Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.
ARARAT resident Ann Bibby has finally reached the end of a nightmare 10-month battle with Telstra that was supposed to be a quick transition to the NBN Network.
The 72-year-old has had many sleepless nights since her saga first began in November last year, but the dust has finally settled thanks to the telecommunications industry ombudsman.
Mrs Bibby first received a letter from her telco in November last year that stated she had 18 months to move to the NBN before her existing phone line would be cut.
Apprehensively, she contacted Telstra and took the initial steps in the process. A technician visited her address to connect the wiring and not long after, the first of her problems surfaced.
“After he’d gone, I realised we had no landline. I rang Telstra many times during the next two weeks on my mobile and I was on the phone for hours at a time trying to sort it out,” she said.
“They finally got another technician to come and move the phone which was not in the right wall outlet. That fixed it.”
Alarm bells began to ring when Mrs Bibby received her first NBN bill. It was $300 dearer than the usual $60 she had been paying for years.
“I paid it but then the January bill was high again, so I went to the Telstra Shop in Ararat and spoke to the manager,” she said.
“He told me that I was still on a business plan from before my husband and I retired, and that I needed to move to residential.”
She ordered a new residential modem and waited many weeks for a technician to come. Once it was eventually connected, the technician told Mrs Bibby that she would be moved to residential.
“I thought it was going to be a quick process but it ended up taking five months,” she said.
“I was getting two bills for quite some time, the residential bill online for $60 a month and the paper bill was continuing to climb as I was told by the Ararat Telstra manager not to pay it.”
Mrs Bibby waited about a month but her phone had still not been shifted to residential. She rang Telstra to quiry the delay.
“From about March, for the next five months, I had nine different case managers. They would ring me up and tell me they were my case manager and I would never hear from them again. Instead, another one would ring me,” she said.
On top of the case manager confusion, Mrs Bibby was battling the language barrier with most telling her that they were from the Philippines.
“At the start of August, I had had enough of getting nowhere. I felt neglected and brushed off so I rang the ombudsman,” she said.
“A lovely lady spoke with me and listened to my months of issues. She promised to fix the transition to residential and delete my business account bill which had accumulated to $1,620.”
In the last two months, Mrs Bibby has spoken to more case managers, re-sent the initial paperwork that she completed in January an additional two times and had another technician visit her home to complete the transition.
“I hope I never have to speak with another Telstra case manager or technician again,” she said.
“It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. This whole saga has nearly done by head in, so I was thankful that the ombudsman was able to put the pressure on them to fix it.”
Mrs Bibby is now looking to move to a different telco to prevent another fiasco.