The telecommunications company that can’t

Dear Sol,

Congratulations on your $1.5 million bonus.

That, with your $9 million dollar CEO’s salary would enable you to buy my street. Probably the entire estate. I imagine you’ve been celebrating with your other Telstra executives. – that would explain why they couldn’t put me through to you when I rang your customer service centre about my broadband connection.

I asked to talk to someone in authority but they couldn’t connect me. They did put me through to a supervisor. At least, they said it was a supervisor but I think it was the same person, disguising their voice. He said exactly the same thing, which was basically, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do.”

Except that he was more truculent.

You find that a lot with customer service centres. Especially yours. The people in them seem to be specially trained not to give any service. Well, not to customers anyway. Telstra Executive Protection Service would be a better title, because that’s what they’re really good at.

Funny how Telstra titles tend to be meaningless. I mean, it’s a telecommunications business, isn’t it? But the two things I simply cannot squeeze out of Telstra is 1) a Broadband connection, which is what the “tele” part means; and 2) any form of meaningful dialogue about why not, which is what the “communications” part means.

I’ll tell you something interesting that I’ve discovered during 45 years in the field of communications – it’s that no matter what business you’re working in, no matter how small or how big it is… its personality always seems to reflect the personality of the man at the top.

Take newspapers. Even with the big ones the tone and the philosophy of every edition somehow seems to flow via a kind of human osmosis from the editor — the person at the top — down on to pages.

I wanted to ask you about that but, as I say, they wouldn’t put me through. I wanted to know if you thought that might explain why your customer service staff are obstructive, incommunicative, lacking in even an illusory display of concern, and totally unable to provide any meaningful information.

Or maybe there’s some other reason?

In the interests of fair play let me say I have found very rare oases in the desert of your service, but I can never find them a second time, and even they aren’t able to provide any meaningful answers.

And you know what makes me most angry – there’s absolutely nothing anyone on my estate can do about it. In fact, I wish you would buy the place. Then I bet we’d get some service!

One day some poor frustrated mug like me is going to go berserk in a customer service centre with a Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifle, or a home-made bomb, and people like you will make tsk-tsk noises and call them evil.

It won’t necessarily be Telstra they target. It could be any one of a number of banks, or government departments, or big corporations.

But if you ask me, it’s the government departments and the big corporations that are the evil ones. Because they don’t seem to care. And the lack of care starts at the top. I truly don’t believe you care, although I’d welcome any kind of signal that might give me the tiniest hint that you do (besides just words, that is. We already see how Telstra’s words can appear to mean anything other than what they say).

And people like me have no choice but to wear it, week after week, as I have done, while my chest tightens and my stomach turns at the sheer… unfairness of your system. It’s not even that I can’t get what I want, which is a broadband connection. It’s because I can’t get any real answers, just stonewalling, a lack of communication and a lack of service.

I can’t find anyone who cares!

I used to have shares with Telstra, Sol. I paid more than $7 each for them. I got out two or three years ago when they were $4.50. I lost thousands of dollars. And do you know – I consider myself very lucky. I don’t want to invest in a business as indifferent as yours (even if they could make money, which they can’t) any more than I want to invest in munitions or chemical weapons.

And if you do decide to come and buy my street, do us all a favour and don’t actually come and live here. We’re quite proud of our reputation as a caring community and we’d like to keep it.