The disconnect on our way to super-speed Internet

The disconnect on our way to super-speed Internet

For those who missed the article on Big Splash Media’s digital woes by the inestimable Jennifer Duke in The Sydney Morning Herald this weekend, it’s copied here.

The back story is even sadder.

It’s a tale of shockingly bad management.

But most frightening of all, it’s the story of a couldn’t-care-less culture so certain of its own failure, it has been allowed to build in the fact that its customers will be disappointed and will almost certainly complain.

If you know you’re likely to let your customers down, you won’t be disappointed when you do, right?

Our simple story started when we needed to move our office two blocks across town. Under the mandate given to the NBN by the government, NBN-accessible buildings must use NBN for Internet services.

We decided to stay with Telstra, an organisation that had enjoyed our loyalty for more than 10 years.

What we could not have known was that Telstra was not capable of handling a request to keep telephone numbers and upgrade Internet services at the same time.

They managed to get the application wrong an incredible THREE times.

One application failed because, we were told, the system has had a coding fault for more than two years. If you put in your real telephone number for relocation, it finds the number is already allocated (to our old address) and cancels the order, sending the applicant to the back of the queue.

Savvy Telstra order takers key in phoney numbers to game it, changing them to real ones just before a move.

How do we know this? Because we had no less than three “complaints mangers” over eight weeks. One of them told us this story.

Can you see why two resigned while dealing with our case? If you worked for an organisation that did nothing about such a fault for two years, how long would you stay in the job?

Because Telstra knows it is failing, it has hired an Indian call centre to literally “soak up the rage”. Operators are powerless to do anything about bridging problems with the NBN, so they sound conciliatory and keep using the phrase of the hour in the digital sales world – “I’ll definitely escalate this to a higher level!”

It appears that’s the digital equivalent of the waste bin.

I remember a national newspaper in the UK with more than three million readers being so overwhelmed by calls it created a department headed by an executive called “Higgy the human sponge”.

So after eight week, three complaints officers and three failed attempts, we still haven’t even got to first base: an application in front of the NBN.

Today, we’re “borrowing” an Internet connection from a very kind neighbouring business, and we have just one telephone between the six of us.

Big Splash Media is an international publisher. And what makes me saddest is that, when I explain our plight to our clients in Asia and India, they aren’t in the least bit surprised.

“Ah yes,” most say sympathetically. “We’ve heard all about Australia’s Internet services…”

Well done Telstra. And congratulations to our so-called innovation-led government.

This article could be the start of a series, by the way.

From what we’ve heard about the NBN by the ABC’s Four Corners and others, what horrors await us once they receive the paperwork (digitally, of course)?

I’ll keep you posted…if I still have a connection.

About the authorPeter Lynch


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