Telstra – making life easy

Below the fold is an example of Telstra making life easy. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Mike Nichols and Elaine May’s great sketch from 1960 but that’s what it’s been like. I may keep you posted if there is further cause. The initial email was in response to being told that I’d taken up three quarters of my bandwidth allocation for the month on wireless broadband.

From: Nicholas Gruen [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Sunday, 15 July 2007 4:13 PM
To: ‘[email protected]
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB

I mystifies me as to why you won’t offer me a plan with more than 1 Gig on it and yet once I get to 1 Gig you roughly treble the cost of bandwidth.

Just waiting for someone to sell me reasonable broadband wireless access per Meg at a reasonable basis and I’ll escape the clutches of Telstra in broadband as I have elsewhere.



From: The BigPond Team [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, 16 July 2007 1:14 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Dear Nicholas,

Thank you very much for taking the time to email us with your feedback. It is our intention to provide the highest level of service and quality to our customers and all feedback is greatly appreciated. I am sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the wireless plans which we have available to our members at the moment.

I can assure you that all of our plans are fixed and are non-negotiable. We have designed these to suit the needs of an average Australian internet user for all of our services. Please bare in mind that when youre comparing BigPond® pricing to other Internet Service Providers (ISPs), we feel it is important to compare like with like.

BigPond is a full service ISP, meaning the cost of a BigPond plan includes much more than just basic internet access. As a BigPond Member you can enjoy a huge range of internet services, including state of the art security products, account management self-help tools, flexible plans, unmetered content (such as our movies, sport, games and music sites), plus exclusive Member Offers from some of Australias top retailers.

All this is backed up by our award-winning customer service. Our support staff are committed to fixing any problem first time around, no matter what time of day or night you need help. Our Technical Support Team are available 24×7 and you can contact us 7 days a week by phone, fax or email. Plus, our online Help Centre is a comprehensive library of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), tutorials and troubleshooting tips which you can access at your leisure.

To find out more about all of the services we offer BigPond Members please visit:

I will most certainly forward your concern on to our products and services team to ensure that they are aware of your concern. We most definitely value your custom.

Kind regards,
Simon xxx
The BigPond Team

From: Nicholas Gruen [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, 17 July 2007 12:07 AM
To: ‘The BigPond Team’
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Thanks for the nonsensical reply. I guess you tried. The basic position is that you treble my costs when I’ve used 1 Gig of bandwidth. For background I only use the account during four months in each year so I don’t appreciate having the price trebled.

Thanks for your assurance that the plan is non-negotiable. I appreciate that no competitor may be providing the service that I’m requesting – so why should you?

As I said, I look forward to leaving Telstra when an alternative supplier becomes available.



From: The BigPond Team [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, 17 July 2007 8:46 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Dear Nicholas,

I appreciate you taking the time to reply to Simon’s email, my name is Greg. Im sorry that the response he has provided did not address your concerns, and I can certainly assist further

In order for me to investigate this matter and advise you of the best solution for your needs, I will require the following information from you:

– Street address on your BigPond® account including state and postcode.
– BigPond username or account number (please do not include your password for the protection of sensitive information relating to your account).
– Date of birth.
– Full telephone number including area code.

These details are required whenever specific account details are to be discussed. For a more detailed explanation of how we use your personal information, please read our privacy statement at:

Alternatively, we can also help you over the phone. Please contact our Billing Team on 13 POND (13 7663) selecting option 3 at the menu, and have handy the same information as we require to respond to you by email. They are available between 8:00 am and 9:30 pm Monday to Friday, and 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Saturday and Sunday (AEST).

I look forward to assisting you further once I receive your reply, and thank you for choosing BigPond.

Yours sincerely,

Greg xxxx
The BigPond Team

—–Original Message—–
From: Nicholas Gruen [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, 18 July 2007 12:19 AM
To: ‘The BigPond Team’
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Greg, I think your e-mail is very funny.

It mystifies me that you need to identify me – you’re e-mailing me for God’s sake. Still it’s kind of cute to be put through my paces.

I don’t want you to do anything regarding any characteristics of my account. I want a product that doesn’t treble the cost of bandwidth when I go over an arbitrary limit of 1 Gig per month. I have added that I only use the service in any intensive way in about three months in the year. So it seems reasonable for you to give me a little more bandwidth.

But you’ll have to take my word for it. Giving you a small skin sample from the back of my neck or whatever your identification procedures are seems rather ridiculous in the circumstances.

If you’d like to send me a passport photo and a few other items of ID, please feel free.

Me? I’ll just go on avoiding Telstra wherever I can.


Nicholas Gruen (truly)

—–Original Message—–
From: The BigPond Team [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, 18 July 2007 8:55 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Dear Nicholas,

Thank you for your email, my name is Chloe, and I appreciate you taking the time to contact us. I understand that you are not happy to provide the requested information.

I understand that you feel it is pointless to provide these details as we are emailing you, however Nicholas to ensure that we fulfil our legal and privacy obligations we must verify your identity on each new series of emails or phone contact as we are unable, by law, to disclose any information regarding the account before we meet the identification requirements.

I understand that you use your service intensively only few months a year, and it is for this reason that we provide members with many plans and with the choice of changing this up to once per month, to meet their surfing needs.

If you like me to provide you with information related to your account and advise you accordingly, please reply to this email with:

– Account number (please do not include your password for the protection of sensitive information relating to your account).
– Date of birth.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards,

The BigPond Team

From: Nicholas Gruen [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, 18 July 2007 10:50 AM
To: ‘The BigPond Team’
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Thanks Chloe,

I hope you are enjoying your holiday.

Give my regards to the others I’ve been in contact with – though please ensure you have verified their identities before you do so – you can’t be too careful these days.

I don’t need you to know anything about my account. I don’t need to discuss MY account. I want to say to you that your plan doesn’t make any sense – that I want to use more than 1 gig per month occasionally but that I probably use less than 4 Gig’s a year. So being required to pay treble normal charges over 1 Gig in one month is very annoying.

It is policies like these that make me relish the prospect of leaving Telstra’s clutches at the earliest opportunity.



From: The BigPond Team [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, 18 July 2007 12:05 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Your usage has reached 750MB [Reference Number: 070715-002710]

Dear Nicholas,

Thank you for your reply expressing further your disappointment in the system.

I certainly feel frustrated at times when dealing with some companies, however I believe that the guidelines must be followed at all times by all staff to protect members and ourselves.

As per the plans, I believe this is true in all industries that offer plans and not only with BigPond®, as this applies for all mobile phone plans for instance with all providers.

Yours Sincerely,

The BigPond Team

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13 Responses to Telstra – making life easy

  1. steve says:

    I’m still waiting for them to connect my broadband from the corner of the house to the computer. Last time I phoned I got passed to four different sections all with the promise that the next person was the one I wanted. I am still waiting…

  2. paul says:

    For Club Troppo members who are wanting to escape Bigpong (as some people affectionately call it) or to compare the broadband plans of ISPs, has useful information, including a Plan Search Tool under the heading “Broadband Choice”.

  3. Also, APC magazine has a couple of pages each month devoted to comparing various offerings.

  4. HeathG says:


    There are 3GB plans available:

    How about switching up to the 3GB plan in the heavy months, then dropping back to the $34.95 10hr plan during the months where you;re hardly using your connection??

    Also – not sure if you are on the “G-Fast” or “Super G Fast” 1 GB plan. When you move to 3GB they are all Super-G fast, so you’re also getting the benefit of extra speed. (i.e. full HSDPA speeds, not 256 kbps.)

    Re: excess usage charges – Three, Optus and Vodafone all charge excess usage if you exceed your quota. Unwired doesn’t but is only going to be a viable choice if you live in the select parts of Sydney-Melb wher ethey operate. Ditto for any iBurst reseller.

  5. Amanda says:

    I second the recommendation of whirlpool. And you couldn’t pay me enough to be on BigPond — excess charges and counting uploads in your quota are two of the reasons.

  6. HeathG says:


    Uploads aren’t costless. There’s a good article in AustralianIT this week on the growing cost of upload traffic that ISP’s are facing. iiNet and internode are both reported as saying that although they have no plans to count uploads at this point – they can’t rule it out eithr if volumes/costs of upload traffic keep going up. Optus’s new plans are now counting uploads and all the mobile-centric wireless players (even the very cheap Hutch 3) count uploads.

    Excess charges … matter or preference but personally if given the choice will take shaping/throttling over excess usage charges. But again… in the wirelss space.. Optus, Voda and Hutch all have excess usage charges and Hutch has $1.65 per MB charge sif you roam outside their coverage.

    Whirlpool offers a convenient way to search a range of plans, but I wouldn’t rely on it as your sole source of info.

  7. Amanda says:

    I know uploads are not costless but telcos are not charities (Telstra least of all) and I get uploads for free now so … their problem, not mine. I know they are all feeling the pinch, I’m with iinet and their new plans are significantly less value than they used to be. I’m grandfathered on my cosy 60gb but I understand why they would have to do it. Income and expenses, I get it. It may become my problem but until then, you can get a good deal without included uploads so I don’t feel any need to factor sympathy for their business pressures into my decisions.

    The broadband search on Whirlpool is good but I was more thinking of the forums when I suggested them.

  8. Jonno says:

    Whirlpool is the go – but it can take quite a while to find what you want. This is not a mature market (and a very expensive one as an IT colleague who had worked in London said – he’s on dialup as he wasn’t prepared to pay Oz prices for broadband after what he paid in London).

    For what it’s worth – my experience:

    Telstra (for which my brother works is way too expensive – I was with them for a trial and service was OK). I use Internode (my brother uses TPG but is considering his options after their recent price increases).

    I am an RN podcast addict and use 1.5-2 Gb a month. I don’t want to bundle phone with broadband.

    I pay $40 for 5Gb (just reduced from 8Gb due to Internode’s recent price rises – for which they lost the golden boy image but will probably at least remain viable).

    I was with Tee Gee but they went bust with lots of time wasted so avoid fly by nighters (I considered Soul’s unlimited $30 a month plan but am cautious so will stay with Internode).

    They say that Internode’s customer service has dropped. I have always found them very helpful (and actually trying to solve the problem unlike Telstra who seemed to do the standard IT first response – it’s your fault). The best thing about them is the amazing call back facility if you are in the queue for support – I don’t have to hang on hold for hours waiting! They even rang back again after leaving a message on my 101 when I hadn’t rung within 15 minutes.

    Good luck!

  9. HeathG says:

    My connections and experieince

    Fixed broadband – Telstra ADSL -> paid for by work so no comment on price. Have always found it to be very reliable with fairly good speeds. Haven’t rung tech support in years so probably not appropriate to comment on that.

    Actually starting to use the unmetered/free download stuff lately as they’ve improved the BigPond TV (IPTV/video streaming) stuff lately and so I often pump the music channel through to my media centre.

    Wireless BB -> BigPond Next-G USB card .. paid for from my own pocket. Unmatched coverage and found it to have better performance (better speed / fewer dropouts) than the Three service which I had previously. Pricing – nuff said… joined on a good deal and I’m able to salary package it so I’m not paying quite the premium that others are.

  10. Jacques Chester says:

    This whole debacle shows that Labor and the Coalition are going to piss billions of dollars on plans which will make the situation even worse. Australia’s broadband economics is shaped by the simple fact that all traffic in and out of the country is charged per-megabyte. Faster broadband means higher prices and stricter capping.

    Where the money ought to be spent is on trans-pacific cables. Lots of big fat ones running to multiple providers in the USA so there might be some competition on the longhaul. Otherwise we’re just jerking ourselves.

  11. HeathG says:

    Jacques [10]

    Thats already without any govt intervention.

    PIPE Networks (ASX: PWK) are putting together a JV for extra trans-pacific capacity. I think there are a couple of others in the wind as well.

    international bandwidht pricing is a bit of a hobbyhorse with the IIA at moment fwiw.

  12. Jacques Chester says:


    Sure, and that’s great. But upstream bandwidth is still the biggest single determinant of the economics of Australian broadband, so more is better. If (and as a libertarian I find it distasteful) government is going to be frittered away on broadband then it would find maximum impact there.

  13. Damien Eldridge says:

    I guess there is a reason why Telstra’s slogan is “now we’re talking” rather than “now we’re listening”!!!

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