Ask LH: Can Telstra Switch Me From ADSL2+ To ADSL1 Without Asking?

Dear Lifehacker, I recently switched ISP and ended up getting a very different service to what I was promised. What can I do about it?

Long story short: My ISP was Internode, but after a house move, the only available exchange in the new area was Telstra. Internode could offer me an ADSL2+ plan with 60GB of data for $90 a month. Checking around, Telstra had an Explorer Bundle with the same features priced at $80 a month.

I confirmed with the rep from Telstra prior to going ahead with the new plan that ADSL2+ was available. Three weeks after placing the order, a tech showed up to install everything, but he told me that the order was for ADSL1, not ADSL2. Apparently Telstra did a line check, found there were no spare ADSL2+ ports for my new connection, and then changed the order to ADSL1 without ever notifying me.

Paying $80 a month for ADSL1 is daylight robbery! How can I get this sorted? I’ve already spent two hours and 20 minutes on the phone, being bounced from billing to accounts to activations to no avail.

ADSL1 Ripped Off

Dear ADSL1 Ripped Off,

That bites. Over-subscription is a common problem in densely-populated areas (and one of the reasons why we need a fibre-based NBN, but that’s a different issue). Being given an ADSL1 connection when you signed up for ADSL2+ is a non-controversial example of being supplied with a service which doesn’t match its description, which is a definite no-no under Australian consumer law.

What to do about it? Ring Telstra and ask to be put through to complaints. My own experience with Telstra suggests that talking to most of the other divisions is unproductive when issues arise, and that you’ll get sick of endlessly repeating the same details as you are bounced from department to department and given conflicting information. Head straight to complaints, ask for a name and contact details, tell them your story, and insist on a resolution.

Stay calm and polite, but emphasise that if the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, you will be going immediately to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). Every complaint handled by the TIO costs Telstra money, which provides an incentive to resolve the problem.

The other question is: what should you be asking for? Under the circumstances, I’d be insisting that the price be reduced (I’d suggest halved) until such time as an ADSL2+ port does become available. It’s worth noting that if Telstra can’t find you an ADSL2+ port, chances are anyone else wholesaling Telstra, such as Internode in your case, won’t have been able to either, so direct negotiation with Telstra is arguably easier. You could also ask to be supplied with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot if that offers a better speed in your area than ADSL1 will. But keep that end goal in mind: you want the next available ADSL2+ port in the area. Good luck!


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