondly... Well, this was an absolute beauty, and I quote: "We can see you have a good history with us." You dirty, lying, maggot ridden whore! How, with the history that you dear reader can see in this blog is it possible that Telstra can have the view that I have a good history with them?

It's impossible!

These people just lie through their teeth to cover up there incompetence, that of their colleagues and that of their piss poor systems. Absolutely incredible.

I'll look to give another update shortly.


Monday, April 7, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 7

Hey Again,

So I find myself in a situation where no amount of calling, writing, faxing anything is helping me resolve my outstanding issues.

To: Complaints Department
Fax: 1800 642 425
From: XXX XXXXX Date: 25/2/08
Re: Account Number XXX XXXX XXX
Pages: 17

Dear Sir/Madam,

As per my discussion with one of your staff earlier today, I have been asked to send a copy of all documentation to you in this matter.

Flabbergasted by the fact that I would be asked to do this again, though told my original complaint was dealt with by a different department, I got a fax number from your staff member and duly set about putting this all together. I then realized that it’s exactly the same fax that I’ve already sent all this documentation to in the past.

Naturally, hopes are high!!!

After receiving a call from Specialised Recoveries today in which they were chasing payment, I originally assumed that it was in response to a fax I sent to them earlier in the day. I was told this was not the case and that I should send my fax to another number. Understandably, after actually taking the time from my busy schedule earlier in the day to contact Specialised Recoveries just to specifically get their fax number to address this issue, I was flummoxed that I was being told I had to resend it “to the right area”. I declined and told the lovely Myra that she could contact the right dept. and get it herself. She said she could not do that, to which I replied that my position has been made clear in my fax. She could either get hold of it or not.

I have now logged a complaint with the TIO. The reference number is XXXXXXXX.

The Ombudsman put me onto a Telstra Complaints area (which I was told it was unlikely I’d already dealt with this area) and after being hung up on not twice but three times due to the volume of calls, I was told that I would need to resend all my documentation.

Please find the following documentation:

25/2/08: Fax to Specialised Recoveries
5/11/07: Fax to Telstra Complaints
8/10/07: Fax to Telstra Complaints
24/7/07: Fax to Telstra Complaints
23/7/07: Email to

I was told by the nice chap on the phone that part of the claim for funds is for early contract termination. Read the documentation and then come back to me with a straight face and tell me that I owe Telstra funds for early termination. Look at the history of all this documentation and tell me that Telstra has dealt with this appropriately.

It is safe to say, that I am at my wits end. I’ve had enough of this. Look how many frikkin’ pages are on this fax. 17!!! Granted, I can go on, but you people bring it out of me. You’re killing me. Literally! You are bloody well killing me. I now have a “Telstra” Folder on my computer just to keep track of all this documentation, so that when the next person I speak to tries to give me a different version of events, I can call them on it!

Sort out your crap. I’m not interested in your bullshit anymore. You have wasted too much of my time.

Organize yourselves, review the docs, conduct your reviews, review the reviews, review the conduct of those that originally did the reviews and those that reviewed the reviewers, take a pause and then review again. Consult your consultants, get the consultants to review the whole review process, the reviewers, themselves and get your facts straight. Get all your department heads to sign off on a version of events and then get back to me.

I’m not resending anything, you’ve got it all.


Now, since this letter I have had some contact from Telstra Complaints (which forms part of the basis for next weeks amusing installment), but also again from Telstra Recoveries.

It appear that this is far from over.


Monday, March 31, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 6

Hey Again,

So the last letter about not having services to disconnect fell on deaf ears. We received another standard reminder notice (shortly before Christmas '07) saying that our services would be disconnected unless we paid (at this stage, we had not services for them to disconnect). This came right around the time we welcomed a new baby into the world, so suffice to say, it slipped through the cracks and I did not respond.

So mid to late February '08, we received a letter from Telstra Specialised Recoveries, telling us that if we didn't pay them, they would report us to a credit agency and take legal action. Not fucking happy, Jan!

Oh, and did I mention that what they thought we owed them was approx $1,850??? The eagle eyed among you will be thinking back, but to refresh the newcomers.

Basically, for this number to be accurate, in a four week (slightly less) period, we would have had to rack up $1,600 for a bill that's usually no more than about $250 per month.

So, I called Specialised Recoveries, quoted my account number and asked for a fax that I could respond to. The helpful chap gave me a number, I hung up the phone and sent through my fax.

About an hour after sending it through I called them to check if they'd received it. I was told that it was a central fax line and that they would probably not get it until the end of the day, but that it should be fine. If I really wanted to, I could ring the next day to confirm.

No prob... Or so I thought.

Below is the fax I sent them.

To: Specialsed Recoveries
Fax: 03 9600-3476
Date: 25-2-08
Re: Account Number XXX XXXX XXX
Pages: 1

To Whom it may concern,

I am writing to you in regards to recent documentation received about account number XXX XXXX XXX

I note that it is a final demand for the payment of a debt Telstra believe is owed to them. I categorically deny that Telstra is owed any funds. To the contrary, it is I who am owed funds by Telstra.

Please review all correspondence on this matter before contacting me again. These are faxes sent to Telstra dated:

23rd July, 2007
8th October, 2007
5th November, 2007

Should this matter be falsely or incorrectly referred to any credit reporting agency by Telstra, I will immediately report your behavior to the Ombudsman and go to the media.

The manner in which Telstra has handled itself on this issue is an absolute disgrace!

While I will require a confirmation of any discussions with you in writing, I am happy to take a call from you once you have familiarized yourself with the history of the file. I can be contacted on XXXX XXX XXX.

However, unless you have familiarized yourself with all the documentation, don’t bother contacting me. I have already had enough of my time wasted.

Yours Sincerely,

Next week I'll give you some more info on what else happened on this fateful day. My blood was boiling to say the least and it's what finally tipped me over the edge (well, I was over already, but you get my drift)


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 5

Hey Again,

*** Remember, for the full story, read from the bottom up, or click on the specific parts of the story on the left. ***

Bit late with the update for this week. Easter Monday and all... Anyhoo, no need to be to prickly about it.

So, after the monster letter sent to Telstra in our last post, I was surprised to receive a reminder notice (apologies for no pic, but it was the standard "reminder notice") basically saying that if I didn't pay within x days, they would disconnect the service. Not wanting to leave paperwork unanswered, I sent off this fax to them.

facsimile transmittal
To: Telstra Complaints
Fax: 1800 642 425
Date: 5-11-07
Re: Account Number XXX XXXX XXX
Pages: 1

To Whom it may concern,

We have received a notice of disconnection of our Telstra services.

As you’ll note in our correspondence dated 8/10, not only have we changed providers (meaning, there are no Telstra services to disconnect), but our previous dispute remains unresolved. Telstra has not yet provided a refund appropriate to the amount it has overcharged.

I am amused, though not surprised, that Telstra would seek to disconnect a service that the customer has already… disconnected, due to Telstra’s lack of service.

I note, that we have yet to receive a cheque for our invoice dated 8-10-07. Please see that a cheque is issued forthwith so as to avoid any further legal action, which will be at an additional cost to you.

Should you have any questions, please review all the previous documentation submitted to you on this issue before contacting me, so as to avoid further misuse of my time.


Aah, the sweet irony!

Stay with me kids. There's more stupidity, muppetry and tomfoolery to come than you could possible imagine. Even now, new Chapters of the story are being created as Telstra stoops to even larger levels of stupidity (I know, hard to do, but they are excelling at this!)

Also, if you want to get an auto reminder of when updates hit, just click the subscribe link on the left.


Monday, March 17, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 4


As you can imagine, I'm starting to do my nut at this stage. The following letter is my response to Telstra's letter. Again, it's a long one, but filled with some great work (if I do say so myself). Again, nothing has been changed, edited or corrected.

This is an exact copy of what was sent to them, except for removing my own personal details and those of Telstra personnel.


Dear Sir Madam,

I refer to my letter dated 23/7/07, my fax dated the 24/7/07 and your written response dated 4/9/07, your ref: X-XXXXXXXXX.

Let me begin by saying thank you for your response. Towards the end of the letter it does have a paragraph or 2 of boilerplate “we apologise”, “it’s below our standard”, “Telstra prides itself on providing a positive customer experience” (a month later, that one still makes me giggle), and that my complaint will be forwarded for training purposes etc. Great! In light of the fact that the questions in my complaint were not addressed though, I was going to write a nasty letter back to you with all manner of fruity and harsh language.

But, I’ve just decided to cancel all my Telstra services, (which thankfully has now been done), take the high road, and write to you to help your customer service training department, as it’s clear that as a whole, they’ve got a ways to go. I have also included an invoice for this. Please see that all invoices are paid in a timely fashion as late payments can incur interest charges and I don’t want to have to put one of those cute little crocodile stamps on a reminder notice that says ”You may have overlooked this account.” Also, be aware that I am available for personal appearances at any corporate retreats, seminars, motivational talks etc.

So, let us begin.

You have completely ignored the core issues and direct questions in my complaint and instead, after weeks and several more delays, simply made a “goodwill” gesture and provided a partial refund. I apologise for the delay in responding to you, but much like your own letter, I had to pass this by my lawyers so that I did not say anything naughty. He’s a hack, so it’s possible a few things slipped by him though. What also added to the delay was that before canceling all my Telstra services, I had to check which of the other Lying, Cheating, Incompetent, Prick, Bastard Telcos’ I was going to go with after leaving your Lying, Cheating, Incompetent, Prick, Bastard ass of a company.

My lawyer felt this whole “Lying, Cheating, Incompetent, Prick Bastard” thing might not be a good idea, but I assured him that as to Telstra I could prove Lying, Cheating and Incompetent and that I felt this made you a bunch of Pricks and Bastards. Sure, when it comes to other Telco’s I can’t quite do that, but then again, I’m not naming them so… Having said that, iPrimus appear to have muppet tendencies as well. Not a full blown Telstra case of the stupids, but you guys aren’t the industry leaders for nothing, so let’s give ‘em some time eh?

Your use of “without prejudice” is frankly a joke. I was not planning on suing, you bunch of morons and I thought my letter would have been clear as to what was required. Then again, perhaps not. Let me help you out. For starters, a sincere apology would have helped. After speaking to approximately 6 different people at Telstra after my written complaint was received by you, only one person (XXX) expressed some disappointment in the way I had been treated and came close to an apology. For the rest, it was just business as usual. You have a wonderful grasp of how to deal with your customers.

However, this is in keeping with your written response, which as I said earlier, did not acknowledge any wrong doing on your part, but did in fact offer a partial refund for my troubles as a “goodwill” gesture. Grow some frikkin’ nuts and just say, “Yes, we screwed up and we’re giving you a refund for what we’ve overcharged you. Sorry about the hassle.” Don’t preface it with “goodwill gesture.” This kind of stupidity and corporate scared “shitlessness” just pisses people off. A sincere apology goes way further in a lot of instances.

Don’t get me wrong. I can be bought and I pride myself that I can be bought cheap damn it, but you have completely failed to satisfactorily address my concerns and I just get the overall feeling that as a company, you still don’t love me. You don’t appreciate me. It feels like you feel like you’re doing me the favour. Like I can’t get any of the services you provide me and which I part with my money from many other companies. In some instance cheaper. You’ve left me feeling like a mistress who has put out for years with a married guy, hoping that he’s going to leave his wife, despite the excuses that “it would hurt the kids too much.” Oh sure, flick the whore a few bob every now and then and everything will be alright, but all that lovely, sweet whore who moved from Kansas to the big city for a better life (but could never quite cut it) wants to hear is, “I’m sorry I treated you like a whore and tried to pay you off. You’re a good kid, you’ll go far and again, I’m really sorry.”

Your much delayed response not only delayed the “resolution” of the matter, but resulted in my phone being barred from service despite being very clear in my letter as to my views on paying a bill when Telstra could not provide a correct invoice. Additionally, I also learned that a Telstra consultant misled me in regards to particular cap plans (claiming that no competitor had a plan that included international calls) in order to get me to stay with Telstra.

This kind of misleading and deceptive conduct is clearly very serious and not what one would expect from a large, publicly listed company.

I had cause to call your complaints department a number of times after my letter of the 23/7/07. One time in particular however has brought many hours of joy and mirth to the dozens of people I have informed. Upon having my service barred (under the assumption that it was because, bunch of incompetents that you are, you cannot coordinate your systems and see that there is a dispute in progress), I called the main Telstra billing number to be informed that yes, my account had been suspended because a bill had not been paid. I explained that there was a dispute in progress and that I wanted the suspension lifted immediately. The polite lady informed me that while she could actually do this, the credit department would just bar it again and so it was best if I called the lady that the dispute was being handled through. Not feeling generous being given the runaround by the morons that you be and even though I in fact had the direct number of the person she was telling me to call (XXX) and could have very, very easily called her myself, I said that I would not do that, but was happy to hold the line while she did it for me. She agreed… And then hung up on me! Idiot! Complete nob!

As I had your complaints number on speed dial, I called the number and asked to speak to XXX. I was told that she was on the phone and that they could get her to call me back. I explained to the receptionist that my service had been barred and that I needed to get it lifted immediately and asked if I could wait on hold. The response from the receptionist is the source of the above joy and mirth as the lovely receptionist tells me that “she can’t keep me on hold for a long length of time as there is only one phone line.”

I’ll write it again: “she can’t keep me on hold for a long length of time as there is only one phone line.”

I know, what you’re thinking. “It’s Telstra. Surely the company I work for has this licked.” But so you’re clear, I’ll write it again, slightly larger, just to make sure it sinks in. Hey, I’ll go all the way, I’ll bold it too.

“she can’t keep me on hold for a long length of time as there is only one phone line.”

There you go. How’s that? Telstra’s complaints department can’t keep people on hold because there’s only one line. Now again, I do know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself, “It just can’t be. It’s just can’t frikkin’ be that a Telstra department, any Telstra department, only has one line.” But there it is. I have to assume one of two things here; 1) The receptionist lied to me (quite possible) or 2) Telstra really only have one line in and can’t keep people on hold for too long. Truth be told, you’ve got me. I’m stumped. I don’t know which one it is. It’s not that I can’t believe your staff lied to me, ‘cause you know they do. They do it either to earn bonuses or because they’re incompetent. It’s just that in keeping with all the other stupid, anti customer behavior I’ve had the unfortunate “privilege” of dealing with at Telstra, it’s still more believable to me that Telstra really do only have one line.

I’m going to go out on a limb here. Might I bloody well suggest, that one line to the Telstra complaints department is way too optimistic.

Anyway, after telling the lady that I would be happy to pay the line rental for you guys to get an extra few lines, I hung up and waited for XXX to call me back.

Fortunately she did, and to cut a long story short, at this stage I had still not received a correct invoice or a response to my letter, but she basically said that even though there was an amount in dispute, their clearly were funds owing, so she was not sure if she could get the suspension lifted. While I agreed this was likely the case, I said that as I had pointed out in my letter, I would not pay a bill until I had a correct and accurate invoice and a written response to my letter, which is not too much to ask and that I would still not be paying anything until that was done. I also further stated that if I did not have the service reconnected within a few hours, I would forward all documentation to the ombudsman with an update. She offered to keep me on hold (don’t ask me how – only one line) while she went through to credit. I told her that I didn’t need to stay on the line, I would know in a few hours (if my phone was working) which way Telstra was going to go with this. Luckily for all, my service was reconnected.

I could write pages and pages of this crap and it would still not begin to explain the deep and sincere loathing I have for your company, nor detail appropriately enough the level of incompetence and muppetry that goes on at that place. It’s gotta be by design though, there’s no other explanation. It’s not possible that an organization, no matter how big or small, could be genuinely as piss poorly run as Telstra, so I gotta believe it’s design.

Steve was placing his personal items into a box. His
time at Telstra had been short and he had really made
absolutely no impact on the company whatsoever. Dave,
his moustache playing boss had made it very clear to him.

“You’re just not a team player Steve. We run a tight ship
here and we need everyone on board. We can’t have you
trying to help the customer. Are you nuts? If you help them
Steve, we’ll be out of a job. You see, the customer is like a
newborn at the teet of its mother. The customer needs us
Steve. They need us because if we weren’t here, who would
help them with their problems, which arise solely because of
the Anti Customer Service Initiatives we’ve spent the last 3
years rolling out across the company? Hmm Steve? Who?”

As Steve finished placing the last of his personal items into
his box, he considered doing something bold and different
on his way out. Maybe flip Dave the bird. That could be good.
Or perhaps photocopy his bum on the office photocopier.
None of those seemed to be “Steve” though.

And then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit him.

He would go work for a company that valued its customers.
Treated them with respect and intelligence. Dealt with them
in a professional and courteous manner. He would be a
Champion of Customer Service, knowing in his soul that
this is the way to keep customers happy. “I’ve got it,”
he thought to himself as he confidently walked into Dave’s
office and told him the bold, in your face, statement he was
going to make.

Dave looked at Steve from the whiteboard where he was
making a presentation to his team and made his heartfelt
plea. There was not an ounce of comprehension on Dave’s
face. As Steve left the room and Dave turned back to his
presentation, he saw the title on the whiteboard:
“12 Foolproof Techniques to Enrage the Customer.”

But, it’s because I’m giver and through the teachings of Swami Gupta that I have learned to channel negative energy in a positive fashion. This is why I’m offering you my services in the area of staff Customer Service training. It’s a big job, but something that, unlike probably pretty much everyone at Telstra, I am truly passionate about. Swami Gupta also suggested that letter writing could be a good release too. I’m not sure I believe that, but Swami Gupta is indeed a wise man, so perhaps I’ll try it one day.

Anyway, in closing I’d just like to make a few other comments.

• This puppy is definitely not “without prejudice”. If we get to court over something, let’s just make all docs public before the court. And really, if you were gonna go with “without prejudice” while making a “goodwill gesture” refund, you really should have gone with “without prejudice save as to costs” just in case. Someone has to pay for those expensive legal salaries. Tsk. Tsk.
• I am at this stage still not completely satisfied with the sum of your goodwill gesture. I am assessing the bills currently and will pay an appropriate amount for the outstanding sum.
• Harry Potter doesn’t die after all. Well he does, but as it happens, he comes back. Look, just read it for yourself, it’s a keeper

Former Telstra Customer

P.S. If you need someone to write any future shareholder letters about how much regulation sucks, let me know.

Tax Invoice

Bill To: Invoice No: 001
Telstra Corporation Ltd
Level 41 – Telstra Centre,
242 Exhibition St,
Melbourne, VIC, 3000

Date: 8/10/07

Description Amount

Training Letter to Telstra 23/7/07 No Charge
Training Letter to Telstra 24/7/07 No Charge
Training Letter to Telstra 4/10/07 $250.00
Photocopying and Faxing $ 17.00

Total: $267.00

Please make all payments by cheque to the above address
Strictly 7 days


So that' it for another week. Incidentally, I'm gonna have to go to the newsagents to pick up one of those stretchy crocodile thingamagigs...


Monday, March 10, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 3

Hi All,

Well, now after a few months of written correspondence AFTER a few months of phone contact, Telstra finally respond to me in writing.

Have a look at their response for yourself.

Just click the pic for a larger version.

So that's their response. I was not happy Jan...

Come back next week to see why

'til then.
Former Telstra Customer

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 2

OK, here is another piece of correspondence that had to be sent to our thick headed friends. If you've read Part 1, you'll realize the irony in this...

Here goes.

facsimile transmittal

To: Complaints Department
Fax: 1800 642 425
Date: 24-7-07

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please find a copy of a complaints letter I sent to an email address yesterday ( on the following pages. I was given that email address from one of your customer service consultants in the Online Billing Dept.

The response I received is below:

Thank you for your e-mail.
Your e-mail has been received by an unattended mailbox and cannot be actioned. Please go to the online form at to submit your e-mail. Telstra is committed to providing you with the highest levels of customer service, including protecting your privacy. Telstra is bound by the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988, which sets out a number of principles concerning the protection of your personal information.

To view our Privacy Statement, please visit

I can only hope and pray that the irony of the above is not lost upon you as you read my complaint. I don’t understand why anyone would be given an “unattended” email address as a complaints address, nor why a contactus email address would be “unattended.” Incredible!

I await your reply.


...So that's it! Not to much to this weeks update. Next week, we'll see their official reply.

Hey, it only took them 6 weeks or so to get around to it and it is really what sprignboards this to a new level.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Telstra Story: Part 1

Hey Again,

OK, below you'll get Part 1 of The Telstra Story.

Each Monday, I will add another part of the story. Most will be considerably shorter than this one, but there is another "biggie" in there somewhere. As it currently stands, this means there's about 7 weeks or so of posts to date. Where Telstra have responded in writing, I will also post their reply. Don't despair though, I've no doubt, that things will not get resolved so "easily" so who knows, I could be posting something new each week for another year.

As I said, earlier, other than personal information, these are sent as is, including typos, grammatical errors etc and later on some slightly fruity language.

The only context that's relevant is that I had been trying to sort out several issues with Telstra over the phone for several months.

So here goes...

Date: 23-7-07


Re: Account number – XXX XXXX XXX

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am calling about a number of complaints I have regarding the above account number.

Other than a month or two off, since May of last year I have spent over 2 hours a month on the phone with Telstra trying to resolve a number of outstanding issues.

It began with a request to go to Single Billing. The assumption was that this would make things simpler. I was wrong. It took several months to resolve the outstanding issues that resulted in me actually receiving extra accounts rather than fewer. No problem, these things happen…

In approximately November last year I was called by someone from Telstra with regards to checking whether I was on the best mobile plan. I was told that instead of being on the $250 plan, I should change to the $40 (I believe) cap plan. I did this and the next month my mobile bill was in excess of $500! I rang and was told that it was probably an anomaly as it takes until a certain date for the new contract to kick in, so, give it another month. I did so, same problem.

I called again and explained the situation and was told that I was given incorrect information and that I should be on the $79 (???) cap plan and I should never have been placed on the other plan. Despite your error which led to a doubling of my phone bill for 2 months I was told that I would need to start a new 12 month contract on the new plan. Being put in a corner is so much fun! I had no choice and had to accept.

I’ll allow you to copy and paste the earlier paragraphs about the doubling of phone bills as this is what happened for the next two months on the $79 cap plan… So to allow everyone to be clear where we’re at: I had four months of massive phone bills due to Telstra getting me on the best plan for me. Great!!!

I call Telstra and simply say that I want to go back to my original $250 plan due to the above and this was done with no fuss (I should have suspected something, since it was so easy).

Several months ago, I moved onto paperless billing. What a wonderful idea! Go online, get the bill, pay the bill, save the planet, feel good about it. It all sounds so simple. Again, dead wrong. In simple terms, the amounts shown on the online billing system do not accurately reflect the amounts owing (in general), the issue date of bills do not match your own records and in trying to sort through this, one is passed from Online Billing to Single Billing, rinse and repeat.

It was during one of these washing cycles approximately four weeks ago that I requested a physical copy of the bill so that I could see things for myself as the Telstra consultant was seeing them. i.e. I could see the info in Online Billing was different to what I was being told and I wanted a physical copy of what the consultant was seeing. She was going to send me out a bill.

Two weeks later, no bill!!!

I call again to find out where the paper copy of the bill is to learn that there was an “error” in sending me out the bill. The address is right, I’m still getting my copy of Hustler magazine and Readers Digest, so Australia Post has it right. Hell, I even get marketing materials from Telstra (without asking for them) so as an organization you’re capable of this feat of wonder known as postage. Chin Up! However, in this instance, “error” is all we’ve got. No attempt to resend, no attempt to call me and say “Hey, we don’t know why, but we can’t send you a bill,” nothing. Just “error.”

The consultant while looking through the account to try and find out what is going on with the “error” is making small talk etc and it comes out about the above history etc. She says I should go through to Mobile because that sounds ridiculous that I’m spending $500 on mobiles when I’ve made $24 worth of calls. (Now, to be fair, the $24 might not be right. I’ve had so many numbers and I’m a simple person. I get confused.)

Now, if you will dear reader, cast your mind back to the mobile plan shenanigans above. This wonderful gem of a consultant also discovers that I’ve been charged a contract termination fee for going back to the $250 plan, the SAME DAY that I actually sign up to it. That’s right. Sign up to a plan, and be charged a fee for terminating the plan you’ve just signed up for. Now, as we’ve established, I get confused with numbers, but this just sounds wrong darnit. A subsequent consultant agrees with me and informs me that the error (this is a different error from “error” – stay with me) was corrected (great), but that the contract termination fee was then reapplied… Wait for it… You’re not gonna believe it… It really is a pearler…Here it is… TWICE!


After going to get a nice cup of calming chamomile tea and some scones with jam and cream (the tea and scones were in my head, as I was actually on hold to Telstra for another half an hour), I was told that a credit had been applied to the account (from memory it was about $650, but you know how I am with numbers) and that I could go back to the previous department and they could send me out an accurate bill via magical post without an “error”, the war in Iraq would be over, global warming solved and Harry Potter wouldn’t be dead (kidding, only up to page 184, I haven’t finished it yet, but I hear that’s what happens… That evil Voldemort!).

Alas, upon being transferred to the other department (and naturally, this is an instant transfer, it’s not like you’ve gotta wait and wait and wait) I was informed that the amount owing did not reflect any credit.

Snap!!! Again!!!

As this particular call was simply supposed to be to find out where the copy of the bill sent in the mail had gone, I was expecting it to be a five minute call. I know. For that one, I got nobody to blame but myself. What was I thinking? As over an hour and a half had gone by and I was to be getting on a plane later in the day I was fed up. I simply said “there’s a discrepancy in the account (again) and I’m not paying the bill until I get an accurate bill. I don’t want my phone disconnected, put on barring or anything else.” The lady put a two week extension on the account and I packed my bags.

I had decided that I wanted to put a complaint to Telstra in writing and rang today to find an appropriate fax number or email address of the complaints dept. I spoke to a lady who informed me that I could send a letter to the Ombudsman, but that Telstra did not deal with general complaints in writing. ARE YOU FRIKKIN’ KIDDING ME??? We can put a man on the moon, we can break down the genetic code of the human body, put Paris in jail, let her out, send her back, then let her out early again, Hustler magazine can send me porn in the post, but Telstra cannot accept complaints in writing? Apparently so, according to this lady, so she puts me through to Online Billing as “it appears to be an online billing problem.” I state that I do not want to spend two hours on the phone and am “assured” (with a “tone” I might add) that I won’t spend 2 hours on the phone and that this is the dept to assist me. With no recourse (because you can’t make a complaint to Telstra in writing) I have to accept once again being placed in a corner.

It ultimately only took about 45 mins so I suppose she was right. Sorry lady!

Upon speaking to the new consultant in Online Billing I go through the drama again and explain that I wanted to make a complaint in writing, but that even though we can put a man on the moon, Paris, Hustler etc you can’t make a complaint to Telstra in writing. “Yes you can,” comes the response.


As the meeting began, Dave, the Telstra Group Leader

of Innovation and Synergistic Marketing, Sales & Anti

Customer Service sipped at his cappuccino, played

with his moustache and said, “Right, we really, really

want to annoy our customers, drive them away, and

just give them an extended, negative experience of dealing

with us,” to all but one approving nod in the room.

Steve, who had only been with the company for a day and

had kept his head perfectly still at the end of Dave’s comment got

up the courage to say in a mouse like voice, “But don’t we

need customers? Don’t they provide us with a source of

revenue for the goods and services which we provide them?

Surely, if we design this extended, negative experience won’t

our customers, our life blood and source of revenue that

they are, forsake us and move to one of our many competitors?”

The others in the room looked at Steve blankly, before

moving on.

So, you can give me some details of where I can direct a complaint in writing I ask, just to be sure the ear infection from being on the phone with you guys all the time has not actually caused me to hear something which is not real. Like an aural mirage when you’re in the desert. “Yes I can,” says the consultant who goes on to provide me with a GPO box address, before giving me this email address ( because “it will be quicker.” How thoughtful! Steve’s making an impact after all.

But disaster strikes yet again, as the person I am put on to, to assist me with a bill payment extension doesn’t have a clue about any of this. (I’m not quite sure why I need an extension. I would have thought that you can only be asked to pay for something if you have received an accurate invoice for it, but what do I know?)

I’m then told that the bill is not late (what a relief) as it’s due on the 30/7. Now, unless this is some charitable grant of time from Telstra from the multiple screwups that they know nothing about, you can imagine my skepticism here. I haven’t paid a bill in at least a month due to this issue, so how it can’t be due yet is beyond me, but I’ll take the small wins when I can get ‘em.

So, to be clear, until I get an accurate bill, I won’t be paying a bill.

I’m told I have been sent a bill out today that will not accurately reflect the amount owed (as the credit will only appear on my next bill) but that I should receive this in the next 3-4 days. I’m a generous guy though, so allowing for any “errors” that might arise, I’ll give you 7 days. If I don’t have the bill by that stage, I’m sure I’ll be able to take the matter up with whoever will have already responded to this letter and we can have all the issues resolved directly. If not, I’m sure someone in the media would be interested in hearing about the level of service from Telstra and the high accuracy of the billing system.

So, to wrap this up, here’s what I’d like to know. If you can satisfactorily answer these questions, I will keep my business with Telstra. If not, I’m outta here. (Here’s a tip though, try get Steve to answer them).

1) Why is it acceptable for your customers to spend 2 hours on the phone with you almost every month for 15 months?

2) Why is it so difficult to get an accurate bill on Online Billing? Both in amounts owed and issue dates for accounts?

3) Why is it so difficult to speak to someone who can accurately and politely answer my questions and resolve my problems without the yo-yoing from one department to another, often back to the same department who couldn’t help earlier?

4) My business is based on time billed. How can I justify the additional expense of time lost each month (on top of either excessive bills due to Telstra suggesting the wrong plans – twice – or incorrectly charging for “terminated contracts”) by staying with Telstra?

5) Why should I stay with Telstra?

If this is the wrong department to send this to, I dare you, instead of sending it to the right one yourself and letting me know you’ve done so, just write back to me, the customer and tell me it’s the wrong department. Truly. Seriously. Reply to me and tell me that I (the customer, just to make sure) have to take it up with another department. Or better yet, don’t reply at all. Just delete it and think of me as a customer that’s too much trouble. Those that actually just simply want a service and to accurately pay for what they use can be so pesky can’t they?

Please don’t mistake the sarcasm in this letter for someone who is not genuinely annoyed, or does not want a genuine response. I just want to pay what I owe, not have my time wasted and have a good level of service. It’s not too much to ask.

I sincerely await your reply.


So that's the end of Part 1. See you next Monday for Part Deux.

Nutjob or aggrieved customer? Discuss.

Monday, February 25, 2008



Hi All,

This blog was set up to highlight the ongoing saga I have had with Australia's largest telecommunications company, Telstra. It's been going for over 12 months and in writing for over 8 months or so.

Current Status: Unresolved.

It's a long story, so I'll tease it out over a few weeks and keep you up to date with current events.

To be clear, there is zero exaggeration in the details of any of the events I have described. If I say for example, I was hung up on 4 times, I was. If I say, I was lied to by customer service, I was. If I say, oh I don't know...Telstra complaints told me they couldn't put me on hold for any length of time because they only have one phone line. Yep, you guessed it.

I think most of you will pick up the obvious areas of exaggeration in some elements of my correspondence to them. I think those times speak for themselves.

I'm normally a sane person. Really I am. True, these sonsabitches have really brought out the wackjob in me, but to be fair, they have completely and utterly put me through the ringer. I started out being polite, normal and forgiving of errors, but this didn't get me anywhere, so I was forced to use the only thing I had... Sarcasm! What you gonna do?

The only changes I have made to any of the correspondence is to remove account numbers and personal details of both myself and the people I dealt with at Telstra. Other than that, it's all in its original form.

It's my hope that we can start a movement, burn some man-bras and really get these big companies to treat their customers with some respect and god forbid, provide some genuine customer service. It's not to much to ask for... Yeah right!

So, in the next few days, come back for an update to see how it all began. Post a comment. Ask a question. I'll try to answer anything or provide more specifics if someone wants them. ALso, stay with it! This is a lengthy saga in terms of the reading, but you'll be amazed at the incompetence it's exposed and I suspect many of you will have had similar customer service experiences (though hopefully not as long and drawn out).

May those who have been royally screwed over by piss poor customer service unite!