Why Telstra Sucks

Lets face it, it’s a miracle that Telstra is still in operation. They couldn’t organise their way out of a freakin’ paper bag and have zero idea about making their customer experience worth while. The only thing they have going for them is their great mobile phone network, and even that benefit is starting to fade.

My mobile phone is with Telstra due to some work I was doing with a previous company. When I started the gig, I ported my personal number into the company’s account and had it linked to a new Blackberry. When I left, we tried to get my number back to me and give the Blackberry to another staff member. Sadly, this was not possible as Telstra claimed the phone number & Crackberry were locked together until the 18 month contract ran out.

First black mark – the number should be portable, the contract & phone can stay with the company. Whatever.

So, for another project I’m doing I’ve picked up a Telstra $10 prepaid starter kit (SIM card with associated number) because the phone’s going to be texting my phone and a number of others on the Telstra network. Telstra offer a plan with $0.01c SMS rates when sending to Telstra phones. Nice – more testing for less $$$.

OK – that’s a good thing – they get a tick for that.

Then I set up the SIM and get it started. I try to do it online (being the online kinda guy I am) but I’m registering it under my company’s name (it’s being used for a project) and the online registration wants me to enter two forms of proof that my company exists. What are the options? A fixed line phone bill and/or a rates invoice. Say what? We run a small company that has no office or fixed services or rates or anything. WTF?

Yet another black mark – I guess Telstra’s idiotic legal types have stated that all companies must have these so that’s what they’ll use to verify corporate info.

Right, so I call in and get the starter kit happening. YAY. It’s not that painful dealing with a human and I can register it under my company, just supplying both ACN & ABN (why I need both though is odd as usually the ACN is sufficient).

Half mark there – not a full mark, but OK.

Comes now the fun part – I have no credit on the phone. Say what? Where’s the $10 that comes with the pack? It’s not there. WTF?

So, I go to their Prepaid Portal to register online and check where the problem may be. Bzzzt – the registration fails, telling me there’s a problem with their systems and to come back in 24 hours.

Sorry, isn’t this a mega-corporation? Shouldn’t their systems just work? Yes, OK, I know, I’ve worked in Telstra IT before and quite frankly it’s a miracle anything works in that place.

So, major black mark on Telstra’s image as a credible organisation.

A few days later, I manage to get the registration done and can access my account, confirming that there’s no credit.

I call their voice line and, after going through a few prompts, wind up sitting on hold for 3 to 5 minutes and then get through to a human. Clearly not from around here, she is polite and trying to help. She tells me to call their number on the mobile and press 1 then 1 to activate the $10 bonus credit. Gee, that’s news – it wasn’t listed anywhere.

OK, lets do it while we’re on the phone (good thing I called on the landline, yeah? :). I call it on the mobile and follow her instructions but it doesn’t work. I talk her through what’s happening and she realises her advice isn’t correct in this case. She needs my info to look into it further. I’m part way through this when the phone call drops out. Ummm – WHAT???

Yes, that’s right – while talking to Telstra’s helpdesk somewhere in the world other than Australia, the call got dropped. Oh yes, way to go mega-comms company. I feel so much more reassured about purchasing your communications products – NOT!

So, another black mark.

I call the number again, follow the prompts, sit on hold and start talking to the person I get through to (again, not from around here). They look into everything and then tell me that all is good but I first need to purchase some credit for the account and that will activate the “bonus” $10 credit. Ummm – say what??? Where was that plastered everywhere when I purchased the kit? There is something mentioned on page 9 inside the little booklet but it says:

If you have selected a Telstra Pre-Paid offer that gives you an included bonus amount or value, remember to recharge the correct amount to get the included benefits of your offer.

Ummm, yeah, right, whatever. Slightly confusing and also written in small font. Not clear, not obvious. Good grief…

As of the moment, I’ve recharged the prepaid account but the $10 that was supposed to come with it isn’t showing. I give it a day or two and then if it’s not showing up, I’m going to get *really* angry and will call them again to complain.

All this freakin’ effort just to get a prepaid sim up and running?

Hello Telstra, you are farking clueless idiots who deserve to be broken up and made to compete on a level playing field with other telcos. With luck, you’ll finally “get it” and be able to lift your game, but it is highly likely that you will be beaten by other companies that understand quality & customer service.

As soon as my current contract is over, I’m taking my Blackberry to another provider ‘cos clearly Telstra isn’t worth supporting at all.

5 thoughts on “Why Telstra Sucks”

  1. I’m looking further afield too… a decent pre-paid with clear point-n-click like the cool dot.com’s in Austria where you need click no more than three times *max* to do anything!

  2. Wow. You are an angry ex-Telstra employee. Their IT works because it is outsourced to IBM.

    I was in the elevator at Telstra in Brisbane once when some marketing people got in. They were cursing the billing people saying that marketing spends millions attracting new customers while the people that run the billing system lose them.

    btw – your metaphores are mixed.
    They couldn’t organise – a night in a brothel for a footy team if they had a fist full of fifties.
    Also – …could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

    Good luck with the new project and everything. I have heard that Optus coverage is good now that they use Telstra towers.


  3. No, I’m an angry customer who’s considering being an ex-customer as soon as possible. I used to contract to Telstra on a couple of occasions and have also worked for outsourcing companies working with Telstra. I’ve also worked at multiple other companies (large & small) around the world, so I’ve seen good & bad operations from up close.

    Telstra’s biggest problem (aside from outsourcing to IBM :) is that Telstra is too big and the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing but, surprisingly, both hands are shoved up the same hole.

    Thanks for the metaphor clarification – when a customer is pissed off about getting crap service from a company that runs around saying how good it is, they often run with whatever phrase is handy at the time :)

  4. Mate Telstra and their NextG network make the mess here in the states look like a dream.

    I signed up for prepaid here with AT&T. They told me in the shop I could recharge the card online with my credit card. They obviously didn’t realise that everyone here seems to want your ZIP code along with your credit card number and putting in just any ZIP won’t work. Thankfully I managed to find a card at a supermarket, then activate it via land line.

    I had the exact same issue with the credit that came with the card. Ie. It’s bonus credit that only activates when your recharge it! Though I didn’t bother investigating it like you did. I didn’t have the patience/inclination to follow it up.

    Also I always thought we were over charged for data but their prepaid data rates here are just as bad, if not worse so I’ve been making do with a mobile with no data connectivity. Surprisingly that’s not as bad as I thought it would be for a net addict like me. :)

    Finally we have the speed and coverage of the NextG network versus the 3G options here. There is NO comparison, particularly when you take in to account relative population sizes!

  5. Hey Jon – I’m hearing that one of the reasons for speed problems over there is that everyone’s downloading like mad to their iPhones & Crackberries ‘cos they don’t have data caps. Is that the case?

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