Telstra makes Sir Humphrey look straightforward

It astonishes me that Telstra can continue to make even the simplest things complex and unrewarding.

I finally got my internet connection fixed after two weeks. To be fair Telstra was not entirely responsible, just mostly. So I have a cable internet connection with Telstra. The NBN has finally wended its way to my suburb and so all the cable infrastructure has been handed over to the NBN Co. If my internet had broken 4 weeks ago Telstra would have been able to send a network technician to fix it. But the minute the NBN was officially available those exact same wires were out of Telstra’s hands. So even once my problem had been escalated and was being pushed by Telstra management, they could not actually do anything more than ask the NBN Co to send technicians. An utterly stupid and frustrating state of affairs.

Fixing the problem took 20 minutes. Getting through the layers of escalation required to get it fixed took two weeks. That’s just not acceptable in a modern connected world.

So anyway the connection is fixed and a middle-aged man’s thoughts turn to refunds. I go on to Telstra’s chat service and it all starts out well. Within two minutes I have a refund calculated to the cent for the hours I did not have a service. That leaves one issue – this whole process has meant that the prepaid data SIMs in my family’s iPads have been  used up – will they recharge those? Well the person I spoke to can’t do anything with prepaids so has to pass me on to the prepaid service and there followed thirty minutes clearly demonstrating that Telstra’s CRM system is a complete failure.

I’ll copy the actual transcript, complete with my typos, in below but the summary is that I got passed about among three people with the end result being that I was told I would have to make a phone call. The middle section where I’m told I require an ‘interaction note’ is particularly fun.

Telstra has some lovely people working for the company who are clearly willing to do their best for the customer – but again and again they are let down by poor systems and procedures. Why can’t when I phone in someone deal with me as a customer rather than tossing me about between various internal groups, like a hot potato, until I just give up in frustration?

I will point to one positive thing out of this experience. I have discovered that Telstra has a modem that has a built-in SIM to provide a fall-back service if your cable, copper or fiber goes down. The Telstra Frontier Modem is a great idea – sadly getting that continuity of service will cost almost $400 for the new modem.

This will hopefully be my last Telstra rant for the moment. Normal programming will resume next week.


[Initial excellent interaction sorting refund on my cable internet account, ends with…]


As for your prepaid enquiry, I may need to connect you over with our dedicated team. Please stay online.

Info: Please wait while your chat is transferred to the appropriate group.
Info: You are now chatting with Pratik.
Pratik: Hi Evan
Evan: Hi

Hope you’re doing well?

Evan: My cable internet was out for almost 2 weeks. It was fixed yesterday but during the 2 weeks I had to use up extra data on my pre-paid accounts.
Evan: yes well thanks, hope you’re having a good day

Good to know.


I am fine, thanks.


Okay, so you want check about home internet, am I right?

Evan: nope
Evan: no – just came from the home internet people. Looking to get refund on my account for wasted data whiule my home internet was down for 2 weeks
Evan: They have refunded against the broadband account – but can’t refund against the pre-paids i’ve run doata down on while Internet was out
Evan: they passed me to you

Okay, so do you have any interaction notes sop that we can add data.

Evan: interaction notes?

Evan if you want data there should be notes on your account that you will get data in your account.

Evan: How do I get notes? This whole interaction started with me asking who I need to talk to get get refunds for the outage – that led through the cable people to you.
Evan: Point me to who i need to get to authorise this and I’ll do it, but it’s nhot clear to me how to do it beyond what I’m already doing
Evan: are you there?
Evan: hello?

Yes, but if you have any interaction note that to add data in your account I will help you with the data. Please connect us again by taking the approval of data so that we can add data to your account.

Evan: How do I get an interaction note – this is the interaction

They will add it to your account so be rest assure.

Info: Please wait while your chat is transferred to the appropriate group.
Info: You are now chatting with Charisma.
Evan: hello

Hi, You’re chatting with Charis. How can I help you?

Evan: You are the third person I’ve been with in this one chat
Evan: My cable internet was down for 2 weeks. In coping with that I have run down my pre-paid data sims. I woild like a refund / more data on the sims to recognise that.
Evan: Thew first person could not help with the pre-paids and transferred me to your pre-paiud team. They cannot do anything without an ‘interaction note’ and so transferred me to you.
Evan: Are you in a position to do anything?

Is it on prepaid service that you need those data added?

Evan: yes
Charisma: So, may I know how much data is that?
Evan: I don’t know the answer to that. It’s on all my pre-paid accounts and your website wont let me see usage details at the moment.

I’ll make a note on the account and connect you over to prepaid since they are the ones who can add it.

Evan: When the last person did that nothing happened is the note an ‘interaction note’?


Evan: OK

I already made the note. Please stay online as I connect you over.

Info: Please wait while your chat is transferred to the appropriate group.
Info: You are now chatting with Swati.
Swati: Hello Evan, thanks for waiting online. Please allow me a moment while I go through previous conversation.
Evan: Hi – you are now the fourth person I’ve been chatting with in the last 30 minutes. Thanks for checking without me having to retype everything again.

Sorry for that. I will just check the reference number you have given.


Stay with me.

Evan: OK but please be aware I’ve bgeen chatting for over 35 minutes now and have to go in 5 minutes to get to work

Evan, I can understand it how long you are here since.


I checked the reference number however I am unable to get any details with that one.

Evan: so what can we do quickly

The best option in this case is to call our management team who is available over phone.


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