In Florida we paid about $30/month for home phone service, and it included unlimited calls across the U.S., not to mention the other necessities such as caller ID, call waiting, etc. So you can imagine my surprise when I called Telstra prior to our Sydney move to organize (that's "organise" in American) phone service and they informed me, in cute Aussie accent and all, that their rates would also start at about $30/month... plus 17.5 cents per local phone call, plus 34 cents per minute for calls to mobile phones-- needless to say, I was shocked. But the good news was that I would get Call Waiting and Call Number Display ("Caller ID" in the U.S.) included. Um, yay? And too bad that in three years here, I still can't figure out how the hell to answer Aussie Call Waiting, wtf?
These are some of my original notes from my "moving to Australia" notebook circa 2007:
And looking at Telstra's current comparisons of home phone plans, apparently not too much has changed in the last three years, though now you can buy a plan with unlimited local calls (though not to mobile phones). And mobile calls now cost $2/each for 20 minutes- that's TWO DOLLARS FOR 20 MINUTES. And by the way, they don't say "cell phone" in Australia-- fyi.
So to avoid Telstra's ridiculous charges over the years, I resorted to using my mobile for almost all phone calls, the purpose of having a home line became mainly to have high-speed internet, etc. And fortunately things with Telstra were pretty uneventful. That is until recently...
A few months ago I called Telstra to update the expiration date on my credit card. The girl I spoke with was even nice enough to suggest bundling my phone, internet, and Foxtel cable to save some money (about $50/month). Obviously with a deal like that, how could I say no? And with the technology these days, I assumed that a few minutes later I'd have a new phone/internet/tv combo plan, yay!
An hour and a half later, this crap still wasn't done. And eventually I found out the girl I was speaking to merely requested the changes because another department actually had to make the changes---huh? Seriously?
Then, three weeks later, I received a bill for over $500! Foxtel was no where to be found on the bill, and neither was my internet service. So I call Telstra again, and India (and by "India", I mean the country) answers. And India transfers me. And after another hour and a half, and approximately eight "customer no-service" people later, I had gotten no where. Apparently "that's not my department/job/problem" is the motto of Telstra... wow Telstra, that's impressive stuff.
Over a period of two weeks I spent about twenty hours trying to fix my Telstra account. On three separate occasions, three separate customer service people said they were fixing it and would call me back to confirm it was done. Did I receive one return phone call??? Um, no.
And when I got all high and mighty and called for the fifthteenth fucking hundreth time, demanding in a really ugly, obnoxious-American way that they solve this while I remained on the phone by calling the department who makes the godforsaken changes-- I was told-- okay, brace yourself-- that that department doesn't have phones! At the phone company??? A department that doesn't have phones, at the phone company! Are these people on crack?
Needless to say, I had them forgo all the changes they were supposed to have made. I tried to make a complaint, apparently everyone and their mother at Telstra is a "supervisor"-- but there's no escalation department. Try reaching the CEO, and you'll end up in an endless rotation of transfers in which ultimately, the operator will tell you- not only will they not connect you with him, nor his admin-- they won't find anyone else to help you either.
Royally pissed off and in unique form, I called another phone company (the competition)-- and guess what, if I'm prepared for them to rewire the house and drill five bazillion holes throughout it, I can be lucky enough to be their customer. Well why would the hell would I purposely walk into that mess when I can stick with the mess I already know and hate? Do I want more needless convos (that's Aussie slang for "conversations") with India? Fine Telstra... I give, I give.... I'll stick with you, the biggest, most unorganized company on the planet. A phone company with a department that all changes must go through, but has no phones. My head is going to explode just reliving this redonkulousness.
Then, weeks later, in the midst of an afternoon which included being swabbed for swine flu and cleaning up dog vomit, guess who called my mobile phone.... why of course, it was Telstra-- well hip hip fucking hooray. And this lovely girl inquired about who my mobile service was with, and did I know I could switch my mobile to Telstra and get a fantastic bundle package deal?
And as I hacked violent coughs in her ear and explained I was sick, she continued on, delighting me with her fantastic sales skills and impressive offer. And I went on to briefly tell her how horrible my experience has been with Telstra and how I cannot believe a company could operate with such disregard for customer satisfaction.
But she had good news! There's a new CEO, and everything at Telstra is better. They have revamped their customer service and she was calling only to help me get a better deal!
And as I wheezed into the phone, I managed to ask her what changes they had made? Well here's the short answer-- NONE, no freaking changes! And there's still no escalation department, if you have a complaint get your pen out, because you'll have to mail it to them. And there's even still a department which all changes go through, and they still don't have phones... jeez, I'd like to work in that department, no way to call in sick, no calls from the boss... woo hoo.
So guess what Telstra-- just saying you've got "new" customer service doesn't mean you've made any improvements, you actually have to do something to fix things. Let me give you some suggestions--
- Build the technology to support all the things you sell; so when people want to order these things, or change these things, the first person your customer speaks to can actually make the changes.
- Empower your employees. Empower your employees to make changes without insane processes that make simple things become complex. And empower your employees to rectify bad situations with compensation such as credits on their bills, etc. If you need help with this ask American Express, every employee at American Express knows how to help customers so they go away happy.
- Get rid of half of what you offer. Why do you have three bazillion plans?