Police Negotiate Telstra NBN Bundle For Protester

When Matt Dooley refused to leave a Telstra store after months of battling with the telco, the last people he might have expected to fix his problem were the police called to remove him from the store.

Having spent hours on the phone to Telstra trying to get his NBN connection properly installed, he had had enough and staged an impromptu sit-in at the Marrickville Metro store.

When the store called security, and then police, to have him removed from the store, he was surprised by what happened next.

The three officers – Probationary Constable Christopher Williams, Senior Constable Scott McCarthy and Detective Cameron Thomas – started negotiating with Telstra staff on Mr Dooley’s behalf.

“The cops kind of took our side,” Mr Dooley said. “They understood. They used their excellent negotiating skills to negotiate what I hadn’t been able to in the last four months.

“One was very technically minded and got it. He knew what we needed.”

“This cop was running back and forth between us to negotiate so we didn’t have to talk to each other, talking about cables and routers and modems.”

Mr Dooley said he and his girlfriend sat by the front door as the police moved back and forth, negotiating between the two parties before eventually solving the issue.

“Lo and behold the next day there was a Star Track Express delivered to our house with all the things we needed and just all sorted out,” he said.

“As a result of police coming to the store we had internet that afternoon and cable the next day.”

The successful negotiating of the police ended a months-long saga for Mr Dooley, who had been trying to get internet at his new house since September.

Working from home in the film and television industry, he needed good and reliable upload capacity so chose an NBN plan through Telstra.

“It was horribly mishandled,” he said. “A handful of technicians came and didn’t install it properly. Everyone just didn’t know what they were doing.”

He tried calling their support line, making over 80 calls to the telco in a bid to rectify the issue. He said he was often passed between four or five people who were all unable to help.

“The aim has got to be for Telstra to get rid of you. They just don’t care. If you call and ask to speak to sales you’ll get through to someone right away.”

He took his complaints to the industry ombudsman but was found that he was just one of many putting in complaints about their telco provider.

“They were so overwhelmed by complaints they couldn’t do anything effectively. They told me they were backlogged by a month of cases they can’t get through.”

“I was temporarily disabled at the time. I had broken my leg and I was losing thousands of dollars in money not being able to do work because had no internet from home.

“I’m convinced it affected my mental health. I got so angry and frustrated. It sounds really whingey but internet is so essential but also my lifeline for work and being laid up for months,” he said.

“What really got frustrating and got me down was in the end there was no one accountable.”

After $3000, 100 hours on the phone and a temporary ADSL connection, Mr Dooley had had enough.

With a still-healing leg, Mr Dooley went with his girlfriend to the Telstra Marrickville Metro store on Wednesday.

Although he had managed to get the NBN cable installed, he still needed a modem, router and cable.

“I said just give me that stuff at least and I’ll run it out the window. They said they couldn’t help and I said we’re not leaving so they called security.”

While he was lucky to have three cops step in to assist, Mr Dooley said that there were others not so fortunate.

“I think about people who don’t know about tech who are elderly or don’t speak the language properly. They would never be able to deal with this. What really got frustrating and got me down was in the end there was no one accountable.

“[While we were in the store], an elderly man came and congratulated us saying ‘I think it’s great what we’re doing’,” Mr Dooley said.

“A whole lot of people came up and told us their horror stories of Telstra problems.”

Telstra is investigating the incident.

This post originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on January 1

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