As I walked into the Telstra retail store on a Friday afternoon my expectations were low. Being highly skeptical due to my previous dealings with Telstra, a proud InterNode customer and supporter for more years than I can remember*1 and happy enough with my Amaysim pre-paid *2 I did not think there was much to tempt me.
I walked out of the store signed up for just under $200 per month worth of bundles *3 at the bargain basement price of only $174 per month.
By being convinced that I could walk out of the store with a working Galaxy S8 Plus that I could swap for the new iPhone Plus as soon as Telstra offer it on a plan with enough data (17GB) to actually use each month without holding my breath between WiFi connections. And – a 100Megabit / 1TB NBN connection that would not interfere with my cherished InterNode ADSL2+ service (Never under 16Mbit wired, often over 20Mbit) that I could cancel without penalty if I could demonstrate less than 75Mbit as measured by fast.com.
What could possibly go wrong?
The next morning I woke with a strong feeling of consumer regret and a nagging feeling that I would be spending way too much time on hold to offshore call centres being CRM-ed to the point of tears. But hey, it would be a learning experience that might even help me do my job better as I document the sad tale and collect evidence for a possible encounter with the ‘TIO’. So here goes…
- Reading the contract details for the Go Mobile Swap Plan I discovered, to my horror that I had to wait 12 months before swapping the S8 and that the two year contract would start again from that date! Let’s call this issue #1 – the iPhone swap deal-breaker.
- I foolishly thought that the mobile number of the salesperson who served me (written on the cover of the lovely folder containing reams of bundle contents and contract terms – and txt to my new mobile by the Siebel CRM system) might actually connect me with that salesperson. Several calls (and days) later, I finally made contact with said salesperson and asked how long the cooling off period was. After a longish phone conversation I was convinced that my only option was to ‘fail-forward’ and to find a way to make the two year commitment I had made work. Many phone calls and at least three visits to the retail store later I had evidence that issue #1 had been dealt with and I could indeed swap the S8 for the new iPhone in a few weeks time. The reality, issue #2 – I resent being CRM fodder.
- The solution to issue #1 was the inclusion of an additional product called ‘Mobile Swap Assure’ at a cost of $10/mth, offset by an additional rebate of $10/mth. A long (entire tram trip home) session on Telstra live chat and a special receipt printout from one of the retail store visits provided me with documented evidence that I could swap phones without waiting for a year. That little exercise triggered an obsessive download of product brochures and the compilation of the following list of bundled items that I do not want. Issue #3 – bundle madness. What I DO want is described earlier in this post. The Optional Companion Plan looks interesting for iPads etc but requires a minimum spend of $140/mth. What I DONT want:
- A home phone line – will never connect a handset and dont want to PAY a monthly fee to suppress publication of details
- MessageBank – life is too short to wrangle voicemails. Telstra’s default=ON required a couple of hours googling and setting of ‘welcome’ messages to ensure I never have to retrieve a voice message (even if Telstra turn it back ON).
- Special call rates – from the line that will never be used, and which are too complex to understand anyway
- Telstra Air (again) – already got that with the mobile plan (and I have yet to figure out how to stop connection attempts breaking my mobile data connection while travelling past hotspots).
- Pay extra for Speed Boosts – A Very Fast Speed Boost is available for an additional $20 per month on the nbn network or a Super Fast Speed Boost for an additional $20 per month for Cable of $30 per month on the nbn network (except on nbn Fixed Wireless). Whatever the feck that means. I want the 100Mbit promised and expect to never see speeds below 75Mbit.
- Telstra Broadband Connect – a full discount off the standard monthly charge sounds attractive but I have absolutely no idea how or if this applies to me. Happy to be pleasantly surprised.
- Mobile Bundle Bonus – on up to four eligible mobiles on the same single bill as your bundle. Nah – I would have to be convinced that something better than my current Amaysim scheme exists for the other mobiles in our family. Very unlikely (and I would want at least one device on the Optus network for resilience on a bad day).
- Telstra TV – already out of HDMI ports on our dirty great Samsung TV (that requires a HDMI connected ChromeCast box to do anything useful with the Samsung Galaxy S8 phone).
- Apple Music teaser – a six month account that is complex to link to an existing AppleID and that will trigger automatic charge to my telstra post-paid account should I forget to terminate it at the end of month 6. (If it were via PayPal I could at least cancel the billing agreement and enjoy the trial worry free).
- Billing and payment charges – $2.20 if I receive a paper bill. Hope I dont!
- Post-Paid call charges – I have never exceeded the included calls or messages with Amaysim prepaid. I will be extremely disappointed if my $95 per month Telstra plan fails to cover my usage.
- Post-paid data charges – on the few occasions when I exceeded Amaysim’s monthly data quota I was able to buy extra pre-paid data at reasonable rates. I have never faced data ‘bill shock’ I hope I never do!
- Early Termination Charges – up to $637 + $1,140 (+ Device Lease Contract termination Charge up to $499 or worse if handset lost) if things go pear-shaped. $50 just to change bundles within Telstra. And I am not forward to dealing with the whole melarkey of surrendering an obsolete lease device at the end of my sentence (sorry, contract).
The #Telstra category on this blog should pull the fragments of my quest for bandwidth and tale of Trust and frustration together.
*1 Note to self: login to Internode and see how far back my billing history goes (guessing significantly pre 2004)
*2 (under $25/mth for several years, never run out of calls or txt, data good enough between WiFi connections)
*3 Best Bundle Ever $99 + Go Mobile Swap Plan $95
*4 UPDATE: on the Internode date. Note: while I seem to remember moving to InterNode while still at Microsoft, the oldest evidence I can find is an 11 year old welcome message from Internode circa 2006. (was that for my NodeMobile sim? – when did ADSL first arrive at Internode??