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There is a silver lining to the Coronavirus Cloud

By Dr John Töns

I received my Telstra account today. Irritated that they were asking me for money I rang their number to dispute the account. Now if you have rung Telstra you would probably have been greeted with the same message: ‘due to the high volume of calls blah blah.’ It advised me that I would be placed in a queue and the anticipated wait time was 20 minutes – 37 minutes later my call was answered.

Normally when you are running a business you do not have time to hang on whilst Telstra decides to contact you but thanks to the coronavirus what else was I going to do with my time? So, I hung on and finally was able to explain why I was disputing my account.

The bushfire came through our area on December 20. Since that time I may have had a total of ten days when customers could actually ring me. Small businesses like mine rely on the phone – if the phone is dead your business may as well be dead.

Most businesses in fire-impacted areas are either small businesses or micro-businesses. All of us have been doing it tough. You may not have been burnt out but the fact that you are close to the bushfire-impacted areas is enough to put customers off. Just as the gum trees were beginning to sprout fresh growth, so many of us began to see the first signs of a recovery – customers were coming back.

Then nature followed up with the coronavirus. This time the trees are not affected but the many small businesses are affected; we were already well behind we are now even further behind as many people simply stop using our services.

The key word here is ‘many’: There are still people who want to use our services. Our existing customers have our email address and mobile numbers, but new customers rely on the landline. When they ring the landline it seems it is a lottery – they will either be told that the number has been disconnected – great when you are running a business or they actually get to speak to someone. A kind person called Glen has complained to Telstra that his phone is not working – but he sometimes gets our calls – he now lets people know our mobile number. Meanwhile, every time I ring Telstra I am told that the problem has been escalated and the A team is on the job. I will be told as soon as it is fixed.

So, receiving an account today was the last straw. I was determined to get answers. Whilst I was on hold, I realised that one of the reasons for the long delay was probably that there are quite a few people working from home. Nothing like beating the boredom to hold companies like Telstra to account. But was my 1 hour and 6-minute phone call worthwhile? Well at last I did get an answer: “the problem has been escalated and the A team is on the job. I will be told as soon as it is fixed.”

So, the virus has given me the luxury of the time to be left dangling on the line to be reminded yet again that privatisation has destroyed Telstra.

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  1. Baby Jewels

    Don’t hold your breath. Telstra could destroy YOU. I hate to think how many times I heard that comment about the A team last year, when I had a total of 5 months without internet and landline (whilst running an online business from home.) In the end I was paranoid, believing that I was being filmed during my phone calls to Telstra and someone would jump out and say, “You’re on Candid Camera!” Worst business ever! And that’s saying something, in Australia today.

  2. ajogrady

    Is the real silver lining that the Corona virus story is the story that keeps on giving. It has breathed new interest in newspapers and thus sales. It has also generated new advertising revenue for failing free to air TV stations. Also with out diminishing the threat posed to much it is interesting that just as Climate Change was starting to get some real tracktion around the world along comes a world wide pandemic to divert everyones attention for quite some time. Then to top it off the corporatised American Democrats aided and abetted by the Main Stream Media white anted, knee capped and serially and systematically worked to strip Bernie Sanders the opportunity to bring to the polling booths millions and millions of disaffected people who have stopped voting because neither party represents them,the working class and the poor.

  3. Pingback: There is a silver lining to the Coronavirus Cloud #auspol – News Oz

  4. Shevill Mathers

    Did I hear correctly on ABC this evening, the CEO of Telstra in his reply to customers who were having Internet problems, drop-outs, slow speed etc, if they were having difficulties trying to get help from Telstra via their call centres etc, to go to their (Telstra) website, log in and go through the FAQ’s etc. Great if you have an Internet connection!! a lack of is what most people are having problems with due to the mixed technology this government lumbered us with. They destroyed a perfect game changer in high speed connectivity because it was a Labor initiative, and they could not bear that, so they modified it with an incompatible mixed fast technology with old existing in ground copper lines degrading year by years especially bad after heavy rain fills the distribution pits. Now the government want people and school children to stay home and use the internet for work and schooling- a joke a minute from the LNP, if it was not such a serious issue it would be a joke.

  5. Carl Marks

    Shevill Mathers I laughed, especially when the presenter had ALREADY mentioned the wide spread problems with call centre responses, etc.

  6. Carl Marks

    Same if you have to deal with Centrelink.

  7. john tons

    What a happy coincidence! AIM publishes this piece and my phone is working!

  8. Terence Mills

    Telstra has offshored it customer support call-centres to the Philippines – Australians were too expensive for them – but as Manila and other major centres shut-down, so do the call centres.

    By the way, the reason that Coles and Woolies are recruiting shelf-stackers and are telling us that they have no supply problems is because they sacked all the overnight shelf-stackers and expected daytime staff to stack shelves as well as attending to their other duties.

    People are complaining that, when they finally finish their shopping, there are only two checkouts open and you are directed to automatic check-outs for your convenience. Here’s a tip, it’s not for your convenience, it’s because they have sacked the checkout chicks !

  9. New England Cocky

    Get yourself recognised as a “Level 4 Complainant” with Telstra; works wonders.

    Alternatively change providers but avoid satellite landlines from hard experience.

  10. RomeoCharlie29

    Yet another example of the failure of privatisation. Then there is the jobs network, the trashing of vocational education, outsourcing of disability services, aged care and on it goes. We have no recourse, there is no way we can sue the bastards who foisted these privatised services on us to benefit their mates, and enable a bunch of shysters ( the same thing?) to make squillions from our money. Yet still the people re-elect the ideological offspring of those responsible. Noses in front of faces Springs to mind.

  11. RosemaryJ36

    A while back I was helping a friend, who was recovering from a stroke and who had moved to a different location after being discharged from hospital, and who was being given the run around by Telstra. I got excellent assistance through the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

  12. Hotspringer

    Recently received email:

    Confession of a Happy Man …

    Corona virus is the best thing that has ever happened in my life.

    My wife no longer wants to travel!

    She doesn’t buy anything anymore because everything comes from China!

    She no longer goes to shopping centers to avoid the crowd!

    She spends all her time in a mask with her mouth shut!

    This is not a virus, it is a blessing !!!

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