I have spent many hours ‘on hold’ this week listening to Telstra’s selection of music waiting to get a problem with my home broadband service rectified. I changed to Big Pond about 2 years ago and when I get really pissed off with their call centre staff I comfort myself by comparing it to some of my previous horror experiences with Optus. But that’s really not good enough is it? Competition is meant to be about delivering the best service rather than competing for the worst. I have threatened Big Pond call centre staff many times with” ” I’m now no longer under contract, I will sign up with another provider”. But when I get off the phone and think of what that would entail I generally go weak at the knees. I just don’t have the strength to endure four hours on hold as I work my way through call centre staff before finding one that has a clue, reciting my date of birth, user name and address multiple times, talking to that freaking voice recognition system yet again – and then there’s the general institutional incompetence which means they’re guaranteed to get something wrong at least twice.
Last week my broadband connection just started to spontaneously drop out for hours on end in the evenings, exactly the time of day I wanted to use it. One tech support guy referred me to an ‘Apple specialist’ when I told him I didn’t have a PC and gave me a phone number to call. When I dialed that number turned out he’d given me Apple tech support, not Big Pond Apple support. Sure, they’re going to be interested in my Big Pond cable modem! Another, after getting me to plug and unplug the modem at least three times, clear my browser cache then reboot my computer arranged a technician to come to my house the next day. I breathed a sigh of relief as I was sure the heavy rain in the last week may have flooded some of the Telstra boxes in the street. Next day I came home early from work and waited till 8pm for a technician to arrive before dialling 133 933 yet again. I got an American accent that night and was told there was no record of my request for tech support (Does this mean that since the financial collapse Telstra is relocating call centres to the US rather than India? If so, they don’t seem to be talking to each other. When I quoted back the reference number for the tech callout she told me with a giggle that the technician had been booked for someone else, not me. The comedy of errors continued and I finally got a service call booked in for Monday. Meanwhile the system seems to have ‘self healed’. Friends in the area also said they had had service interruptions so I suspect it was a network problem outside my home. Why can’t they tell me this? It’s not hard to communicate these things with your customers and we’d be greatful of an update even if it was a Big Pond tech twitter feed. Hell, your technical support staff might benefit from it for a start.
So to add insult to injury I had to get on the line to 133 933 again tonight to cancel the technician visit. When I booked the call I was informed that I had to phone through to cancel the booking, there is no email or other means of communication to call the whole thing off. There’s really got to be a better way guys and while the aloof ‘don’t talk to me’ corporate call centre strategy might keep bolshy customers in their place, as soon as something better comes along I’m off. 30 Mb/s on my cable modem keeps me happy for now while the thing works. When it doesn’t all I want is a clear line of communication that is easy, does not consume hours of my time and doesn’t make me listen to dreadful music. Give us a forum or a twitter feed or something where consumers can talk to each other and we can see the information that your call centre staff can see. If there’s an outage, tell me about it, just don’t leave me hanging on the line, it’s not that hard. Failing that I’m going to post to my blog, if anyone else is similarly frustrated, please don’t hold back.