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Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Nearly Had An iPhone but Telstra Got In The Way

So, I decided to upgrade my phone to one with bluetooth so that I can answer calls while driving. Now I don't really want a fancy phone, just one to make calls and text and I would like a flip phone rather than a touch screen. Should be easy you would think.

I go to Telstra - our current provider and should I say the only provider I have used for my mobile service - EVER!! That should count for something, shouldn't it?

I dutifully line up, I wait my turn but with only 1 person serving and 3 of them having some sort of a conflab in the corner, the line is getting pretty long. Finally a couple of more staff appear from the back and the line moves slowly forward. By now it has been at least 10 minutes and my back is seizing up and my pain levels are increasing. I fear if I leave the line that I will lose my place, so I move around a little, lean against the counter and just keep hoping they will not take too much longer - right!!

Eventually I get to the counter and ask for some assistance in choosing a phone. Not obviously the strong point of the person helping me, seems there is only 1 flip phone in stock - a Telstra brand - that does bluetooth but a customer told her it doesn't work all that well. Right - that is a big selling point when the main reason I want a phone is for bluetooth! So I ask her, well if it doesn't work I can bring it back and get a refund - um NO. So I'm like, what?

She says you have to take it to the manufacturer. I look at her with bewilderment - it is a TELSTRA phone I say, are you not the manufacturer? Oh, right, well we would have to send it away for testing and will MAYBE replace it, if it is faulty, but no money back. So let me understand this, Telstra will sell me a phone with bluetooth capability - their selling point, but if the bluetooth doesn't work and the phone is not faulty, just that the bluetooth is flaky, they won't refund my money? So we move on to look at other phones, as this one does not fill me with confidence.

There are some slide phones with tiny weeny qwerty keypads which a fairy would have trouble typing with - I mean have you seen how small those keys are? I have arthritic fingers and a shortening of patience (but that is a whole other post) - so no, they are no good.

So we are left with touch screen phones. Now I should say I love my iPad's touch screen, but my daughter had a touch screen phone that occasionally would ring me all by itself when floating around in her handbag - not a big selling point for me. But anyway, at this point I am in pain and just want a bloody phone. So I go, well what about an iPhone? Sure she says, it has a little button at the top to lock the screen and you press that then swipe the screen to start it up. Sounds good to me. We have a sale - finally.

So we make our way to the counter and by now I am in so much pain I am literally shaking. She asks my phone number which I provide and then she says something along the line of I will get all the paperwork together it might take a minute or two. Okay, I need to sit, so I explain about my back and say I am popping over to the stool over there to wait. No problems she says I will bring it all over there for you. So I wait.

Then she comes over with no paperwork and tells me sorry I can not sell you the phone as the account is in your husband's name. Um, hello, what??? She goes on to explain that while I own the phone number and this current phone, I don't have authority on the account to buy and upgrade to a new plan without my husband's approval and not just his approval but he has to be there with me to do it?

So I say something along the lines of - you are telling me in the year 2011 I need my husband's approval? Well it is not like that, it is just he has the authority and I don't. Well I explain I never agreed to that and neither did my husband. Well apparently when we bundled our phones to save money on our accounts I gave away all rights. Now I don't think anyone ever explained that to me, in fact Telstra has sold at least 2 phones to me over the phone, I have dealt with them about our account numerous times, but I can not buy my own phone. So I politely tell her that is a load of BS. She says, well sorry but that's the policy. I ask to speak to her manager. He is busy she says and will come and talk to me when he is free. And so I wait for another 10-15 maybe 20 minutes and he comes over and we go through the whole routine again. Still with the same answer - no madam you can not buy this phone.

When I ask why I have been able to purchase and upgrade plans over the phone, apparently that is voice recognition and it is okay but to personally buy a phone I need my husband and his driver's licence - what in case I am a terrorist?? Voice recognition - load of crap I could be anyone answering my phone when they sell me another phone - PLEASE!!

I politely explain that I am the only one in the household that has never left Telstra - my hubby has tramped his account all over the place, even moving our household phone for one brief time to someone else, but me NEVER. In fact I was the one who convinced him to move back to Telstra and to keep our home phone with them. And it was I who spoke to the people at Telstra and did the bundling to save money and NO ONE AT ANY TIME told me I was giving up my rights to my phone and making my husband the owner of our account. Our home phone is in joint names, his mobile was in his name and mine was in mine, so when did it become policy to remove me from being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted with my phone? And is it just because he has a penis that he now outranks me (I didn't actually say the penis thing, just thought it), or it is because his initial is a B and mine is a K - bugger it Mum you should have named me something that started with A!!!

He had no answer for that one except to say I was nominated for this phone number but my husband has the ownership of the account.

So I say, okay set me up a new account just in my name for my phone. Sure he says, but then I can not have my current number - what??? By now my frustration was to the point of me being on the edge of tears - see, when I get really angry I cry, which is a pain in the arse, but that's were I was. So he says well maybe I can ring your husband and he can give me authority over the phone, but he will have to check out if that is okay. Still seething that I need to have anyone's authority apart from my own, I agree.

After a few minutes he comes back and asks if my husband is at home. Of course he is not, he is at work - oh well that won't work because he has to ring the home phone. At this point I am thinking of ringing some random neighbour, telling them to break into my house and answer the phone and say he is my husband!!

So I ask, can I set everything up, leave the phone with them and send my hubby in on Saturday morning to do the final bit as he hates lining up even more than me and there is no way I can do another 20 minute line up with my back. But no, even that is not possible. So I ask him for a number to phone Telstra and complain. I am not complaining about the service of either of the staff, but I am mightily pissed off with Telstra in general.

My middle daughter tells me she ordered her phone over the net with Telstra, so we can do it that way, but she is not married and so everything is in her name so I would only be able to do that through my husband's name it seems.

It's time this company moved into the 21st Century, and the thing that really pisses me off, is that moving to someone else is not an option. I have friends who have deals with iinet and the like and if there is a problem and the exchange is a Telstra exchange - and lets face it most are and our local certainly is - they go to the bottom of the queue to have their phones fixed.

So I nearly had an iPhone but thanks Telstra - you got in the way.


  1. Hi Kakka

    Have had similar issues - blogged them here, the last few comments are worth a read....


    Hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Telstra sucks.

    We have on going problems with them and they seem to think that because we are magically listed as 'rural and remote' (despite living closer to Melbourne CBD than many of the outer suburbs) we just have to put up with their crap service! Sadly they are right because there is no other telco out here!

    Mind you I also have the same 'you don't own the account' problem with our health insurance... because I don't pay the bill I have no rights to dispute the claim, despite the fact that it is my Drs bill and my DH isn't actually allowed any details about it because of privacy laws. It's bureaucracy gone mad I tell you!

  3. Oh you're not alone.... Hope you can get yourself a new phone soon (I do love my iPhone although I also nearly cried in the Telstra shop - why must they reduce customers to tears? Weird)

  4. Had the same problem here with Rogers Cable/Inernet. They can only have one name on the contract. Drives me insane because every time we need to change something or straighten out one of their messes they have to speak to my husband first. He is practically stone deaf on the phone so he has to keep asking me to have them repeat the question and then he answers them through me. Ridiculous. What happens if he passes away? Do I have to create a brand new contract in my name? Criminey!!!

  5. @A Farmer's Wife - thanks for the link to your blog post - interesting that Telstra has a social media team. Seems like lots of people are in the same boat - not that it makes me feel better about their rules and regs - but there is strength in numbers at least.

    @Katepickle - it is terrible when you are stuck with no choice, at least we have one, we just choose not to take it because of issues others have had with Telstra exchanges.

    @PPMJ - there will be a new phone eventually. And yes, what is it with the whole pushing the customer to exasperation point.

    @mybabyjohn - OMG that is so funny, well not really but you know what I mean. You having to do the talking for your hubby when they only will talk to him - ludicrous. I wondered about the dying thing to, I suppose I will have to talk in the death certificate if that happens - lets hope that is years away yet, for both of us.



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