Thursday, 26 April 2012

My recent experience with Optus

Many of you may have read my piece about dealing with Telstra, and how it almost caused me to experience a brain aneurysm. I dealt with Optus today about my phone bill, which funnily enough the exact same situation that I had with Telstra. I'm going to do a comparison piece for you, in case you are in the market of choosing a telco for your mobile plan.

Actually just before I begin, I really want to point out my distaste for 24 month contracts. Who came up with this construct?! I don't know what I'm having for dinner tonight, let alone where I'll be in my life in two years?!

Seriously, ever notice how:

  1. Your phone contract is 24 months, 
  2. Your phone warranty is 12 months
  3. The microphone and/or speaker in your $1,000 smartphone inexplicably dies on you 13 months in.

It's like clockwork. I always get caught out with this, having to buy a dodgy stop-gap phone or instead opt to pay out my existing contract in favour of getting the newest shiny gadget. Two years is just too damn long, and I implore the ACCC to set some legal standards to circumvent this type of profiteering conduct.

Anyway, I digress. Let me tell you how I had to deal with Optus today.

I'm working away, and decide to head downstairs for a quick ciggie; I grab my phone, and proceed to the elevators. As always, I load up my favourite app, Zite, to catch up on gamer news. I always struggle a little bit downloading web data on my Optus 3G connection whilst in my work building, so as I'm in the elevator waiting I didn't notice anything immediately amiss.

Whistling like the happy-go-lucky guy I am, I stroll on outside and spark up a cigarette. That's weird... Zite still hasn't loaded. Maybe it's just a bit of dodgy iPhone-ness. I force quit the application, take a drag of my cigarette, and re-open. Loading... Loading... Loading... nothing's happening.

Oh crap. Oh crap oh crap oh crap. I try dialling my work phone number to confirm my suspicions. I silently pray for a dial tone. Please, just give me a dial tone. Waiting with baited breath, I listen. I hear that infernal pre-record.

"The number you have dialled is not available from this service."

"FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU-" Flashbacks obscure and blur my vision as I stumble to my knees, my arms reaching out for to protect my face. I forgot to pay my phone bill. This can't be happening. I start screaming as images flash through my minds eye. A vision of a white bearded skeleton holding a phone. You can just make out the words coming from the phone's speaker.

Call centres: Death by hold music since 1973.

"Thank you for calling. Your call is important to us. A consultant will be with you shortly, please hold the line."

I pull myself up from the ground and wipe the tears from my eyes. How could I let this happen? How could I have been so careless?! Now I'm going to spend the remaining precious years I have left holding to Optus.
I drag my feet back to my desk and slump down into my chair. A light bulb suddenly turns on above my head, and in an unrelated event I get an idea.

"They have internet bill paying now, right? So, if I pay my bill online, at least I will only have to call them once to report the payment so they can switch my service back on! w00t!"
"Sorry Cloaker Josh, did you say something?" My boss leans back on his chair to see passed the partition, a puzzled expression on his face."
"Nothing, sorry. Just mumbling." I reply, and turn to face my computer moniter. I really have to stop speaking out loud, people might catch my crazy.

I navigate to and check for clues. "My Account", yeah - that's probably it. Billing and Payments? Cool, cool. Username?! Password?!

Again, I begin to sob uncontrollably. I will have to call them. Another light bulb flashes over my head.
"Can whoever is playing with the lights stop, please?" I call out over the office floor.
"...sorry." Comes the sullen reply a few partitions away. I turn back to my computer and then I have an idea. Maybe I used the Username and Password I usually do! Oh Gozilla be good, it works!!

I have passed the first trial, I was in the mainframe. I felt like Jonny Lee Miller in Hackers... if Jonny Lee Miller knew the password to the systems he was accessing. I start sleuthing for the next stage.

Current Balance: (a couple months worth). PAY NOW.

The links and titles on this website are... dare I say it, straight up logical! If I didn't know better, I would have thought this website was designed by somebody who actually heeded advice given from customer experience consultants. Click Pay Now, pay with credit card on file? Damn right I will, I hate having to get my wallet out! Score! A couple more clicks and I've paid my bill. Yippee! Next step? SCREENSHOT CONFIRMATION. What can I say? I've been burned. I'm automatically in the swing of recording every little detail when dealing with telcos.

What..? Wait a second?! What's this amount of money on my current month balance? It appears as though... Even though I have 5Gb included mobile data per month, they're going to charge me $176.38 for the 700-odd Mb that I used when my internet was shaped?! Well, dagnammit they'll be hearing about this!

Now comes the fun bit... I have to call Customer Service to get my outgoing call barr removed. My eyes well up, and I've wet myself. I pick up the phone, and dial their number. Robot chick on the other end of the phone says that it'll be about 15 minutes before I get through. Well, at least they tell me. I can't stand it when you don't know if you'll be waiting 60 seconds or 60 minutes.

AND THEN... the most inexplicable thing happened. Right in front of my eyes...

* le wild webchat appeared *

I drop both my jaw and the handset in disbelief. This is incredible! What sorcery is this?! I stare at this pop-up for several minutes before acting. I click the confirm button and suddenly I'm in a webchat applet, with an approximate wait of 2 minutes.

The next part is an almost exact verbatim of what happened over the next 11 minutes, the only parts changed being my credentials for privacy.

Thank you for choosing Optus. Please wait for an Optus Representative to respond. You are currently number 1 in the queue. You should be connected to an agent in approximately 2 minutes.
You are now chatting with 'David'
David: Hi there! Welcome to Optus Web Chat. How can I help you today?
Josh: Hi David, I'm hoping you can help me with two things today.
David: I am happy to help you
Josh: I'm wishing to report a payment (as I was slack and didn't pay my bill in time :X)
Josh: And also clarify my current statement as I'm a little confused with what's being reported
David: Ok. I will need your details for that enquiry. Is that ok?
Josh: Sure, what do you need?
David: May I please have your phone number, full name and date of birth on the account?
Josh: Sure. 0414123456 | Cloaker Josh | 01/01/1900
David: Thanks so much for those details. I’ll just be a few minutes while I look into this for you. Is that ok?
Josh: Sure, no problem - Thanks.
David: Also, How much did you pay please?
Josh: (a couple months worth) Receipt: 123456
David: Ok. You  have paid the account in full.
David: I have manually restored your service for you. It will take roughly 15 minutes to 4 hours to activate on the network and you may need to switch your phone off and back on again in order to reboot the sim.
Josh: Okay, great. Thanks very much.
Josh: The second question I had was in regards to some charges showing on my account for April.
David: ok
Josh: My plan has 5Gb Data included, however it appears to be billing me an extraordinary amount of money. Is this just an anomily?
David: I'll just check the bill. One moment please.
Josh: Sure, thank you.
David: Your plan definitely does include 5 gb. The data charge on your bill gets credited unless you exceed the 5 gb. The data credit appears on page 3 of the bill.
Josh: Okay, so the amount showing of $176.38 (so far) would only actually be applied exceeding the 5Gb mark as this is just the way your bill itemises it. Is this correct?
David: I appreciate your patience and thank you for waiting.
David: Correct. Sorry about the late reply
Josh: No problems. That's great, that's all I need today. Thanks very much for your assistance :)

I was cautiously optimistic that the situation was resolved, however I had been burned before. Hmmm... he did say up to four hours, but... if I just try calling my desk phone now...

...RING RING. My phone was back on. In less than 20 minutes, I had paid my phone bill and removed a call barr on my outgoing calls!!

See if you can match that, Telstra! A couple of statistics for comparison reasons:

For full effect, compare to my Telstra stats for the exact same problem.

Let me just sum up the situation for you.

If you are with Telstra; Change provider. 


  1. a good customer service experience... unprecedented.

  2. Josh, my friend, that is nothing. When I have more time I will document the month long saga I have had with our friends at Telstra trying to get a replacement modem, and then trying to get that modem registered when it finally did arrive.

    1. Hi I_accidentally_became_grumpy_old_man, this piece was done only to show the sheer difference in service to my Telstra piece, here:

  3. You know I have also had problems with Telstra in the last month,so I decided on ordering a new phone with optus, but then received an email saying delivery was delayed. I rang them to see what was happening a few days later and they answered rather quickly, told me it may not arrive tomorrow but the next day but she would call me back in the morn to confirm and at 830am today she actually called me back. So big thumbs up to optus from me also.