ARN

This call may be monitored

I upset a Telstra employee the other day. While I was waiting to be connected to someone in the business office, a recording warned me that my call might be monitored to ensure good service or something like that. When Damien (I can't remember his real name) came on the line I tried to explain my simple request. As shocking as it may seem, not only did he completely fail to understand what I wanted, he started talking to me in a supercilious tone. That's when I did it. I asked him if our call was being monitored, because I'd love someone else to hear what he was saying to me.

That mortally wounded Damien, so I had to smooth his ruffled feathers before he'd continue. After painstakingly re-explaining what I wanted, he finally seemed to grasp it and I foolishly thanked him. This is what I wanted: I have two phone numbers (let's call them A and B). I wanted B assigned as a Duet number to A and a new number C assigned to the original line that B was on. In case you don't know, Duet or Distinctive Ring is a service that's normally used with fax machines. The number shares a physical line, but rings in a distinctive way so that the fax machine intercepts the call. That means that anyone ringing B would be connected to the fax machine and anyone ringing A would be put through to the phone.

Damien went on to explain that the first part of the job (assigning a new number C) could be done whenever I liked, but adding the old number B to A would have to be done within the next day or two after that. True to his word, it took two days to do the second bit. Well almost. The Duet number B was added to C, not A.

On the third day I complained to Service Difficulties who assured me everything was as it should be. I insisted on it being reported as a fault. Within a couple of hours a technician from the controlling exchange called me to see "what was wrong with my phone". After cutting him short when he tried to explain what Duet was, he checked the log and found that Damien had written the work order incorrectly (surprise, surprise). It then took him around two minutes on his terminal to re-assign the services. I later discovered that if Telstra allowed it, that's how it could have been done in the first place. Damien could have done the whole thing himself.

This isn't an isolated incident. In my experience, almost every dealing with Telstra goes wrong. I've even had vitriolic Telstra casual staff scream down the line at me because they're about to lose their jobs due to cutbacks, "so why should you expect any help from us?".

Still, it isn't all bad news. If you're running a course in telephone support or sales or customer relations, you could do a lot worse than have your students call Telstra. They'll learn more about how not to treat a customer than you could ever teach them in a book.