Telstra Tales

or why a telecommunications company ought to be called an anti-communications company

This is an incomplete and only partially edited piece about our ongoing problems with Australia's largest Telco, Telstra.

Thursday 8 November 2001

Not my favourite day. Telstra has disconnected the telephone at the cottage because we are moving to The House of Steel in a month or so. The fact that there is no cable from the street to our new residence appears to have escaped them! Mercifully, they have left my Internet line connected. My cell phone doesn't work at the cottage and requires some moving about to find a reasonable signal at The House of Steel. Right now, I don't feel like walking over there. Initially, it was "impossible" to have it reconnected before we moved into our new home, but threats of physical violence brought them around to our way of thinking.

Saturday 10 November 2001

Our voice line still has a message for callers saying that we have been disconnected! On Thursday, it was going to be "fixed in ten minutes". Today, the moron at Telstra said that it couldn't be fixed before Monday. And no, they won't give out a telephone number where a complaint can be made! This, the company that prides itself on its handling of complaints. The rhetoric has it that competition improves service.

Today I am expected to vote for the incompetent nincompoops, who can't tell if it's raining or Tuesday, that foisted this "improved" service on us.

Sunday 11 November 2001

After much scrambling around behind the computers, I managed to plug a phone into the socket for my Internet connection. I tried phoning my sister, then my mother. The message said "cannot connect to the Optus number you are calling from this network". A pox on this madness! Presumably, my mother and sister momentarily saved a few dollars for the week it took Telstra to match Optus's prices. I guess we'll have to rely on email to stay in touch for the foreseeable future.

[It turned out that they were still with Telstra, so the deeper meaning of the recorded message is a Very Great Mystery]

Monday 12 November 2001

I am hoping that this turns out to be a better week than last. Hopefully, Telstra will restore our voice telephone line, I will be able to talk with my mother and sister and clients will be able to talk to me.

[Late in the day, possibly by accident, the telephone was reconnected]

Saturday, 29 December 2001

Yes, Telstra were at it again. This time they were getting ready to transfer the phone services from the cottage to the house. Marguerite had refused to change the date of transfer a second time, so the rush is now going to be on to bring the house to Occupancy Certificate if not Completion Certificate stage.

The first fly in the ointment was that the Tech refused to countenance an aerial connection from the Telstra pole direct to ours. It was Against Regulations! When I pointed out that approval had already been given by Telstra, he said that it hadn't been documented, so I would need to speak to his boss. The boss fellow, when he finally arrived, basically reiterated what the first chap had said. They would put a pole on our side of the road and we would have to dig a trench from that pole to our pole. Unfortunately, that not only runs through Marguerite's long-established flower garden, Council Regulations prevent us from using an excavator because it would need to stand on the septic and sullage trenches. Was he suggesting we dig the ditch by hand? I put strong emphasis on the fact that I wasn't blaming them for the débacle, nor was I in the least interested in abusing them. All I wanted was a solution and that all of this was just grist for the mill for the amusement of you, my dear readers.

I pointed out that we had put in our pole in November 2000, 13 months ago, and this was the first we had heard that we wouldn't be allowed to do what we had been repeatedly assured we could do. The electrician had flagged this as a potential problem, so we had taken steps to ascertain the feasibility of using aerial, rather than a second trench. Expecting us to wait for several weeks for a new pole and dig a trench because of the shortcomings of others in Telstra was a little over the top. 

The boss fellow went to the van while he explained that there had to be a certain clearance between the electricity supply cable and the Telstra cable below, and a certain clearance between that cable and the ground. From the van he grabbed a piece of PVC conduit and went along under the electrical cable with it and lo! we squeaked in under the old regulation when aerial cables were still allowed. "We'll give you what you want," he said.

I pointed out that there was still another fly in the ointment. The Tech had said that our pole didn't have the appropriate seal of approval attached. While it was suitable for potentially lethal mains power cables, this was no guarantee that it would be capable of holding up telephone wires. Somebody could be killed by stray telephone messages! He smiled, slapped the pole and said: "It's sealed!" 

So, with some bad grace from the Tech, the aerial connection was put in and during the mid-afternoon, he came indoors to finish the job. I asked him to remove his boots when walking on our varnished floorboards. He refused, because of course it's against regulations, so I pointed out that walking those boards was against my regulations because cleated boots carry stones that scratch. I pointed to two such scratches that had been caused by someone ignoring my regulation. While he refused to remove his boots, he very carefully inspected the soles of his boots each time he entered the house.

He called me a "fuckwit" for having four telephone pairs from our pole to the house. He was more scathing still of our electrician, calling him a "stupid fucking cunt" and telling me in no uncertain terms that the electrician was not to touch the connections he was making. The electrician is certificated to do the work this moron says he's not to do. And the reason for the scathing comment? Tony had followed my request to bring an individual cable from each telephone outlet to the external connection point for maximum flexibility.

I called attention to the fact that the cable attachment to my pole was just a scrap of wire, rather than a proper clamp. The technician assured me it would be replaced later in the week with the proper fitting as he was sure they could find one somewhere. [As of 23 August 2005, there's still no clamp!]

Tuesday 5 November 2002

The Git's problem with his ISP was caused by him having used the wrong credit card when he subscribed. His ears are still red :-) While discussing the problem with the ISP, once more the issue of my logging on at 28.8 kbps came up. The Git explained that Telstra had installed evil pair-gain devices on the telephone lines "for future expansion" when we moved into The House of Steel. The Telstra technician had told me that if The Git wanted decent Internet access, he could get DSL. The ISP told The Git that this was untrue -- DSL won't work through a pair-gain device.

So, what was the purpose for Telstra installing pair-gain devices on the telephone lines? The technician who installed it said there were only limited copper pairs available, but we weren't new subscribers, so no new pairs were needed. The likelihood of two extra pairs being needed in our rural hamlet in the next ten years is about the same as John Howard inviting Osama bin Laden to Kirribilli House for cocktails!

Then it turns out Senator Kate Lundy has a campaign for pair-gain victims and there's a website called whirlpool seemingly devoted to taking Telstra to task for its shenanigans where I found the following:

A Middle Eastern sheikh, wanting to treat his eldest on his 21st birthday, asked what he would like. 
"An Aeroplane!" replied the overjoyed son. And so he received a Concorde.
The next son, 17, was asked what he wanted for Christmas, to which he replied, "An Automobile". His father proudly presented a Rolls Royce antique Phantom to him. 
The youngest son, 9, was finally asked what would make him happy. "A Mickey Mouse outfit" cried he gleefully. So his father bought him Telstra.

Wednesday 6 November 2002

Just as The Git was about to post today's blog, the Internet connection died. Attempting to reconnect produced mysterious, unintelligible sounds of a voice from the modem. After locating a standard telephone, The Git braved the pain in his back and crawled under the desk to plug in the telephone. The message was to call a number for an Important Message. Using the voice line, the message was that the bill had not been paid, and to do so at once!

When he was a tadpole, The Git had problems with losing his temper and it was many years and much self-discipline to bring it under some semblance of control. Either that, or his hormone levels decreased with age. But today gave the lie to the latter theory as blinding, red rage seized the Git's mind. If you have never experience such, count yourself lucky. Suffice to say, had there been an object of my anger present, I would have made every attempt to maim, or even kill! No, it's not rational. Yes, it goes against the grain and fibre of The Git's very being. Fortunately for The Git and any potential victim, there was nobody around, but The Git.

Back in December last year, regular readers who followed The Git's saga of building The House of Steel may remember that Telstra, the Australian telco had initially reneged on their agreement to connect the telephone service to our new home. After some argument and talking to the installation technician's boss, The Git succeeded in persuading him into honouring the agreement made thirteen months before, and we duly had our two telephone services moved from the cottage.

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, the service was downgraded by dint of the installation of a useless, unnecessary, evil Pair Gain device with the effect of halving bandwidth on the Internet line. Then, a few weeks ago, Mrs Git noticed that Telstra had also at that time commenced charging our domestic telephone service the cost of the Internet line, so Telstra were being paid twice as much as they were entitled to. After several telephone calls to Telstra, The Git made an arrangement with one Jan Behnke to have the money they had purloined credited back to our domestic telephone account due in some months time and he said he would waive the current bill as an apology for the error.

This morning's disconnect had occurred, explained the urbane Jan Behnke, because The Git owes them for another month's rental that has become overdue. In other words, even though Telstra owes us for ten months' rental to which they were not entitled, they expect The Git to continue paying them! Despite billions of dollars in profit, this organisation of blood-sucking idiots still haven't replaced the scrap of wire they used to tie the cable to our pole with a proper cable clamp! They upped their Internet access rate causing The Git to cancel that service. They halved the bandwidth on the telephone lines!

Unable to control his temper during the phone call, The Git left a voicemail message later for them to cancel the Internet telephone line.

Monday 11 November 2002

The Internet telephone line still hasn't been disconnected. The Git knows this because he received a phone call on it. The caller explained that he'd looked the number up in the telephone book. The number wasn't supposed to be listed at all since it was originally intended for 24/7 Internet use. However, Telstra in a fit of inexplicable creativity had combined Mrs Git's surname with The Git's initials and put that in the directory! A few months ago, a Telstra salesman had called this to The Git's attention when attempting to sell him on the idea of spending extra money on making the entry bold and bigger letters surrounded by coloured flashing lights, or some such. "Delete it, forthwith!" The Git screamed (gently, considering the stress that this so-called communications company was subjecting him to).

Tuesday 12 November 2002

The Git received a reminder to pay the bill for the Internet telephone service and a threat that it will be disconnected if he does not do so immediately! Yes, that service The Git asked to be cancelled last week! The strange and insane person he asked to do this is not there (again) so The Git left a message asking why they were threatening to do what he asked them to do. And to call back within the hour, or he would be taking this up with the Telecommunications Ombudsman.

Wednesday 13 November 2002

The Git contemplates what the effect on business would be if the supermarkets behaved in a manner similar to Telstra.

"I'm so sorry, sir. You will just have to go without food for a month. No, you are not allowed to complain!"

To be... continued...

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