Telstra's NBN service from hell

After being harassed by NBN sales calls, doing a bit of price comparisons, and telling Telstra that their offering was too expensive and too limited, they came back to me and made me a discounted offer (see the terms, below), that I eventually consented to (eventually, it will become impossible to avoid the NBN, unless you don't want a phone in your house, so it's a case of trying to switch when there's a good enough offer).  But I should have known better, Telstra is being a complete ass (saying one thing, doing another; messing me about, while denying any liability or responsibility, and refusing any compensation).

One might think that it was done and dusted, but weeks of sheer hell ensued as Telstra mucked up one thing after another, and won't accept responsibility nor offer any compensation for the trouble they've put me through.  It's beginning to feel like I'm in the middle of some Monty Python absurdist farce, with the part of Telstra played by John Cleese.  Re-inforced, even more so, when arguing with Telstra that a phone that cannot make or receive calls is not a working phone service, while they insist that it is, and must be paid for.  No other, normal, people that I speak to would agree that it is (a working service), nor that they'd pay anything for one in that state, either.

By now (mid-August 2015), I've spent well over eight hours on the phone (that's a whole working day's worth, even if spread over several weeks), trying to get various issues sorted out.  Actually, it's months, not weeks, of crap.  I signed on 29 January 2015, they activated it 6 March 2015, and are still screwing me around in November 2015.

While I hadn't levelled a complaint with Telstra about the data limit, but quite frankly, the data allowance is ludicrous, for broadband, and the price being charged (more so, when you consider the undiscounted price they'd, otherwise, demand).  I had said that their rate-limited internet is worse than dial-up (it is; things, even simple webpages, just fail to load; and trying to use their VOIP telephone through a rate-limited connection just fails in dismal ways, you get delays that drag out to several seconds, then calls just go silent part-way through).  It's clear that the rate-limited internet is not designed to tide you over until your next billing period resets the limit, but to be so useless that the customer pays more money to get a useable service, again.

I'd, also, tried to fix up a long-standing issue (pre-NBN), regarding late bills, only to get the most farcial arguments from their complaints department.  For years, now, I've been used to Telstra bills arriving a week or two late, almost every time.  It's not just they arrive late in the post, it's clear that Telstra sends them late (you can tell when you get a postmarked envelope, and compare it to the issuing date printed on the bill).  Sometimes they arrive so late that you end up paying late, and their system automatically whacks a $15 late fee onto your next bill.  Never mind that you've actually paid the bill, and that they've done absolutely nothing regarding chasing you to pay that bill, so they've done nothing to actually earn that extra $15, they're just price-gouging their customers.  So I refuse to pay that fee, and debit it from my payments.  And you'll find other businesses that try to charge their customers late fees don't get anywhere enforcing them, either.  I certainly can't; in twenty years of being in business, no customer will ever pay a late fee, many pay their bills at the end of the month, or the end of the next month if the bill arrived too close to the end of the current month, no matter what pay-by date you put on your bill, and they'll only pay for the work actually done.  To charge a customer something, you have to provide them with a service that costs that amount, or have to have incurred those costs recovering it.  Telstra certainly haven't incurred $15 worth of effort by printing an extra amount on your next regular phone bill, and they've been shown to be making massive profits from their late fees.  If they send their bills late, they're going to get paid late, it's really quite simple.  But Telstra's response has been that I should go around chasing them when the bill don't arrive when I expect them.  Really?!  Am I expected to do this every time a Telstra bill is late?  How long should I wait before chasing up a bill that hasn't arrived?  A day, a week, two weeks?  My bills are usually a week late, and, far too often, longer than that.  I'm damned if I'm going to spend half an hour on the phone, chasing up every bill, certainly not without charging them for it.  They also suggested that I should just go and pay some unknown amount into the account, at the post office, hoping to exceed the likely amount, if I haven't received a bill (I've tried paying the account without a bill, in the past, and post office can't process it, they needed the current bill).  No, it's your job to send your bills in a timely manner, and to send bills of the correct amount.  And Telstra should have better manners towards their customers by not having such short due-by dates.  I've, now, enacted my own condition that I will fine Telstra $15 for billing problems (e.g incorrect or late bills that I have to waste my time managing).  Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and the unfair contracts law don't allow contracts to be unduly one-sided.  If Telstra can impose fines, so can I.  And if Telstra considers it fair for it to breach a contract, there's no justification for it complaining about customers breaking contracts.

Another insidious thing Telstra has started doing is charging you for sending you a bill.  This sort of thing has been tried before, by other companies, and the trade practices commission has said that businesses must wear the cost of their own accounting.  And as far as I'm concerned, if Telstra thinks I should pay them $2 for the privilege of being sent a bill, I intend to bill them $2 for my time and effort involved in paying it.  Saying that we could do on-line billing, instead, for free, doesn't cut it.  Not everyone goes on-line daily, or even weekly.  And I've found their on-line billing to be almost as tardy as their paper bills.  Nor does everyone have on-line banking, to be able to pay bills that way.  And what do you do with a billing dispute if their system purges your records?  You have no control over how long they'll keep them, and Telstra is apt to change their minds about dealing with their customers.

The way things are going, I'm getting close to going back to paying by cheque.  Each payment accompanied by a letter outlining deductions being made from the requested amount, to remove their unfair fees.

Eventually I got thoroughly sick of their lack of service (you'd call up trying to resolve an issue, only to get told that that person couldn't do anything to help you, and they'd pass you onto another person who'd say the same thing—one day, I spent an hour being passed around to different people, having to explain the same things over and over again, to each different person).  So I told them that if they didn't fix everything, I'd refuse to pay.  While that did stir them into doing something, they didn't fix everything that they should have.  They seem to think that I'll keep on paying them, regardless.  So I did exactly what I said I would, and halted further payment.  Again, this still didn't motivate them into fixing everything, just more time wasting, and they applied a limit on my phone and internet service (you couldn't call any numbers, and rate limiting that slowed things down to the point that pages utterly fail to load, even dial-up was better than this), while still expecting me to pay full price for this lousy service, and still not fixing up the problems I kept raising with them.  Then they completely suspended my service (no phone or internet), and still expect me to pay full price for this, too, and on an on-going basis (continue to pay, for no service).

Sick of that, I made a complaint to the Telecom Industry Ombudsman.  I got phone call back from Telstra that gave the illusion that they may do something reasonable.  Then, a week later, received a letter from Telstra that was completely unreasonable.  Telstra had actually told me that I'd get a reply within 48 hours, sent by express post (not that I believed this, no surpise that they lied, again).  Not sure what my next move is.  Pointing out how they say one thing but do another, that their demands are frankly ridiculous, and that everyone just passes the buck, just falls on deaf ears.  In other circumstances, I'd have told Telstra to piss off and simply have gone to another supplier, but Telstra is strong-arming everyone into long-term contracts, and despite them breaking my contract, I just know that they're going to insist that I should pay early-exit penalty fees.  Heck knows why, it's not as if Telstra has installed expensive equipment specially for my account that they won't just use with whoever the next customer is; and they've not even done that, it's the NBN Co that's installed equipment, and Telstra just leases access to it.

After the TIO waste of time, I paid a visit to my federal member of parliament, to see if their office could kick Telstra into being reasonable.  Thus far, it's partially effective.  Now, at long last, they're agreeing to not charge me for the period that they weren't actually providing a working service, but I still have the other problems to deal with, some of which they'll say they do, though I won't hold my breath.

Here's the thing, Telstra you utterly stupid bastard, if you want the customer's money, you have to provide the service that you agreed to provide.  A sub-standard service (i.e. a phone that cannot make any phone calls, and internet slowed down to 1/250th of the normal speed) doesn't deserve to cost the same amount as a fully-working service.  And you cannot justify, at all, demanding any payment when not actually providing any service.  Then, on top of that, to not give a shit about wasting my time, to a massive degree.  My time is worth money, too.  I can't simply waste an entire day of my time, because you're incompetent at doing your job.  I've got better, and more important, things to do, and you're preventing me from doing them.

Other companies understand this, and when they make mistakes they admit them, they apologise for them, and they offer compensation to the customer for the trouble that they've caused without the customer having to even ask for it.  They also understand that dealing with a customer complaint involves actually resolving it, not just listening and ignoring the customer.  It's not without reason that Telstra's complaint handling practice is commonly described as, “they're only required to listen to your complaint, but not required to do anything about it.”

I'm sick of spending my time on the phone, over and over for one thing after another that Telstra has stuffed up (all by themselves, they stuffed up billing, phone listing, caller ID, passwords, mail servers, none of these things are anything that I could have done to my account), over and over for the same thing that they seem unable to resolve, being endlessly stuck on hold, passed between different people, laboriously explaining things over and over, waiting while some overseas worker does something, then tells me it'll take 24 hours to take effect, or that they can't help me and I should speak to someone else (I've already spoken to all the people they have on offer).

When you consider that Telstra strongarms you into a 24-month contract, it's not just a $60/month annoyance, it's a $1,440 product, and a damn sight more if you stay for more than that period.  They should be doing a far better job.

So, it's over a year later (5 May 2016, now), and… I'm still unlisted, despite numerous attempts to get my details re-listed.  Outgoing caller-id is erroneously blocked.  Still don't have the phone line connected directly to the NTD box (there's been a phone plugged into it for several months, just waiting for it to come alive).  Never did get the speed boost I was promised when signed up.  And Telstra flatly refuses to provide any compensation for getting things so thoroughly fucked-up and the wasting massive amounts of my time trying to get things fixed.

If their staff weren't incompetent fuckwits, these things are the kind of Telstra computer configuration changes that should only take a few minutes to rectify.  One can only come to the conclusion that they're doing this on purpose.

Telstra, thy name is “shit”!

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