Telco woes

David MeegoOK, this has nothing to do with Microsoft Dynamics GP or Dexterity or even work, but I thought I would tell you guys about the saga I had over the Easter break.

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to take some time away over Easter, see Happy Easter and Request for Topics.

Well, the family and I went to our little holiday house in Bridgetown (about 300km south of Perth) for a few days.

While we were down south, it was the Birthday of a good friend of my wife.  So she wanted to call her and wish her Happy Birthday. The friend lives in the USA and so we wanted to use the land line phone rather than a mobile phone to make the international call.

When we went to use the land line, it said it was disconnected and that we needed to ring the phone company to get it reconnected.

So I dutifully called the phone company from my mobile and asked why it was disconnected.  They replied that it had been disconnected by the Accounts Department in December 2008 due to non-payment of the account. Well .... we don't use the phone much as it is a holiday house, but it is there for emergencies .... and wishing people "Happy Birthday".

I explained that we have had the phone for over 5 years and had never missed paying a bill.  So I asked my wife if she had seen a bill recently to which she replied "No". We have since checked and the last bill we received was in May 2008.

I asked the phone guy what they had for the mailing address to try and work out why we had not seen any bills recently. Instead of having the address of our Post Office Box in Perth, they had a street address for the holiday house. Except that the holiday house has no mailbox and the street number they had does not actually exist.

The house was previously known by its Lot number ie. Lot 1721 Tweed Road.  Recently the shire council placed street numbers along the street. This was primarily for emergency services to be able to find you quickly.  The street number assigned to our property was 31, so now we are also known as 31 Tweed Road. 

So we worked out that some time after May the Telco updated their records to change the lot numbers to street numbers.  Except that they made two mistakes:

  • They numbered the service address of our property as 15 Tweed Road.

  • They updated the mailing address even though it was already different from the service address.

The end result is we stopped receiving bills, and so did not pay and so were disconnected.

So I asked for the postal address to be changed and set it back to the Post Office Box. Then I asked for the service address to be corrected to use the street number 31. And finally, I asked for the phone to be reconnected.  The guy said it would be done later the same day and that they would waive the reconnection fee (too right they would!!!) and I thought all was well with the world.

Well, that was Thursday before the Easter long weekend and the phone was still disconnected on Tuesday after the weekend.  So I called the phone company again and asked what was happening.  It turned out that because we had changed the service address to number 31 that they could not identify the phone line to reconnect and so the job request was stopped. 

If we wanted to continue we could have a new number connected at number 31 with a different phone number!!!!.  Or we could set the service address back to the incorrect number 15 and try and get the original service reconnected.

When we tried to change the address back to 15, the system complained that the address did not exist.  So the phone guy said we would need to go back to the Lot number 1721 and asked what the plan number (that the lot was associated with) was.  So.... I had to hang up and call the shire (5 minutes before they closed for the day) and ask for the plan number.  The shire were good and called back within a few minutes with the number.

I then called the phone company again and a different guy said that we did not need the plan number as he would be able to get the phone connected again using a service address of 15 Tweed Road.  He first had to cancel the previous reconnection job and then create a new job with the technically incorrect number 15 address.

I asked about correcting the address to 31 and he said that the system would not allow it as there were already two other addresses numbered 31 that were not related to us.

The penny dropped then... Our neighbours had been using the number 31 for a number of years as they believed that it was the correct street number for them. Their number is in fact 33 and they have slowly been changing over.  There was probably a lot number 31 somewhere down the other end of the road. So, we gave up and left it at 15. 

It turns out that because our holiday house is on a hillside, we have a driveway that comes out to the street a reasonable distance along the road where the hill is less steep. It is the driveway position that the shire numbered as 31. The location of the house IS probably 15 as the number 16 is opposite on the street.

Anyway, the phone was reconnected later on Wednesday afternoon.... after we had already left to come home. All that hassle for a change that THEY made.

Now we have finally received a bill from them to our post office box. This is not the itemised invoice we never received but an overdue late payment notice with an amount and no information as to what that amount is made up off.  I called them today to request the full itemised bill before we will pay them.

Well, they don't send out itemised bills by mail anymore, but I can view it on the internet if I want to. A pain but I can live with that.

However, they had charged a reconnection fee (for a disconnection made because of a change they made in error) and a late payment fee (for an account we never received).  The nice lady in the accounts department reversed those fees and now we just have the line rental fee outstanding ..... which we will happily pay. 

I think we are finally back to where we were before all this started.

If we want to relate this back to development/programming in some way, we can hope that the Telco will learn a lesson that when updating service addresses that you DON'T update the mailing address if it is already different from the old service address. But I won't hold my breath.

Have you had problems with a telecommunications company?  Well it's time to vent the anger and post a comment. 


Comments (3)

  1. David,

    Wow.  Since you’ve invited us to vent….  I am known in my family as having the ‘Verizon curse’.  Verizon is the company that has all the phone lines locally and they also provide cell/wireless service, DSL, FIOS, you name it.  Every time I call Verizon to make even the smallest change to any of our services, it’s open season on all our Verizon accounts.  Settings miraculously change, lines get disconnected, charges double.  Over the years I have probably spent more than a solid week of my life (yes, I mean 168 hours, and that might be a low estimate) on the phone with this company trying to unravel what has happened and ‘fixing’ things that should have never been broken.  In many cases, I have moved services away from Verizon, electing to pay more for services that are ultimately using Verizon infrastructure, but because I buy them from another company, I deal with that company and they get to deal with Verizon if there is an issue.

    One big lesson I have taken away from all these experiences is how important customer service is.  If a customer calls about a problem, you should acknowledge it, apologize, take ownership of the issue proactively working to fix it and follow up.  What you should not do is tell the customer you cannot prioritize their request because they are not your only customer (I almost fell off my chair when I was told this by a Verizon ‘customer advocate’), say that the customer needs to call another department, which you cannot do, even though you’re working for the same company, or promise things and don’t deliver.  Eventually, problems get solved or the customer goes elsewhere, but the manner in which a company handles issues is oftentimes what determines whether a customer stay with that company long term.

    Phew…I feel better.  Thanks for listening!


  2. Vaidy says:

    (Hey David, you asked for it and here is my long story.)

    I was having a DSL Connection with one of the leading Service Providers in my region.

    I opted for a Limited Data Transfer connection, costing INR 500.00, which allow me to transfer till 5GB data per month. Each MB thereafter would cost me INR 1.00.

    Before I opted this, I checked the website and it mentioned the DOWNLOAD LIMIT is 5GB. And I thought, WOW. I was not planning to use 5GB of data download at any cost, so I happily opted this.

    Now the first bill after this scheme came to me and I was shocked to see the final amount: INR 1700.00, which was way beyond what I was suppose to get. I called the Customer Care and they said my usage was way more than 5GB. I had indeed calculated each day’s download size and it did not come even near 4GB.

    You know, the response from the Technical Support team was: DOWNLOAD LIMIT which was mentioned on the website is actually BOTH DOWNLOAD & UPLOAD. I was baffled. Being a “Computer Guy” myself, it was equally amusing what they explained. I told them that they should have mentioned it as “DATA TRANSFER” instead of “DOWNLOAD”.

    It was not so difficult for me to waive the extra bill amount and a change in plan. But the arguments and the momentary shock that I experienced were quite an unforgettable stuff.


  3. Jivtesh says:

    My only problem with my Telecom company is that they call me every week and ask – “Are you satisfied with our service ? Do you have any feedback ?”

    I hate getting calls on my phone. Being a not too social person, each time I have to prepare myself when I see the phone ringing.

    Every time I reply saying – “I am EXTREMELY happy, I just have one problem and that is – you guys call me every week for feedback! Please, please stop calling me?”

    Every time the customer service person promises me that they will not call me again, but they do.

    I have just learnt to live with it.

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