Words cannot describe how good it was to speak to someone that I could understand (!), and who understood the nature of each of the issues we have encountered. This person was interested in understanding the full picture of what has happened since this tale of woe began. No-one from Telstra has shown such an interest to date.
So far, every time Telstra has tried to 'fix' something, we have found a new problem generated.
They have cut off email accounts, re-instated them incorrectly, not communicated changes they have made to email account settings, wiped out emails that had been re-instated, not cancelled an account that should be already cancelled, charged for that account that should no longer exist, not responded to a formal complaint for 8 days, not communicated regularly after assigning the complaint, and - after all this - have left the email accounts connected to the wrong Telstra account (something that we had to work out for them - it seems that no-one at Telstra was capable of noticing this). Back to square one after weeks of aggravation.
In dealing with past Telstra issues (my own and on behalf of clients), I would only have escalated to the TIO as a last resort. However, the TIO rep that I spoke to today said that, in this case and others, we should have given Telstra only one chance to resolve the issue.
So, as soon as the issue had not been addressed the first time, we should have immediately then raised the TIO complaint. And, when Telstra failed further in their commitments to resolve the problem/s, we did not need to wait the two weeks from the original TIO complaint to escalate our issue further with the TIO.
This is great to know - I certainly will show less tolerance for Telstra's 'run-around' and lack of communication and progress when seeking resolution to problems in future.
Our TIO rep has now taken control of getting the matter resolved, and discussing with Telstra the matter of compensation for my clients.
Do you have the 'language' to talk to Telstra and other Telcos?
A key issue for many people in a similar situation to my clients, however, is that they don't have the language needed to talk to Telstra representatives in a way that clearly articulates the problem, and are unable to determine if what they are being told is reasonable.
In some cases, it is also difficult to determine if their problem has been properly addressed when Telstra says it has. When things are still going wrong, is it something wrong at the Telstra end, or perhaps with one of the client's devices. Endless hours spent on Telstra phone calls or Live Chats can generate enormous stress, especially for older people.
I had a case recently where Telstra told my client that an ongoing problem had been resolved, then closed the corresponding complaint - even though nothing had been done to address the problem. When I checked the account and saw the problem still existed, I then had to go through the process of re-opening the complaint. That particular issue took 3 or 4 months to resolve, and should certainly have involved the Ombudsman.
Unfortunately, getting problems understood and addressed is made so much more difficult by foreign call centre accents that even I struggle to understand at times - especially given that much of the terminology being discussed is foreign to most people anyway. This can make it difficult to identify whether an issue is at the point where it should be raised with the Ombudsman.
If you are having an issue with a Telco, and would like someone to act as your 'Advocate' when dealing with Telco staff - or just need help to interpret some of the language that you are hearing, or to help diagnose your Telco problem - please don't hesitate to contact iTandCoffee on 1300 885 420.
And do keep in mind the advice given to iTandCoffee today by our lovely TIO case handler, about only giving the Telco one chance to resolve the issue before lodging a complaint with the TIO.
Complaints can be lodged with the TIO at https://www.tio.com.au/making-a-complaint.