More adventures in consumer protection: Telstra this time

internet speedWatch your Internet speed if Telstra churns your contract.

Hot on the heals of my trials and tribulations with Apple here’s what happened when Telstra offered me a new contract recently. I’d been on the same contract for my home Internet connection for some time as Telstra pointed out and so they generously wanted to offer me a new one. As far as I could see the main purpose from their point of view was to tangle me up with Telstra Air, but while I had no interest in becoming so entangled the new contract on offer cost slightly less than my existing one and came with a newer modem included.

So I went online and chatted with Telstra to make sure that there were no gotcha’s and then swapped to the new contract. A few days later my new modem arrived and I set it up – only to find, and this isn’t mentioned anywhere – that doing so meant I lost my connection for 12 hours. That wouldn’t have been a big deal if they’d told me it was going to happen. If they’d told me I (a) wouldn’t have done it first thing in the morning and (b) wouldn’t have wasted hours trying to find out what was wrong with my connection. But that’s a side issue.

Anyway, 12 hours passed and my Internet came back. Imagine my surprise, though, to find that my connection speed was now one-third of what it had been.

I call Telstra again and am told that there is service work being done in the area and that’s the cause. I should wait 12 hours and it should be fine. A day passes and the speed remains the same. I call Telstra and they say it’s service work. I wait another day – the speed remains the same. I call Telstra and they say it’s service work until I point out that their website is not listing any service work in the area. We then go through the usual re-booting of modems etc to no avail and the call gets escalated. The new more senior person says that in fact that’s the highest speed my new modem can achieve.

I go mildly ballistic.

I point out that I have in writing that I would be no worse off under my new contract than the old. We argue for a while with the Telstra person saying that it’s as fast as I can get and he has no idea how I used to get any faster because that’s not possible. And any way this new speed should be fast enough.

Eventually when I’m threatening them with consumer affairs I get further escalated to an accounts manager of some sort. She starts off repeating the process and then concedes that there is a special add-on pack that can get my speed back up to where it used to be. After some to-ing and fro-ing she makes the change to my account and almost immediately I’m back up to full speed.

While that whole process was tiresome and annoying, I assumed it was a one-off thing. And then I saw this story about exactly the same thing happening to an Optus customer. I can’t see where the advantage to telcos lies in cutting connection speeds, but there must be something there.

The moral of the story is to be aware of the speed you are getting especially before and after any contract changes.

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