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...



Anonymous said...


Read your account of woes. I can partly understand what you have been through, having had to deal with Telstra Complaints for the last 4 weeks. Till date, my issue has not been resolved and I see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Another frustrated Telstra customer.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I identify with what you have written. Normally a sane, calm person, contact with Telstra can reduce me to a quivering idiot. I am planning on suing Telstra sometime in the future for the therapy I am going to need if I have to have any more dealings with their customer 'support' service.