Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Big T

This is the company that you love to hate if you are an Aussie. The problem is that they're big and therefore they make a good target. I don't make a habit of targeting them but this time they have brought it on themselves.
Telstra Bigpond have an additional service where you can request (for $10 a month) a static IP address for your home ADSL. That means that instead of getting whatever IP address they want to give you - and it changes from time to time - you get a single stable IP address. If you want to be found it's useful.
So you go to the site, log in and go to:
My Bigpond>AdditionalServices>Connecting & Roaming>Request Static IP.
Now there's the first thing. How the devil do you find that? Certainly customer service didn't know where it was.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I couldn't find it so I called customer service and they eventually found it and requested a static IP and said "you'll get an email within an hour with the IP address and log on details". Well that was last Monday and still no email, still no IP address.
In the meantime I have been back to customer service and tech support more than seven times - I've lost count. Either I or customer service have applied for this IP address at least 6 times. Still no IP address. In that time it's become evident that:
  1. The staff don't know the intricacies of the website they are supposed to support. And by the way it's the buggiest piece of stuff you are ever likely to use. A great big buggy problem;
  2. The staff don't know the process for getting new products either from them or from the website;
  3. The tech support staff - somewhere offshore - are convinced that it's a problem with my email (supplied by them)...but can't explain if that is the case why I haven't got a static IP yet;
  4. One part of Telstra doesn't talk to the other part of Telstra and tell them what's going on (that in fact the system is broken). That took me a week to find out;
  5. Most staff don't know the rules for applying for a static IP and are convinced that the rules are different to what they are;
  6. None of the staff appears to care that - it's finally revealed - the system for getting a static IP has been broken for at least a month and probably more;
  7. Nobody knows why it's broken, what's being done to fix it or when it might be fixed. At least not anybody I can talk to;
So today I called, yet again, and a customer support guy said "oh you need the domains team, they can get you a static IP quick smart. Here's their email". My little heart leapt! I fired off an email. Only to get an automated response from the general Bigpond tech support system saying that they might, just might, get back to me in the next couple of days. In effect the customer service guy had fobbed me off.
So here's one entirely alienated customer. I haven't told you about the other Telstra saga from last week - I can't bring myself to that one. It's clear though that the single biggest issue at Telstra, and in this case at Bigpond, is that nobody cares enough to bother. Some of the staff are super nice and very helpful but the system is such that they don't know what they need to know and they can't find out. They are just mushrooms in the system.
The buck has to stop with management. They need a severe wake-up if they think this constitutes customer service and customer satisfaction. I'm trying to buy something from them. How hard can that be?
Just while we are at it I can't help but talk about tech support. I suspect I know precisely where offshore their Bigpond tech support is. If I'm right then it's Telstra's biggest mistake. I've worked there and the culture, education system and management approaches all conspire to create a rigidity, lack of imagination, lack of creativity and lack of flexibility that has no place in a tech support environment. Every dealing I've had with Bigpond's offshore tech support has been, in a word, shitful. They have an absolute ability to get the wrong end of the stick, and a pig headed unwillingness to see other alternatives. They just keep reading the script and going down dead alleyways. It is a problem that I've never had with any other tech support apparatus.
Finally Bigpond, where are the line filters that you say you sent me 6 weeks ago? Which void are they lurking in?
Wake up Bigpond management, wake up.

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