CHOICE membership

Telstra - The Communications Giant that cannot communicate


I handle a relative’s day-to-day activities whenever some degree of difficulty is involved. She recently signed herself up to a Telstra contract for a facility she can never use. I rang Telstra on her behalf to rectify the matter, and they added my name to her authorised agents who could act on her behalf. A while later I rang them again to cancel her contract, but by then they had lost my identity details and would not speak to me about the account. As I was only dealing with the first level of telephone staff, I asked to speak to her supervisor. She refused on the basis that my identity was not confirmed. I suggested that she divorce her thinking from the specific case and treat the call as a generic query instead, and asked her to put me through to her supervisor. She refused.

After some time arguing the point I was transferred elsewhere, ending up with an automated recording asking whether my query had been satisfactorily processed. Not unsurprisingly I pressed the “No” button, and was transferred yet again.

The next contact was more helpful, and she passed me on down the chain to another Department, where a polite young man told me that there was nothing he could do as Telstra had no record of me. He told me to go to a Telstra Shop instead. I reminded him that my previous authorisation had been arranged via telephone, but he told me that this was not possible. I advised him that it was not convenient to go to a Telstra shop and I wished to speak to a supervisor. He advised that this would not be possible. I asked him if he would contact my relative via telephone to confirm my identity. He told me that was not possible. I asked for an email address or mailing address so that I could write to Telstra. He told me that this was not possible, and I should go to a Telstra shop instead.

Eventually, after some pressure, he gave me an email address but no physical mailing address, but when I wrote to it, it bounced on security grounds. I have now written to a PO Box I found instead.

My point is simply this: Shouldn’t a huge Corporation like Telstra have a better means of communicating with the general public? Their website gives no means of accessing their management except via telephone, but if you can’t get past the first line of telephone responders there are no email or mailing options at all. That’s just unbelievable. I have written via snail mail, but who knows if this will actually arrive. I know of no other business who have set up such a firewall between their customers and themselves. Essentially they are, for all practical purposes, uncontactable.


The degree of difficulty a company puts in your way to communicate with them is inversely proportional to their customer facing service.

As a small Telstra shareholder I thought there might be a way in to offer you from the investors world, but it seems they don’t want to know us either.

If you have not, try their main number and just say ‘complaints’ when it asks what you want but we both know how that will probably go. They do not know you because they failed to make proper records when you were authorised on the account and as far as they are concerned it is your problem not theirs.

Good luck with that!


That initial interface is another gripe I have. Speaking into the 'phone rather than just selecting from a menu has never been a favourite of mine. They also don’t have voice recognition for some of my responses, if you get my drift!


I had exactly the same disconnect. The person who would speak on the phone my Customer Experience Manager knew nothing about what was happening on the ground, how or why it was wrong. She didn’t understand half the issues. The people who did understand were not allowed to speak to me. With this arrangement there can never be a problem!


Long ago I learned to learn the DOB etc of the person you’re trying to help. Whenever I needed to call telstra for them I just pretended to be them. Bad, yes. But no worse than being forced to re-prove you’re authorised after each transfer.

And also just tell them you’ve already restarted the modem, done an isolation test and have nothing else plugged in to the phone socket, if asking for internet help.


Doesn’t help. They don’t want to deviate from the script even when it’s evident they know far, far less then you do.


Has any one been using the online chat service? You still need to provide ID. It has been suggested these service operators are the most capable of Telstra’s front line support and have better access/authority levels. I’m yet to test this - as I type real slow.

I’m on my forth attempt to sort out a billing problem due to a legacy issue between Telstra systems. Clearly my fault for living or working in Telstra only service areas since dial up internet came to town. The hydra wins!

I am sure that I have previously been able to authorise my partner to my Telstra phone account over the phone. We have variously lived a long way from any Telstra shop so who knows how else to do it! Even now it’s at least a 30 minute drive down the highway each way.


I have used the chat service and find it effective and reasonably efficient. There is a written transcript you have to keep as evidence of information given and promises made. It may take a while sometimes but you can be doing other things whilst on the net waiting.


Yup … not so bad really. They actually encourage this sort of more devious approach because there is no other viable option! My problem is that the whole point of the conversation is to advise them that she is not competent. It might prove a tad tricky ringing them masquerading as her and telling them that “I” am incompetent. 8*)
It is idiotic that I could just pop my wife on the 'phone pretending to be our sister-in-law. After all we have all her details on file and could easily do it.


Some time ago I had to help my mother with her affairs, including her Telstra account. I can’t remember the specifics of how I found the information back then, but I ended up snail mailing Telstra the Power of Attorney details. It took a couple of weeks but there were no problems after that. I just did a Google search ‘Telstra power of attorney’ and it came up with a link to the relevant Telstra postal address information in the FAQ ‘How do I give another person access to my account?’. The information also now includes an email address and instructions to include the words ‘Public Trustee’ in the subject line.


Like many corporate and government identities, Telstra aspires to the concept of authority without commensurate responsibility. They will place herds of drones who have no authority in the way of any effective course of action. The drones are there to talk, placate and supply useless ‘work arounds’ to the problem. They are also there to insulate those who are empowered to authorise change, from the complainants. The hopeful outcome of this defensive modus operandi is that the consumer will simply give up and go away.

In some ways, it is like having a high performance car with square wheels. The engine might be finely tuned and fit for purpose and the wheels may be made of excellent materials and be extremely true in squareness but when connected via the transmission, the ride is going to be somewhat less than desirable.

What can you do about it? Not a great deal unless you are extremely persistent and have a lot of time on your hands.

Your best bet is probably to grit your teeth and suffer it until your contract runs out, then sign up with some other telco. But you still have a problem in that the infrastructure through which the other telcos’ operate is owned by telstra.


Unfortunately this is normal customer service which occurs daily for Telstra, especially if it’s an overseas call centre. They know it’s a systemic issue but they don’t know what to do or how to address it if it’s this wide spread. I have a relative that is. Senior manager for Telstra & he just gets defensive & couldn’t care less when I share similar examples that have happened to me. So clearly there is a culture at a senior level even at Telstra locally to not do anything. The only solution is to lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. At least you get an Australian & an agreed time frame to reach a resolution. This seems to be the only way now…Sadly.


I’ll try the snail-mail option (currently waiting for a reply), and failing that it’ll be the Ombudsman as you suggest!

I cannot relate to the idea of running a huge corporation, knowing that its performance is so pathetic, and yet not doing anything to fix it. Of course I’m making the assumption that customer satisfaction is high on the agenda, when actually it’s the bottom line that is the primary focus.


Daughter did all suggested remedies without result. Next day I had to crawl around floor to repeat despite being elderly and had a hip replacement. Fault fixed after 4 days, had to stay in all one day (dog not happy), only to get a phone call from tech. to say fault fixed. Telstra problem outside.


The ombudsman is a good ploy - Google Telstra Telecommunications Ombudsman and usually the first post is Telstra asking for another chance and giving contact details to air your grievances. I try that first.


You will all be glad to know that despite Telstra’s reluctance to communicate via normal channels, writing to head office eased the wheels into motion. Their complaints department responded to my request by cancelling the penalty amount and providing a reduced telephone monthly fee while also cancelling the unwanted internet account altogether.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Telstra could do that as a matter of course rather than having to be hounded into it? This whole debacle should have been handled via a user friendly contact system, without my having to spend hours on the telephone and writing emails and letters.
Telstra seems to have no conception of “good service”, and will never have me as a customer. I will continue to deal with companies that believe in customer service as a default first response rather than as a fallback position.


We have been without a phone for several days due to a fault at the Exchange - it is widespread. It happened about 6 hours before a severe storm ripped through and left us without power for 2 days. Family were desperately trying to ring as the tornado and hail reports were coming in. We got the generator going, fired up the satellite NBN and checked the outages - never in the 4 days did it come up as out - it said our line tested OK. Finally got through on a mobile (we have no signal here and the creek was over …) I reported that we could not dial out or anyone dial in, done the isolation test many times, but they still said our line was OK and it must be something WE DID that caused the fault. They booked a Technician visit amidst rumblings that it could cost us.

The Techie arrived and in 30 seconds apologised on behalf of Telstra as we were one of many affected by a fault at the Exchange and left. Nice bloke. Then a day later I get a “Case Resolved” Closed notice - still no phone. Lodged another complaint. “Case Resolved” your line tests OK.

They sent a survey - which took me to a Bot that didn’t understand what I was asking “When will my phone be fixed?” So I ended up with Chat - took over an hour till finally I was transferred to someone who said Yes, you are part of a wide range of customers affected. I was given a resolution time of 24 hours (seems common to offer that) and I bet I’ll get a “Case Closed Resolved at xx” again before we get a working phone. The transcript has some crucial data **** out - date, fault number for example - I can understand *** for DoB. But it makes it pretty useless.

Our stress was exacerbated by the storms, no power, satellite NBN which doesn’t work in rain or heavy cloud, the road cut, no mobile signal, family worried about us … Telstra could do better with outage reporting and fault resolution. MUCH better.