Wednesday, 10 January 2007


You have to admit, any company that can make you switch after a lifetime of being with one company for one of modern life's necessities has to be something special; many of us form lifelong allegiances to particular products and services, and such customers are the backbone of any company's customer base.

It's the swinging consumer that makes the difference for a company. Let's face it, a company can only pick up new customers as they come of age, so their growth rate is to a great degree limited by the birth rate. So any customer they can win from a competitor is an edge to them, and that's why telcos and telephone companies phone you with better and better offers, because they want your swinging ass. (Be nice, people - you knew what I meant!)

In the case of fast food companies, they pretty much have your lardy ass as soon as you're old enough to eat solid foods, these days. They woo you with meal deals and specials, but the fact remains that if there weren't more people being born than are dying or heart attacks, their market would never grow. Since they have already got your share, more or less, they have a strategy, and that's to increase the size of the meal they serve you, and charge you for it. See? Your health doesn't enter into it, it's just a sales exercise to them.

In my case, I've been with Telstra since I could lease a phone line or since there were mobile phones. I haven't had a landline for years, and now my mobile phone is with another provider. And who accomplished that switch? Telstra did... Yep, Telstra did what no amount of buy one get one free offers could, they beat the ads with chicks and virgins and dodo birds and lions (my current favourite ad series) and got me to shift to Optus by one simple expedient: They fucked up one time too many.

I was on the road and wanting to phone someone and my credit ran out. No problem, I have my credit card on file with them and it just takes one call to their recharge number. Or does it? I was informed after going through the menu choices that my credit card details had been deleted. Card was at home on the table so I was stuffed, had to ride all the way home to get it. On the way I decided that this was pretty much the last straw, and because several people I know are with Optus and love the Turbocharge account, I decided to be with Optus too.

Went to their shop aat Carousel and bought a starter kit, went home, and waited for my Telstra service to cancel. And waited, and waited, and waited... Next day I phoned Optus. "Your details on Telstra don't match what we have."

Phoned Telstra. Why are my credit card details erased? Turns out they don't have a bloody clue. Had it been a long time since I'd used recharge? Only if you call four weeks a long time... Was I sure of that? No I'm a total idiot who can't read his bank statement which is right in front of me thanks to online banking and shows a recharge made 25 days ago.

While I have you here, why are my other details wrong? I was taking a stab in the dark but I asked her why my birthdate was wrong - bingo! They had me as ten years younger than I am. Flattering, but bloody annoying. Got that corrected and then checked my address details. Hmmm I'd updated this info a few years ago but here was my previous address. Got that corrected too, rang Optus, said Yes!, and within fifteen minutes my phone was off Telscum forever.

See how a bunch of incompetent people can stuff everything up? They lost me, a very model of the plodding loyal customer. The next two to go may well be my bank end the mortgage provider, if they don't pull their socks up. Change is good! Especially when there are so many better services on offer now. Watch for the next thrilling episode...

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