Telstra: User experience FAIL!March 14, 2010
Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications company. It used to be the ONLY Australian telecommunications company — and it was government-run — until deregulation some years ago. They still think they are #1 dog in town, but they’re not. Complaints about their telephone, mobile and internet services (known as Bigpond) are legend in Australia — everyone has a story to tell, and most of them tip into the horror story genre.
I’m with a different ISP (iinet.net.au) and until now I wouldn’t have gone to Bigpond if you paid me. I was talking with one of the PC Gurus the other day, and he said he was getting ADSL2 speeds where he lived (about 20 kms south of a major regional centre; I live about 20 kms north of the same centre). I was surprised and amazed as regional Australia has typically been the poor cousin when it comes to internet speed. ADSL in much of regional Australia is 1.5 Mbps upload speed, with some lucky exchanges now providing 8 Mbps. ADSL2 is up to 24 Mbps — substantially more. My Guru got me to check available speeds for my phone number on the Bigpond site — and wonder of wonders, ADSL2 is supposedly available here! However, he also said Telstra keep these speeds for their customers, not on-sellers of their services like iinet. He then suggested I contact iinet to see if they can do some sort of deal with Telstra to free up something for me.
So, I called iinet and got one of their helpful support people. He confirmed that Telstra keep these things for themselves, and that even if the main exchange I’m on gets upgraded and the speeds are made available to iinet (and thus their customers), he said that at the distance I was from the main exchange (about 8 kms), I must be on a RIM exchange and thus could never get those speeds with them unless I moved my business to Bigpond. I don’t want to do that — I’ve been with iinet for 11+ years and they’ve been very good. The support guy suggested that I call Telstra direct to find out exactly which exchange I’m on and if it’s a RIM sub-exchange. He told me which main exchange I was on in about 10 seconds flat, but couldn’t give me details about the sub-exchange as Telstra don’t provide them with that information.
I called Telstra. After negotiating their horrendous ‘friendly’ automated voice system for about 5 minutes, I finally got a real person in Sales who had a very charming Indian accent. I said I was looking at switching to Bigpond and wanted to know which exchange I was on and what broadband speeds it supported. She took my details, including my phone number, and said she’d ‘be back to me in a minute’. After 30 minutes of on hold music (I’m a patient person…), I eventually hung up. She never got back to me.
She was in Sales. I was a prospective new business customer. She put me on hold. She didn’t get back to me. And over the next 8 hours of the work day, she did NOT phone me (she had my number). Fail, Telstra. Again. You can see why I don’t want to take my business to Bigpond. They can’t even be bothered following up on a sales enquiry. God forbid what they’d be like if I was actually a customer and they’d already got me in their ‘broadband plan’ clutches and I was trying to get something fixed.
While I’m bashing Telstra, I may as well have another shot at them too.
My Telstra mobile phone, which is only a couple of years old, is having trouble in our new location. It either has no signal or it gets a single bar (weak) signal, and it’s continually changing the name of the cell it’s connecting to. So I called Telstra a week or so ago. The friendly chap there said that if I had a Next G phone I should have no trouble, but he couldn’t guarantee it. So, he wants me to buy a new phone and go onto a new contract when my current phone works perfectly well everywhere else — just not in my house which appears to be in the no-mans’ land of some X Files vortex over not-quite-overlapping cell towers. And he can’t guarantee that even if I get a Next G phone that it will work any better! He *thinks* it will. So I could spend hundreds more dollars only to find that I’m no better off! I bet Telstra don’t have a money-back guarantee or a phone return policy for phones that can’t access signals in the 2% of Australia that they say is not covered. I live really close to a MAJOR centre, and can’t get decent mobile phone coverage with a 3-year old phone. There’s something seriously wrong with that — and with the attitude that I can just throw away my phone and replace it with a new one… when there’s no guarantee that it will work any better. (And I checked Telstra’s own coverage maps, and they indicate that I should get perfectly good reception with my current phone without an antenna. Fail.)
I am NOT happy with Telstra.