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

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.

Thanks 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!

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • typical telstra rip off attempt right there, at least internode had the decency to tell me upfront before even talking money that there were no ports available.

    also slightly unrelated TIL iinet have there own adsl2 infrastructure, i was going to say that internode turned me away due to no ports being free but iinet had one ready to go, i assumed iinet were also reselling teltra adsl, indicating some hope for OP, never mind :s

    • iiNet do not always have their own infrastructure. If they run out of port’s themselves in an exchange they often farm it to Telstra, or if Telstra has already established infrastructure in an exchange they just don’t bother in the first place.

      Source: I’m on a Telstra dslam @ home, but have been an iiNet customer for about 7 years. This is actually my third connection, the first two were straight into iiNet dslam’s (early dsl2+ days), when I moved the last time I got stuck on Telstra via iiNet.

      This causes other issues, such as if there is an issue with my connection then I need to call iiNet, who need to call Telstra. Once Telstra accidentally plugged someone else into my port, and it took 3 week’s to fix. iiNet couldn’t do anything, Telstra wouldn’t field my call’s because I wasn’t there customer, and the ombudsman could only log a complaint against iiNet because I was their customer, and in this case it wouldn’t have achieved a thing.

  • There is a difference between if adsl2 available, and ports being available at a given exchange. They are frequently reluctant to confirm if you will get a port , but can definitely confirm if ports are available at the most likely (unless you have the current propertys line number) exchange you’d be on at the time of your contact, beyond that its first come first serve.

  • I live in Varsity Lakes QLD and had to shuffle between Optus 3g, Vodafail 3g and Tesltra 3g for over 5 years. I regularly applied for ADSL1 or 2 with Telstra only to be told no ports available (I was using a BYO modem – dovado tiny well recommended). Last year I tried again with Telstra after seeing lots of work going on at the Bigpond hubs – but also requested a new wifi modem. suprise suprise I finally got fixed line broadband ADSL1 🙂 Then to my suprise about 6 months later I was upgraded to ADSL2 by TESTRA without having to ask!!! Mind you I did have a lot of problems with billing etc but all now resolved. Perhaps this is the exception that proves the rule?

    For once a good Telstra outcome!!

  • Having taken Bigpond complaints my biggest piece of advice is to be calm and don’t take your frustrations out on the person you are talking to. I know it’s hard but it is not their fault and they are there to help you. Getting angry at them is not going to help you at all. Neither will using the TIO as a threat. You must first make a reasonable effort to resolve the issue with Telstra, so talk to their complaints people, take notes on the conversation and ask for any reference numbers given. If you have not heard back within 48 hours, talk to them again. The TIO wont take the complaint until all reasonable steps have been taken so using it as a threat will not really help you. If it drags on too long, inform them that you will be talking to the TIO in a non threatening way, it is your right to do so but you cant just go right to them.

    • Don’t bother threatening them with going to the TIO, the operators KNOW you can do it, if you don’t get a resolution don’t tarry about and just lodge the complaint.

    • Just call and say “complaint” and you will get assigned a case manager who will manage your complaint from logging to resolution.

      Absolutely agree with everything else in the above comment. Just keep calm and be polite but firm.

  • Hi all,

    Firstly I would like to say thank you to all of the suggestions above, much appreciated! As per my email to Angus, I have taken all of the necessary measures to bring this issue to the people that have the power to resolve it in the most painless way. With my greatest pleasure, I would like to say that I have succeeded! As of today 8pm, I am synced @ ADSL2+ 19940/1087Kbps, happy days! FYI, the complaint section did not resolve the issue, but rather the fact that this was escalated to TIO as well as Telstra’s CEO – David Thodey. Link for the complaints to the CEO: – NOTE: the link is publicly available and was approved by David. (found the info on Whirlpool Forums).

    On a different note, Lifehacker (Angus), thank you for posting my story and bringing it to the mass public audience. Pity that I had to go via this route to get what I was promised at the first place. It should have been easier, however, as I always say: “Whatever happens, happens for a reason”.

    As my manager said to me: “A great win for a “small” person” – indeed.

    Shake and Bake and Stay Classy San Diego!

    RB out …

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