Lies, damned lies and telco stupidity

Lies, damned lies and telco stupidity

Summary: Earlier this month, Telstra put out a press release trumpeting that it's come up with a new phone coaching service to help people who are "bamboozled" by their mobiles. Another excellent example of wrong-headed thinking from the mobile industry.


Earlier this month, Telstra put out a press release trumpeting that it's come up with a new phone coaching service to help people who are "bamboozled" by their mobiles. Another excellent example of wrong-headed thinking from the mobile industry.

On the surface, it's a nice idea. You can't get your mobile working — go ask those nice people from Telstra to help you fix it.

But take a step back for a minute. What sort of company would think to sell a product that's so complex — so unworkable to the average Joe — that they need to get coaching before they can use it?

If reports are correct, Telstra is the type of telco that would chuck its toys out of the pram and lose the iPhone because Apple wouldn't put some Sensis content on the device. Why can't it then exert some pressure on Nokia, or RIM, or whoever else to make their software easier to work?

Surely the emphasis should be on the tech companies to make products that are easy to use, not on customers to work out how to puzzle their way through devices that are more like Rubik's Cubes than smartphones.

For all telcos' talk of putting the customer first, they clearly don't, as things like this show. More evidence, were it needed: Telstra call centres.

Apparently, if I have a query, I can ring up and talk to someone between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Guess what? I'm at work then. I've got better things to do between 9 and 5 than listen to the crappy hold music. I'm at work. My employer pays me to work during that time. If I could take a break at any time for a personal phone call, I'd chat to one of my friends, not to a call centre worker.

If I could choose how to waste 15 minutes of my work day, I think just staring into space and seeing how long I could go between blinks would be better than hanging on the telephone waiting for my "valued call" to get to the head of the Telstra queue.

Try it the other way around, Telstra. How about your call centre worker takes 15 minutes or more out of their day to ring an aunt in Canberra, rather than getting on with their work. I'd imagine that would go down like a poo sandwich, no?

The same goes for you, Internode (note: your hold music sounds like the end of the world happening in 1983), and anyone else that thinks customer service should only be available during working hours. Look around you, my telco friends, the world has moved on and you're looking rather superannuated by refusing to move with it.

And while we're on the subject of telco irrationalities, let me also question a number of hoary old chestnuts that Telstra insists on peddling — via their drill instructor cum trained one-man-manure-distributor, communications head Phil Burgess — a man who was, I believe, once introduced to the facts. The meeting clearly didn't go well and they've agreed to part ways ever since.

Burgess often accuses the ACCC of using the UK's regulator's pricing for the unbundled local loop and simply converting it to an Australia dollar figure to get its pricing models for the Australian market. This has been dispelled as manure of the highest order repeatedly, but why let facts get in the way of some pointless regulator bashing?

Does anyone genuinely think that that's how the ACCC works? If that was their methodology, then I'm surprised they'd have the necessary cognisance to work a calculator. Surely if they were that out and out stupider-than-a-piece-of-toast barely sentient, they wouldn't be able to get their pants on unassisted, let alone hold down a job at the ACCC.

My favourite recent Burgess-ism however — aside from the geographically retarded "I didn't even know Iceland had people" (my aching sides!) — was that the UK broadband regime is a "disaster" that the ACCC shouldn't be allowed to let Australia to mimic its teeth-grinding awfulness.

Oh yes. During my time in the UK, I wept at the sheer horror of the freely available broadband subscriptions without up or download caps. I fell to the floor pulling out my hair as I handed over the monstrous sum of five pounds a month for my connection. I begged friends and relatives to put me out of my misery as I saw the incumbent undergo operational separation and still remain profitable while broadband prices fell across the board.

If Dante had a seventh circle of broadband hell, then this is surely it.

I now look forward to the screeds of talkback below accusing me of Telstra bashing. Yawn. For the record, let me say this: I was a customer of Telstra for a long time and I have found its service the shining example of adequacy. That said, I am also a journalist and duty bound to point out bollocks where I see it. And right now, there's more bollocks at Telstra than there is at a nudist camp.

And WiMax. Why all this holy war talk? I'm surprised at the sheer amount of hot air that got spouted about WiMax during the brief time that it looked like it would emerge as a major telecoms standard in Australia before it plummeted like a concrete kestrel.

The fact is that WiMax is a niche technology. The GSM evolution path, which leads to various iterations of HSPA and on to LTE, doesn't feature WiMax. Billions of people and all of the big name carriers have put their faith in GSM, not WiMax.

Technologically, WiMax may be the complete balls-out all-round last mile winner, but mobile operators have placed their bets elsewhere. In countries where telecoms infrastructure is not so ubiquitous or where WiMax has sopped up government cash like Amy Winehouse does chemicals, the technology has a chance.

Everywhere else (née Australia), chances are its going to the wireless equivalent of the old, toothless fella smoking a pipe in the corner of the pub telling everyone how he could have been someone important, before falling asleep and dribbling down his moth-eaten shirt.

I'd like to have seen WiMax get a run out and see what it could do, but it's just not going to happen, so all those Telstra execs' who spent last year bashing WiMax just ended up wasting their time. It's a feeling Telstra must be achingly familiar with after all those fruitless court cases.

Still, at least it brings them closer to their customers: anyone who's tried to get hold of a Telstra call centre worker on the weekend is all too accustomed to wasting their time.

Topics: Telcos, Networking, Telstra, Wi-Fi

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  • Article of the day - ROFL!

    Well done Jo. You've made my Friday! :-)
  • Sydney?

    Come on Sydney. We're all waiting for your scathing attack on the falsehood of Jo's post & how poor Telstra is somehow the victim in all this. LOL
  • on the money

    Jo you could not be any more right on the money, I have telstra business and home phone and god help me if I want to ring during the day to get help, yesterday I rang telstra business and the phones rang out twice, then tried again navigating my way throuh the voice recording "now can you just supply a bit more information" and it still cant put you in the right section, so when I finally get into business, they say oh we can not help with that business enquiry here is another number to ring, meanwhile, I have lost 45 mins trying to navigate a nightmare, I am the business owner, pay the extra for business phone and still cant get service, lucky telstra owns the phone lines and is too big to care
  • Who pulls the strings?

    Ha,Ha,Ha and Ha. Goodness Jo lunacy knows no bounds. Things to complicated for you Jo, well have you ever tried to operate a new video recorder or set the timer on it.

    Jo, I understand you hunger to be seen as a hard hitting, fierce and knowledgeable reporting journalist but you must learn that insult is the lowest form of wit and is, in fact, a direct reflection on the writers intelligence.

    Jo considering the recent questioning in Canberra of another high profile female, could I respectfully inquire your husbands ( If you have the good fortune to be married) occupation and employment company. LOL.
  • Strings? More like journo bashing from a Telstra stooge

    Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, and hmmm. Sydney Lawrence, you have failed to say one word that actually addresses the issues Jo raises, and instead resort to personal attacks in all three paragraphs of your comment. Please remove your mind from the school playground, and your head from the sand.
  • Lies, damned lies and telco stupidity

    I worked as a mobile and business consultant
    for Telstra from 2000-2007 back then our job was based on the best possible outcome for the customer,
    Since 2004, telstra has outsourced all consumer mobile calls, to an international company based in melbourne but owned by vodaphone in the uk , We used to take calls 24/7 every day and every public holdays and weekends, But since Sol and Phil arrived its not about customer service, its about selling products, ask the Telstra staff who get brow beaten when they dont make thier sales targets. And now the last payments of the T3 are due, Telstra now becomes a privately owned company no longer accountable to the people or the government, and its all about $$$. You cringe at the big 4 banks wait and see what the big T does.
  • Anti Telstra Rant!!

    Please Jo, more balanced Journalism would be appreciated rather this crapp you drudged up amounting nothing more than an childich Anti Telstra rant!!

    Jo You might aswell go to whingepool with the other whingers with your "Today Tonight" Joournalism!!

    I expected better from this site!!!
  • Lies, damned lies and telco stupidity

    Great article - I agree with everything contained within it. The crap that is spouted by Telstra on a daily basis is mindblowing. Phil Burgess is probably the crassest man I have ever seen in business. The sooner Telstra is rid of its American execs the better.
  • Lies, damned lies and telco stupidity

    Thanks Jo you made my day too. I worked for Telecom (1982-1995) and oh how things have changed.

    One day Telstra will decide it is a competitor in the market (rather than "we are the best so we will charge what we like") and actually provide competition and customer service. We can only hope for that day.
  • RTFM - over 99% don't

    The fact is that over 99% of people don't read the manual for any device (phone-microwave etc) - They just turn it on and expect it to work.

    There are haeps of small businesses that offer "read the manual for you" services because society is forgetting how to do this - or outsources it because it takes too much time.

    Think about how often you ask somebody to show you how something works instead of reading the manual yourself or working it out by trial and error.

    And the old argument of - they sold me a dumb phone doesn't hold water - you bought it - you should be able to use it.

    Whilst I am more than happy to bash Telstra - this issue is about the end user - buying a tool they can't use or is not appropriate for their use.

    All the telco's have a range of phones from dumb, big button models to hyper-speed time machines.

    What this highlights is the inability of consumers to research, decide and buy what they need instead of accepting anything a salesperson tells them.
  • Not So Sure

    M@tt, while I agree on some of your comments there is a distinct lack of basic mobile phones anymore (particularly on Next-G) where the consumer simply wants to buy a phone and turn it and simply use it as a phone to receive and make calls! There is nothing out there at the moment that does this on the Next-G network, which we have to use due to remote locality coverage.
    And while we are talking about simple phones, Nokia used to have a straight forward easy to use menu system that has now been replaced (on Next G) with the Standard Telstra menu that all the phones sold on the Next G network have. It takes about 5 days of going through all the menus to find the option you are looking for. That to me is utterly stupid that Telstra force suppliers to change their menu systems that have worked so well and often mean't the difference between phones. I used to by Nokia because even with same specs you know the menu system.
    And another example of Telstra customer service at its best is turning on internation roaming on all Next G mobiles without consulting the customers! The best bit is if you had any blocks on premium sercies etc the change meant they where now allowed again and you the customer had to request the block to be put back in place. Tell me how that is good customer service!
  • anti telstra rant

    Uh, dude, Jo's article here is a 'blog', which is a space where opinions and 'useful feedback' can live and breathe.

    And since it's an opinion piece, your comparison of Jo's blog to TT's 'news' is more degrading to TT than this publication.

    You might as well go to telstra's next AGM to hang out with Sydney Lawrence with your Telstra shareholder opinions.

    I expect better from the general population.
  • Customers?

    The fact is that modern successful business is predicated on customer service and supporting customer requirements. Buying inappropriate handsets is normally due to sales pressure and incorrect sales advice. If the phone interface is confusing and non intuitive, it is not the customers fault! The issue is that telcos believe it is the customer's problem.
  • Telstra changing Nokia's menu?

    Not sure if you know what you're talking about, but Nokia's shift to the Symbian based operating systems has nothing to do with Telstra - for evidence please look at the other models on other networks, all running the similar new interface. You don't seem to be able to see past your obvious bias, as if Telstra has the kind of power to do what you're suggesting.

    Also, again you are plain wrong on international roaming, it's off by default on all Telstra connections. You obviously don't know what you're talking about, and are just rambling. As for bias, I work for Telstra, and still can try to write facts.
  • loser

    mate witout telstra you'd have no australia.
  • mmm internode?

    i had no trouble setting up with internode, and their tech support is open outside of business hours. also, you dont get a lunch break? if u cant get through then or u think its taking to long. utilise their call back feature
  • More Anti Telstra rant

    oh the old lets bag Telstra but "hide" behind the blog I said on par with Today Tonight!!

    I thought better of this site!!

    PS I am not a shareholder!!!
  • nice post Simon

    more free publicity, but this time not telling everyone who you are
  • Great

    Wonderful article, loved it!

    The worst pain in the rectum when phoning these idiots is, to me, the Muzak they play. Can't there be an option to just TURN IT OFF? To much for these geniuses at Telstra, I'm sure.
  • No but you post anonymously

    She hides behind a blog, least you know whom she is.

    You post anonymously