Have you ever suffered poor service and thought I can’t be bothered doing anything about it?
Complaining, providing feedback… whatever you wish to label it, is worth it, despite the time and frustration you will devote to the process.
A couple of years ago now, I, the fortunate one who spends my day at a desk, computer and telephone, who therefore is in charge of such things for our household, changed mobile phone and broadband providers because the service the G.O. and I were getting from Optus was below par.
More often than not we had no mobile phone coverage. One of us could stand on the street and the other above on the balcony within sight and still not be able to call each other.
Optus provided technical support to test our devices, and found no problem. Eventually, we started to get closer to the truth when their customer service representatives indicated necessary infrastructure improvements were in the pipeline to improve the capacity in our area. Given I’m mostly located with the Sydney CBD and 6 km radius, it was a worry.
Optus suggested patience. I was ex-contract for the mobile broadband service so I cancelled it and changed to Telstra with whom we had our home phone at Taylors Arm. I then suggested to Optus that we were paying $60 per month per mobile device on a contract that didn’t mention patience and wasn’t delivering what it did specify. They continued to offer me platitudes.
I first threatened to, and then lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Ombudsmen. That got Optus’ attention. Within days they called and offered a 6 month hiatus on monthly payments for both accounts. $720 worth. That took us to within a couple of months of the end of our contract dates. I read later on a forum that I wasn’t alone in my experience.
Just prior to the Optus contracts expiring they offered us upgraded phones, gratis. I declined, cancelled the services and signed us up with Telstra. All our eggs: home phone (necessary at Taylors Arm as it is a mobile coverage no go zone); 2 mobile phones; and mobile broadband, in one rickety basket.
The process was reasonably straight forward except for the discounts I’d been told about were apparently no longer available because a couple of months had passed since I’d made my enquiries. What can I say; we’re not ones to rush into things. Lesson learned, ask for and keep reference numbers of all interactions with Telco’s. I had, the CSR honoured the discounts and applied them as a lump sum.
The next battle was after I replaced my old Toshiba Laptop with a Toshiba Ultrabook. I got a good deal because the model was being superseded. It had been on the shelf for 12 months. This was apparent when I set it up as the app updates downloaded all up once, and consumed my mobile broadband data allowance.
Did I realise this? No.
The laptop was just not performing so I checked the forums and came to the conclusion there must have been a software issue created by the app updates, so restored the factory settings. It still didn’t perform.
Back in the office on Monday I had a light bulb moment, and checked my online Telstra account.
That’s when I saw the entire 4 gb data allowance for the month, with 3 weeks to go, had been used. I logged an online CSR chat, advised Telstra of the issue, and asked why I hadn’t been notified of the slowed service. I was told I had been, via my Telstra email address. Fine, except it’s never been activated and my account details list very clearly the appropriate “email address (to receive correspondence, news and updates)”.
I asked could I be notified by text in future. I was advised that option was projected for the future but not available at this time. Let me ask, if the default is to communicate via Telstra customer email addresses to advise the Telstra service is slowed, wouldn’t that make it less likely customers would effectively receive the email?
Can I increase my data allowance? Sure? 8 gb. No problem. Can I change it back? Sure. Contact us next month.
Next month came. I logged an online CSR chat and placed my request to revert to 4 gb data allowance. I would not do that was the response. Why not? You are out of contract, if you change your account you will lose your discount as it is no longer offered. You might lose it anyway.
I lost that battle. I kept the 8 gb data allowance. As far as I know the discount is in situ.
I lived to fight another day. Last week browsing SMH online the article Websites loading slow? Telstra says it is suffering from a widespread issue affecting popular sites caught my attention. I had mentioned to the G.O. that Facebook had not been loading images properly but put it down to overloaded demand. It kept happening but as I’m not on Facebook constantly, my experience of it was moderated.
That wasn’t the point though, was it? So I logged an online CSR chat, advised them I had experienced the issues reported, had not been advised by Telstra, had read about it in the media, and could I please have a credit? I was advised it couldn’t be dealt with via online chat, and a Case Manager would call me within 2 business days. Another lesson learned; always keep a copy of the live chat transcripts as well as the interaction reference numbers.
3 and a half business days later I received a text saying a Case Manager had called me. I was at work, and despite being in the middle of Sydney CBD my Telstra mobile rarely rings, incoming calls go straight to message.
The Case Manager called back, and got lucky, the call came through and we were able to ascertain he had the wrong details. I had not complained about slowed service, as he had been informed, and he was unable to access the live chat transcript to assist me further. He would get a more senior Case manager to follow up and call me within 3 to 5 business days.
A day later I received a call from a Telstra Case Manager which went straight to message. I called the return contact number provided and was eventually transferred to a different Case Manager who still had the same wrong details and was unable to access the live chat transcript to assist me further.
Shortly after I received yet another call from a Very Senior Telstra Case Manager in Melbourne which went straight to message. I called the return contact number provided, was unable to be transferred to her but left her my work number so she could call me back. She did, and hallelujah, could access the live chat transcript. She was great. She read the transcript, and listened as I synopsised all my recent Telstra feedback. I concluded, credit isn’t my primary motive, but unless I provide feedback and ask for credit, nothing will change. It may not change anyway but at least I’ve tried.
No problem, she said. I will credit your account $10 per month for your broadband as if you were on a 24 month contract plus 1 month of your broadband cost – a total of $279 in a lump sum will apply to your next bill.
If you were affected by the Telstra issue affecting loading of images to websites including Facebook and Instagram, or any issue with service providers at all where you hand over hard-earned cash but aren’t getting the corresponding benefit, I encourage you to take a stand.
If you’ve exhausted an organisation’s resolution processes, aren’t satisfied with the outcome of your efforts and feel there is still a case to answer, advise them of your intention to contact the relevant Ombudsman, and do so if necessary.
I’ve also found NSW Fair Trading very helpful in areas of consumer, privacy and tenancy advice.
Links below for NSW/Australia, or an online search will net the equivalent in your location.
In my experience the process has been simple and user-friendly, and some complaints or enquiries can be made over the phone or via an online form.