Friday, 23 November 2018

The Telstra Challenge

Today I failed to buy a new iPhone.  I didn't really feel this was something that really had a pass/fail standard.  It's like putting on pants, you don't expect to be graded on it and found wanting.

I'd like to pretend I went in this with virginal innocence and the events took me by surprise, as that would make for a better story.  A story of self discovery, and coming of age, of learning how the world works and what it will do to you if you let yourself be caught unaware.  But in truth, I have a long sordid history with Telstra, that would make the Clinton's blush.

The only Telstra dealer that had any iPhone XS Max 512GB models in stock was a JB HiFi.  I thought this may actually be better, as it meant the horrors of dealing with Telstra would be filtered through JB, who I've generally found pretty good.  This was not to be.

I called up to make sure I'd bring what I need.  All I wanted was to re-contract with a new phone, so it's not like I was starting a new account or anything.  But as a business account, I was told I'd need my driver's license, secondary ID like a passport and a letter on a company letterhead, signed by a company director.

From past experience I know the danger here is that even though I AM the company director who needs to sign, I still needed to bring in a printed, not hand written letter, but it must have a hand written,  not printed, signature.  Otherwise it will not be accepted.  It also needs to have all the correct details on it, so you can't choose what plan you want in store, you have to write it all down in advance.

So I did all this and went in fully prepared.  Also honestly still fully expecting to fail to actually get a phone.

And I was right.

In fact I think I almost brought the entire store to a halt just by trying.

I didn't realise it was Black Friday, in fact I didn't even know what it is, other than a busy day to go shopping.  But the store was quite busy.  At first things seemed to be going fine, I met the guy I spoke to on the phone, gave him all the paperwork and he got my phone out and got onto the system.

An hour later, I had three staff dedicated entirely to trying to find a way to sell me this phone, from the guy on the floor, to the store manager.  One on the phone to Telstra, another on the computer, another trying to find out how the hell ordering from Telstra business actually works.

Queues started building up throughout the store, as workers had to swap out with each other, to try and serve other customers, while trying to deal with Telstra, working out what passwords are needed, who has what authority, what computer systems needed to be modified.  A hunted look was the only expression I saw on any face.

After not much longer, apathy.  When they finally discovered exactly what was needed to process the purchase, they concluded that it would require the store manager to do over an hour of paperwork just to sell me the phone.  And with people getting annoyed waiting throughout the store, they could only apologise and say they simply can't do it.

Normally I'd have been angry at wasting over an hour for nothing, but the whole thing was so comedic, it was like being in a three stooges movie, only slowed down and stretched out, with me in the midst like some kind of Matrix level virtual reality.

Truthfully, this is the least awful experience I've had dealing with Telstra.  When I tried getting a 6S years ago, I had to pay cash in the end, as going on a contract was too difficult.  And when I got on a contract with the X, they put it under my name accidentally instead of the company, and then disconnected all our phones when trying to put them all into the same company name.

I'm just hoping I don't wake up tomorrow with all the phones disconnected again, or registered to another company or some nonsense.  Pray for me!

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