What Telstra tech support could learn from spammers

telstra logoAnother few hours this weekend spent in the purgatory which is Telstra’s technical phone support led to me thinking that Telstra could learn something from email spammers.

It’s a common question why email spammers’ emails are so transparently scams. If everyone knows that Nigeria is a source of scams why do they keep using it? Can’t they get a spell-checker, or someone with decent English grammar? The answer is that the scammers deliberately make their emails obvious to avoid false-positives. They know that if the email is an overt scam and some one responds to it, they have a live one and can afford to invest some time in pursuing their victim. If the email was too polished they’d waste lots of time on targets who would twig to the scam only after the second or third email.

Now I’m not suggesting that Telstra should be sending out scam emails. But what they should be doing, for everyone’s sake, is asking some establishing questions that avoid the first part of their tech-support checklist.

I spent 20 minutes going through rebooting my modem in spite of the fact that I’d rebooted it countless times before calling Telstra in the first place – and in spite of my pleas not to make me do it again. It cannot be beyond the wit of man or huge corporation to come up with an approach which does not just proceed by unthinking rote. All I wanted was Telstra to ping my modem from their end and tell me if there was a problem at their end. But apparently that wasn’t going to happen until I’d rebooted my modem with, and without, the coaxial cable connected and described the little blinking lights in detail.

Maybe Tesltra could start by asking me if I know what model number my modem is, or what the lights mean, or even just if I’d already tried rebooting. Maybe they could flag my file as someone who can be trusted when asked if they’ve already rebooted their modem. If email scammers can continue to find ways to rip people off, Telstra can surely come up with a way of making their phone technical support less of a frustrating check-list and avoid such a painful waste of both our time.

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