Wednesday, May 4

The day my head exploded

Today I had to make a call to the United States to participate in a teleclass that went for about an hour. I haven’t made any long distance calls recently, preferring to use Skype for international communication, but this option wasn’t available for this particular call so it was the old fashioned way…by telephone.  Because I haven’t called internationally for a while I thought I’d better find out what current international call rates were from my fixed line phone. So I decided to ring Telstra (our national telco) …that was my first mistake.

I began to navigate my way through the labyrinthine recorded options but after some time it became apparent that my seemingly simple request was too much for the robot. It asked me if I wanted to be put through to a ‘consultant’ I pressed ‘1’ for yes.  That was my second mistake.  

My consultant ‘John’ was very nice, extremely courteous and used lots of Autralianisms like ‘no worries’ making me feel very safe and at home. Ahem.

I posed my question “Hello John! What are the current call rates to the United States from my fixed line phone…I’m on the ‘Telstra Home Reach’ plan”.


Then John asked me to hold for ‘a couple of minutes’. Five minutes later he came back and asked me who was calling me from the States.  I told him ‘no-one, I’m calling them’ and I repeated my request. He put me on hold again.

Next time he came back he asked me about my mobile phone. I told him it had nothing to do with my mobile, I was calling the United States from my FIXED LINE. 


He put me on hold again.

This went on for some time…eventually he worked out what I wanted and began to explain the various options. That conversation made my ears bleed. Here’s a sample:

John (heavily accented):  If you call 0018 to a fixed line it is half hour free and $5.25

Me: Eh?

John: repeated the above

Me: What's free?

John: Half hour and $5.25

Me: Is it $5.25 per half hour?

John: Yes…………….and free.

Me: Which?

John: Half hour.

Me: it $5.25 OR is it free?

John: Yes.

Me: It can't be both.

John: Yes

Me: No, it can't, it's either $5.25 or free....

John: Yes. It's $5.25…………….and free.

Me: Sigh. Is $5.25 for half an hour AND THEN free?

John: Yes…………….no, it's $5.25 and free.

Me: Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!

It was all like that. In total I spent 45 minutes on the phone with an enquiry which should have taken 5 minutes at the absolutely maximum.

I made the call anyway, I just hope I don’t get a bill for $80.


Dave said...

I must admit my first though when posed with that sort of question is to see if the rates are published on the internet.

Not that I'm ever likely to 'phone the USA. Or Australia.

Of course, you could always 'phone me. How much would it cost to ring the UK?

Z said...

I suppose that Telstra use call centres in India, like BT does. As you say, the operators are very nice and courteous but they have to work to a script and have no flexibility at all, and don't seem to be able to cope with any out-of-the-ordinary queries. It is very regimented.

When we had a problem with the internet hub a few years ago, Ronan dealt with it for me, and he was sent from one person to the next, all dealing with exactly the same script and he had to start from scratch with the explanation every time. It wasn't until he got someone in this country that he finally got an answer, because that person understood the problem and had the judgement to think around it for a solution.

Anonymous said...

I checked the Internet first (always do, I'd do anything rather than speak to telstra) there was lots of information but it didn't specify what you paid according to your plan.

How much to ring the UK? $5.25 for a half hour and free I believe. Does that help?

They are in India Z, this one however wasn't Indian but still had a heavy accent. It's so frustrating, I don't blame the operator, as you say they work to a script and have no training outside that.

Cathy said...

oh my lord is all i can say! telstra has done my head in on many occasions! although that conversation sounded totally unbelievable, i completely believe that it happened!!! they are so stupid it anoys the crap out of me!!!!!