Dear Telstra CrowdSupport, a crowd is not a mob

Telstra CrowdSupportI’ve come away from my latest Telstra experience feeling like I’ve been beaten up by a mob.

I recently noticed that my Internet connection was not as fast as I hoped. I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was reasonable in my circumstances and, rather than go direct to Telstra customer service, I tried out their CrowdSupport site. This is Telstra’s Web 2.0 venture to have a problems solved by the community. I was expecting something like Whirlpool where experienced hands can give advice on topics you might know little about and are generally tolerant of the fact that you do know little.

So I post my message asking whether my connection speed was what I could reasonably expect. What I got in response to my obvious lack of knowledge was at first a series of messages correcting the way I referred to the Telstra service. Then a series of responses warning me that complaining to Telstra would be fruitless because my line speed falls within the terms of service: There was nothing in my emails to suggest I was complaining, but suddenly the responses assume I am complaining and are all defensive. Anyone would think the people responding work for Telstra (and, oh, on a closer inspection you find out that they do – although these responses are their personal opinions). Then the team leader steps in and seals the deal by telling me, literally, to be happy with what I have a “quit complaining”.

The thing is, I wasn’t complaining I was asking for information specifically so I could work out if there was a point in asking Telstra for help with achieving a better speed. And even if I had been complaining, how does the group gathering around and shouting me down help Telstra or me? In amongst the defensive responses I think I’ve discovered that my speed is as good as I’m going to get, but the overall tone leaves me completely uncertain. I’m also left utterly unhappy with Telstra. I can’t determine whether my experience was just bad luck; but I’ll certainly be going back to Whirlpool before venturing into the CrowdSupport site again.

Getting the community to pitch in and help each other is a great idea. Getting a group of people together to bully the questioner into submission is just ugly.

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