Telstra’s Questionable Marketing/Sales Practices

This entry was written by my mum – who had a frustrating experience with the biggest Telco in Australia. Here’s what happened…..

“Has this ever happened to you? 

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to change my internet connection from dial-up  to broadband and rang Optus (my current provider) and Telstra to get an idea of what plans were on offer and which would best suit my needs. 

On phoning each of the two companies I was very up front, told them that I was simply enquiring at this stage and would be contacting other providers to elicit which was best for me.  Optus explained their plans to me, their costs and the fact that I would need to use a wireless broadband connection because of where I live.  I told the sales person that I would be thinking about it for a day or two and would get back if I wished to proceed. 

I then rang Telstra and again, told the sales person that I only wanted at this stage to get prices and plan details, which I wished to compare with other companies’ offers.  However, I was then told that my line would need to be checked to ensure that it was capable of carrying the Broadband connection to my phone and I would need to place an order for this to be carried out. 

I questioned this and asked why it was not possible to do the checking out first and then let me know.  I was categorically assured that this was the way it had to be done – order first.  I told the girl that I was not happy about it but she assured me that there was no other way to proceed.  I asked her what were the ramifications of my placing an order and was told, none.  All I had to do was cancel the order if I did not want to go ahead.  I reluctantly agreed and was then asked what email address I would like.  I immediately asked why I needed an email address and was told that they needed it to check the line.  Again, I reluctantly agreed.  Then I was given a “password”.  I was even more perturbed by now but went along with it. 

I allowed myself the weekend to digest and think about the information I was given but on the following Monday morning, Australia Post arrived at my door with a parcel from Telstra containing a modem.  I told the postman that I had not ordered anything from Telstra and he said to me that it “happens all the time” and “would he like me to send it back”?  I asked him to wait for a moment while I contacted Telstra and fortunately was able to get through quite quickly.   

I was very angry and I told the man I spoke to what had happened and how I considered this a totally unacceptable business practice, that it was unethical and un-Australian, that I had not ordered a modem, had not given the go-ahead and was sending the modem back.  I also mentioned to him what the postman had said and he immediately told me that he (the postman) could get into trouble for demeaning the name of Telstra.  I did manage to bite my tongue at this stage and NOT point out that it was not the postman (or me for that matter) who had done wrong, but Telstra.   

He then told me he would have to put me through to someone else to cancel the order.  I am afraid I was really angry by now and I vented my spleen to this poor girl and told her my story.  She tried valiantly to defend the practice on technical grounds but I then said to her that there was one rather important intermediary step that needed to be taken: ie, a courtesy telephone call from Telstra to the customer informing them that their line was suitable for the broadband connection and would they like to go ahead, yes or no. 

I made the observation to both of these Telstra employees that the company was playing a percentage numbers game : Get the order, send the modem and a goodly number of people would just say, oh well the modem’s here now, might as well go ahead – the more naïve and the elderly being easy targets. 

This in fact was proved to be the case when I mentioned what had happened to my neighbour she told me that that is exactly what happened to her.  When her modem arrived from Telstra (after her initial enquiry- only phone call) she in fact opted to keep it and go ahead with the installation, even though she had a similar conversation to me with the postman.  (And that was just over twelve months ago).

This particular girl I spoke to was extremely polite and even apologised for what had happened and I in turn apologised to her – she was only doing what she had been told to do – it’s Telstra that really needs to apologize and to re-think their marketing policies.”


Footnote: I spoke to Mum yesterday. She thought it only fair to call the Telstra complaint line and let them know how unhappy she was…… After being on hold for HALF AN HOUR (!!!) she gave up and hung up. Obviously there were a lot of people complaining…. or too few staff taking calls – after all if they recorded the complaint they would have to deal with it!

One response to “Telstra’s Questionable Marketing/Sales Practices


    Ah good old Telstra. I remember goin back agout 10 years ago when we were sold the line by the then government about how great deregulation of the telco market would make such a huge diference to the level of service and coompetition we would all receive. We were sold the same line about several other utility sectors such as power and water. Just now we are being told about how much the price of power is going to increase.

    Where is the saving in all this competition? It was simply so much easier when there was one provider. Frustrating sometimes yes, but at least we are not submitted to the endless phone calls and knocks on the door from those trying to save us money and get them to change over to them.

    Am I the only one that thinks this? I empathize completly with your mum’s experience.

    Regards, Ross.

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