Friday, December 12, 2008

Typical Telstra

Bill was fit all his life, but last month he felt a little breathless. A sticky heart valve was diagnosed and he had a pacemaker fitted.

On November 13, he is released from hospital and returns to his Deception Bay home where Yvonne, 84, awaits. That is a Thursday. In the morning, the home telephone is working fine. By afternoon, it has been disconnected.

Jacqui rings Telstra. They say the bill had not been paid. "My parents had received no initial bill, no reminder notice or courtesy call. They are of the generation who always pay their bills before the due date. I doubt they have had an overdue bill in their life."

Thursday, November 13: She pays the bill immediately over the phone and explains her dad's medical situation. The phone will be reconnected within two hours, she's told. Hours later, the phone is still dead. Jacqui rings Telstra and is told the credit department is closed and nothing can be done. Ring back Friday.

Friday, November 14: Jacqui phones Telstra. "I spent over an hour being transferred everywhere."

She eventually is advised the phone will be reinstated "in two hours".

Meanwhile, Bill and Yvonne are at home – with no transport and no phone. Two hours later, still no connection. Bill's other daughter, Maureen, tries talking to Telstra. No joy. So, at 3.30pm Friday, Maureen contacts the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (1800 062 058). The TIO person gives her a direct number to contact Telstra and says if the phone is not reconnected within two hours to get back in touch.

Maureen spends another lengthy period on the phone, only to be told the computer system is down and nothing can be done until Monday.

All up, the sisters spend more than six hours on the phone to Telstra trying to resolve the problem.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, one of the Telstra voices tells Jacqui there is still an outstanding amount of $8.98 on her parents' account. Now, this is news. This is the account she paid in full after the phone was cut off. She checks her credit card and yes, the payment went through. So where are we? That's right Saturday.

Saturday, November 15, 5.05pm: Phone still not connected. As the family feared, Bill's condition worsens and he is taken to Redcliffe Hospital. Late that night, he is transferred to St Andrew's Hospital. There is heavy city traffic, so the ambulance officer suggests the family not follow but come in the morning. "Dad wanted us to get mum home, as it had been a long day for her."

Saturday, November 15, 10.30pm: The hospital calls. Bill Fildes has died.

Sunday, November 16: There are funeral arrangements to make, friends to be called, but still no phone.

Monday. . .Tuesday: Still disconnected.

Wednesday, November 19: The phone is connected, six days later.

Thursday, November 20: Bill's funeral is held at Deception Bay.

Now, you may be thinking that's the end of it. No. Not by a long shot. Telstra still has something in store for this grieving family.

Friday, November 21: Yvonne receives a bill for her but incorrectly addressed. The bill is for $17. It kindly extends her time to pay until December 1 "so as not to inconvenience her". Jacqui is incredulous. "Can you believe this?" She spends an hour trying to sort it out. Telstra assures her the bill will be wiped.

Monday, November 24: Yvonne receives another bill. Nothing has been wiped. She is an 84-year-old woman. She has just lost her husband of more than half a century. She is grieving. She doesn't have the energy to fight a huge corporation like Telstra. She just wants it all over. I'll just pay the $17, she tells her daughters.

Telstra wins. Little person loses. Business as usual.

Telstra did something cruel to the Fildes family. It wasn't personal. It rarely is in today's corporate world. It's mostly just pure ineptitude. No one takes ownership of the problem to fix it and the corporate structure doesn't encourage employees to care. It encourages them just to hope like hell the difficult customer gives up and goes away.

It's endemic in business in Australia today. There's a culture of The Facade of Service. That is: Pretend to give service, while actually trying to get rid of the person wanting service ASAP. You get it in banks, you get it in the health system, you get it in shops. You ring, they stonewall. You must be wrong. You are an idiot. Then, at the end of call, they say: Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Telstra did not treat the Fildes family like people. They didn't treat Bill and Yvonne with dignity. They treated them like An Account.

It is utterly dehumanising. And this is the company bidding for Australia's "world-class national broadband network". Put your trust in us, says Telstra, we'll take care of you. Sure.

I contacted Telstra for a response. Here it is: "We offer our sincere condolences to Mrs Fildes and her family for their loss. Telstra fixed-line customers temporarily disconnected for non payment are still able to ring a range of telephone numbers including Triple 0."

If I hadn't already taken my business away from Telstra years ago, I would do it right now, just for what they did to Bill and Yvonne Fildes.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Telstra users left with exposed lines

How little things change! I had exactly this problem in the '70s when Telstra was fully government-owned. It was only by writing to the Minister that I got the work completed

THOUSANDS of Telstra customers are putting up with crude, temporary phone connections with cables held together by tape and plastic bags and strung along fences, across lawns and through trees. In many cases the unsightly - even dangerous - cables are left in place for months and even years, despite repeated pleas to finish the job by burying them.

Colin Barraclough has endured a temporary "lead-in" cable running from the street across the ground and over his garage for 18 months after a fault was patched up at his Greystanes home. His neighbour accidentally severed the connection with a hedge trimmer recently, leaving him without a phone for three days - but the line remains unburied.

"Every time I call I'm told that Telstra has more important and urgent work to do and I will just have to wait," he said. "I cannot be given a time frame as to when the cable will be buried. I might have to wait another 12 months."

On the Central Coast, Robin Williams has put up with a temporary line since May. In that time she has tripped over it while recovering from eye surgery and her husband has accidentally cut it with a hedge trimmer.

"When I last contacted Telstra, I was told it … might be 12 to 18 months before anything was done," she said. "Even my suggestion that the temporary line could cause a serious accident counted for little, with one officer telling me I would just have to be careful. We are beginning to believe that Telstra has no intention of ever doing anything."

In West Pymble, at the home of Chris and Sandi Murray, a cable snakes across the public footpath, over the lawn and through bushes and trees before being linked to another cable with a splice protected by a plastic bag. Passers-by regularly trip over the cable, yet the Murrays still have no date for when the job will be completed.

"The phone just stopped working in January," Mrs Murray said. "I assumed it was going to be two weeks to a month maybe and then they would come back and fix it." Repeated calls and emails have met a blank wall. "I don't think Telstra has any answers really," she said.

These are just some of more than a dozen cases uncovered in a Herald investigation.

An aged pensioner in Glen Innes says he has had a 20-metre cable strung through a tree and along a fence and gutter for 12 years. A woman on a rural property in Jamberoo fears cows in a nearby paddock will be injured in a hole dug to accommodate a temporary cable. A customer in the Blue Mountains fears he may lose his connection at any moment, despite telling Telstra his wife is seriously ill.

Telstra Group's managing director for networks and services, Michael Rocca, was unwilling to say exactly how many temporary cables were in place around the country but claimed it was less than .04 per cent of the total of about 30 million - about 12,000.

"The percentage of [temporary] cables compared to the millions of cables we have is extremely small," he said, adding that once a complaint was logged, Telstra moved quickly to fix it.

"From time to time … you are going to have some of these temporary cables … We are not perfect - sometimes we do on odd occasion get things wrong - but as you can see from the figures, the overwhelming majority of times we provide service, we do it right for the customer."

Steve Dodd, the NSW branch assistant secretary of the Communications Plumbing and Electrical Union, claimed the problem was widespread because many of Telstra's "conduit workers", who were responsible for burying lines, had been made redundant.

"Now the team leaders have only got technicians who haven't even got a shovel in their bag," he said. "They write out a report saying there is substandard work that needs to be replaced - and that goes into a black hole."


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Telstra tortoise is now even slower

Telstra workers cry foul over Siebel

TELSTRA's troubled customer management platform Siebel is causing call centre staff to miss their sales targets and union officials are concerned that this could force hundreds of jobs offshore. Call centre workers are also under increasing stress from angry customers, who are annoyed because of delays with the new system.

Some of the problems with the system include the inability to process orders quickly.

The latest call centre problems emerged in a survey of about 200 Telstra call centre workers conducted by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), after a spate of complaints that Siebel was hampering their work.

The workers blame the errors and delays on insufficient training in using the new system, introduced about three months ago, and having to repeatedly correct order and customer information.

The CPSU said over 90 per cent of respondents blamed errors with the new Siebel platform for increasing call follow-up time and increased length of average handling time for calls.

One Queensland call centre manager told the CPSU that since Siebel was switched on quality of service had dropped from 70 to 10 per cent, equating to an extra 400 customers waiting in the queue at the call centre.

Because some workers have spent extra time fixing errors in the new system they have missed their sales targets, the CPSU said, and as a result their pay has dropped by 20 to 30 per cent. The affected workers are on Australian Workplace Agreements.

The union also said there had been a drop in performance across most customer-sales call centres because of Siebel, and claimed that Telstra had threatened workers in Townsville, Gold Coast and Perth that their facilities would be offshored if this didn’t improve. If that came to fruition, 500 jobs could be sent overseas.

"It’s a threat (Telstra) made that unless the performance of the centre improves the work will be offshored," said CPSU national president Louise Persse. "They’re dealing with angry and sometimes aggressive customers because customers are facing long queues to get through to someone.

"If they create an order for particular work to be done, but there are errors with those orders, that makes them re-work the order.

"People are being put on performance management and their pay is being threatened and they’re not able to meet their targets because the system is problematic," Ms Persse said.

The CPSU has written to government-body ComCare seeking an investigation into the negative occupational health and safety impacts of the new IT system.

The telco’s call centre practices came under the spotlight last year when ABC’s Four Corners reported on a Telstra call centre worker committing suicide because she was allegedly under severe stress from her job.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Telstra bill revamp stumbles

Any deviation from routine is deadly with Telstra. Big bureaucracies just cannot handle change without major trauma

DEALERS from one of Telstra's largest reseller networks are complaining that the telco's new customer billing platform is only successfully processing 5 per cent of customer migrations to the new system.

The other 95 per cent must be manually processed, claimed a dealer from a Telstra reseller network with more than 100 stores in its footprint.

Whenever a customer is upgraded to Telstra's new Siebel customer billing platform the system "errors out", the dealer said.

The Telstra dealer declined to have its name or the name of the dealer network published for fear Telstra would revoke its dealer licence.

"So far we have found that if a customer's details have been migrated to Siebel, chances are they cannot leave the store with their upgraded contract on their first visit," the dealer said.

"In the meantime the customer is in limbo and can't be upgraded.

"When we finally get the customer unstuck from the system and entered properly, we find that the sale hasn't been credited to the Telstra dealer," the dealer said.

It is understood that more than 9000 Telstra customers are waiting to be moved to the new system as a result of errors in the migration process.

The dealer said one customer had been without a new mobile phone service for almost two months.

Another dealer, which also declined to be named, said some of its customers had been without mobile phone services for four weeks.

"It can take three phone calls a day and sometimes up to 30 working days, for someone at Telstra to sort out the problem and get the customers unstuck from the system," the dealer said.

The high error rate is causing lengthy connection delays for customers and is also hitting dealers where it hurts most -- in their revenue.

On the previous billing system, rebates for phones, sales commissions, and airtime were all triggered for automatic payment, but dealers are saying this is not the case with the new Siebel platform.

"In most cases the correct dealer code is not applied automatically, so the dealer does not get their proper payments, nor do they get the airtime," one dealer said.

"It has left us out of pocket by about $5000 since the system came in.

"Once Telstra moves over the smaller business customers it's just going to snowball, and that's not even taking into account the airtime we are missing."

Telstra dealers receive revenue from airtime commissions.

Airtime is calculated over the life of a customer's contract.

It provides revenue based on a percentage of a customer's phone use. Telstra declined to comment on the progress of its customer migration to the new billing system or whether dealers would be compensated for loss of airtime.

"As we have reiterated a number of times this is a large, complex program and inevitably we are changing the way our front-of-house staff and dealers access the information to better serve customers," a Telstra spokesperson said.

"This necessitates changes in processes and behaviour and these changes take some time to become routine, however we can assure you that our program is on track."

Telstra's migration to the new customer billing platform forms a major part of chief executive Sol Trujillo's $12 billion transformation project, which is aimed at reducing complexity and cost.

The customer billing system project has already missed its self-imposed June 30 deadline.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Telstra quick to name you as a bad debtor

Post taken from "Not good enough"

We recently had a dispute over a new internet connection with Telstra. It basically didn't work from the word go and they kept not turning up to repair it. We notified them we didn't want the service anymore as they couldnt provide it.

In a nutshell they demanded their money & we refused. We asked for their dispute resolution process which they slowly put us through and wasted a lot of time. We finally got final notices and put our official explanation in as to why we hadn't paid ra ra ra.

We were awaitng a reply. Next thing I get a phone call from our bank saying we have been knocked back for our new home loan due to a default credit note on our credit rating listing. Without notice Telstra had placed us on there.

After frantic calls we got to a senior Telstra person who was great -- removed the debt as he concurred with our explantion. He also directed Dun and Bradstreet to remove us from their listing as we should not have been placed on it.

Sounds like all is well. Wrong. Dun & Bradstreet inform us although the debt was cleared we will remain on their credit check list for 5 years as we are deemed to have had a incident regarding credit.

We believe we haven't been given a fair go and Telstra's processes are to blame. I thought you were innocent until proven guilty.

We also have found with another disputed bill from another supplier B.O.C. industrial gases that they will also put you on the credit list if you refuse to pay their bill for whatever reason.

So it seems a new trend. No process just bang them on the credit list with no independent ruling or arbitration.


Later posts on the thread offer advice on how to correct the situation

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Telstra/Bigpond arrogance

It used to be routine that when you signed up with an ISP, you got a few extras as well as internet access. In particular you got help and hosting for a homepage plus some webspace for putting up files. More recently, a facility for creating and hosting a blog has become common. Telstra has provided all 3 of those to their users for some time. But no more! They have unilaterally and without notice decided to withdraw all but the blogging facility!

And that facility is a poor one. I used to make some use of it but they often seemed to turn it off at night! Since night-time in Australia is daylight in lots of other places, that was no good to me and I abandoned it.

Sadly, the way they can get away with such contemptuous treatment of their customers is that their many much smaller competitors are pretty bad too. Their competitors are cheaper than Telstra but the service can be even worse than Telstra as far as I can tell. The setup used to be that the little guys competed on price and Telstra competed on quality. Telstra provided the better and more reliable service at a premium price. Now they all seem to be crap. If a quality ISP pops up somewhere I will dump Telstra.

And the ISP part of the Telstra service is high-handed too. My service is a cable one and it was out of action for nearly two days recently. That is a LONG time to fix a cable fault. And enquiring about when it might come good was extremely frustrating. The answer you get on their technical enquiry line is a type of answering machine which assumes that any problem is the fault of the customer, not the fault of Telstra. So they make you go through a whole rigamarole of checking your modem etc and assume at the end of it that you are back on air. There is NO facility to tell them that their fixes did not solve the problem! Amazing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What a nightmare!

Since my old Telstra mobile phone has worn out -- no display anymore -- I decided to buy a new one in which I would use my old SIM card.

The new phone however came with a new SIM card bearing $10 worth of credit. So I decided I might as well activate that. I thought that I have done that sort of thing before so it should be easy. I was wrong. The documentation that came with the card gave me two numbers to call: 125 8880 and 125 8888. Neither worked. So I went online to their site ( and tried to use their activation service there. After I had entered my details, I got a message saying that they could not activate as they did not recognize my address. I have had that address for some years so what was wrong is beyond me.

So there I was with no means of activating the thing via either phone or internet. So I looked further on the site and after a long search finally found another activation number to call in one of the FAQs: 1258887.

That number worked and after first entering my particulars via voice prompts I was transferred to a live operator who took all the particulars again. He had a heavy accent so I was barely able to understand him but after a LONG rigamarole I got it done. Phew!

There's got to be an easier way.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Don't believe your internet bill

Companies in the telecommunications business are overcharging customers who spend millions of dollars a year on voice and data services, in some cases by up to 20 per cent of their bill. The overcharging occurs across all the telcos, and mostly arises from contract terms and rates being incorrectly entered or omitted from the system. Customers also incur bogus charges from excess data usage on mobiles or the system charging an older, higher rate once a contract expires.

In most cases, customers are able to claim back the extra amount they've been charged, but this process often takes several months, and usually the telco is forced into action because customers withhold the amount in dispute.

South Western Alliance Rural Health spends $2 million on voice and data services from Telstra, and chief information officer Garry Druitt said it had a rolling amount of between $300,000 and $400,000 that it withheld because it disputed charges. Mr Druitt said the agency had particular problems with Next G services it signed on to at the end of last year, particularly a plan for $49 monthly for 20 hours use, with excess data charges if the 20 hours cap was broken.

"We go under the 20 hours, but somehow they put in a data charge and, one month those data charges amounted to $3000," Mr Druitt said. "This occurred in five accounts in one month. "You can imagine what the bill looked like. "We're finding that occurring whether it's to do with data charges or voice charges. "Every bill has to be scrutinised to ensure the agreed value is correct, but because it's correct one month doesn't mean it's going to be correct the next month. It reverts to an incorrect figure the next month."

Telecommunications consultant, Alex Silber, who audits bills to find incorrect or bogus charges, said he found one in four bills carried an overcharge, but estimated that only 10 per cent of all corporate customers were aware of the problem. The problem affected customers of all telcos. "I had a meeting with Optus last week and they said it doesn't matter what system they put in, most of the errors come from people erroneously or not diligently flagging the service with an appropriate level of charging," Mr Silber said.....

Bakers Delight spends almost $2 million a year on both corporate and franchisees' telco costs, and said its carrier initially dismissed regular complaints that its network speed was too slow. "We just had continual problems with the line and we raised issue after issue and we kept on getting the report back that there's nothing wrong with the service and must it have been that we were putting too much traffic over it, which is why things were running so slow. "In the end we had to get an expert in to do a detailed analysis of the line, and it turns out we were only getting half the bandwidth we were paying for.

"It was rectified fairly quickly, just a software change in the telco's network. My view is that we were only receiving half the service we were paying for, so we were entitled to half the money back, but getting that acknowledgement was very difficult as well."

HumeNET delivers ICT services to hospitals in Victoria's Hume region, and chief information officer Steve Bowmaker said Telstra once charged between $200,000 and $300,000 for services that had already been cancelled. "We both were in agreement well in advance of them finally issuing the credit that they were incorrectly billing us, and it just took us a while for it to be adjusted through their billing system," Mr Bowmaker said.

"We were effectively short-paying them that amount." Mr Bowmaker said Telstra had always been very responsive to disputes over HumeNET's bills, which were about $2 million a year, and there hadn't been any need to instigate formal proceedings against it. He said other rural health agencies had the same problem with Optus, 3 and Virgin.

The agency's Mr Druitt blamed the overcharging on contract details being incorrectly entered into the billing system, which was why the same problem re-emerged in a different form each month. "It's that internal process that reconciles final billing to customer agreements within Telstra. There doesn't seem to be a loop," Mr Druitt said. "We have to send emails to Telstra that define our agreements because Telstra doesn't have the information internally. "We send them the documentation we were promised and they say they'll fix the problems. "It's like having a builder of a house asking you what house you wanted when he's halfway through the project and billing you."

A Telstra spokesman admitted a small number of mistakes occured because of human error, and said its transformation project would reduce these. "There will always be scope for people to make mistakes, but Telstra's transformation is building better systems and providing better training to staff," the spokesman said.

Until the telcos sort out their systems, businesses bear the brunt of their mistakes. SWARH employs two staff to comb its bills, while HumeNET has been monitoring its bills for the past decade. "In the very early days we had an external consultant auditing our accounts just to try to ensure that our customers were getting what they were entitled to," Mr Bowmaker said. "As our contracts have become simpler to interpret we've taken it more on ourselves at the agency level and got people to do spot checks on our accounts to ensure we're being charged appropriately."

Baker's Delight is preparing to renegotiate its telecommunications contract with AAPT next year, and Mr Carrodous said it would seek to build in provisions that accommodated the cost of hiring a consultant to constantly comb through bills. "It adds to the cost of doing business. "We certainly will be looking at that. It's a hidden cost that can then dilute the rate being offered," he said.

More here

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wrap up -- for now

I reported my conversation with a Telstra staffer on April 9th in which I made the grave error of not having my thoughts fully in order when he called. I forgot to ask him to send me a written confirmation of what he had done to fix my complaint. And when I rang back I could not get on to him to make that request.

I did however manage to get back on to him the next day and he agreed to send out the letter requested. Guess what? No such letter has arrived. Children of the darkness (John 3: 19-20) don't like their deeds to be seen in the light of day and having written confirmation of their deeds out in the open would be too much for them, I guess.

I guess that this is the end of my most recent quarrel with Telstra but I will be keeping an eye out for stories about them that people should know about and will post the stories here.

An amusing footnote to my most recent problem with them is that I appear to have underestimated the time I have had one of their prepaid cards. I thought I bought it early last year but I have looked up the receipt and I actually bought it in 2005!

So I must have still been using my initial payment from 2005 when they cut me off. I use the phone almost entirely to receive calls so that figures. So I guess that they had a reason to be grouchy with me. If they had explained that, I might not have complained. But talking to customers is something that Telstra hates, of course. So all I got was a very vague letter saying that they had a right to do what they did. The vagueness may have been because the "right" was disputable, I think. They never did say where it was in writing. I suspect that they made it up.

Interesting, though, that your initial payment is so privileged. All the "plans" have a maximum one-year duration. The lesson is to make a big payment upfront when you get a new card, I think.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Telstra's cable TV service shows typical disregard for customers

Why could they not have done this in the early hours of the morning?

FOXTEL customers were left wondering who was the Biggest Loser after the pay-TV operator forced an upgrade of their set-top boxes. The upgrade, which began shortly after 9.12pm yesterday, caused units across the country to shutdown for up to 30 minutes.

The timing coincided with the final episode of Network Ten's reality show The Biggest Loser, which was one of the most watched shows this year. About 1.88 million Australians watched university student Sam Rouen take the title, however, those watching it on Foxtel were left with a blank screen.

The upgrade also affected customers who had scheduled recording programs last night, with many finding their unit displaying a 'failed' message in place of their favourite show. Foxtel has not yet responded to a request for comment.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The latest Telstra bungle

Just hours after Telstra switched off its CDMA network, farmers, bushfolk and residents of regional Australia are eager to determine whether the Next G network is equal or better than the old service.

Telstra already has heralded the conversion as a success but Don Jackson says many of his neighbours in Osborne St, Scarborough, would disagree. Mr Jackson lives just a few minutes from Redcliffe City, but still needs an expensive external aerial to make a call on his Next G-compatible mobile from the comfort of his lounge. "Scarborough is not exactly an Outback suburb," Mr Jackson, 76, said. "If it's not going to work in the middle of civilisation, I can't see how it's going to work in the back blocks."

Mr Jackson said he bought his Next G-compatible mobile phone a few months ago in anticipation of the changeover. While he conceded the problem existed since he bought his mobile, he said the Next G network was not equal or better to CDMA, as promised by the Rudd Government. He said a Telstra employee showed him a map, indicating he could get reception from his street. He said his partner could get reception from her Optus phone in and outside their home. But because he couldn't, he had to cough up about $200 for an external aerial. He said that if he stood in the middle of his street he could sometimes get reception without the aerial. "Once you get past Oxley Ave, you lose it," he said.

The Courier-Mail rang Telstra on behalf of Mr Jackson and was told his story was "strange" because it would know if there was a blackspot in Osborne St. The spokeswoman said Telstra would send someone out.

About 550km northwest of Scarborough, at Banana, Tim Larsen remains sceptical of the Next G network, although he admitted he had no problem with it yesterday. Mr Larsen, 38, said he was angry at what the change had cost him. His car needs a special kit which has to be installed by a professional. All up, he faces up to $700 in costs. "What's annoying is the cost of the outlay . . . was made by someone else for me," he said.

It's the same sentiment for Mark Driscoll, a cattle farmer on a property about 100km from Moura. "Frustrated, you've got no idea," Mr Driscoll said. "I've never spent as much time on an issue as Telstra in the last three-to-four months." He said he had rang Telstra about 17 times without success to find out how the new service would affect him.

Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce said 25 per cent of the service was not equivalent or better. And Nationals stalwart Ron Boswell said many telco providers, including Optus and Pivotel Globstar, which piggybacked on the CDMA network, were shut out of the market, leaving only Telstra with the infrastructure to service customers.

Telstra said the switch-off at midnight on Monday went to plan without incident. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who approved the transition this month, said Telstra would be forced to reveal its drop-out rates.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

If only Australians were as feisty as Americans

America's Comcast cable company seems to be on a par with Telstra for bad service and arrogance. But some Americans push back. Some excerpts:

Inspired by March Madness, the folks at the Consumerist blog recently set up brackets to determine America’s worst company. The tournament was still going on as this column went to press, but I’m not afraid to predict the winner. It will be Comcast — in a rout.

Sure, you skeptics are thinking, “What about Wal-Mart? Exxon? Halliburton?” I’ll admit that we can’t (yet) connect Comcast to child labor, environmental destruction or Dick Cheney (although clearly you’ve never sat for seven hours on a Saturday waiting for a new DVR). But I’m not alone in my seething rage for the nation’s largest cable company.

The Internet is filled with sites — like, and — dedicated to the company. Comcast customer Brian Finkelstein’s video of one of its technicians sleeping on his couch has been watched more than 1 million times on YouTube.

Then there’s Mona Shaw. This once mild-mannered retired nurse from northern Virginia (a square-dancing Unitarian, no less) got so fed up with Comcast’s lousy customer service that she went down to the local office armed with a claw hammer. Here’s the play-by-by from a Washington Post profile of Shaw:
Shaw storms in the company’s office. BAM! She whacks the keyboard of the customer service rep. BAM! Down goes the monitor. BAM! She totals the telephone. People scatter, scream, cops show up and what does she do? POW! A parting shot to the phone!

Shaw was arrested and earned a $345 fine, along with the admiration of millions.

More here

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Merry-go-round of telecom customers proves costly

Whatever it costs the moronic b***s is still not enough in my opinion. That they tolerate the huge turnover rate described below shows what morons they are

CUSTOMER churn costs local businesses $1.5 billion a year, with telecommunications companies the biggest losers. A poll of more than 600 Australian consumers found that over the past 12 months, telephone, mobile phone and broadband companies suffered the most from customer turnover, ahead of electricity providers, banks and insurance firms. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents singled out pricing as the main factor for leaving a company, followed by a lack of incentives to stay loyal (48 per cent).

Poor customer service continued to be the bane of many consumers, with 42 per cent saying their suppliers could not adequately solve their problems, while 20 per cent had issues with inexperienced staff manning their calls.

The survey, commissioned by IT vendor BMC Software, said six out of 10 consumers had changed a supplier in the past year. "This switching merry-go-round is costing Australian business approximately $1.58 billion per annum when the cost of a single customer is multiplied by the average number of churns per year and the adult population (13.2 million)," the survey said. "Furthermore, when the impact of negative word of mouth is taken into account, these costs will rise still further to a conservative estimate of $2.376 billion."

The results do not surprise marketing expert Adrian Payne, a professor of marketing at the University of NSW. Dr Payne said telephone companies had a great deal of difficulty in becoming the "corner-shop corporation". "How can you look, think and feel like a corner shop when you have tens of thousands of customers? This is what they're grappling with," he said.

Organisations with high churn rates should conduct a "defection analysis" to determine the root cause of the loss, rather than ramp up advertising. "It's the leaking bucket syndrome," Dr Payne said. "If they can't do anything about it, they pump money into customer acquisition and there are many problems related to this approach when you don't know why you're losing those customers in the first place."

The study, conducted by Ciao Research, surveyed participants between the ages of 18 and 64 with a yearly income of below $30,000 to over $130,000.


Friday, April 11, 2008


In response to my email of 27 March, I got the following reply from the TIO. Below the reply I reproduce my reply to the reply

From: "TIO Investigations Team"

Subject: TIO ref: 08/061042

Dear Dr Ray,

Thank you for your email received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on 28 March 2008. I am responding to you on the Ombudsman's behalf, in accordance with my responsibilities as Enquiry Manager.

The TIO did receive your letter dated 21 December 2007, however it was mistakenly assumed to be related to your previous Optus complaint. The letter was added to your file, but no further action was taken due to this oversight. I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.

The person who was handling your file has since left the TIO and therefore, the matter was passed on to Lou to action. It is my understanding that you believe Lou has misunderstood the issues of your complaint. I have had an opportunity to read the case notes left by Lou and see no evidence that this was the case. Lou has advised that she contacted you to clarify whether this was a different complaint to that originally lodged on 14 December 2007. Lou is an experienced Enquiry
Officer and while I have no doubt that she was attempting to assist you with your complaint, I do apologise if there was any confusion.

The TIO has since received a letter from the Honourable Kevin Rudd, MP on your behalf. I will be responding to your complaint directly via Mr Rudd's office as requested.

In closing, I regret that you feel that the handling of your complaint was less than satisfactory, however, I trust that this has addressed your concerns and a response to your recent correspondence will be forwarded via Mr Rudd's office.

Yours Sincerely

Tanya Erdos, Enquiry Manager

I replied:

Good to hear from you.

I am still amazed that it took three letters -- all of which were (as I expected) in fact received by the TIO -- to get a response out of the TIO. You've definitely got some dumb bunnies working there. And Lou certainly did everything to reinforce that impression. Please consider using an IQ test to weed out the incompetents.

Telstra have now told me that they will accede to my request

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Amazing Telstra again

At last it happened! I got to talk to someone at Telstra about my complaint! I have been trying to get my complaint attended to since 24 November, 2007! And I have written many letters about the matter since then.

It was pressure from the TIO that got them to respond. I received a call from a Matthew at Telstra Customer Relations. After a very brief conversation he agreed to my request that Telstra refund the money that they had originally confiscated from my Telstra prepaid mobile phone account. Why could that conversation not have happened months ago? Search me! Anyway, it will be interesting to see whether or not the refunded money DOES turn up in my account.

There is an annoying coda to the matter, however. Just after I had finished speaking to Matthew, it occurred to me that I would like written confirmation of what he had done in response to my complaint. So I tried to ring him back. "Oh Oh!" you will no doubt be saying if you know anything about Telstra. And you would be right.

Matthew had given me a number to call him back: 1800 814 242 plus a reference number for my matter: 1-131690332. So I was not being a total optimist in trying to call him back. But the number turned out to be a general Telstra enquiry number. "OK", you might say. "How does it matter what number you use as long as you get in touch?"

But you don't know Telstra enquiry numbers if you ask that. The message I got when I called was (approximately): "We are at present experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual so you may have to wait some time. If you wait you will be answered in turn. Otherwise please hang up and call back later". I have heard that message so often that I should be able to say it off by heart.

If they are CONSTANTLY experiencing a "too high" volume of calls, don't you think that they could put on more staff so that the delays don't happen? Not Telstra! Anyway, I wasn't prepared to waste part of my day waiting online for these arrogant ignoramuses so I did not manage to place my return call. I will just await developments.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Email to Katrina Hicks, Constituent Officer for Kevin Rudd

Dear Katrina

Thank you for your efforts on my behalf in stirring the TIO into life.

I finally got a call from someone there yesterday afternoon. But it was a shambles.

They obviously have no respect for your office. They gave the matter over to a young woman ("Lou") who seemed to have a mental age of about 11 and I doubt that she knew or understood anything about my matter.

My complaint was of course about a Telstra mobile phone account but she revealed at one stage that she thought the matter concerned a landline account!

I asked her to hand my matter over to a more senior person but I doubt that she will do that without a nudge. If you have a direct line to the Ombudsman himself, I would be obliged if you would second my request for the matter to be reassigned

Many thanks

(Dr) John Ray

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Email to the TIO of 27 March, 2008

Dear Ombudsman

You seem to have severe staffing issues at the moment.

I sent you a complaint about my Telstra prepaid mobile account on Dec 21, 2007 which received no response

I sent you another copy over a month ago

It got no response

So I wrote to Kevin Rudd

Your staff told Rudd's office that you had received NEITHER of my letters so Rudd's office forwarded you a third copy a day or two ago

Late this afternoon I got a call from a young woman named Lou at your office.

She was so out of the loop that she thought my complaint concerned a landline account.

Is that the standard you expect from your staff?

The woman concerned seemed so densely thick that I must ask you to hand over my matter to a more senior person.

The reference Lou gave me was 08061042

Thanking you
John Ray

Monday, March 17, 2008

Letter of 15 March, 2008 from Kevin Rudd's office

Our ref: klh:klh/

Dear Dr Ray

Thank you for contacting Kevin with your concerns regarding Telstra pre paid mobile accounts. Kevin has now asked that I make enquiries on your behalf in relation to this matter. Please be assured that I am investigating this matter and will provide you with a detailed response at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, if you wish to discuss this matter further, or if there are any other Federal Government matters with which Kevin may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact the Electorate Office on 3899 4031.

Yours sincerely
Katrina Hicks

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Letter of 9 March, 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Dear Mr Rudd,

I have noticed that you have had problems with Telstra. So have I.

Are you aware that if you do not use money in a prepaid mobile phone account within a narrow timeframe, Telstra just confiscate the unused money and refuse to give it back? They did that to me and did it without any notice. One day I just found that my mobile was no longer working even though I had spent only about half the money in the account.

I wrote to Telstra about it but they declined to do anything about it.

I have written to the TIO twice about it but they have just ignored me.

I think legislation may be needed to stop Telstra from continuing this unfair practice.

I enclose a copy of the letter that the TIO ignored twice. I sent the second copy over a month ago but have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

Yours faithfully,

(Dr) John Ray

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Telstra contemptuous of country Australians

Susan Carlson writes

Not all customers are treated the same! I have been using the net since 1996. During this time I was using a locally based ISP. Why? Because they were reasonably priced, offered service and I very rarely had trouble getting on line!

While I may have changed my towers, hard wear, soft wear and desks, I have always used the same ISP. I like my ISP, because time after time I heard my friends say how hard it is to get on line. Most of them are with Bigpond, or as I like to call it, Big Puddle!

This year I decided to upgrade my net access to broadband. Not because of the large downloads, although that is very attractive for my photographic service, but because my Mum is 86 and hates it when she can’t get through to me. So broadband seems the perfect answer.

Of course that’s perfect for me but not for Telstra. I’m not ‘with them’. And I don’t want to change! So when I asked my ISP about getting broadband, they advised me that I would be paying a fee to Telstra, an increased monthly fee and also buying a new modem. That’s fair enough and so I paid them. I trust them because I’ve done business with them for 12 years!

So why has Telstra knocked back my first application? I don’t owe them money and always pay my phone bill on time? Why did my ISP have to present my application again and why two months later are Telstra still ‘looking into my accessibility’!

Makes you wonder why a friend of mine (in the same phone area) has had broadband for the last few months? OH she’s not only a Telstra customer; she has her email with them!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

More Telstra arrogance

FOUR loyal Telstra customers are considering legal action after the giant telco stripped them of their profitable business phone number and handed it to a competitor just two doors away. The move plunged the Capalaba Raine & Horne real estate business into turmoil with its four owners claiming $312,000 in lost business. It had the "established real estate number" for only six weeks, after a transfer of business from the now liquidated Kanga Cove. "And to think Telstra gave that number – which was well established in the community – to LJ Hooker down the road really rubs salt into the wound," co-owner Margaret Enbom said yesterday.

Although technically a phone number cannot be bought, it is common for it to be transferred with the sale of a business. The value of an established business phone number, particularly in real estate, may surprise those unaccustomed to the phone-reliant industry. "In real estate it's paramount to the value of street position and taking it from a business is tantamount to identity theft," said private accountant Surome Singh, who consulted with the industry before costing the losses for the owners.

Mr Singh said the matter had dragged on since 2004, with Telstra in 2006 offering $50,000 in compensation for "poor delivery of service". Last month, Telstra downgraded its offer to just $5000. Mr Singh said that in May 2007 he calculated a fair settlement of $256,345, which had risen since to about $312,000.

Telstra yesterday denied it had even suspended the number, despite a previous verbal admission it suspended the service because it associated Raine & Horne (incorrectly) with Kanga Cove's incapacity to pay its telephone bills. "Telstra maintain the number was terminated by the administrator when the former business went bankrupt," a spokesman said. "The number was then made available and reissued."

Ms Enbom said her business enjoyed fair trade until the phones were cut, without warning, and then plunged into silent turmoil with the goodwill provided by the established number lost. She derided Telstra for its latest offer and questioned how many other businesses had suffered the same fate.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Arrogant Telstra loses one

May there be many more like this

TELSTRA'S ownership of the network of copper wires that makes up Australia's fixed-line telephone system has been legally diminished after the High Court unanimously rejected a case by the telco that its constitutional property rights were breached by being forced to allow rivals access to its infrastructure.

Yesterday's ruling found that the former government-owned monopoly's ownership of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) was contingent on the telco providing rivals with access. "Telstra's bundle of rights in respect of the PSTN has always been subject to the rights of its competitors to require access to and use of the assets," the judgment said.

The ruling, which pundits described as Telstra's "own goal", affirms the telecommunications access regime of the Trade Practices Act and bolsters the power of the federal Government before the tender process for the $4.7billion national broadband bid.

Telstra brought the case in January last year, asking the High Court to consider whether its constitutional rights under Section 51 (XXI), that the federal government can only compulsorily acquire "property" on "just terms", were being breached by 11 of its rivals, the commonwealth and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which sets prices for compulsory third-party access to Telstra's network. Telstra argues the access prices set by the ACCC for its opponents are below cost and thus not acquired on just terms. But the judges challenged the scope of Telstra's "property".

"Telstra's argument that there is an acquisition of its property otherwise than on just terms is ... synthetic and unreal because it proceeds from an unstated premise that Telstra has larger and more ample rights in respect of the PSTN than it has," they said. "Telstra's 'bundle of rights' in respect of the assets of the PSTN has never been of the nature and amplitude which its present argument assumes."

Telstra general counsel Will Irving said the case had cost Telstra's shareholders "less than $1 million" but had been worth it.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy backed the decision, which "upheld the validity of the telecommunications access regime in the Trade Practices Act". ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel welcomed it, saying that enforcing the access regime did not amount to acquisition of Telstra's property. The other winners are the G9 group of smaller telcos such as Optus, Primus and Macquarie Telecoms.

Optus's Andrew Sheridan said the judgment sent a "clear message to Telstra that it cannot ride roughshod over the will of parliament". Macquarie Telecom's Matt Healy said Telstra had been "given a harsh history lesson" by the judges, while Primus Telecom CEO Ravi Bhatia said it was "well past time for Telstra to stop wasting money and management bandwidth on misguided and speculative litigation in attempts to crush competition and subvert the law of the land".

Despite the unanimous ruling against Telstra, David Forman, from the Competitive Carriers Coalition, said the industry suspected the telco would continue to launch "serial court actions with little or no merit". "Until Telstra is separated into independent wholesale and retail businesses, it will continue to do everything it can to make it difficult for any other retail telecommunications company to do business," he said. "Telstra has still not won a single case on substantial matters since its management arrived from America in 2005 and imported the litigate-everything strategy, winning only one minor administrative law case against the ACCC."


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You just CANNOT win with Telstra!

They are pigs, apes and monkeys -- or that is the standard of their service.

The first time I learnt that my mobile service had been cut off was when I had arrived at a gated complex and needed to phone the person inside to say that I had arrived. All I got from my phone was a message to say that my service had been "suspended" -- even though I still had plenty of money in my prepaid account. I ended up having to climb over a high fence that night in order to get to my destinmation -- which was not remotely amusing for an old guy like me.

If Telstra were a civilized organization, one might have expected that they would send out (say) a text message advising the customer of a service suspension as soon as the suspension occurred -- but expecting civility of Telstra is pissing into the wind, of course

And it happened again last night. I was delayed in hospital and wanted to advise the person who was to pick me up of that. But all I got was a message saying: "Emergency calls only"! The phone was working again this morning so I rang Telstra to enquire what the hell was going on and was told that they had "routing issues" last night. I have been using phones for around 50 years and had never heard that one before. Service standards have definitely got worse.

Telstra need to recognize that their customers RELY on their phones for many things and build in enough system redundancy to avoid such service failures. I now have my own form of systems redundancy. I have another cellphone from Optus that I can use whenever Telstra let me down. Disgraceful that anybody has to go to such expense, however.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A suggested improvement for BigBlog

Telstra rarely acknowledge that my suggestions to them are good ones but they do eventually seem to heed what I say to a degree. The fact that this site has a fairly high page-ranking may help.

As I have noted before, things that I have suggested are often implemented by them without notice and without acknowledgement to me. The most pleasing of such events is that they recently seem to have cut right back on the waiting time that one experiences when calling their helpline.

So here is another way that Bigpond could enter the 21st century:

When you log on to your BigBlog site, you have to enter your whole email address plus your password. And you have to do so EVERY time. The service has no "memory". With most sites you just enter the first few letters and the rest is done for you.

Telstra take note. You too could offer an intelligent service!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This is no surprise at all. Trujillo is a disaster

Telstra using 'plastic bags' to patch lines

THOUSANDS of people are having their phones cut off every time it rains because cost-cutting by Telstra means the lines are no longer waterproof and sometimes protected only by children's lunch bags. The Daily Telegraph has learned the number of faults skyrocketed to more than 5000 problems during the rains last week, compared to an average of 1000 in normal conditions. The problem is so severe that parts of NSW are referred to as "Baghdad" because the plastic bag patch-up technique is so prevalent.

The situation follows massive job cuts as part of the controversial cost-cutting program embarked on by Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo in 2005. The telco, which posted a $3.3 billion profit last year, has slashed thousands of technician jobs in the past 18 months, causing a massive backlog of work and leaving phone lines unprotected from the elements.

The situation hit crisis point last week when Telstra bosses were forced to issue a desperate directive asking technicians to work double time to clear the backlog. One text message obtained by The Daily Telegraph states: "Total volume is 5233 & we are currently in contingency mode. All efforts to complete ALL TOW's (tickets of work - fault reports) will be greatly appreciated."

Workers say Telstra's squeeze on technician numbers over the past 18 months - a cut of 2600 nationwide, including 550 in Sydney - has meant up to 50 lines in each underground footpath box are not properly protected. In many cases technicians, overloaded with the 500 per cent increase in workload, are forced to do hasty patch-up jobs with tape and plastic bags. They then put in a request for an outside contractor to complete the job but often this is not done in time, leaving the lines exposed to water.

The Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union said Telstra's cost-cutting was to blame for a massive spike in faults. "These rising high volumes of faults are caused by Telstra's ongoing program of retrenching skilled communications technicians and major cutbacks to the maintenance of Telstra's copper cable network," assistant secretary Steve Dodd said. "Hundreds of skilled communication technicians have been made redundant in Sydney over the past 18 months following Telstra's CEO Sol Trujillo's announcement in 2005 to reduce its workforce by 12,000." Mr Dodd said there were safety concerns with people's phones being cut off at times of storms, floods and other extreme weather. The CEPU warned people to be prepared for a deterioration of services, including lengthy delays.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I knew it!

My extremely low expectations of Telstra efficiency -- born of experience -- were justified. Can Telstra get anything right first go? Their offensive and incompetent accounts management continues. After all my run-ins with them, I was sure that I had navigated correctly through their regulations. I FIRST got my prepaid "plan" changed to a "longlife" one and I THEN put another $30 into the account. That should have given me 12 months (until January 2009) to use the money.

But when I checked the accounts-checking line (1258888) I found that I had been given only until March to use the money! So I rang their helpline straight away and was told not to worry. The date would come right in about "48 hours". It didn't. I put the money in on 19th and by today -- 23rd -- the account was still showing on 1258888 as due to cut out in March this year.

So I rang the helpline yet again. Rather to my surprise I got a prompt response. I was prepared for the usual 20 minutes wait before I got to actually talk to someone. So perhaps my nagging about their slow response time did hit a nerve somewhere and they have actually put on adequate helpline staff at long last.

Anyway, the line was atrocious. Once again we have a phone company that cannot keep its own in-house phone lines working well. Amazing! But I guess that my call had to go all the way to India and back so maybe that was a factor. As it was, I could understand only about every second word spoken.

Anyway, with much palaver he did succeed in altering the date to what it should AUTOMATICALLY have been set to. I wonder when the penny will drop at Telstra HQ that doing things manually that should be done automatically is inefficient and costly? Not to mention very irritating to their customers.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Telstra boneheadedness

First: The good news. I rang the Telstra helpline (125111) about 11am this morning (Saturday) and got straight through -- instead of the usual 20 minute wait. Something to bear in mind! Saturday must be a good day.

Second: The usual archaic accounting system. I am now at last on a "longlife" plan which allows me to pay in $30 and get a year to use it. So I went in today and paid over my $30. Being a nasty old skeptic, however, (Telstra would make ANYBODY a nasty old skeptic), I immediately rang the account-checking number (1258888) to see if the $30 had gone through. It had. But what had NOT been properly reset was the expiry date. The date given was in March 2008 rather than in January, 2009.

So I rang the polite Indian gentleman on the helpline to ask what was going on. What he told me is that a reset date takes 48 hours to go through so they initially reset it to only two months ahead.

Incredible! If they can reset it at all, why don't they reset it to the correct date? It's very Telstra. I really am beginning to think that it will need legislation to make these bunnies behave with some semblance of civility and intelligence.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Silly Francis

A letter to Francis Croydon -- PR man for Solomon Trujillo

You are being very stupid by ignoring me. I had to write to the Prime Minister once before to get a Telstra problem sorted out. I am quite prepared to write to Kevin Rudd about your latest pigheadedness -- and that might have more fallout this time than Solomon will be comfortable with.

Yours disgustedly,

Dr John Ray

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My aim

My immediate aim in my present controversy with Telstra is to get them to refund the money that they have purloined from my prepaid mobile phone account.

But I am financially very well-off. I give away money by the thousands frequently. So such a tiny amount of money is of no consequence to me of itself.

What I object to is being treated contemptuously and my underlying aim is to stop people in general from being treated that way. What is an insignificant amount of money to me may be quite important to many others.

So I want to win this one for the impact it will have on Telstra, not for any other reason. I want to civilize them -- vain hope though that probably is.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Telstra Tricks

At long last, after numerous phone calls to Telstra and one totally uninformative letter from Telstra Head Office, I think I have figured out the treacherous techniques that Telstra uses to squeeze more money out of their hapless customers who hold prepaid mobile phone accounts.

No doubt one is supposed to figure it all out from the reams of legalese they give you when you sign up but I am no lawyer and nor are 99% of their customers, I am sure. Furthermore, Telstra's own helpline people don't generally seem to be aware of it all either. So how can customers be expected to know it?

First trick: When you buy a prepaid Telstra SIM card, they give you 6 months to use the money on it. But once you have used that money up, you only get one month to use any extra money you put on it unless you specifically request restoration of a six month's leeway. That one got me straight away. Before I knew it, my phone was cut off because I had "used up" my one month after the first recharge that I did -- even though I still had plenty of money in the account.

Second Trick: You have to request a return to the 6 month "plan" BEFORE you put in more money. You cannot do it after you have paid in. I fell for that one too. After my phone was cut off I put in another $20 of credit and rang them immediately thereafter to get my "plan" changed to a 6-monthly one. Both of the two helpline people that I spoke to on the day concerned assured me that all would be hunky dory from that moment on. It might take "2 or 3 days" for the change to show up in the account records but show up it would and that is all there would be to it.

It was only when I rang today (9 days later) and demanded to know WHY no change had showed up in the account records (automatically accessible via no. 1258888) that I was told of Trick no. 2.

I think that these tricks are utterly gross and that my "plan" should be fully changeable at ANY time, WITHOUT my pumping more money in. I further think that money unused due to time restrictions should be refunded to the customer. That would in my view be a minimum standard of civility for Telstra to adopt. But don't hold your breath when you are dealing with a huge and predatory company. I hope however that this blog might serve to forewarn a few of their potential victims.

I think my next step might be to approach the Rudd government and ask them to IMPOSE those minimum standards on Telstra. Rudd and Telstra are at daggers-drawn anyway so Rudd would probably welcome the chance to give Telstra one in the eye.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dear Mr McGauchie

I have just sent the following letter to the chairman of Telstra:

I would like to draw your attention to the contemptuous attitude towards customers that characterizes Sol and his staff. It has got so bad that I have started a website devoted to recording my appalling experiences with Telstra/Bigpond. It is here:

The site already has a high Google page-ranking --- as you can see for yourself if you Google (say) the two words:

Trujillo bigpond

My site is the first or second on the list that Google gives you in response to that query. So lots of people will be reading it. You get a mention there too.

Have a read through it (the posts are short) and consider whether or not personal intervention from you is required. Sol is missing in action -- even though I have written to him and his PR assistant (Francis Croydon) many times.

Yours sincerely,

(Dr.) John Ray