I spoke with the EziConnect representative a bit, explained my needs, and in the end ended up with a preference for the Telstra telecoms provider. This is where the horror started.
Last Friday I got contacted by a Telstra representative to get my connection all set up. She explained to me in detail what the different plans and options were. I chose the following:
A 24 month plan. 200GB data per month. The data line will be via cable. The plan includes a standard phone line as well. 3 months in a year you can top up the 200GB data allowance in case it's not enough. Switching to a higher or lower plan is free of charge and can be done at any time. Cancellation will cost $15 per month left outstanding on the contract. The monthly fee for the plan is $93.
This sounded good to me, but the lady gladly offered me the following on top:
A $20 per month discount, as well as the Telstra Platinum service, which is like their enhanced customer support service.
I gladly accepted this offer.
I asked if the modem was included, which she confirmed. I asked if there were any additional costs, to which she responded there would be a one-off activation fee of $59, which I accepted. The lady did inform me that I might be required to make a $150 pre-payment towards the monthly subscription fee, since I was a new customer. All these details were then repeated while the conversation was being recorded as a form of contract.
Queue the weekend.
Monday my phone didn't ring. But I did receive a sudden voicemail. A lady called Christina from Telstra asked me to call her back, to make the prepayment. I was too busy to ring back on the same day though.
Tuesday my phone didn't ring either. Still I received a sudden voicemail again. Again from Christina from Telstra asking me again to call her back, to make the prepayment. This time I called back to the number provided. The call ended up with a company called TGA, which doesn't sound like Telstra. But I suppose it is a subsidiary of them. I told them why I called them, and they didn't really know what that meant. They put me through to someone else. They said that this Christina lady worked in a department that could not accept any incoming calls, but can only make outbound calls. So she would inform her and Christina would call me back in no-time.
Obviously, that didn't happen.
Wednesday morning, I tried calling the number provided again. Same process. First person puts me to a second person. Now the second person puts me to the Telstra Billing department. The phone got answered by a lady called Roxanne. She apparently worked in the department that could handle the prepayment. Awesome!
However, there seemed to be a problem with the order. Some details were not filled out correctly. She tried to fix it, but after about 15 minutes on hold she came back to me that it wasn't possible and she had to cancel this order and make a new one. I stressed that she had to make sure all details, including applied discounts and all that good stuff, were correct. She agreed to call me back in exactly 1 hour.
Lo and behold! One hour and 5 minutes later: A call from Roxanne. She had managed to recreate the order. We went over all the details, which were exactly as mentioned for the first order. Again the conversation got repeated and recorded as a form of contract.
Roxanne then proceeded to take my pre-payment, which she stated would be $300. That's weird... it was supposed to be $150. So she said that sometimes it's $150, sometimes it's $300, depending on circumstances. I was like "whatever" and just made the payment by confirming my card details. It's just a pre-payment of the monthly fees anyway.
During the process I stated my name, and spelled it out a few times to make sure she got it correct. She repeated it correctly and confirmed it was all fine. Roxanne then confirmed to me further details like the order number, and the email address they would provide me, which would be <firstname><surname>@bigpond.com. Why bigpond? No idea. In the end this call had taken a whole hour.
A couple of hours later I received a call. From Christina! The phone actually rung this time. She wanted to confirm with me that the original order could be cancelled and that the second one was correct. I confirmed. She cancelled the first one, and put the second one through. She also said that the prepayment made was $150. So I was surprised again, that it had now reverted to the original amount. There's some serious misalignment of internal information flows there.
Unpleasant was my surprise when I got the confirmation emails later that day: my name was not written as Firstname Surname, but as Firstname Middlename. How did they get my middle name? I didn't provide it to Roxanne. Maybe I provided it to the lady on the Friday before? No idea. Don't recall. But that doesn't matter. Roxanne had confirmed my first name and surname correctly, btu still they showed up wrong. This means the email address was also registered as the wrong name: <firstname><middlename>@bigpond.com.
Annoyingly it is impossible to call these Telstra people back directly. You have to click a link in their email, which will trigger a call-back to you. Sounds fine, you say? Well, in ideal circumstances maybe, but the link only works a single time. If anything goes wrong with the call-back, you have no way of contacting them. They also state you will get a call-back within 24 hours, which isn't very helpful when you need help right now.
Luckily the return call came within a few minutes, from a withheld number. I picked up, but the line remained dead. I was going "Hellooo?" and then suddenly just before the line got disconnected I heard "Oh!!!". The lady on the line had apparently realised her mistake and called me back immediately. Her name was Mandy.
I explained to her the situation, that my surname was wrong, and that they had replaced it with my middle name. She was happy to help and update that. However, she had trouble getting that updated in the provided email address. She put me on hold several times for periods of 10 to 15 minutes during which she tried to resolve it. However, no such luck. She said she could cancel the order, and put through a new one. That would be the third order then. However, I would also have to make a new pre-payment then. She could not confirm what would happen with the first pre-payment. Obviously I could not agree to paying $150 again just because they can't write my name properly. After having been on the phone for 50 minutes she had to put me through to a guy called Justin in the sales team. Before putting me through she confirmed she had updated my surname to be the correct one, but that the issue was purely the email address.
Now, this Justin guy. He is something else. Robot is too flattering. He just has this monotone emotionless repetitive voice which I'm sure is specifically trained to calm down upset customers. Me, it just made more angry. He couldn't help in any way. All he could repeat was that he could either cancel the order and put in a new one, or let this one go through. He went on to confirm the order details to me, which sounded very incomplete. I repeated the details of the order, including the discount, the platinum service, everything. He then stated that the discount was not applicable to the package I had chose. In the end I had to state to him that the order confirmation, including all the details, had been recorded as a legally binding contract on 2 occasions, including that morning. So whatever he says about things not being applicable, Telstra had agreed to give me a discount so they must give me the discount. All he could do however, was repeat with his voice-from-hell that the discount is not applicable. He then continued to tell me that not only was there no discount, I also would have to pay $125 for a technician to come out and connect the phone line, as well as $144 for a the modem, and a $12 delivery fee.
Obviously, by this time I was completely fed up with Telstra. I've never had to deal with such a shit telco in any country I've lived in yet.
I got Justin to file an official complaint for me. He said the complaints people will get back to me within 3 to 5 business days, and that in the meantime the order will simply progress. I told him that obviously any fees incurred other than agreed in the voice recordings made that morning, are of course purely for Telstra to pay, and not for me. He didn't seem to be able to compute this, and could only repeat that the complaints people will be in touch within 3 to 5 business days. That means they can take up to a full working week to get back in touch. It's not as if they take their customer service seriously if they can't handle complaints instantly. Even calling the next day to get it resolved would be fine. But 3 to 5 business days? They're just taking the piss now.
Anyway. Justin was incapable of ending the call properly and just stopped talking and left these looooong silences. So in the end I told him I would wait and see what happens next, and said goodbye. He didn't respond to that, so I hung up. The call had lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes by now.
I received two confirmation emails from the talks with both Mandy and Justin. Both of them still stated my middle name as my surname, so whatever Mandy told me was also not true.
So this means that
- for the first period I will not have any telecoms connections in my new home, which will be a huge pain.
- there is still a huge amount of pain ahead in having to deal with the complaints people, the technician who needs to connect something, and getting my name updated correctly.
My advice: stay away from the horror that's Telstra, the telco from hell.
To be continued.