Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I know how it feels to be mistreated by Telstra, Sol Trujillo

By Holly Byrnes

DEAR Sol Trujillo, I hear you're feeling put upon, mistreated, disrespected, made to jump through hoops by faceless millions who did everything they could to wreck your job.

Mate, I know how you feel. I just spent the day trying to get reconnected to Telstra after my mobile was stolen.

The mugging was a shock but it's the horror of trying to activate a new SIM card and dealing with your dysfunctional telco that has me rocking in the foetal position.

Stripped of my handbag and knocked to the ground during the attack last week was nothing compared to being stripped of my will to live while waiting on line to Telstra.

Reconnecting seemed simple -- after putting a temporary block on my mobile I went to a T Life store in George St, Sydney, to buy a SIM card (the little chip which makes it work, in case any Telstra call workers are reading this and are not familiar with the term).

After settling the outstanding bill, then helpfully being transferred to a more economical contract, I was assured by the first service operator it wouldn't be too long before the phone was up and running again.

And so the wait -- and phone calls -- began. When my handset flashed up a SIM card error message, I called for some of that customer service I'd heard about.

That call was answered by a service operator who asked me to phone back in an hour, when the account would be ready. I was given a 1800 number for direct "service"'.

An hour later that number reached a recorded Telstra message that informed me the number was no longer in service, and redirecting me to another "service".

That number told me I needed a reference number. Without one, I should access a Telstra website. But to do that I'd need an active mobile.

When another operator told me to call the first 1800 number I took a breath then updated him with the recorded message I'd received. He put me on hold to check.

When he returned, he asked to check my bona fides then quizzed me about the driver's licence number on the account.

He wasn't convinced when I told him I didn't know the number. Not because of bad recall but because I have never held a driver's license in my life.

His response? He put me on hold. When he asked me for my birthdate, I joked I should add a few years since I had aged some in the course of these phone calls. Laugh? Nope, he put me on hold.

Even after emailing a PR contact within Telstra, after an initial response, there was still no sign of my mobile service.

However, when I posted my aggravation on Facebook I was inundated.

One mate, David, was trying to prove to Telstra he lived where he said he did because they were refusing to connect a phone to his home. In his words: "Why would I want to connect a phone in a place I don't live?"

Another girlfriend directed me to a support group on Facebook called "Telstra SUX".

And the best bit? It doesn't ask for your name, birthdate, mother's maiden name, driver's licence or first-born child before you get the satisfaction of emptying your spleen.

So, Sol, save yourself a call to Telstra and log on, mate. For once, you'll be in good company.


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