There are two of us here at gadgetguy.com.au writing about our experiences with Telstra NBN, and it’s going badly for both of us. And now, it seems, I for one have been abandoned by Telstra.

Before getting into it too far, let’s do a little tldr:

  • On 31 May I lodged an order for NBN for my home office with Telstra. I asked for the $90 package – the standard $100 50Mbps tier, minus the phone connection.
  • Some weeks later, I received an email from Telstra saying that they were going to be connecting me up in a few days … on the $100 plan.
  • I called up and said I ordered the $90 plan, sans phone.
  • So, Telstra cancelled my order and said “Sales” would contact me to start a new order.
  • Of course, that would mean going back to the end of the queue again.
  • And now, four weeks later, “Sales” have still not called.
  • Outcome: I’m still on ADSL speeds two orders of magnitude less than what would have prevailed had the NBN never been contemplated.

Telstra NBN pre-ordering arrives

As I explained back in March, even though the infrastructure had been installed up the street from me, and even though TPG and Aussie Broadband had been offering me pre-order deals, I could get no useful information out of Telstra.

But, of course, I persisted, and eventually I found that I could lodge an order for NBN on 31 May this year. The chap I spoke to at Telstra was helpful, but he gave me to understand that once my order was lodged, it would still be quite a few weeks. He promised to call me on 31 May to take my order.

I didn’t wait. On 31 May I called the order line myself, rather than wait for Telstra to call me, and I lodged an order for NBN for my home office with Telstra.

I was quoted $100 for the 50Mbps tier. At which I balked because I knew that Telstra had $90 per month packages for that tier. Ah, but during one of my previous Telstra misadventures, I’d been flicked from “Home” to “Business” category. The virtually identical “Business” plan costs $100, not $90.

Why, precisely, am I on a business plan? Oh, that’s right, Telstra put me on one. Unasked.

Anyway, when I objected, the fellow said that I could go on a $90 per month plan if I was prepared to go without a fixed phone line.

Hallelujah! For a couple of years I’ve been trying to get rid of my fixed line. The only calls I get on it are from scammers. Seriously. I generally don’t even have a phone plugged into it.

So, of course, I said most emphatically, joyfully, “Yes!”

Maybe as little as a week

We completed the order and I asked how long it would take. The salesman said that things moved pretty fast in Canberra, and it could be as little as a week. That was a pleasant surprise!

Telstra NBN

That very day I received an email from Telstra about my NBN order. It didn’t say anything specific about my order, nor the costs involved. That email was, bluntly, flippin’ weird. It was mostly concerned with me understanding “important information about the speeds you can expect to receive on the plan you’ve chosen”. But then it went on to thank me for my “patience while we’ve worked through the technical issues delaying your order.” What technical issues delaying my order? My confidence in this communication wasn’t helped by the fact that one of the two links in the email to information about NBN was … broken. The link was supposed to be to https://www.telstra.com.au/content/dam/tcom/personal/help/pdf/cis-business/nbn-key-facts/smb-legacy-key-facts-sheet-nbn-services-fttn-fttb-fttc.pdf, but somehow they’d messed it up and made it to https://www.google.com/www.telstra.com.au/content/dam/tcom/personal/help/pdf/cis-business/nbn-key-facts/smb-legacy-key-facts-sheet-nbn-services-fttn-fttb-fttc.pdf.

That’s the kind of thing that truly assures one of the technical competence of one’s Internet provider!

Maybe as much as three months

The email added, “We’ll send you email updates as your order progresses and will contact you within 8 weeks to confirm your technician appointment.” Eight weeks? Damn. Still, since the email was partially incomprehensible, I allowed hope to triumph over experience, and continued to entertain the possibility that it might be a week.

So, around a week later I rang up to see if installation was imminent. But then I was told it could take from eight to twelve weeks. Indeed, it could take from four to six weeks before Telstra had even appointed a Connections Manager for my order. Typically, I was told, that the total period to installation was six to eight weeks. I would be contacted in due course.

A fortnight later I received a follow-up automated email that “wanted to let [me] know that we’re currently processing [my] nbn order.”

Ho hum.

And then on 2 July, only a little more than four weeks after my order, I received an email saying that my NBN would be going in, in another 13 days thereafter. Hooray! I’ve been waiting for this for more than a dozen years!

I read through the email. It, for the first time, outlined the details of my order. It was the “Business Bundle Standard”, priced at $100 per month. It included my good old landline telephone number. And that, dear reader, is not the $90 per month connection I’d ordered.

Calling Telstra NBN for help

I rang the number in the email and explained the situation. I was told that a new order would have to be raised for the $90 plan. And that would push back installation. A case manager would be assigned the next day, and I could expect to hear back within five business days. My case had been “escalated” to the sales team.

Of course, I did not hear anything back within five business days. But I did hear back on the sixth business day, 11 July. The fellow was not with sales. He was chasing up whether sales had called back. I told him they hadn’t. He told me he was emailing them right then to tell them to call me. Meanwhile, he said, he was putting a hold on the order because if it went through, then later there would be interruptions to my service while it was being changed to a non-phone order.

I pointed out, firmly but civilly, that:

  1. The order I had placed was a non-phone NBN connection. The mistake was by Telstra.
  2. I did it on the very first day I was allowed to – 31 May – because I’ve been waiting for years for the NBN. I should not be penalised for Telstra’s mistake.
  3. From my point of view, Telstra is Telstra. It doesn’t matter to me that it may be composed of different parts such as a sales team and others. That this is Telstra’s fault and that my order should not be delayed because they messed up.

Alas, that was to no avail. He said he was putting my order on hold and that I could expect to hear from the sales team soon.

Hah!

It almost goes without saying that now, almost three weeks later, I have not heard from the sales team. I have not really heard from Telstra.

Oh, I did get an automated email on 11 July, “Are you ready to get connected” with certain things I’d need to do in preparation for my to-be-cancelled 15 July installation. And another on 12 July relaying “Important info to get you connected”.

Finally, on 16 July, I received another automated email confirming that my NBN order “has now been withdrawn.” Not suspended. Ended.

Oh, and yes, I’ve been sent yet another damned Telstra modem. I think that brings me up to four unused Telstra Modems.

I going to make a bold prediction here: when my order gets restarted, I reckon I’ll get yet another Telstra modem. These things can’t be cheap. I don’t want even one since I plan to use my D-Link Cobra.

And even though Telstra seems to fling modems around like confetti, it expects you to pay for them. The Business plan doesn’t lock you in. “If you leave,” says Telstra, “simply pay out your modem.”

Will I ever get Telstra NBN?

Two months ago, when I lodged my order, I was about as excited as I have ever been by a tech thing. I was looking at my Internet speeds going up by a factor of eight.

But now, two months later, I’m still on the same slow ADSL I’ve been on for more than a dozen years. And I haven’t heard from Telstra at all.

I supposed I should call them, but the prospect of spending more time on the phone lodging an order which may not be properly implemented is putting me off.

Now, I’m not the general population and I ought not extrapolate my experience to the rest of Australia, but I do have to wonder how regular folk – those not comfortable with technical matters, for example – cope with this kind of thing.

I have to say, it’s pretty damned hard to recommend Telstra as a service company.

And I’m saying that as someone who has been a paying customer of Telstra for 39 years.