complaints complaints is all I get…

Have you ever suffered poor service and thought I can’t be bothered doing anything about it?

Me too.

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.

Emergency CallIf 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.

23 thoughts on “complaints complaints is all I get…

  1. I’m still with Telstra for my landlines [plural because one is dedicated to my ADSL line], and I’ve been with Optus, so I truly do feel your pain. I can recommend Internode for your ISP. They have to use the Telsta infrastructure, but somehow manage to make everything work better anyway. And their customer service is miles better. [note: Internode is the ISP of choice for gamers because we need speed and reliability if we’re to play online].

    One other thing I’d recommend, and this is incredibly old-fashioned. If your initial query is unsatisfactory – type up a /letter/ and send it via registered mail. More effort, slightly more expense, definitely more time but…registered snail mail gives you an audit trail the corporates cannot deny. They know that and act accordingly.

    Most people would give up after the first ‘case’ manager refused/could not help. Very few people have the persistence to keep going up the chain of command. The corporates know that too. That’s why registered snail mail gets results faster.


    1. Thank you. Good advice. We’re kind of stuck with the big T as they are the only provider we could find who provide wireless broadband devices and phones which have the aerial socket we need for coverage at TA. It’s not worth us having separate internet for TA as well as the city.
      You’re right about the registered mail, especially if you are contemplating legal proceedings.
      I love a battle but it gets tiresome after a while. Although winning helps 🙂


  2. Bravo for you Elladee! My husband refers to me as ‘super consumer’ because I pick my battles and let fly! I’ve had to resort to threatening to sell my stock in Telstra to get their attention when time after request, I could not get them to assist me when I wanted to purchase a new iPhone and transfer my account from Optus. I only want to spend money with you!!! It is a complex and tough world sometimes. Life is too short too fight every battle, but every now and then it really is good to stand one’s ground! X


    1. Hah, yes we all need to don our super consumer capes and take on the corporates once in a while, just to show them who they answer to… as well as their shareholders… Some smaller more customer reliant businesses lack common customer service sense. Mostly then I just go elsewhere if they can’t be bothered. For the sake of brevity, I’ve only chronicled the wins… my live to fight another day experiences would be a novel.


  3. In general, we are very lucky with our broadband/TV/phone provider and also our mobile phone provider too.
    T cringes at me and my value for money though.
    Not long ago our broadband was playing up, so I phoned up complaining I was paying for a substandard service, when they worked out the difference they offered me £1 reduction on the next bill.
    If you don’t ask, you don’t get LOL


    1. I love that you called up, even for £1 I would do it to make a point. It isn’t always about the money. Several of the large corporations we deal with were once governmnt owned and you can still get lost in the bureacracy, and of course now privatised their main focus is shareholders and profits so I like to let them know that customers count for something too 🙂


  4. I don’t know if this will help, EllaDee, but the problems you’ve experienced are not specific to Sydney or even Oz, for that matter. We have much the same over here. Like you, I document everything connected with the specific issue and invariably the matter is closed when I change companies. I feel good for a while — and then a new set of issues surfaces. Oh, brave new world!


    1. Oh yes, it helps, I’m sure none anywhere are any better than the others. We’d been trying to avoid Telstra as the pitfalls are well known but it was no better and less convenient spreading it around. It’s a one stop shop now at least 🙂


  5. I am sure there would be similar woes about power companies too. We have had a couple of battles with Telstra about ridiculous things like name changes. Once we went to the Ombudsman the issues were sorted in a very short time. Good on you for donning your Super Consumer cape.

    BTW, I am now using an Optus prepaid in the iPad, and am finding it much quicker than the previous Telstra one. Go figure!


    1. Optus completed their infrastructure upgrades just after we changed over to Telstra but it was a matter of principle by then for us, and we need the rural connectivity options that Telstra only (but barely) seem to offer.
      It’s a crazy scenario that the Telco’s leave it until the Ombudsman is invoked to respond reasonably.
      I haven’t battled much with the power co’s – just in once instance dumpled AGL over exhorbitant disconnection fees.
      I often wonder if the big corporates are the dinosaurs of our times… and we all know what eventuated there.


  6. Ella, what annoys me is the effort you have to go to, to get what you have paid for. It really annoys me when you have to take something back that doesn’t work or for which you have been overcharged. Invariably the shop assistant is very pleasant and pays the refund or swaps the product but what about my time, my petrol and my frustration? None of these are taken into the equation.


    1. Very good point… in some cases, for example if a small grocery item is wrong, I just forget it because it’s too much trouble and not worth it, but it all adds up. That said, I’ve been known to return Country Road tshirts several times as they didn’t last a single wash without developing holes.
      It would be so much easier if we didn’t need stuff 🙂


  7. It pays to speak up. Even if it is time consuming and frustrating. Many times it is worth the effort. Great post EllaDee! And what amazing patience you have. Wow!


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