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Telstra Complaints

“Telstra told me the fault was my internal wiring but it was in the Telstra Network”

Over the last two years the number of jobs we have attended for our clients that have turned out to be faults in the Telstra Network is on the rise, and the amount of Telstra complaints along with it. A conservative figure of around 60% of all faults we attend where Telstra have told the customer the fault is an internal wiring issue inside private homes or businesses now turn out to be faults in the Telstra network.

Usually this is not a problem if the fault is in the network because you would call Telstra or your ISP and then they would send a Telstra technician or Telstra Contractor and they would fix it, but If Telstra attend a job and then tell the customer the fault is inside the customers internal wiring, then that customer has to contract a private telephone technician to only find out that the fault is a network issue and the fault is still not fixed, and along with that they also have a bill from the private telephone technician.

Once this has been determined then you have an uphill battle with your ISP trying to get a Telstra technician to attend their home again and could have to wait up to 2 weeks. And if somehow in the two week period the fault corrects itself, which does happen especially if two weeks prior you had lots of rain, and now all the cables and pits are dry again, you can be slugged with an incorrect callout fee of $130.00 inc gst for the first 15min then $38.00 inc gst for every 15 min after that. This is for Telstra customer’s other ISP’s can be even more expensive for incorrect callout fees and be around $220.00 inc gst mark. To see Telstra’s Incorrect callout fees and fees for service. So it’s no surprise we have so many clients with Telstra complaints about their contractors and lack of service.

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?

It’s hard to say exactly why this happens, there could be several reasons and mostly from what we have determined it’s a mix of contractors not following proper Telstra procedures, a failing and deteriorating network and infrastructure, technicians and contractors not checking all the way to the end of the network (NBP), and just some rogue technicians that are trying to get through as many jobs as possible in a day to bump up their take home pay.

Telstra has a strict and very weighty set of procedures that must be followed by their full-time technicians and contractors to make sure that when a customer calls in a fault they follow a method that in the end should have the fault fixed but also cover Telstra’s butt.

LEAD-IN CABLES & FAST TESTS

Most of the jobs we attend when Telstra have told the customer the fault is internal and is actually in the network, the attending contractor has not come inside the customer’s property. This could be one of the main reasons for this happening. The technician must get what is called a good FAST TEST to the end of the network, which is at the end of the lead-in cable that comes in from the Telstra joint in the pit or from the pole in the street.

 

Telco Complaints per Quarter

A FAST test is an automated test that is either done directly on your line using a specialised phone called a Buttinski, or they may use their mobile phones. They dial in a number that connects them to this automated service, enter their contractor ID and select Sultan test, then enter your FNN (Full National Number) which is just your full phone number with the area code. Then it will return with either, within specification, or outside specification, and then read out the test results of what was found.  If you are not home the technician can get a good FAST TEST from the lead-in joint out the front of your house. But they must knock on your door and if you are home they should get a good fast to the end of the Lead-in cable which will be your first socket in your home, or the A side of the MDF if you are in a unit office block or factory. Complaint Data Source
This is a thing that lots of techs avoid like the plague, getting a test to the end of the lead-in cable. Your lead-in cable might have been in the ground for 50 or 60 years depending on how old your neighbourhood is, and these cables a lot of the time have broken down and many faults can be found in this cable. So, something the technicians will do is get a good FAST TEST to the joint out the front to close off the job, then leave a card in your letter box saying you were not home.

The technicians cannot close off a job without a good fast test, if for some reason the automated service is not working then they can call into a special department in Telstra call Testers. Then the tester will run a similar test and provide the technician with information and if the line falls within the specifications and returns a pass then the technician can close off the job.

The Telstra contractors get paid on a per fault basis, so it doesn’t matter if the contractor is on a fault for 5 min or 5 hours he gets paid the same amount. The fault rate for contractors in Sydney is somewhere around $70 to $80. If the problem is found in the lead-in cable, then the red tape for the contractor begins. The technician must try to do everything in his or her power to repair or replace this cable.

The contractor must supply the cable at his cost cutting into the money he can make for this job. The technician must determine if this cable can move inside the conduit that runs from the pit to the house and if it does he is supposed to haul a new cable through and then connect it to the first socket of your house and then into the Telstra joint inside the pit.

If it is an aerial cable it is harder for them to get out of it, and they must get out their ladders and run a new cable from the pole join to your house. So, as you may imagine this takes a considerable amount of time and the contractor will lose out on getting some of the easier faults done that day, and his take home pay will be less. So just by getting a good FAST test to the joint out the front of the house and saying you were not home they can avoid all this hassle. If they can’t replace this cable, then they may have somewhere within the vicinity of an hour making calls to the Telstra Lead-in hand off team, they need to get permission from their team leaders and certain reference numbers and it can be a real nightmare, just getting through to the right department, and as you know with Telstra you can be on hold for a very long time. So much red tape!

To be fair to these contractors, Telstra & their Contracting companies keep cutting the rates of these contractors over the years, and keep making them do increasingly more work for less pay to close a job. Back when Telstra privatised in the late nineties it was a much fairer system and rates of pay. And if you found more than one fault in the network you would get paid for a second, third or as many faults as needed to be fixed to get a good FAST test.

Now they get paid once and it doesn’t matter if you must fix 5 faults to get a good pass, that’s just tough luck. So, technician frustration is at an all-time high. Technicians can be penalised through what are called Re-Works, so if for some reason in a defined set of time, which at the moment is 14 days, after the job is closed off and that same customer reports another fault within that 14 day period, the technician who attended that job can have penalties such as, limiting the amount of jobs he can receive in a day, along with other types of penalties that can limit his income. If another fault is found on that line, even if it is not related to the work he carried out last time and it is a completely different fault he can still be penalised and must re-attend and fix the other faults. This will become clear later how unfair this is when I talk about Gel Joints and the CAN 2000 project later in this post.

CAN 2000 PROJECT & GEL JOINTS

In the late 90’s the network went through an upgrade of sorts. By this time, Telstra had privatised and had contracting companies to do most of this upgrade. At this time, I was working for a company called E.R.G and we were responsible for upgrading cables all throughout Sydney Blue Mountains region and the Central Coast.

I was a supervisor for about 10 teams of contractors who were tasked with removing old asbestos pits and replacing them with new PVC pits, upgrading faulty network cables and lead-in cables, and cutting over old and faulty joints, at the same time every new joint that was to be upgraded was going to be encapsulated.

Encapsulating a joint was something at the time was going to be a saviour, and help keep moisture out of the network. The reality of this decision would come back to haunt Telstra for many years to come. Even now in 2017 as I write this post, there are still thousands of these old gel joints out in the network.

Once a Telstra joint had been remade, it went through a process of encapsulation. The technician would mix two chemicals together, put a plastic sleave around the top of the joint, and a little plastic lid on top with a hole in it. Then the technician would pour these chemicals inside the joint.  In 24 hours after the chemicals had set, all the cables inside that joint were encased in a gel substance, the purpose of this was to keep out water.

But the problem with this was, if a new lead-in cable needed to be added to the joint, or if a technician needed to perform an installation, or if a fault needed to be located and they had to get into a particular joint that had been encapsulated, they would have to remove this gel.

This was a new thing, so the Telstra technicians and contractors would only remove just enough of the gel to perform their task, and then re-seal the joint and put it back in the pit. Now, this is where the problem starts, when this joint now heats up over the scorching temperatures that we have here in Australia, these joints would slowly start to turn this once hard and no problematic gel into a cable destroying nightmare.

If not every single bit, and I mean every single bit of gel was removed from this joint, then with the heat it would turn into a milky kind of substance and would cause electrolysis on the cables. This would create a voltage soup inside this joint, because it would breakdown the insulation around the cable and the insulation resistance would decrease, and foreign battery faults would be the scourge of the technician for the next 17 years to come.

A foreign battery fault is when your cable is picking up extra voltage from a foreign source. Most of these faults are the cause of gel effected joints. If a technician goes out to a fault and they determine it is a foreign battery fault, and they can isolate it to a single joint, and say for instance this join has a 20-pair network cable running to it (This means this cable and joint is able to hold up to 20 separate phone numbers) this means the technician would have to test every single pair to check to find a cable that had less than 5 volts’ battery on both legs. (The A pair & B Pair) And if he couldn’t find a pair that was under the 5 volts, this job would not pass a FAST test and fall outside specification

At this point the technician would have two options.

  1. Create a CNI
  2. Cut under the join and make a bag joint

CNI

The CNI is a team in Telstra that is tasked in creating a Telstra project to fix network cables and other problematic infrastructure in the network. If you need to create a CNI case, you would first inform your team leader, and he would grill you on what you had tried to do to avoid having to use this procedure. Then once he was satisfied that you had tried everything he would give you a handoff code, then you would need to call the CNI team and give them a bucket load of information regarding this joint and cable. This would take time and once again this whole process can take up to an hour before you are finally granted a CNI number so you can close off your job.

CNI cables and joints need to be marked as such, with a tag or tape stating the CNI number so the next technician who comes along can know just what he is dealing with. In some cable runs on the O Pair cable (This is the cable that runs from the Telstra pillar to the joint out the front of your house) there could be as many as 4 CNI joints or faulty pieces of cable.

So, this is why it’s unfair for techs to be fined for this because it was Telstra that created this mess in the first place, and now they are making the technicians pay for their mistakes. They might fix up a problem somewhere in the O Pair cable and it passes but if there are other faulty CNI joints and cables inside that cable range, and a gel effected joint starts to play up, how the hell is that the fault of the technician? I know of some CNI joints and cables that are still in the network 8 years after first being reported. No wonder there are so many Telstra complaints.

Image of a Telstra Pillar 

BAG JOINTS & CUTTING UNDER CABLES

Sometimes the only way to bypass a gel effected joint, and to get your customers working again is to cut under the joint. Most joints unless the joint is at the end of a cable range will have two O pair cables inserted into it. One cable usually marked with a red piece of tape, this will be the exchange side of the cable. This is the cable that will run back towards the telephone exchange, and the other cable will be the cable that will continue on its way to connect other houses further down the line.

So, what a technician will do, is make a cut just below the joint on the cable to expose the pairs inside that cable that would-be effected by the gel. They need to do this to both cables, then the technician can bypass the joint by making a connection under the joint. By doing this they have bypassed the gel effected joint, and then they can get a working service to the customer.

This creates a whole new set of problems by doing this, now you have exposed cables that now can be effected by moisture. The technician is supposed to put this cut-under joint and cable inside a bag, and try to the best of his ability to water proof this bag. But in the end, it is only a bag, bags are porous and will never stop water getting into them.

Once this is inside the bag the technician will put this bag back into the pit. The Telstra pits in the street are supposed to have a self-draining system built into them when they are installed, by adding sand and gravel underneath them so when it rains the pits can drain out the water and not cause problems. But this doesn’t work.

Because all the pits are connected using conduits and ducting, silt and dirt build up inside these pits over time through natural causes. Then this dirt will get distributed around all the pits via the conduiting and eventually block any of the draining systems from working. So, once it rains these pits will fill with water and then in turn the bag joints will fill with water, and now we have another new problem. These bag joints are the Cain Toads of the Telstra Network, one problem is created by trying to fix another.

Because of these gel joints and cables problems can appear then disappear again depending on the weather, humidity, heat, and several other reasons. So sometimes when a technician will be sent to fix your fault, because it may take several weeks for them to attend, by the time they have arrived the problem as far as they see it might have self-corrected so they might just put the issue down to a problem inside your internal wiring, and tell you then to contract a private ACMA approved telephone technician.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT THE FAULT IS IN THE NETWORK?

If you have had a Telstra technician or contractor attend your property, and they have told you the problem is not their problem but it’s inside your home wiring. You have no choice at that point but to use a private company for your phone line repairs. You should only use a telephone technician who has an open Austel Licence and are ACMA approved. Electricians are not the best choice for this kind of work, as this requires a specialist knowledge in fault finding, and may take much more time to locate and repair the fault than it would from someone who deals with this on a daily basis, so you could end up paying much more for this service.

How we work is, we will check for internal faults inside your home wiring, but the kicker with us is, we also check the Telstra side of the cable first to see if this is indeed where the problem is. Unlike every other private telephone technician contracting company in Sydney, we will do everything in our power to help you prove to your ISP that the fault was in the Telstra network, and provide you 100% proof that this was the case.

Because this is totally unfair that the problem exists in the Telstra network and you were told by their technician that the problem was internal, you should now be compensated for 100% of our cost because this was an error on their part.

We will provide you with a full and detailed report stating our finding with test results, plus the thing that customers love with us and what has now helped 95% of our clients who use our service get a 100% refund or credit on their account for our invoice, is we provide a video report so we can have visual and audio proof of what we find, then this video will be uploaded to our YouTube Channel and you will be provided with a link. So, if we find the fault inside the Telstra network, in the end our service doesn’t cost you a cent.

WHAT IF MY ISP IS NOT TELSTRA?

It doesn’t matter if Telstra is not your ISP, Telstra own all the infrastructure and the network. Companies like TPG, Optus, Exertel, IINet, Spintel, Belong, Dodo, and every single ISP uses the Telstra network, and Telstra has the responsibility to maintain it. So, if you log a fault with your ISP they will then send that through to Telstra, and then either a Telstra technician or one of their contractors will attend the job. The only other company that has a separate network is Optus, but this is a cable network that uses Coax cable. So, if you have DSL or ADSL or just a plain old pots line you will be connected to the Telstra network.

If you have any Telstra complaints, you can click on the button below and you will be taken to the Telstra complaints section on the Telstra website. So, I hope this post has been informative and useful to you. You can leave comments regarding this post on our Facebook Page as we will share this post here. So please leave feedback and like our page for more information like this in the future.

Director

Jason Kearney

 

 

Telstra Complaints

ACMA Technician