Australia’s telecommunications giants are spending billions on technology and advertising but can’t run a simple help desk, say local residents who attended a West Ryde Forum last week.
The forum at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club was hosted by Bennelong MP John Alexander and Federal Communications Minister Senator Mitch Fifield who fielded a barrage of complaints about the National Broadband Network, Telstra and Optus.
Senator Fifield told The Weekly Times that complaints raised at the forum would be “top of my agenda” at an upcoming meeting with telecommunication leaders.
“I was bullied into going into the NBN with the threat of disconnection and I had to take time off work, three times, to get a connection put in”
Many of the complaints were from residents in Epping, Marsfield and North Ryde and few pulled any punches.
“What I say to Telstra and Optus is that if you were to put as much effort into customer service as you do into marketing I wouldn’t have to use language here today that is not appropriate to use in public,” one resident said.
“There are real problems with the people on your help desks and even when I speak really slowly they can’t understand me and I can’t understand them.”
One electrical tradesman complained that the Telstra website did not even have a phone number for technical support.
“Eventually I managed to get through to a technician to report that my internet and emails had gone down,” he told The Weekly Times.
“And I was asked to log onto a website and to report the problem by email.”
Another said he found the Telstra help desk was able to “quickly and professionally” organise a Telstra repair man to come out and identify why his phone, internet and emails had crashed.
“Apparently thieves break into Telstra street boxes and steal the copper wiring,” he said.
“In the end, I actually felt sorry for the poor bloke from Telstra who had to unscramble the mess the copper thieves left.”
Other residents alleged that National Broadband Network (NBN) Telstra and Optus technicians had been seen trampling across their front lawns without permission and one resident accused the NBN of bullying.
“I was bullied into going into the NBN with the threat of disconnection and I had to take time off work, three times, to get a connection put in only to find I’m paying 15 per cent more on my bills with no offset in performance.” he said.
Senator Fifield said he is aware of the bullying allegations.
“It is a matter of public record that this bullying practice has now been addressed,” he said.
“As for connection problems, the number one problem is faulty modems and the in house wiring.
“ Even my own brother had this problem, but this is the householder’s responsibility.”
The Minister did concede there had been “interference issues” between NBN and “household items” such as Pay TV connections.
There were complaints about delays in the NBN rollout in Marsfield and Epping but he said that he is confident the NBN will be completed on time by 2020.
John Alexander thanked speakers at the forum for their frank opinions and questions which he promised would be acted upon by the NBN, Telstra and Optus representatives at the forum.
Mitch Fifield agreed, when asked about the numerous help desk complaints.
“I catch up regularly with the retailers and will raise exactly the issues that were raised today. It will be top of my agenda,” he told The Weekly Times.