Earlier this week I received a letter from a chap in Telstra letting me know that some of my current mobile phone’s services will be killed off. They are services I never use anyway, so that’s no big deal — phone calls and texts are not affected. Part of the letter was, of course, a sales pitch encouraging me to upgrade to a phone suitable for Telstra’s Next G network. And at the end of the letter, the gentleman added a PS:
Don’t hesitate to drop me a line with any feedback about our products, services or support.
And he provided his direct email address! Nice!
So today I wrote back to him:
Thank you for informing me via letter that changes are being made to the earlier 3G (2100 MHz) network. And for letting me know that my mobile only operates on that earlier network.
You’ve encouraged me to upgrade to the Next G network, but UNTIL I CAN BE GUARANTEED my reception will improve as a result — in writing and with monetary recompense if it doesn’t improve — there’s no way I’m throwing good money after bad to Telstra.
My existing (old) mobile phone service, according to the ‘3G and GSM’ map on Telstra’s website, is EXCELLENT (bright green). Well, I invite you to come to my house and you’ll see just how ‘excellent’ it is. I’m lucky to get 1 bar for reception and the phone is continually reporting that I’m in up to 6 different cells — it can’t decide, so rotates through them all, including a cell that’s some 30 km away from where I live!
Whenever I take a mobile call, I ask the caller to call me on the landline as I can’t guarantee that the call won’t break up or drop out. Sometimes, if I stand in a certain position or turn myself in a certain way, I *might* just be able to sustain a call for a short time but as soon as I move, it breaks up. I’m a home-based business working remotely with my clients — this is not a good look for my existing or potential customers.
And it’s not just *my* phone. Various tradesmen have been here in recent months and I ask them if they’re on Telstra and get them to the check the reception bars and tell me what sort of phone they have (GSM, 3G and Next G). They ALL get 0 to 2 bars for reception, no matter what phone they are using. According to the Telstra map of Next G coverage, I’m in a bright orange zone so should get excellent coverage on the new network. But I’m NOT spending money on a new phone to find out that it works no better than the old one. One time, when I called Telstra about my crappy reception, the nice gentleman there said that upgrading my phone (at my cost) ‘would definitely’ improve my reception. I asked him to GUARANTEE that bold claim — he wouldn’t. He backed off and said it ‘should’ improve.
So, again, I thank you for your letter, but until Telstra actually delivers the coverage they state is EXCELLENT in my location, there’s no way I’m throwing away any more money on mobile phones.
Oh, and by the way, it’s not just my mobile coverage that’s bad. Even though I pay for a business broadband plan with my ISP, Telstra have seen fit to ‘shape’ my broadband access, thus limiting my ability to work (see my blog post about this here: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/telstra-bastards/). There’s nothing I or my ISP can do about this. Maybe Telstra will remove the shaping at some point; maybe not.
So I’m not at all happy with Telstra.
You asked me to ‘drop you a line with any feedback about your products, services or support’.
If Telstra delivered on its promises, that would be a good start — mobile coverage that reflects what you say it does, and broadband access that isn’t throttled by a decision by someone in Telstra.
It’s so rare that you can get access to anyone in Telstra that I couldn’t resist ;-)
As an aside, I never call Telstra these days as the ‘on hold’ times are ridiculous — typically an hour or more being shunted from one department to another with no resolution to your problem, or even them ‘losing’ your call along the way so you have to start all over. BTW, I heard the other day that if Telstra are called out by my ISP for a fault, and then find that it’s not a fault at all (and remember, it’s their word against mine) they charge a call out fee ($60?), plus $30 per 15 minutes callout time. I wonder if we should all invoice Telstra for our time kept on hold in their labyrinthine system. Maybe their customer service might improve as a result… it’s worth trying!
Update 2 November 2010: I received this email from Telstra this morning:
Thanks for your email. We appreciate you taking the time to write. I so apologise for the time delay in responding to your email.
I have requested a formal complaint be registered here for you with regards to coverage and the issues you have had here. You will be contacted directly by one of our case managers to see what we can do to assist here.
Update 5 November 2010: So I got the call from Telstra today. I ended up speaking to two people, one about my poor mobile reception and other about my broadband shaping. These are some things I found out about my mobile phone reception:
- It looks as though we live in a ‘black hole’ between towers (I had already figured that one out!)
- Telstra (and NONE of the providers) can provide a written guarantee of mobile service for a particular location
- Telstra are happy to kill the existing part of my current contract with them if I decide to go to another carrier (but what’s the point if the coverage is just as bad — or worse; it could be better, but it may not be — remember, no guarantees!)
- Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone all have their own cell phone towers
- Switching to Next G might improve my reception — or it might not
- Next time I upgrade my phone, insist on a ‘blue tick’ phone, as these have stronger reception capabilities even though they may look uglier
And here’s what I found out about my broadband shaping:
- Everyone on the RIM exchange I’m on is shaped (and I thought it was just me…)
- The reason it’s shaped is that the exchange is congested (hello? There are no more than 50 houses in this area and my reading about RIM exchanges says that up to 400 subscribers can be on one RIM exchange… something’s not right here; also, the area was subdivided and the RIM exchange was set up in about 2005 — how can it be congested already when there’s a finite number of blocks in this low-density housing location??)
- Telstra can only guarantee service of 1.1 Mbps download, no matter what we pay for or what plan we’re on. The lady I spoke to told me there were people in the heart of Melbourne who could only get 1.1 Mbps even if they’re on ADSL2! (I bet they’re impressed — NOT!)
- She confirmed that even if I could switch to an ADSL2 plan (which I can’t), I’d still be shaped along with everyone else on this exchange.
- Until the infrastructure is upgraded, the shaping will stay in place. When I asked about the infrastructure upgrade, she said she had no idea when, where etc. and said that it was up to the federal government, and that with deregulation, Telstra had no obligation to upgrade infrastructure. (Great — I really wanted to hear that…)
- Of course, the existing infrastructure is unlikely to be upgraded because of the NBN rollout. And no, there’s NO indication as to when we might get NBN here — it could be two years, it could be eight, it could be never…
[Link last checked October 2010]