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It would be amusing if it weren’t such a bloody nuisance. Imagine, if you will, being phoned daily by a machine demanding money. (Those of you who have teenage children will find this fairly easy to imagine, I suspect.)  I refer you to a recent post in which I explained that on January 24 the country store I was about to own was burned to the ground by an arsonist. The operative word here is about. The shop was to become mine one week later.  Fast forward to the present (as in two months later). I am now receiving demands for payment ($352) of a mythical phone bill for a phone which no longer exists on a property I never owned. No wonder the phone company has engaged a machine to make the demands!

To those of you who are not fortunate enough to live in Australia and have Telstra as your phone company, I say “Rejoice!” To those who are and do, I expect you already have your own Telstra stories to tell. Everybody does. I should explain to those of you who may not be familiar with the Australian communication behemoth that it is technically not a monopoly, just a wannabe-monopoly. But it pretty much controls the communication infrastructure so that smaller operators must lease from them.

Here in Wilmot there is bugger-all in terms of mobile phone coverage. My previous phone company can’t get a signal here at all; Telstra barely does. We are at their mercy. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna pay a bogus phone bill!

It doesn’t do any good to simply hang up, if that’s what you’re thinking; that had become my strategy, but they just call back. So I’ve hand-balled it off to my son, Adam, as he handles it so much better than I do. And that way I can sit back and laugh as I listen to him explain to each succeeding “consultant” why, and how, Telstra has made Yet Another of their signature cock-ups.

I have a new plan. I’m going to have Adam record a message in which he explains several times exactly why there is no account, never was an account, never can be an account, and to Stop Harassing Us, You Stupid Machine. So whenever Telstra’s machine phones to have a chat, it can talk to MY recording machine, and Adam and I can get on with our work. I think that ought to work, don’t you?

Meanwhile, Adam got stuck with yesterday’s call. I lost track of how many times he was put on HOLD (or is it IGNORE?), and how many “Telstra consultants” he repeated the information to (once he had pressed a sufficient number of numbers to be permitted to speak with an actual person). I do know that — as usual — the call lasted an hour or so, during which time Adam repeatedly explained the basic facts, in ever-more-simplistic terms, pointing out that it was Entirely Their Problem and if they want him to sort it out for them he will do so (in conjunction with the Communications Ombudsman) and will bill them for his time. And on and on and on. Yesterday’s call finished with the latest consultant promising to take Adam’s advice and go google Wilmot Country Store fire. The consultant also promised to call back at 4:00 today. Oh joy          MM

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