Telstra "sympathetic" with customers as broadband queue stretches

Telstra BigPond today expressed sympathy for customers frustrated with the carrier's broadband application process as demand for the service trebles compared to similar periods last year.The carrier's sales and technical resources are being pushed to their limit as demand for company's broadband service push toward 200 percent over the corresponding period last year.

Telstra BigPond today expressed sympathy for customers frustrated with the carrier's broadband application process as demand for the service trebles compared to similar periods last year.

The carrier's sales and technical resources are being pushed to their limit as demand for company's broadband service push toward 200 percent over the corresponding period last year. Wholesale applications are also significantly higher, running at 165 percent of last year's levels.

"We sympathise with customers who are awaiting their installation, or who have been having difficulty getting through to our customer service centres, and thank them for their patience," said Telstra in statement released late yesterday.

Telstra said it had tripled the size of its field technician force and doubled the staff levels in its broadband call centres with more staff being re-trained on an ongoing basis to meet the demand.

However angry customers who contacted ZDNet Australia this week said they were still frustrated with the situation. Some customer's claimed that they had been waiting to be connected the service for over a month.

"When there's huge demand for a product obviously waiting times take longer," said Telstra's spokesperson.

Average connection times for BigPond ADSL are currently averaging 22 days for cable installations, 14 days for ADSL self-installation, and 16 days for professional ADSL installations -- the latter down marginally from its peak in early March of 18 days. That came shortly after Telstra announced its heftily discounted AU$29.95 broadband plan when sales increased 300 percent.

According to BigPond, corresponding statistics six months ago showed average installation times were 12, eight and 13 days, respectively, but the carrier did not provide statistics to compare demand levels.

However, customers claim that lack of responsiveness on the part of the ISP's is behind their ire.

"Telstra refuses to even answer calls," said one customer who placed his application for the service early in March.

Telstra said that 90 percent of calls to BigPond's sales operation were being answered in under a minute. However, customers enquiring after the progress of their applications are being turned away by recorded messages.

"The alternative is to leave these people hanging on the line and we think that its probably less inconvenient to be requested to call back later than to be left there for a much longer period," said a spokesperson for Telstra.

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