It was silly of me keep my phone with Telstra now that I am back in the city. And am I paying for it!
My phone could take calls but I could not ring out. Just on the day I was moving a large part of a house.
The next day I took it to a Telstra store. Only took twenty minutes in heavy traffic to get there. Altona Gate. As terrifying as Highpoint. I found it! ‘Sorry mate. We cannot look at your phone unless you have photo I/D’. This from a man built like a bouncer for obvious reasons. Their stores are festooned with warnings about customers giving vent to their despair. It’s not done to slit your wrists on the carpet.
The problem is that the staff are not trained, and even if they were, they would be sacked if they did not act like a robot.
You get fired at Telstra if you behave like a human being. At one venue, a young woman, who had not the faintest idea what she was doing, said that Telstra would ask me to rate her out of 10, and that anything less than 8 was a fail. ‘Think of me – not Telstra.’ So, I lied – and so became complicit in the bastardy of the supplier. That is an established technique of those regimes we least admire. One version is known as ‘fascist.’
Back I go with photo I/D. And blood pressure issues. Not to mention anger – which I sat on with effort. After about 15 minutes, I was handed over to a very pleasant young man – who took about 15 more minutes to find the problem.
Telstra had stopped the phone because a bill had not been paid. This was because I had lost a credit card and had had to replace it – and notify about twenty merchants of the change. Whenever this happens, the transition is smooth for any business that is properly run. But you always have problems with at least two suppliers. Both Vic Roads and Telstra are world leaders in incompetence and discourtesy – cruelty in truth. (Vic Roads are a legend in the sticks – its staff get apoplectic if you suggest doing a transaction with them rather than online – another batch of humanity complicit in its own annihilation.)
Telstra had not given any notice of the termination – before or after. It’s like treading on an ant. A couple of days of stress and two unnecessary calls on the delinquent – all for a simple failure of sense and decency.
So, I paid the bill there and then, and – I was told – they set up a direct debit on the new card for the future. But – although I was on the premises of Telstra, I was told that it might take 24 hours for the payment to take effect and override the ban. And God help anyone there who might suggest that a mere mortal might contradict the Telstra computer.
I could avoid that by ringing Telstra, saying that the payment had been made, and quoting the receipt number. Why not do it online there and then? I do not know. Again, that is probably related to the fear of letting a mere human interfere with the program. ‘Well, why not ring 132200 here and now?’ Silly boy – that would expose us both to waiting at least an hour listening to propaganda and other lies all designed to send us to the mad house.
So, I went home. Deflated, saddened, and no wiser.
After more than 24 hours, the promised renewal had not taken place. Well, the chance of Telstra keeping a promise was always a long shot. So, with grief in my heart, I rang the number that nice man at Telstra had written down for me on the receipt. Oh, sillier, sillier boy! How could I possibly ring out to that Telstra number when Telstra had cut the line? This must be one of Telstra’s playful acts of mercy – to drive you mad faster.
But wait – I went to the website, got into my account – and then you run into those hurdles specifically designed to prevent one human being talking to another. And you get more of those sickening lies about service.
But – I found a number to Telstra that I got through on! And then I got all the attempts to drive me away. And threats of delay. Well, I knew an hour would be the minimum. (Aussie Broadband is sensible – they give you the option of ringing you back. The directors of Telstra don’t agree with that model. It smacks of both sense and decency – and neither is their schtick.)
So, I settled in. Then the computer solemnly declaimed: ‘We’re sorry but this call center is now closed for the day. Try again tomorrow.’ If you are still alive. And not in a loony bin. Just after 4 pm.
In the last few years, I have been taken by ambulance to emergency. On three occasions. It will be just a matter of time until the directors of Telstra are complicit in a death. And their PI policies will not cover them for one consequence of that.
It’s all hilarious on Fawlty Towers. But on the ground, it is insulting, demeaning and dangerous. It is a symptom of the decline in standards in our public life.
We are seeing the heartless numbers men replacing humans with robots – and that is a lot worse than disheartening. Rear Window in the AFR unloaded on Rio for similar insults to our community. For the dreadful mess people made of the business, a committee docked bonuses by 5%.
While we cheat on our nurses, underpay our police, and underate our teachers.
We are sliding into the numbed heartlessness of middle-class mediocrity. The notion of leadership dies on our lips.
Telstra – decline in public life – corporate greed and discourtesy – robots.