Telstra's e-mail support gave me the $#!@%

Moving house is never easy, and it can be downright frustrating if you have to get Telstra involved. You'll need to get Telstra involved if you want to install a phone line that will allow you to go with any third-party ISP of your choice.

The problem is dealing with Telstra to get this ball rolling, and having to pay an exorbitant price ($299) for a line to be connected and a number given to you. I was unlucky enough to order my service a week before supposedly planned industrial action by Telstra's techies, which meant that my service was due to be enabled on the day before the supposed strike.

That day came and went and no service was installed. Apparently, they started the strike action early. I had ordered my service using Telstra's online facility, and received a prompt reply saying that my order had been placed. I was off to a great start, I thought. But after I got back to Telstra's online support, they told me I had to call them to sort it all out.

Not wanting to call them on my mobile due to the wait times I have experienced in the past, i was adamant that the online team sort out my problem. The problem as I see it was that no one took ownership of my order. Each time I e-mailed Telstra, I got a response from a different person telling me that my best course of action would be to call them (yet ending each e-mail telling me not to hesitate contacting them via telstra.com).

I am a firm believer that things can be done more efficiently by e-mail (and I also like having a record of things companies tell me, as I have a poor memory when it comes to this sort of stuff), but the way Telstra's online team handled the situation left me thinking twice about using the company's online support system again. Here is the e-mail conversation that followed Telstra's no-show (each of my e-mails was answered within 24 hours, which is commendable and much better than the responses given by other utilities):

Me: Hi,

I was home all day today and no one showed up and the line is not connected. The email below [edited out of this blog entry] stated that it would be connected today between the hours of 5am and 6pm. This did not occur. Please give me a more accurate date and a much smaller time window next time, as I have plenty to do rather than sit around all day and wait.

Thank you

Telstra: We apologize for the inconvenience the situation may have caused you. To make a follow up on your telephone service connection, we suggest you to call the Customer Support at 132200. We understand your frustration and at this point talking to a technician or appropriate staff is the possible solution.

Please do not hesitate to contact us via www.telstra.com if you require further information or assistance.

Thank you for using Telstra Online Services.

Me: Apology accepted. Now if you could give me the day and time that a technician will be connecting my line, that would be appreciated.

Thanks

Telstra: We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that this situation may have caused you. For the status of your request please call 132 200 from Monday to Friday between 08: to 17:00. They will be more than happy to assist you further with your enquiry.

Please do not hesitate to contact us via www.telstra.com if you require further information or assistance.

Thank you.

Me: Hi,

Just a quick question:

Why must I call and waste my money on a mobile while waiting on hold and talking to a sales person when this online facility exists? So far, I have received emails from about 10 different people. Why can't one of you check on my order and then tell me when the order might be fulfilled?

----order info edited out----

I mean, at this stage, the order has been placed. All you have to do is give me a date and a time that the line will be enabled.

Thanks

Telstra: We apologize for any trouble or inconvenience this may have caused you. We appreciate your feedback with regards to this matter. This will help us in becoming better at what we do. However, it is necessary for you to contact the Customer Support at 132200 to resolve this issue.

Please do not hesitate to contact us via www.telstra.com if you require further information or assistance.

Me: Hi,

I still don't understand. Why can't the person who initially handled my order deal with it now? Why do I have to call up and start all this again? It makes no sense. For a $299 installation fee, you would think the service would be a little better than this.

Thanks

Telstra: Welcome to Telstra! You have made the right choice as we are committed in providing the highest level of customer service.

We are pleased to inform you that we have already processed your request. Please see the details below for your reference:

---order info edited out----

So after all that, as soon as I mentioned the price to them again, they managed to get someone to look into my original order and re-order it, giving a date and a much smaller time window for the installation. It only took 5 days of back and forth! I guess the moral of the story is (apart from try not to deal with Telstra where possible): Telstra's online support system is still unreliable and not more efficient than giving them a call -- even if you do have to wait on hold for more than an hour.

The good thing is that many ISPs are bundling their ADSL2+ services with their own phone lines, which means you don't have to go with Telstra if you don't already have a phone line in place at your new dwelling. You can choose from Optus, AAPT, Primus and iiNet, which will put you onto their own phone line. Or you can not get a phone line at all and just opt for a naked DSL plan from iiNet or Internode. Going naked is a good option if you don't want to pay line rental and have no use for a conventional phone, but the plans still aren't enticing as the data allocation includes uploads as well as downloads.

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Elias Plastiras
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