Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Using the appalling Telstra phone helpline

Since Telstra have so far ignored all my written requests that they move my mobile phone account to a "plan" where I get six months to use whatever money I prepay, I decided that I would have to use their phone system to get the change made.

I had tried once before but was told that I would be on hold for at least 20 minutes before I got an answer to my call so gave up at that point. I figured however that the day before Christmas they might not be so busy as most people would be out shopping etc.

I was SORTA right. The wait per call was only about 10 minutes. But it took me FOUR calls to get the matter sorted out. That added up to a lot of waiting. I foresaw that, however, so simply kept a phone to my ear as I carried on blogging.

The first call was a washout because we had a very scratchy line and I could not make out what the other guy was saying. You want a phone company that cannot keep even its own phone lines working properly? With Telstra, you've got it! So I hang up and start again.

The second call, the speech recognition software sent me to the wrong area. I was supposed to be transferred but nothing happened. Hang up and start again.

The third call I was pretty cheesed off with the tedious and error-prone speech recognition software so in response to every prompt I simply shouted "BUM!". That worked very well. I recommend it. I got put straight into the waiting list. This time when I finally got answered, the thing went well and the requested change was made. Being a skeptic, however, I checked shortly after the call that the change HAD been made -- by dialing the account details line. It had NOT been made.

Fourth call: I asked why the change was not showing and was told that it will show up in 2 or 3 days. Funny computers they have there! Why it's not instantaneous entirely escapes me.

My experience will be recogized as familiar by many Telstra customers.

Conservative economists generally recognize the legitimacy of government controls on oligopolists and I think this is one occasion for it. Telstra needs to be legislated into good behaviour. They know about the waits their customers have to endure but quite obviously use it to drive way people with difficulties and complaints. They will have themselves to thank if they are further regulated.

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