I'm angry, and at the top of my 'why' list at the moment is the appalling level of service offered by Telstra (our biggest telco, for you non Aussies).
Seriously folks, I knew I had to do something about my phone when a friend called me from the
Serengeti recently and the line dropped out at MY end.
According to the adverts, Telstra is meant to have 98% coverage in this country. If this is true, the
other 2% must be between my lounge room and the kitchen. So recently, I bit the bullet, climbed
into the cupboard under the sink where the reception is pretty clear, and gave Telstra a call. An
hour and a half later, I was still on hold.
An hour and a half! Don't these organisations realise that most people have better things to do
with their time than be kept on hold? I mean, I don't, but I'm sure people with real jobs do.
And while we're on the topic, let's talk about the 'hold' music. The music they play is ridiculous. I
could understand if it was 'Ring Ring' or better still 'Hanging On The Telephone' but all you hear,
over and over again, is that bloody 'I Am Australian' song. After about the 18th time hearing 'We
are one, but we are many' you can't help but have some very, very un-Australian thoughts.
Even worse is when the interrupt the endless repeats of 'I am Australian' to remind you about
their 'fantastic products and services'. Really? Are any of these products and services related to
actually answered the telephone? Because that WOULD be fantastic.
If you're going to keep me hanging on for so long, keep me up to date with Brad and Angelina or
the Kardashians. Even Rob Patt and Kirsten Stewart (are they on again or off again? I have
trouble keeping up.) Hey, since we have plenty of time, explain what's been happening on the
Isn't there something wrong with our society when the only time you get to speak to a
representative from your phone company , is when they call you in the middle of dinner from
India? "Yes actually I would like to talk to you about my long distance service provider, thanks for
asking. And I have a couple of other issues too. Hang on, I'll go get my list'.
Of course, the non-stop fun doesn't stop when you finally get through. First you get the option
menu, which for some reason, never seems to contain the option you need. Then there's the
computerised speech recognition software, that sounds like it was programmed by the Swedish
Chef from he Muppets.
Actually while we're on the topic of computerised voices, what the hell is it with Telstra and their
misleadingly named Directory Assistance Service?
First they changed the number from the very simple 013, to something that even Rainman has to
write on the back of his hand. The only way to be connected these days it seams, is to enter pi to
20 decimal places.
But that's not even the worst of the 'new service'. No, I'm talking about the new and improved
(cough, cough) computerised voice recognition. My God, voice recognition is as misleading a
name as Australia's Funniest Home Videos TV program.
Just who is the mental giant who took a perfectly good system - where you spoke to a real, live
person, who would tell you the number you wanted - and replace it with a computer. At the very
least, is it to much to ask for a system that actually works better, rather than one which replaces
people's jobs with a machine, that makes a simple phone call more difficult than conversing with
a drunk and dyslexic Alf from Home and Away.
Seriously, have you tried this craputer? You request something simple like "Qantas" and the
technology translates it into "Purple Monkey Dishwasher Service". Errr no, I didn't ask for that,
but by now I'm feeling like I'm on acid. Recently I asked for the number of Singapore Airlines,
and it replied "Do you mean Frankston Homosexual Midget Waxing Service". Ummmm, no I
didn't, but on second thoughts, put me through!
While it's novel to experience what it might be like to talk to Ozzy Osborne, I have become so
frustrated with this lack of service, this morning I tried to be clever and head it off at the pass. As
soon as the message kicked it, I screamed 'Operator', but the bloody computer simply replied
"I'm sorry, I did not understand your request. Please hold for an operator."
I rest my case, your honour.
Forget the citizenship test, when new immigrants arrive in our country, just give them a pre-paid
mobile phone and if they can negotiate the security questions at Telstra, they're in, and deservedly
I digress ...
After being on hold for so long, I finally got through, and after giving my address, birth date, family
tree, star sign, mother's maiden name, best friend's nickname, Snoop Dogg's real name, shoe
size, butt size, five favourite films, secret ingredient in my nan's lasagne and DNA sample, I
finally got through to the department I was looking for.
This is when I began to think I'd licked a Chinaman, or whatever it is you do with Chinamen,
(Kicked, right KICKED!) because the lovely lady at Telstra - and I swear on the complete box set
of Home and Away - said to me : "We can't help you with that, we don't really deal with phones
Okey and/or dokey, let's go through that one, one more time, so even the speech recognition
software can understand it : We ... don't ... really ... deal ... with ... phones ... anymore!
Ummmm but aren't you Telstra? Isn't that what the 'Tel' bit in your name stands for? Or are you
just 'Stra' now?
I was so stunned I even contemplated ringing Consumer Affairs, but with the day I was having, I
was worried I'd spend 3 hours on hold only to be told that they no longer dealt with consumer
complaints any more. Grrrrrr