Have you had the misfortune to contact Telstra customer service of late? I had my mobile (but not my landline/Foxtel/Bigpond) suspended last Thursday, October 15, on a business trip, by Telstra’s own admission, for no logical reason (no money was owing on the account). The customer service officer told me that it may take one day or two days or perhaps two weeks to reinstate the service — after expressing my displeasure (!) it was reinstated in 20 minutes.

I arrived in Shanghai on  October 17 and  the mobile again was suspended. Telstra customer service don’t work on weekends, so yesterday and today I made seven phone calls from China, totalling over 2½ hours, and spoke to more than 20 different customer service reps. The strategies Telstra uses for handling customer complaints seem to be (and note: there is no money owing on my bill  — as confirmed also by Telstra):

  1. Bounce the customer from complaints to faults to mobile queries to billing to credit management until the customer gives up.
  2. During bouncing, disconnect the customer’s call.
  3. Transfer to the call centre in the Philippines, where the office noise is so loud (perhaps they service jet engines there for Qantas) that they can’t hear you and hang up.
  4. Put customer on hold until they give up (I was on hold to credit management for 30 minutes before I gave up).
  5. Just promise it will be fixed immediately (as representatives Mark and Kervin advised) so that the customer will go away.

Every time you call, it takes about 7-10 minutes to be connected to a customer service representative and at every transfer you get the same questions: “What is your number? What is your name? What is your date of birth? What is your billing address? How can I help you?”

All these have happened to me in past two days but the phone is still suspended for reasons that Telstra advise it does not understand.

You can, of course, complain by email — the automated reply to my complaint included “We aim to respond within two business days however due to a larger than expected demand for our services wait times are currently exceeding four business days.” From previous complaints I sent by email for other problems, Telstra just don’t bother ever replying.

Telstra is a total disgrace.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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