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Telstra Spits in Face of Regional Australia.

The current financial tsunami sweeping the dreams and aspirations of ordinary people aside was initiated by greed. Whilst hard work and honesty are attributes we value, ultimately they have no place in much of modern commerce for one simple reason as demonstrated with text book clarity by Telstra. Publicly listed companies do not work for customers, they work for shareholders. Unlike a privately owned company whose care and attention to its customers are vital to success, the shareholder has no interest in customers only the God of returns; return on investment, dividends, and an increase in share value.

Telstra has announced a change in the way it charges for calls on STD and overseas phone calls. Charging will now be assessed in thirty second blocks rather than on a per second basis. Even if you get an answer machine, you will be charged for a thirty second call. Whilst this may not seem much, once applied this will earn tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue for Telstra. Good news for the shareholders, bad news for regional and rural Australia.

Regional and rural Australia, the loyal customers and devotees of the landline network bear the brunt of these new charges. There are several simple reasons for this;

  • There are increased numbers of older people living in these areas. They tend to be less aware of new cost saving communication options like calling cards and phone by internet. (VoIP= Voice over Internet Protocol or making and receiving calls over the internet with significant cost savings). They are also less able to adapt to the new technologies and less able to use them anyway.
  •  There are a higher proportion of poorer people living in these areas that similarly are less acquainted with and less able to take advantage of newer technology owing to cost.
  •  Broadband service with good data speeds is not universally available and where it is, the service may be unreliable. When you live more remotely, the one saving grace is a reliable phone service which still tends to be the landline.
  • Mobile coverage is poor and patchy despite assurances from Telstra. The Next G network, whilst possibly offering a huge array of add-on services for which you are charged, is considerably less available than the older system. And that remains whether you use the special phones or high gain aerials. Again the fixed landline is the saviour.

For any company a captive audience is the one you can charge the most and offer the least. There are few if any competitors for phone and internet services for many regional and rural people.

With respect to service, the shareholders hold the key. If the God of return is prospering, who cares about the customers? Customers equal cost unless you can charge them and service staff cost money.

  • What company charges for a customer to ring and report faults?
  • Which company keeps you waiting on the so called service lines for hours, maybe even cutting you off along the way so you return to the back of the queue and incur another charge to phone back?
  • Which company has phone service staff who will admit they are not sure what they are doing on occasion so the problem you rang for is exacerbated and demands further attention when the next bill comes in? Oh, and another charge.

From pizza delivery companies and supermarkets to airlines, loyalty programmes reward customers for business. Telstra provide an interesting loyalty programme called a reverse loyalty programme, the more loyal you are, the more you provide rewards to the company, or should that be shareholders.

In an interesting snip though, because the shareholders effectively control a publicly listed company, if the company executives do not take advantage of every money generating option available to them, they can be removed or at worst held liable. So the only way forward is to reward greed. Regional and rural people, ravaged by the tyranny of distance, the rising cost of fuel, the floods, the fires, the droughts, the pestilence, the social isolation, the falling land prices, resisting the magnetic pull of a city centric world, have to just grin and bear it.

The Government flogged off Telstra to make money. This was a service built and paid for by our taxes. And we continue to pay for it without building a national asset. Now the business in the cities is being pared back by competition, let the loyal regional and rural users keep the shareholders happy. Let us spit in the face of regional and rural Australia.


Published: Mar 11, 2009 3:36pm by shaun.

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1 comment


  • Telstra muddy the waters

    The Telstra brand is mud in many circles. Their customer support and pricing is terrible. I use VOIP at home and try to avoid them whenever possible, although I am usually forced to stump up $300 to connect a phone line whenever I move.

    Telstra have a lot of power in telecommunications in this country and will start throwing their weight around even more as the National Broadband Network gets closer to being a reality. It has only just begun.

    Published Mar 11, 2009 3:54pm by mrdavidbacon

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