Telstra launches new Wi-Fi service, subject to availability of course…

There must be something in the air with regards poor customer service, if the last week is anything to go by. Woolies and Telstra struggled to understand customers, while Energy Australia’s confusing communications caused chaos.

Then yesterday I received the same email twice within 16 minutes from Telstra. I have no idea why such a BIG DATA company continues to have so many problems with their small data? Particularly given they have people working there with titles like “Data Scientist“. If they could just get their small data right, the BIG DATA will look after itself.

email image

The subject line really didn’t interest me – it was all about Telstra and not about me. It said “Big News for Wi-Fi“. I assume good old Wi-Fi enjoyed its news. I deleted the messages. But a mate contacted me about them. He’d received one and was confused by the contents, so I retrieved them to see what the “content” had to reveal.

I don’t quite understand the service as the email wasn’t very clear – I suspect it means wi-fi services are now available for Telstra customers outside their home networks – at last.

I clicked on the link and I entered my postcode to see where the Telstra Wi-Fi Hotspots were located near my home. Here’s the result:

wi-fi hot spots
Our service is subject to availability, good luck finding it

Two things struck me. Firstly there are three levels of wi-fi coverage indicated by a colour code. Unfortunately the three hot spots in my postcode have no colour coding, so I have no idea if I get low, medium, high or no coverage.

The second is more disturbing. The service is apparently “subject to availability“. I have no idea what this means. Does it mean subject to the availability of a hot spot location existing? Or is it subject to the availability of the wi-fi network?

It’s like ANZ Bank saying we offer bank branches, but they’re subject to availability. They may or may not be there when you turn up to do your banking. Isn’t it illegal to offer to sell something you don’t stock?

So in one message I’m told of big news about a new service – but there is no information about the level of service offered in my suburb. And regardless, the service is subject to availability, so may not even exist!!

As a Telstra shareholder I am again stunned at the use of my investment funds. As a customer I’m just confused at another big brand failing at customer service and small data.

Maybe I should call them to clarify what’s going on – assuming of course, the phone network isn’t subject to availability?


On the other hand I might take a Bex and lie down…


  1. Thanks Malcolm

    What is it with Telco’s?.

    We had a very bad experience with our provider TPG. We signed up for unlimited data internet and home phone bundle. Its an ADSL service (using Telstra infrastructure) and we had nothing but trouble. At best the internet connectivity was about 60%-70% on a daily basis and worse towards the end of the month. We rang them constantly about it and went through the motions of checking the modem etc etc. One of their service guys told us that if they don’t pay Telstra on time – then Telstra puts the breaks on the network and delivery speeds to TPG’s data.

    My wife and I run a business from home and this just wasn’t working. So we finally called and said we where leaving to go to Optus (they have cable in our area).

    Rather than acknowledge our dissatisfaction with the service and let us part ways we had to fight our way through a call centre (in The Philippines) and not once could we speak to a customer service or line manager. While this was going on they charged us and withdrew a $170 break-fee from our account – without our knowledge or consent.

    Exasperated we went to the Ombudsman to make a complaint and get it sorted. Even after this it was like getting blood out of a stone.

    The story for me is this.

    Telco’s are and continue to be product and financially driven service providers not customer centric brands. For all the big budget ads and promises of ‘where are here for you’ they are clearly ‘here’ for themselves.

    I get that ‘fixed infrastructure’ is the major contributing factor in what can and can’t be delivered. But a customer centric organisation would be thinking about best customer experience design first and then figuring out how to deliver it with what is available (or not).

    The current stack it high and sell it cheap approach doesn’t work for me.

  2. What is extraordinary to me is about this Telstra email (and some of the other recent examples) is not simply the seeming lack of understanding of basic direct response/advertising principles. It’s the inability to clearly communicate what it is they want to get across! At the risk of succumbing “Grumpy Old Man Syndrome”, what were once basic skills in business now seem to be in short supply. And this is at a major corporation who presumably are not short of funds. I’m guessing they also spend considerable amounts each year on training programs that probably include “business communication”!

  3. Telstra is an easy target because they get it wrong so often. But given the investment in databases and the alleged qualifications of marketers (we’ve now had 50+ years of marketign degrees at university) there is no excuse for the continuing errors. Maybe marketing and customers just aren’t high enough priority in public companies?

    • I tend to agree with you Malcolm about customers not being a high priority in many large companies. In my view, many large companies do not have to be particularly good at marketing to make tons of money. That’s especially the case where they are in quasi-utility or oligopoly-type markets and they are protected against real competition. Banks would be a good example and in Australia, because of the relatively small size of the market, industries tend towards an oligopoly.

      Also, the rise of “business education” and a managerial class over the last 50 years of so has meant that many managers have become disconnected at a personal level from their customers. At an extreme level, I suspect many top managers would rather have nothing to do with them! They would much rather get on with the important stuff of strategic planning, rubbing shoulders with the great and good and generally advancing their own interests. These kind of people probably love “Big Data” because it seems to offer a “push button” solution to making sales. Plus it’s trendy and high tech!

      I could go on but I suspect I’m not saying anything you haven’t observed yourself. Referring back to earlier posts, I wonder if the Woolies CEO actually shops at the stores or has used the online site?

      • Thanks Kevin

        I suspect most CEOs haven’t been on the front line for years and regard talking with customers as beneath them, something to be delegated to minions.

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