Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Dial "T" for Terrible

I must be the first person to become a new Telstra customer in a very long time.

I assume this as I watch well-meaning Telstra staff stumble and trip their way through the process of signing me up.   It feels like opening a new account and connecting a new customer to the internet are tasks they've never had to do before.

Yes, in case you haven't figured it out already this post is a rant about Telstra, joining all the other blog rants about Australia's largest telecommunications carrier.

To be fair, I really thought I was doing something simple.  I just wanted to connect to cable broadband. Sadly, I only had one provider to choose from - Telstra.

I was a Telstra customer years ago, but like so many I tired of the cost and poor service, and jumped ship as soon as some competition came along.

What with their jazzy new ads and jingle, I figured Telstra had changed their ways and it would all be different this time around.

It's not.  It's the same.  Possibly worse.

Here's six reasons why:

1.  The Waiting Game
All the staff must be off filming those ads with Jessica Mauboy, Magda Szubanski and Jimmy Barnes as every phone call to Telstra has involved a lengthy period on hold.  If you're going to dial, clear your schedule for the next hour.  Let's just say you'll become VERY familiar with that jingle as it is piped down the line.

Even on Telstra's 24x7 Live Chat you get the feeling you're sitting in a big virtual room all by yourself as different consultants come and go leaving you to wait.

This is how I amused myself waiting 30 minutes for a consultant to come back

2.  So many departments, so little clue
Part of the reason you're on hold a lot is that even deceptively simple questions like"how much is the plan I am on?", involves a journey through several departments.  It may be one of the country's largest private companies, but they make government bureaucracy seem like a lean and efficient machine.

There's the Accounts team, the Bundles team (?), the Bigpond team, and so on.   Don't worry, you'll soon become familiar with all of them as you get passed around the company.  This is because it seems all these different departments are the holders of little pieces of information about your account, but not enough information for just one of them to be of any use to you.

3.  Things that make you go Hmmm 1
Today I was a little bit surprised to receive a call from Telstra confirming my appointment next week when a technician, sometime during a four-hour period (does he not have a phone?), is going to come to my house and connect my cable broadband.

I was surprised because this was the same appointment I cancelled two weeks ago and the same cable broadband I connected to about 10 days ago and have been using ever since.   A quick check of my account might have revealed that I've actually used about 10GB of that cable broadband they were going to connect.  

4.  Things that make you go Hmmm 2
Speaking of connecting, I was assured the "self-installation" of cable broadband was very simple.

"You just pop in the CD that comes with the modem and it does it all," the Telstra peeps assured me.  How wonderful!

When the CD repeatedly crashed after I put it into my Macbook, I figured it might be scratched.  So I downloaded the dedicated Apple version of the installation software from the Telstra website, but that crashed too.

"Oh, the Apple self-installation program doesn't work on Macs," a Telstra rep later confided in me.

5.  Things that make you go Mmmm 3
Trying to navigate the self-installation riddle, I rang Telstra hoping they could talk me through what I needed to do.  Afterall, my previous ADSL provider Dodo had done this quickly and efficiently.

"Oh no, it's very complex, particularly if your using a Mac. You're going to need a technician to visit in a couple of weeks," a Telstra rep said.

Undeterred, and a little cranky at this point, I pressed the rep and two minutes later I was connected.   I was happy to have my internet, and also happy I didn't pay the fee required to have a technician come out to perform this two-minute task.

6.  Want cable broadband?  Great!  Here's your home phone line!
Much like the ubiquitous free set of steak knives that comes with the AbMaster 2000, it seems any Telstra product comes with a free home phone line... whether you want it or not.   I ditched my home phone years ago and really just wanted cable broadband.   I was told it was pretty much impossible to get cable without a home phone and/or it would cost so much more to have cable without a home phone line.

So now I've got a home phone line, but don't bother calling it as there's no phone connected to it.

Look, I probably shouldn't gripe.

The cable broadband works and the Telstra staff have been as helpful as they can be during the countless phone calls and emails I've had with them sorting it out.  

And now that they've had their experience of connecting a new customer, I'm sure it will be much smoother for everyone else that follows.

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