Thursday, February 12, 2009

Telstra have redeemed themselves...

It's only fair that after such a tirade on their service, I at least offer some good feedback when they actually do something good.  I wont harp on the fact that it took me four phone calls to numerous departments and five emails as I think I gave enough criticism of that in my original post.  

My issues have finally been resolved... and by someone who actually took the time to listen and assist me with my cause and (fingers crossed) actually actioned what they said...

After no resolution speaking to Telstra customer service on numerous occasions, I lodged my complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).  Within a few days I received an email back from the TIO with a contact number for the Telstra Customer Referral Centre who deal with high level complaints.  So I made the call and spoke to a girl called Emily.  

Emily was absolutely outstanding, she listened to everything I had to say, entered it in the system, spoke to the people responsible from both Telstra and Bigpond and had everyone of my remaining concerns resolved within 10-15 minutes... Unbelievable... At no stage was she difficult, she agreed with everything I put forward and actioned it immediately...

While I thanked her for being so prompt, I did say I would reserve judgement until I saw my next bill as the last time I spoke to someone at Telstra they said the same thing and nothing happened... She assured me she was looking at a screen where it had already been applied and then read out my outstanding balances which were exactly inline with my thinking...

I've got to say, that one experience gave me awhole new outlook on Telstra HOWEVER, I will not get too carried away as I did have to speak to the high level customer relations department for that type of service... Clearly they employ the good people in this division and leave all the drongos and morons in the standard customer service area to deal with day to day issues... Once I was finished I was transfered to the standard help desk to try and work out a problem with the online billing registration... Talk about going from chocolates to boiled lollies... I was forced to deal with a complete buffoon... He was a moron! He was useless, he didn't listen to anything I said and soured what was almost a perfect interaction with Telstra... He also highlighted the calibre of service I had just dealt with with Emily...

Anyway, problem solved... I will not be posting here anymore so have a nice day! (unless they stuff up again...) What am I saying... I'll probably be back on here within 4-6 weeks...

see you soon!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Telstra & Bigpond sucks and their service is appalling

I have had quite possibly the most tedius and annoying dealing with Telstra and Bigpond that I have ever had the displeasure of experiencing...  Where do I start... I had to move home, and in doing so I got the costs to move my phone line and internet to my new property.  When I got the costs from my then provider AAPT, I was quite flabbergasted and used it as an opportunity to do some research on what else was available in the market and to see if I could get a better price.

After a lot of research the best plans I could find were with Telstra Bigpond and Optus.  I ruled Optus out when they said "We can't service your area"!!! I only live in Rowville so it is not like I am outside of metro Melbourne but anyway, this left me with Telstra Bigpond or the incumbent.

When I spoke to Telstra Bigpond, their sales department were sooooo helpful, they gave me all sorts of options to help me come out with the best possible outcome.  It was based on this, that I decided that they were pretty good.  The problem was though that the timeframes were quite short and therefore, keeping the same number was going to become a major issue.  The only way to do this was to use AAPT and get them to move the phone and internet service.  This meant that after all that, I was forced to pay all the reconnection costs anyway... When I did this I thought, well I've got it now, no bother switching...until...AAPT sent a letter stating my internet and phone service charges were going up...Now I thought, its an omen, I'm outta here.

I signed up to Telstra Bigpond in early October 2008.  The package that promoted to me was called the Bundle Package 3 (Phone & Internet) and  included:

Telstra Homeline Plus Phone Service: $29.95 with $10 bundle discount ($19.95)
Bigpond Liberty 12GB ADSL2 Broadband Service: $69.95 with $10 bundle discount ($59.95)
First 9 months at half price as a switching incentive
$180 credit to my account, part for signing up and part for switching from a competitor ($70 & $110)   
Plus a free modem

At this point, I noted to the sales consultant, I already have a wireless router however I am thinking about getting a combo (wireless and modem in one) to avoid cables and space.  The response was, don't worry about it, if you've already got a wireless modem, use it, that will be fine...  Well it wasn't and then after numerous phone calls I wrote a letter.  I have included the letter for your reading pleasure which basically describes all the steps I followed to try to get it resolved.:

"I am writing this letter due to the aggravated frustration of dealing with your business and I can no longer maintain my rage at the complete incompetence of your business and its staff.

It astounds me that it takes a change to a company such as Telstra, who I would have considered a market leader, for me to realise just how good my service was with AAPT before switching.  I am now looking at myself in the mirror thinking, what have I done!

In my previous 4 years with AAPT I have not had a single issue with any service they have provided.  Everything worked and if it didn’t work, they fixed it before I even had a chance to notice.  Since moving to Telstra I have been faced with issue after issue and to say that I am disappointed with your business would be an understatement.  And to make matters worse, you have locked me into a 24 month contract which just rubs salt into the wound – I have to put up with this sub-standard service for another 2 years!!!

Firstly, I will refer to the email service.  I have a work email account and I have a Bigpond account.  When I tried to send email through my work account I couldn’t.  I subsequently found out that Bigpond blocks port25 on their network.  The techs tell me it is a security issue however, I know that this is an absolute load of rubbish and it is merely another way for Bigpond to “control” what I do and how I do it. 

The response to my issue was to change my outgoing settings to use the Bigpond mail server however, my business restricts access to personal email during business hours therefore, this solution now requires me to change my mail settings twice a day – When I arrive in the office (change to my work mail server) and once again when I get home at night (change to the Bigpond mail server)… What an absolute joke! To perform a simple function such as sending email, which is a rudimentary task with any other ISP, becomes so difficult with Bigpond.

My second issue is with my Netgear Wireless Router that I own.  I have been using my Wireless Router for four years with my AAPT service without issue.  Setup is simple and easy, no problem… Of course it couldn’t be that easy with Bigpond! 

When I order my Bigpond connection, I discussed with the phone consultant about potentially upgrading to a Wireless Router to avoid having two devices.  The response I received directly from Bigpond was: “If you already have a Wireless Router, you can just plug it into the modem that comes free with the package”.  So, like anyone would, I assumed that what I was being told over the phone was true and considering the Wireless Router had worked fine for years with AAPT, I stupidly figured it would continue to do so. 

When I plugged my Wireless Router into the Bigpond 2Wire 2071-A modem/router, of course my Wireless stopped functioning… I performed extensive diagnosis on the Wireless Router to determine the following “facts”:

a)       I could obtain Internet access when plugged into the Netgear Router via a CAT5 cable to my laptop or any other wireless device

b)       I could connect to the Wireless Router when it was plugged into my AAPT modem

c)       I could connect to the Wireless Router when it was plugged into my office network

d)       I could connect to the Wireless Router when it was operating standalone

e)       The Wireless connection disconnects as soon as it is plugged into the Bigpond modem and Wireless connectivity is lost

So with these “facts” in hand I called your technical support line.  After a 5-10 minute wait the consultant took 10 seconds to hear my problem to which he responded positively.   His response gave me some confidence that it was a common problem and he then advised me that he would forward me to the advanced tech support team to be fixed… Fantastic I thought, quick, alert, responsive, they know what they are doing… How wrong I was!  After waiting for 30 minutes I finally got through to the Gizmo team who told me they would look at it for $75 an hour!!!

  1. The Bigpond consultant clearly wasn’t helpful, he simply palmed me off to the paid service without even bothering to advise he wasn’t going to help
  2. The problem is “factually” with the Bigpond modem as the Wireless Router operates without issue when the common problem (Bigpond modem) is removed from the equation.
  3. The Bigpond consultant advised me that I could just “plug in my existing router and it would work”

At no stage in any of my dealings did a single member from Bigpond take responsibility for the problem and it was simply palmed off to the 3rd party to deal with.  Instead, everyone simply took the same standard line – that’s not our router, we can’t help!  Perhaps if any of you took the time to understand the problem you would have realised that “Yes it is your problem!” It is your device that has caused me the problem!!!

When I called back the Bigpond technical support team to voice my disapproval at my treatment the response was simply, “If you don’t want to pay Gizmo then you’ll need to speak to Netgear about your router, we can’t help!”

Surely it can’t be that hard!!! There has got to be someone there at Bigpond that knows how to fix it!!!  I’m not asking too much…All I want is for the service that was sold to me to operate in the manner it was sold – This is clearly not the case.

The way I see it, Bigpond has not delivered what they sold and has actually provided a less than adequate solution when compared with what I previously had.  I figure there is no way whatsoever of resolving my email issue however, the Wireless Router issue can be fixed and the following is what I consider to be a suitable resolution path:

  1. Bigpond ships to me, free of charge, a Wireless Router that is compatible with my ADSL connection
  2. Bigpond offers a service whereby a technical member of staff actually assists me in getting my existing Wireless Router to work
  3. Bigpond lets me sever the existing 24 month contract and allows me to go back to my previous provider.

I do not think that the above request is unreasonable considering the lies and poor support I have had to endure since connecting my service three weeks ago.

I look forward to your response on this matter at your earliest convenience."

Not a single response to this letter!!!  Completely ignored! How's that for customer service at its absolute best?  Could you possibly find a company that could offer such poor service?

Now, I will eat humble pie here for a minute...I ended up finding the problem and it wasn't with the Bigpond modem, it was with my Wireless broadcast channel - there were other wireless routers in the area which appear to have been causing a conflict.  I ended up changing the channel from 11 to 6 and all is well.  While I was incorrect in my blame towards the router it doesn't change the fact that noone at Telstra even tried to help me! I was completely ignored.  Their customer service was non-existent.

Anyway, this is the least of my problems now... About a week after I sent this letter I got a call from a Telstra Bigpond representative asking "How's the phone and internet service?"... So I thanked him for the opportunity and I unloaded.  I was pleasant, clear and concise, I knew it wasn't his fault however, I wanted him to be aware of the the complete and utter incompetance of his customer service team.  He was astounded and embarrased...and then went on to offer me a free trial of a new product they had on offer... He was trying to sell me something!!! I basically told him that after my previous dealings, there was no way I would sign up for another Telstra service until this was completely recitified. 

With this he tried to help and said he would fix my problems so I started listing them:

1. The wireless router - no longer an issue but the service level I received was appalling
2. $10 credit on phone & internet had not been applied
3. $110 2nd part credit had not been applied
4. Half price discount for the first 9 months had not been applied

He then went about updating the system and blah, blah, blah, the problem was fixed (according to him)  another month went by and I had still not seen a bill with the correct charges and credits applied so I contacted them again.  Telstra simply forwarded the issue to Bigpond who knew nothing about the $110 credit but were quite helpful (FINALLY) with the half price discount and the $10 bundle credit.  (or so I thought...)

As it turns out Telstra and Bigpond have just ignored the $10 phone and internet credit issue as I am shouting much loader about the Half price for 9 months because, as it turns out, apparently when I signed up the 9 months was not applied... in the correspondance and terms and conditions that were sent out to me, apparently in the small print it said I must register for online billing "within the first month of service activation" to get an additional 3 months at half price... These guys are serious too!!! Heaven forbid I take their sales department at their word and what they sold me actually comes to fruition!!! I was told that I would get 9 months half price NOT you'll get 6 months half price and you can get an additional 3 if you register for online billing within the first month!!!

My other problem also is that I spoke to this guy within the first month and conveyed my frustration and all my problems... I assumed it was resolved... He didn't say anything about only getting 6 months unless I register for online billing... So, I actually made contact with Telstra Bigpond within the first month and conveyed my issue but they dragged it out for so long that my opportunity has expired!!!

Unbelieveable... Telstra Bigpond, you suck! I have not had such bad service from any other company in all my life... this is horrendous... Avoid Telstra Bigpond at all costs!!! Their service is appalling...

On a side note, since I got my wireless router going the internet service has been quite good.  The only positive thing I have to say about Telstra Bigpond. 

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