My Telstra Moving Nightmare

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Moving house is a time of excitement. But it can also be a time of great stress. As someone who works from home much of the time, a smooth move is critical as every day that I spend messing around shifting boxes, furniture and services is a day when I'm not working and not earning any money. I thought I had everything planned perfectly. And then I wanted an Internet connection.

Before moving, I wrote a list of all the different services I needed disconnected and reconnected or simply transferred from my old place to the new one. Naturally, near the top of that list were my utilities; gas, water, power and Internet.

Gas and power were handled easily with a simple phone call. I'm happy wth my existing providers for those services so all I needed to do was provide a few details such as addresses and the move date and everything was sorted out.

Water was even easier. In Victoria, the local water authority is notified as part of the property settlement process and they figure it all out.

My ISP at my old place was Telstra. Because of where I lived, they were my only option. Local ADSL connectivity was rated as delivering less than 2MBps but I had access to cable.

Using Telstra's online Moving House service, I was informed that for an $89 transfer fee, I could simply take my cable modem with me, plug it in at the new place and all would be well.

Then reality struck

Once I'd arrived at the new place, I unpacked my comms gear; the Telstra modem router (a Netgear device) configured to be in bridge mode, my preferred wireless router, NAS units and other bits and pieces.

I screwed the modem's coaxial cable into the access point labelled as Telstra in the office area, plugged in the power and ... no connection. The power light came on but there was no connectivity back to Telstra.

I called support, explained the situation and was referred to technical support (a process that took over 30 minutes). A very helpful tech support associate walked me through some basic trouble shooting processes including a factory reset of the modem.

By the time two hours had expired on the phone, I started to get a little testy and asked if this could be escalated to someone who could help resolve the issue.

Cutting to the chase... so I thought

After a bunch of being bounced through various Telstra departments I was told the reason the connection would work was a "system glitch". That's the technical term they used. Apparently, while a physical disconnection of my old service had occurred, their systems had not updated correctly, allowing my new home to be connected to the cable network.

Although that seemed a tad far-fetched to me, I accepted the explanation on face value and asked how long it would take to resolve.

At one point I was told it would take 10 days to get a technician to come to the house. Needless to say, I was not impressed. I think this was the point where I wish I had a recording of the phrase "If you can't help me, please escalate this to someone who can". Over the next couple of days I repeated this many, many times.

By this stage, my case had been assigned a case manager from the Telstra Moves Team and I was told Telstra would call me first thing on Saturday morning (the day after the move) when their office opened at 9:00AM.

The next day

I went to my local Parkrun, something I do most weeks, figuring I'd be clear by 8:30 and have plenty of time to receive the promised 9:00AM call.

Telstra called early. OK - at this point, I could cop some of the blame as I didn't have my phone with me while running but calling early meant I missed the call.

Fortunately, or so I thought, Telstra's system sends a text message if you miss a call with a number to call and a reference number. So, I called the number and discovered it was the number for Message Bank support (a heart WTF was uttered at this point). But the person who I spoke to told me the department I was looking for worked Monday to Friday from 8:00AM.

It's fair to say my fuse was burning fast and shortening.

Eventually, I got on to someone who followed up and told me I'd be called on Monday.

Monday arrives with a promise

At this point, I have to say all of the associates I spoke to on the phone were polite and friendly to a fault. I know that's part of their training but I was getting impatient and frustrated - this looked like a simple issue from my perspective as I'd been told it was a system glitch and there transaction had to pushed through manually to resolve the issue. After another hour on the phone (by this stage, I clocked over four hours of calls with various Telstra folks) I managed to get something I'd not yet managed from a support person during this process.

The support associate I spoke to on Monday morning (I'd love to tell you what department he was actually from but, by this stage, I'd spoken to so many people and been bounced around that I lost track) confirmed it was a system glitch and he promised it would be resolved by the next morning.

When he said that, I asked if the call was being recorded. When answered affirmatively, I asked him to say "I promise it will be fixed by tomorrow". And he did. So, I took his promise on faith and waiting till the next day.

Tuesday comes.. you know what's going to happen

Tuesday was a crunch day for me. Until this stage, I'd managed by tethering my phone to my computer and using cellular data for work. Fortunately, a few months ago I re-jigged all my phone plans and have a generous 40GB data allocation. And, as I'd not been travelling much during this billing period, I still had plenty of data allowance remaining.

But on Tuesday night, I needed a reliable and fast connection. I was hosting a webinar and, while tethering works pretty well, it did drop out from time to time during the day. That's not a big deal when you're working on day to day stuff but it's a killer when you're live streaming.

So, Tuesday morning rolls around and... no connection. So, I'm back on the phone, go through the basics of the situation, providing both my move reference number and my recently allocated complaint number.

The response I received from this operator - well, it's fair to say I pretty much lost it. I was told the "system glitch" would take 48 to 72 hours to resolve.

I asked them if it would be quicker to disable my old account and create a new one rather than effect a transfer. That was also going to take the same 48 to 72 hours.

At this point I did something I cannot recall ever having done. I played my "journalist card".

Playing the journo card

It's unfortunate that solving this problem required my to queue jump the way I did but I was getting desperate and my frustration was starting to impact my concentration and, potentially, my livelihood.

I hit my little black book and called someone in Telstra's media team. I emailed them a summary of the situation and within an hour, I had a call back from someone in Telstra's premium support team.

The support person I spoke to cut straight to business and didn't ask me to repeat any other story - they went straight to solution mode, bypassing all then usual call centre scripting I'd heard over the last few days.

After some discussion, the tech asked if the previous owners had a cable internet service. They did but it was through Optus. The tech asked me to look through every room and see if there were any other potential access points.

There was one in the lounge but that didn't work either. However, we discovered a point in a bedroom. I plugged the modem in and... voila! I had connectivity.

Now, at this point, you're probably going to say I'm an idiot for not trying this before. The trouble is, I was told this was a system problem. Telstra's diagnostic process did not allow for a hardware fault.

Once the immediate need for my Tuesday eventing webinar was solved, I was told a technician would be onsite the next morning, between 8:00AM and 12:00PM to test everything and fix the access point in the office.

That's a long way short of the ten days I was originally allocated.

The technician came and diagnosed the root cause. When the previous owners had installed their Optus cable service, that technician "borrowed" the Telstra cable in order to set up the Optus service without having to run more cables.

The wash-up

What really annoys me about this entire process is that Telstra's call centre staff, while trying to be helpful (and they did a pretty good job I think) are constrained. Once they had identified a "system glitch" as the problem, they didn't suggest any other solution.

From my part, although I could have tried another access point, I had no reason to think one access point would be any different to another one. And, as I'd only just moved in, I didn't even know there was a point in the other room (which is the third bedroom - not even the master).

There's also an interesting lesson for the deployment of the NBN. With technicians cutting corners at many premises (like the plus installer using the Telstra cable at my place), it's no surprise there are some disgruntled NBN customers other there.


    You should try dealing with NBNco. Had our fibre installation booked with our ISP for a week after moving into our new house. NBNco knocked it back 2 weeks. They sent 2 guys out a few days before the install to check things and they told me everything was all good. The ISP installation tech came a few days later and said the fibre pit was buried in the yard somewhere and he couldn't do anything as he couldn't find it.
    NBNco gave us a date of next week to fix the issue and then a few days ago bumped it out another month.
    I'll be standing next to them with a shovel when they finally come back as they aren't leaving until they find the damn thing. It'll be well over 2 months since I was meant to have it installed by the time I finally do.

    Luckily Optus had a deal on a month to month mobile data SIM that we've been having to use in a spare pocket Wi-Fi device I had laying around, as like you I've been needing an internet connection at home for work.

    Last edited 22/09/17 1:50 pm

    First thing I would of done is tried all ports... If one didn't work initially, try all others and then ring. I'm sorry but why would you not do this first?

    I've dealt with telstra on many occasions in the past - adsl2, mobile phones, international roaming, cable, and also iinet (both pre and post tpg's takeover). I can tell you, the way you speak to tech support staff brings very different results to the friends that have been frustrated for days/weeks. I'm not saying that the author did anything wrong here... I've been in the same boat with a "technical glitch" when moving home with telstra - i think it's pretty common, and frustrating. I was offered gb allowance on my phone in the mean time though.

    Generically, a few points, when dealing with any tech support call is:
    1. Remain calm, friendly and sociable. If the poor bugger on the other end of the phone is on your side, they'll do far more for you, especially if you're the beacon of light in the sea of nasty callers. People who call tech support are generally understandably annoyed. Don't be that person.
    2. The low level people at the other end don't really care. They're just going through a process they've been told to follow. They're not being paid to be creative or solve real problems. They're being paid to filter the calls and make small changes if they're authorised, and to close out as many calls as possible.
    3. I know this doesn't work for everyone - but have some basic problem solving knowledge. Do a quick google search on your phone. Fix as many issues on your end as possible. The phone monkey will usually find the first thing they can seize on to close out a call. I've had a 15yr old kid tell me before that he couldn't continue the call until I replaced my 3m phone cable with a 1m one, even though I had tried multiple cables. It's the brick wall. So call up and say "I've got two routers here, tried both, neither work, tried multiple cables, neither work, done multiple cold restarts etc etc etc... I can see in the logs I have multiple disconnects, this has only started happening since X" have your passwords handy and all that crap. What you are doing is talking over their flow charts and making them useless.

    Also, if you can afford it, many servuce providers have business plans which are the same as home plans but only a few dollars more. Get these if you can if the service level agreement is better - the waits are far less during peak times: 2hrs vs 2mins.

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