Some of you may have received an email yesterday with this subject line – is your mobile network letting you down? It was from Telstra and at first I thought it was a rhetorical question, or maybe an apology.
We all have horror stories about phone companies – come to think of it there’s not too many other types of telco story.
Over a year ago I bought a new Samsung Galaxy ‘smart’ phone. I traded a Blackberry on the advice of the salesperson. With a modicum of excitement I took it home and plugged it into my PC to set it up and synchronize my Outlook. That was my first mistake. It didn’t work. I tried a dozen different ways to download the special software needed to get the phone to sync, but to no avail.
So the next day I went back to the Telstra Shop where I bought the phone and a “Team leader” of some sort with a tablet and stylus took my inquiry. I had to tell him what I wanted and he scrawled it digitally onto the tablet. Then he repeated my request to the technician sitting next to us, who had heard everything I said anyway. But hey, Stylus-boy’s job was to note my request and then repeat it to Tech-head bloke. That’s his job.
Tech-head then spent nearly an hour trying to do get the sync to work, calling other geeks and generally getting nowhere. Just as we were about to smash the phone with a hammer, the Samsung sales rep (Kylie if I recall) walked in to the store. She had the same phone as me, so she took charge and for another hour she tried to get it to work, with no luck.
I was then told to go to the main George Street store and ask for James, as he would help me. My store is in Brookvale by the way, so I decided to go in a couple of days when my diary was free.
In the meantime I asked my Russian IT expert to help – he learned his trade deconstructing stolen world-class foreign technology in Moscow. There’s not much he doesn’t know in the IT space. At a significant hourly rate, he spent 3 hours in online forums, chat rooms, Telstra and Samsung sites, but to no avail. No sync.
So I fronted at the main Telstra ‘concept’ store on George Street and met another Stylus-boy who sent me upstairs. Unfortunately they hadn’t heard of anyone named James – but he could work at one of the other stores on George Street. Apparently there are three stores.
90 minutes later and a different Tech-head, but still no luck. So back to Brookvale. I ignored Stylus-boy and went straight to Tech-head, who cringed when he saw me. He advised there was nothing more that could be done. He said he would talk to the store manager who was not in at the time.
I left again – in a desperate mood as I had not had email on my new smart phone for over two weeks. Not very productive in this modern world.
Returning the next day, the manager greeted me with a welcome smile and an apology – “you’re the email guy they’ve been telling me about” she exclaimed. I asked what could be done and she said we’ll replace the Samsung with an iPhone, as nobody could get the Samsung to sync with Outlook. I had subsequently learned from my own search of online forums that I wasn’t on my Pat Malone when it came to the sync problem.
Now I had no desire to get an iPhone, but hey what do you do? As I was leaving the store I asked Tech-head if the iPhone synced with Outlook. He just looked at me and said “we only sell them mate I have no idea how they work”.
Brimming with confidence I got my techo to set it up with my Outlook. We had to go through iTunes and a load of other iStuff, but at least it works. He told me it had Siri – I suppose iSiri would be too much. I worked out this is why it’s called a smart phone. Because if you are really, really, really dumb and cannot for example, read the date on your iPhone, you can press a button on the iPhone and ask Siri. In about 45 to 60 seconds Siri will tell you the date. Or maybe you are too lazy to look at your calendar to see what appointments you have today, so you ask Siri. Such productivity tools are amazing aren’t they?
Unfortunately companies like Telstra think their brand is built on how few drop-outs you experience when using your phone. Which is a major reason for people switching carriers. But brands are built by much more than the product – things like re-branding really help. It must. After all Telstra spent a fortune of shareholder’s money changing the colour of their logo. I’m a Telstra shareholder, so it made me really happy to see such profitable expenditure.
And I love the way Telstra mail, call and email me to ask me to switch to their Next G Network. I have a number of businesses with at least 11 Telstra accounts. We have at least four 3G mobiles, some 3G iPads all on the “Next G Network”. If only they invested in their database instead of their advertising and stopped wasting so much money. Of course I could switch carriers, but my shares are Telstra 2 and they are almost worthless, so I’m trying to prop up my investment:)
Now what was I about to do? Better ask Siri – where’s my phone!