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.

No comments: