June 30, 2011

Telstra wireless broadband – lessons learned

Filed under: Technology — joel.cass @ 8:16 am

Telstra sucks. It’s a well-known fact and while I’ve avoided being a customer of theirs for the last 10 years or so, I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting coverage from my Vodafone wireless broadband service. So, I walked into a Telstra store, purchased a prepaid Internet router (Telstra Elite) from the reluctant staff member who then proceeded to take copies of my driver’s licence (don’t know why since I had to fill in all the details all over again), opened the package, read the instructions, it all seemed so ’simple’.

Yet, when I actually try using the thing it doesn’t work. First things first, the card provided with the modem says you can be connected in *just* 3 simple steps! Wrong! The manual actually mentions (on an left-sided page with no headings) that you have to actually activate the modem by calling a number. Simple.

I call the number. Automated message tells me I should go online, after all, it’s “quick and easy”(!). I hate automated phone services, so I decided to go online. Fill out all my details and then, theoretically, my modem should be activated in the next two hours. The next morning I try to connect (about 12 hours later). I still can’t connect.

I check the modem settings. Fine, no problem there. The connection between my laptop and the modem is very fast. I click on the ‘check your account’ link. It loads! Oh, I have zero credit. But what about the 5GB included with the modem? It looks like I’ll need to buy credit before I can use my ‘bonus’ credit. Fucking Telstra!!!

So I give the call centre a call. Following the prompts, got there eventually. I was served by someone named ‘Joy’ – oh the irony. After resetting my modem, and resetting the computer (she asked me if it was ‘XP or Vista’ – ha it’s a Mac!), everything just magically worked.

I refreshed the ‘My Account’ page – miraculously a dollar was added to my credit! And everything just seemed to work!

Two hours later I check to see if it’s still working. Nope. Broken again. I refresh the ‘My Account’ screen. Zero credit again!

I call up again, this time I am greeted by Mark. He starts rolling out the normal questions, asking me to reboot my computer etc etc. Check the SIM card, fine, fine, fine… Then he realises my account was set up as a mobile phone account!

The whole problem was that I used the Internet to enable my prepaid broadband service – it can only be enabled over the phone. Hence, they don’t mention the Internet in the manual – however, the greeting when calling to activate the account starts off by recommending that you go online to enable your account, after all, it’s “quick and easy”! It was neither quick, nor easy, in fact, it was painful!

What I can’t stand about Telstra’s approach is how many times the words ’simply’, ‘easily’, and ‘just’ were mentioned in their documentation and on the prerecorded phone messages – not only is it patronising but it’s an outright lie! The documentation should read as follows:

You can set up your modem in 7 easy steps!

  1. Simply crack your nails trying to open the back shell of the modem. Easily realise that isn’t working, and then just use the corner of a credit card to crack the shell open.
  2. Simply insert the battery into the back of the modem so that the contacts meet the pins (which aren’t gold by the way).
  3. Put the blue card that came with your modem in front of you. Turn on your computer, and set up a new wireless network. Select the network name entered on the card and enter your WPA password.
  4. 4. Simply open up a web browser and realise nothing is working. Open a new window and enter ‘′ into the address bar – a page should load up immediately. This confirms that you have your network set up correctly.
  5. Call 125 8887 and follow the prompts to activate your card. DO NOT go on the Internet to activate the card.
  6. Simply Wait 2 hours
  7. Check to see if your account works. If not, call 125 8887 and simply follow the prompts (4, 2, 1). Consult your friend at the other end of the line.
  8. Repeat step 7 as many times as necessary. Step 6 may be necessary as well.

But this will never be a reality. Telstra seem to assume that their customers cannot count past 3 and also, the process is not ’simple’ nor is it ‘quick’ and ‘easy’.

Great network, poor systems, and a workforce that knows nothing about the customer. Enter Telstra. And people wonder why their shares don’t get good returns.