Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I despair: Telstra

WARNING: Rant follows

Some years ago I lived in another country and there I had a home telephone line.  I never thought much about it.  I just paid the bill every month and whenever I wanted to phone someone I just got on the blower and phoned them.  Simple.  I had my home internet service with the same provider.  The only time I ever heard from them was one snowy day when my children had been stuck indoors for an entire school holidays and had used up our internet allocation for the month.  Then someone from my internet service provider phoned me to suggest we move to a different plan as that would be better value.  Nice.

Then I moved to Australia and somehow fell through a telecommunications crack in time that now sees me with the sort of home phone service that my mother wouldn't have stood for back when I was a girl.  These days I spend a considerable amount of my time and energy just trying to keep phone and internet services connected to our house.  Those of you who have done away with a home phone line may think that just going mobile might be a better option.  But alas, I live in Falcon WA, which despite being in one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, has extremely poor mobile coverage.  Neither my home mobile (Telstra) or my work mobile (Telstra) work at my house. 

So yet again today I did not have the day I had planned to have because of Telstra.  Today for the third time this year, I went to use the phone only to find it completely dead.  On the past two occasions (this year, this rant would be far too long if I catalogued all the various problems we have had with Telstra since moving to Australia) it took several days to get the problem fixed.  The last time was only two weeks ago.  For two days our phone was dead.  Then Telstra cheerfully phoned me at work to say that the problem was fixed.  Next thing we discover that all our calls were being transferred through to the home phone of a woman who lives in Mittagong, NSW.  I chatted to her several times while we were trying to get Telstra to fix the problem.  In the end she told me that I was probably being too nice and needed to get grumpier with Telstra.  So I faked another case of early onset grumpy old woman syndrome and suddenly it got fixed.

Today I spent the day at home with a seriously ill child, no home phone and no mobile reception.  When I finally ran down the road to report the fault Telstra's response was that hopefully someone would get back to me within 3 working days.  I said "Er, not good enough" before my mobile lost reception and cut out.  Later when I rang to follow-up I was told "They needed to get a part in" as if I was calling from Antarctica!  So to all of you desperately trying to phone through with birthday wishes for my son or with exciting party invitations for me (mwah ha ha), I have absolutely no idea when we will next be able to chat. Sigh.

The thing is, Telstra and their gob-smackingly poor service have worn me down.  I despair that because of the numerous times I have had to deal with them over the past 18 months, with problem after problem after problem, that now I really do have early onset grumpy old woman syndrome. (I think it has even altered my looks.  That's me above, what do you think? ) Their inability to deliver such a seemingly simple service as a home telephone line beggars belief and has left me desperately seeking an alternative.  The problem is that everyone I've mentioned this to reckons that the alternatives are just as hopeless.  Double sigh.

A big project in Australia at the moment is the National Broadband Network.  Politicians bang on about it constantly as if somehow building a fatter pipe is going to change the world.  Well good luck to them, but given my experience of Australian telecommunications, that seems like attempting to make a souffle when you haven't even mastered boiling eggs.

To all those people who write to me about whether they should move here (and who I always have great difficulty replying to), you have been warned.


  1. So have you sent a link to this post to Telstra yet? Might do them some good to see what bad press they're getting by their customers (albeit a reluctant one)out in interwebland.

    Internet connection at the centre is ridiculously bad and I'm making little progress with what the problem is (don't think it's due to Telstra though). For about a month now, about every two out of three times we try to go online the connection has dropped out...go through the process of resetting modem and rebooting computer only for it to work for about 5 mins then drop out again, invariably after I've composed an email, or done something that requires saving on our internal web-based about a ridiculous waste of time. Hope yours is sorted now.

  2. After writing that I got onto Telstra's online chat (typing) thingy and let them know that I was quite fed up, was not going to wait 3 days just to hear back from someone and given that this was the 3rd time this year it had been disconnected I was laying an official complaint. When I got up next morning and tried the phone it was working. A few minutes later it rang - M's doctor to say her test results were back, she was seriously ill and to take her to hospital immediately, where she stayed for 4 days ( and 2 wks later is still off school).
    Since then I have had 7 calls from Telstra telling me that either a) my problem is being looked into and will be resolved within 3 days, b) my problem has been escalated and a supervisor will get back to me within 3 days or c) could I please do a survey - though the calls didn't come in that order! I still despair.
    Sadly the lesson is that jumping up and down and making a fuss and even being a bit rude is the only way to get any action from Telstra.