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."