EYE-BALL Opinion on – Telstra-Bigpond – A protected Corporate species WHY? – Part 1 – Telstra-Bigpond Billing Problems –
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– Telstra-Bigpond –
– A protected Corporate species … WHY?
– Part 1 – Telstra-Bigpond Billing Problems –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 18th Aug 2012 |
|T he last five months have been spent in a paper shuffle with Telstra-Bigpond, Federal Telecommunications Minister Conroy, his counterpart and Opposition spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull, my local Federal Member Mr Paul Neville, National Regulators including the TIO, ACCC, ACMA, OFT, and QLD State Ministers responsible for telecommunications, and other attached regulatory portfolios.
The issues raised with these Members of Federal and State Parliaments, and the Regulatory Authorities concerns persistent Billing errors. Over an 18 month period I increased my internet download limit 11 times, i.e. upgrades to my Bundle Plan. On each occasion the Bundle Plan changed, it resulted in an overcharge on the next bill cycle.
That represented a 100% bill error whenever a Plan Change was requested. That is why the claim that there is a systems and inherent ‘billing’ problem.
There had to be a systems error was my thinking, or a processing error. This was established to be so after many phone calls over the many errors with customer service, and dispute resolution staff.
The errors happen in the manual process’ of the pro-rata refunds for the pre-paid Bundle Plan. The process generates calculations that produce shortfalls in refunds due, and incorrect new charges applied. This is not deliberate, it’s a systems problem and Telstra-Bigpond will not acknowledge they have the problem.
Telstra-Bigpond have made settlement payments to the value of near $3000 over this 18 month period because they were happy to settle rather than fix the problem.
That was up until this last dispute over the April 2012 bill.
Several of the previous billing errors were referred to the TIO because Telstra staff would not deal with the issue to my satisfaction. The TIO involvement assisted in Telstra-Bigpond agreeing to settlement terms – except for the Apr 2012 bill errors.
The April 2012 error it would seem was a bridge too far given that Telstra CEO, David Thodey became involved, along with several other Management types. The compensation package offered for this dispute was minute compared with previous settlements, and given the resources applied to see the dispute settled, it was hard to understand Telstra-Bigpond’s stance. They altered the settlement terms and wanted signed release forms that covered all previous disputes, after agreeing to terms to just cover the april 2012 errors.
The TIO’s advice throughout all of these complaints was to write to my Local Member with a request to have the ‘Legislative Act’ – Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Services Standards) Act 1999 – reviewed in light of how Telstra-Bigpond use this Legislation as protective of their position. This Act gives protection to Telstra against consumer issues that other Business’s do not have.
Telstra-Bigpond refuse to acknowledge they have a billing problem in the way they process pre-paid and new pro-rata Bundle Plan changes. This is obviously a mistake in the way they deal with their in-house protocols and how they interface with clients when these problems are exposed.
As part of the settlement process throughout all the above bill errors, assurances were given that the problems were progressively being fixed. The repeat history of errors clearly refutes these statements.
This attitude and to make continued false statements that Telstra will fix the problem, leads to the assumption they have no intention of fixing these types of problems. This is evidence of larger problems, and a mindset that the Legislation in place gives them a protection that severely disadvantages customers.
You have to fight to have your money returned and Telstra’s attitude is that a refund of the overcharged amount should be compensation enough.
How many customers pay their bill believing the amount billed is correct? My errors have had value in the $100’s, and as low as less that $10. They are still errors and to not acknowledge they have a billing problem – makes a mockery of the Regulatory Authorities ability to assist in these protracted disputes. The TIO is a toothless tiger on matters like these disputes.
The TIO only have jurisdiction to pursue the value of the error. These disputes can involve 10-20+ hours of protracted and repeated discussions with different staff explaining over an over again until you get someone who can assist.
To add insult to injury, a week ago I read about David Thodey receiving a pay rise to an annual remuneration of $5.1 million – a leap of 59% in spite of an 18% fall in profits. ‘The Australian’ also mentioned that the ‘incentive’ parts of the bonus amounting to an increase from $1.7 to $2.4 million were in part because he met – ‘customer service targets’.
Well – Mr Thodey this post is an example of a customer whose expectations under your so called ‘customer service targets’ were not met. ‘The Australian’ story on Mr Thodey’s pay increases is part posted below:
How about that … another CEO fattens his wad on the sacrifices and efforts of others …
The ABC reported on the same story and it appears below:
You could have knocked me down with a feather upon reading these stories. The GFC is still wrecking havoc and CEO’s think it should not apply to their greedy grubby bonus triggers. Telstra shareholders had to have voted to approve these incentive payments, so there is not a lot that can be done other to register the protest.
Mr Thodey has a direct e-mail access – … linked here … – where you can send him a message about any billing or service issue you have with your Telstra-Bigpond account. It is then forwarded on to a ‘complex assessment’ division where young ‘turks’ respond with one goal in mind – to play hardball with the customer, and to never acknowledge a Telstra-Bigpond mistake or weakness.
I walked away from the April 2012 bill dispute because Telstar’s offer included a ‘release document’ that put all the previous billing errors off the table in any future problems on this ‘billing errors’ issue. It was just not equitable given the 30 hours invested to resolve the dispute. It was a matter of principal and Telstra-Bigpond could not give a rats arse.
Let me be clear – Telstra have always refunded the error value – the dispute was in the reasons why the bill had errors in the first place, and the cost of my time and efforts in reporting the errors, and having Telstra-Bigpond acknowledge the error, and for them to come up with a suitable package to compensate for their continued mistakes that were happening 100% of the time when ‘plan-changes’ were requested.
I turned to my Local member as suggested by the TIO and provided all the details to this dispute and a history of all my previous Telstra-Bigpond billing errors. I sent a copy of that message to Mr Conroy and Mr Turnbull and the other Regulatory Authorities mentioned above.
The most common response to these submissions was – ‘not our jurisdiction‘. The ACCC stated that they needed a number of complaints about the same issue before they would get involved – they would not give the number needed. They suggested to get in touch with the QLD OFT and the TIO.
The TIO said that they could only investigate refunds for bill disputes and because I was seeking additional compensation for my time and efforts to which Telstra had always agreed to in the past – they said their hands were tied.
The Regulatory Agency responses are published below:
The war continues – Telstra-Bigpond need to be exposed for using Legislation to hide and protect them from their consumer problems.
Part II Preview:
Part II of this story will reveal more on Telstra-Bigpond monopoly practices and how they over charge rural and regional internet users to subsidise metropolitan prices.
It concerns – The Bigpond Internet speed delivery service – and how the sale of the ‘copper-network’ netting Telstra some A$ 12 billion has compromised exchange upgrades, and forced contracted Telstra-Bigpond clients into an NBN rollout timeframe before they can expect high-speed internet service.
This is a discriminate policy Telstra-Bigpond has towards Rural and Regional internet users. They know there is a massive ‘speed delivery’ difference yet they charge Rural and Regional on slowed speed networks the same cost as high speed networks.
This ‘copper-network’ deal was a sellout – and the deal allowed Telstra/Bigpond to walk away from the contractual arrangements they had with their clients to upgrade their Rural and Regional exchanges. The Telstra clients received no compensation for this betrayal.
There was a planned rollout by Telstra to upgrade their exchanges – that is no longer in place and is now co-joined with the NBN rollout. A so-called ‘top-hat’ upgrade system has be instituted to appease the upgrade issues. Yet to try and find out when a Regional exchange is to be upgraded you are referred to a website – linked here. The NBN rollout webpage – linked here – does not have the 4655 postcode on a 3 year timeline. That means no NBN for 4-5 years … hopefully.
The main concern is that these rural and regional areas receive ADSL 1 service, and this is somewhere around a third of the speed available in metropolitan areas – mainly ADSL 2.
Yet – the monthly cost of the service for this ADSL 1 service is vastly inferior service is the same as the metropolitan client pays. Telstra/Bigpond know this, yet they refuse to consider they have breached any contractual arrangements by abandoning their pre ‘copper-network’ sale commitments, nor have they considered a class compensation due to the sell-out to millions of clients.
This is a moral wrong …
More on this in the next report …
Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.
Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s
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