In which I give Telstra the finger

Even as rumours of a new iPhone hitting the shelves in April came to my attention, I decided to break down and buy a new mobile phone today. Though not really in a place where I could commit to a two-year contract, and unable to hand over the cash to buy an iPhone 3GS or HTC Hero outright, I decided to get a Nokia e63 from Vodafone with a $49 prepaid ‘Flexi-Plan’. The phone looks like a Blackberry but costs $200 less than the baby Blackberry Curve 8250. Plus it has 3G where the 8250 does not. Throw in apps for things like Twitter, Facebook and of course Opera Mini and I was sold.

The first thing I wanted to do was port my existing number over from Telstra. I’ve had it for about three years and it’s based on my home phone from when I was growing up so I’m quite attached to it.

Unfortunately the pimple-faced geek at the Telstra Shop told me the computer said ‘no’.

I got the phone in my married name, which was only natural since I changed my name once CB and I got married. That would have been somewhere around April or May 2007. About a year ago, I got a call from a happy person at Telstra who suggested that I move my phone over to the home account for El Savings Massivo. I agreed and Tony Telstra moved it over to our home account in less than five minutes.

That was my first mistake.

No, wait. Getting married was my first mistake. This was my second mistake.

You see, while the original account was in my married name, my drivers license now has my maiden name on it. And Vodafone needed the name on my drivers license to be the same as on the account for the port to work.

So I scampered on over to the service counter at the Telstra Shop in the mall and explained the situation.

Timmy Telstra, the sting of ProActiv Solution still fresh in his eyes, squinted and blinked at me.

“I’m gonna need some documentation…”

Um, like what? All I did to change my license was to show my marriage certificate that had both names on it. I’m not divorced yet so there’s no paperwork there — and as I never changed my name with the Registry, legally I’m free to use my maiden name at will.

I laid out my driver’s license, which has the same address that’s on our home phone account.

I showed my credit card and atm card, both of which still bore my married name since Westpac never bothered to send me new cards.

Was that enough to prove who I was?

Timmy Telstra blinked twice and squinted again.

“I’m gonna need some documentation…”

Then he looked at the computer screen.

“But while you’re on the account as an authorised contact, and the mobile is in your name, the overall ‘One Bill’ account’s in your husband’s name – not yours. You’re going have problems trying to port your number.”

So while Telstra was happy to move the mobile account onto our home bill without so much as a peep from my husband, apparently I couldn’t regain ownership of the account (which I’d basically acquiesced with my actions) without CB’s approval. Once again I was hit by how much of myself I lost in this marriage and how I’d become dependent upon CB for so many things.

And with that, I was done. I was apparently a non-person to Telstra. And if I was a non-person I was also going to be a non-customer.

I scooped up my credit cards and license in a single move, and muttered something along the lines of “Fine. Whatever. I’ll just take all my business from Telstra.” I may or may not have used the F-word.

I went back to the Vodafone store where I informed them I had told Telstra to shove it and I would like a new phone number, thank you very much. I explained what had happened and the manager and clerk (both women) were kind and sympathetic. The girl who set up my account was so, so nice and willing to go the extra mile. After telling me that sadly I couldn’t pick my number on a prepaid account, she offered to go in the back and find a number I might like better. As I was unlikely to find something that matched my home phone number from when I was 12, I passed. But I was grateful for the offer and for the service (as opposed to the squinting, blinking and general apathy of Timmy Telstra … may his severe acne leave permanent scars).

Timmy Telstra didn’t just piss off a mobile customer who was already leaving. He pissed off a 13-year Foxtel subscriber. Thirteen years, paying at least $100 a month. That’s over $15,000. [And since my Foxtel account – which I got the first month I was in Australia – was also moved onto the home account, thanks to the solicitations of a Telstra sales call, I’m assuming that’s lost to me as well.] He pissed off a customer who makes 3–7 international calls a week. He made me so mad that I will never be a Telstra or Foxtel customer again.

I’m going to go Telstra free – I’ll skip getting a landline once I move to Sydne. I’ll use a mobile and naked adsl. I’ll buy a Mac Mini and hook it up to my TV, and buy shows off iTunes. I’ll buy DVDs of my favourite shows. I’ll watch content from teh internet. Hasta la vista, Telstra. I’d rather change my communications infrastructure and how I consume media than give you another penny to put towards funding Timmy’s ProActiv supply.

One thought on “In which I give Telstra the finger”

  1. Glad to hear you have given Telstra the flick – they would have to be the worst Australian company. Such high prices and bad service.

    Porting numbers between Mobile Carriers only requires the account holder to sign that they authorise the number to be ported out, so its often easier to get the account holder to sign the form rather than changing names for you to sign.

    When you do the maths with your bills and Foxtel it really goes to show the value that one consumer, and one bad customer service experience has to a company. Thanks for sharing.

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