A spinning war has blown up between disgruntled former Dingo Blue customers and Telstra’s PR people over the switch customers had to make from the now-defunct carrier.

“I want to alert you and your loyal subscribers to another big Telstra scam currently underway.

AGL announced a couple of months ago that it would close its telephone and ISP operation, Dingo Blue, and we (along with thousands of other subscribers) moved our accounts across to Optus (or so we thought).

The fateful day came last Friday when Dingo Blue finally closed and surprise, surprise our phones were dead.

We called Optus and they said they had been inundated with similar complaints from business people who were assured by Optus that everything would be alright on May 31. The Optus staff told us on Friday morning that we had to first get a connection with Telstra, before they could subsequently take over the account from Telstra.

Telstra last month bought the list of Dingo Blue subscribers and they appear to be having no problems at all! What a surprise.

We succeeded is setting up our line with Telstra in one hour on Friday morning, as we had no other choice in the matter, as Telstra owns the lines and like us, Optus, is captive to their anti-competitive, disgraceful conduct. Yet they now tell us it will take 14 days to switch our lines across to Optus.

As a consequence of this complete balls-up we have one line with Telstra, two with Optus (as they did move across) and who knows who our internet connection currently sits with!!

This is third world stuff but is a clear indication that we should all be buying Telstra stock, as they have the market by the balls and no-one can do anything about it!!!

I would like my name withheld as I might lose my lines completely if Telstra finds out I have sent this distress signal!”

– Ends –

After running this twice, we then published in our 20 June sealed section the following item courtesy of Telstra’s flak:

“20. TELSTRA AND DINGO BLUE

We accidentally ran that whinge about Telstra’s takeover of Dingo Blue twice so we’d better belatedly give Telstra their right of reply, even if we have buried it:

“Stephen,

I write to correct the inaccuracies in the letter “TELSTRA SCREWS DINGO BLUE CUSTOMERS”.

Dingo Blue was a wholesale customer of Telstra and as such, requested Telstra to terminate any services that remained with Dingo Blue after 30 May, the date Dingo Blue ceased providing local call, long distance and dial up internet services.

Telstra understands that Dingo Blue repeatedly advised its customers of its intention to cease providing these services on May 30, 2002 and requested that they transfer their local call service to another provider no later than 24 May to ensure continuity of their local call service after 30 May 2002.

Telstra did not buy a list of local call customers from Dingo Blue. While Dingo Blue chose to recommend Telstra as a local call service provider, they also advised customers that they were free to choose any alternate service provider.

Any concerns customers may have regarding the transfer of their services to their new service provider should be directed to their new service provider.

Regards

Jon Court

Senior Public Affairs Officer

Telstra Retail”

– Ends –

But it doesn’t end there. Following publication of this, our original contributor has given it back to Telstra with interest:

“I read with amazement the tosh by Telstra’s public affairs unit about my piece regarding the Dingo Blue stuff-up.

While Telstra may not have bought Dingo Blue’s customer list, why was my business and hundreds of others facing dead phone and internet lines on May 31?

As the Telstra flack correctly pointed out, we were contacted many times by Dingo Blue that their service would shut down on May 31.

In early May we signed up with Optus and everything was settled by May 10, being told by Optus that our account was being shifted across to them from Dingo Blue quickly and seamlessly through Telstra – which owned our numbers.

Yet on May 31, the phones die, we ring Optus and are told that like many others, we and Optus are in the hands of Telstra, the numbers had not been switched over and we had to sign-up with the monolith before our lines would get back to normal and switched over to Optus.

Our lines are back to normal, we are being billed by Telstra and have not seen an Optus bill yet.

So who is telling porkies about how smooth the transition was from the closure of Dingo Blue – Telstra or Optus?

Perhaps Telstra’s PR people should talk to some of their customers instead of glossing over their market gouging with puff?

Meanwhile, the Optus people should be transparent and upfront, telling customers that they are in the hands of Telstra and services/numbers may or may not be transferred, at their convenience.”

– Ends –

And now we have also received this from another former Dingo Blue customer, which has been run on an ABC “Science Matters” list:

“The day Dingo Blue announced they were going to close down, I rang Telstra to change my phone back to Telstra. This was 8 March 2002. I had to record a verbal contract over the phone to do this. Telstra said it would take 9-10 days to come into effect. They lost it.

On 11 May, 2002 I called Telstra – they told me it would be 21 days or more to be effected. Of course this meant my connection would be terminated by Dingo Blue before Telstra changed my line, incurring a reconnection fee.

They said I would have to record another contract. I calmly said yes since I knew the procedure. Near the end while it was still recording I let them have a piece of my mind and accused them outright of deliberately delaying the transfer so they could get the reconnection fee. I stopped just short of letting them know all the swear words I have learned in various languages from 35 years of globe trotting, but the tone of my voice would have frozen the balls off a polar bear. The wimp on the other end said nothing but agreed that my comments had been recorded.

On 15 May I called back to see what was happening. They had lost the second recorded contract along with my comments. I was furious. I refused to give up and spent most of the day on the phone to various Telstra departments.

I finally got on to a nice lady called Rosemary in Perth who for some reason took a personal interest in my case. My diary records 8 phone calls and two faxes from her over the next three days and 4 calls and two faxes from me to her. All this to get Telstra to transfer my line from Dingo Blue back to Telstra. The average worker’s lifetime is not long enough to get Telstra to do what you pay them for.

It was confirmed something was really wrong with this company when they assigned a technician in Darwin to install my ADSL modem in Sydney. I tried to keep this list informed but it was becoming a book, so I stopped.

On the 14th of this month the power pak for the ADSL modem crapped out. I cracked. I dug out a 9 VDC power pak from my old Sharp computer and rewired it to change the polarity to positive centre pin and things are looking good. Their Internet software wouldn’t install so I am using RASPPPoE, so the modem is the only thing I got from them that is still working. I do not ever expect to hear from Telstra, I don’t want to and could die happy never having to speak to them again.

In summary I would like to say that there is no one running Telstra. They are the biggest collection of fools, incompetents, liars and unethical bastards that can be found outside corporate America and Australian banks.

I would rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than have my brother work for Telstra. You can tell Jon Court, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Telstra Retail, that for me.

He stated in his letter “Any concerns customers may have regarding the transfer of their services to their new service provider should be directed to their new service provider”.

God help them if their new service provider is Telstra.

Morris”

I got double-billed

Dear Crikey,

I signed into Telstra via the internet pretty soon after Dingo Blue notified us of their exit. In April I received my usual bill from Dingo Blue for calls and line rental. On the same day I got a bill from our mates Telstra for line rental. In May I received my usual bill from Dingo Blue for calls and line rental. On the same day I got a bill from our mates Telstra for calls & line rental. Since I am a true patriot capitalist aussie I’ve paid the bills and only noticed the doubling up after going through my records. Could hardly be bothered going to Telstra to raise a query/complaint since the customer service thoroughly sucks and and the extra money I”ve paid is worth it just to avoid any contact time with the bastards. All I can say is thank God for Aussie competition and tis a pity I’m not a shareholder.

Now I remember, this is all because Telstra is not fully-privatised. Because if it was then all the executives would convince the shareholders that doing the right thing by the customer, although it doesn’t make quick bucks, will make the shareholder feel all gooey inside.

Your’s faithfully, Mal

CRIKEY: Whatever Telstra wants to say about the issue, there are plenty of telecommunications customers who are mighty unhappy with Telstra. Telstra, as always, are more than welcome to use these pages to respond.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW