All posts by Olivier Mehani

Australia Post’s consistent performance

A few hours ago, I had to look up the details of an Australia Post outlet, on my phone. Fortunately, Australia Post has a rather slick and to-the-point mobile website.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work…

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Australia Post: Different Outlet, Same Service

After another mind-numbing Australia Post experience, I noticed that the receipts were saying, in friendly capital letters:

PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON TODAY’S VISIT AT AUSPOST.COM.AU/MYVISIT

So I did.

There was also a free-text entry for me to explain why, on a scale from 0 to 10, I marked my likelihood to recommend AustPost to friend, family or colleague to be 0. I’m not even sure I’d recommend it to somebody I disliked.

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On Australia Post’s unreliable mail redirection

Having moved houses recently, we needed mail to be redirected for some time, to give us the opportunity to catch accounts where the address hadn’t been updated yet. It worked well with Australia Post in the past. This time, it ended up being a symphony, or rather, a cacophony, of failures.

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Leaving AGL, again

Somehow after having left AGL for the more decent looking Australia Power and Gas, the latter got bought by the former. We were back with the very company we didn’t want to buy power from to start with. After yet another hefty bill, though we were under the impression, from prior communication, that rates would remain the same, we decided to go away, again.

Chart of gas consumption and costs
Chart of gas consumption and costs

So we did. But AGL didn’t quite see it this way, and started literally harrassing us—we got called up to seven times a day on a few Sundays, and asked every time not to be called again—with various offers or covert attempts to get us back, under the guise of getting confirmation that we were leaving.

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Tides resort in Koh Samui, Thailand: Scam or not scam?

There are quite a few complaints about the time-share selling tactics of the Tides Resort being built on Koh Samui, in Thailand. We got to experience them first-hand recently. It’s as bad as it sounds.

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Woolworths: Fishy, but Promptly Corrected

Dear sir or madam,

Please check your “fresh” fish.

At the end of a long day, and having the rest of the needed ingredients, I decided that I fancied home-made sushi. All that was missing was a couple of nice salmon fillets.

I went to the fresh seafood section of my local Woolworths, at Wolli Creek, and was served by a very amiable clerk who selected for me two fillets of what appeared to be the best salmon on display (or at least, the most expensive).

Back home, as I was readying the fillets to be assembled into tasty bite-sized rice delicacies, I noticed an unusually strong fishy smell emanating from the freshly-bought fish. A further taste-test confirmed my suspicions: both fillets, though labelled as fresh in the store, were clearly past their due date.

Beyond the $12.99 paid for the 400-odd grams of fish, I let you imagine my deception, contemplating a fish-less sushi meal, which was only saved with a random steak and a quickly created teriaki sauce.

A reply email came the next day.

Dear O.

At Woolworths Supermarkets we have a huge selection of brands you know and trust.

The quality and integrity of our products is of utmost importance to us and if you are not completely satisfied, we will cheerfully refund the purchase price and exchange the item as part of our Fresh and Free Guarantee.

Please take your item packaging back Salmon Portions Sknd Boned Fresh x2 which you purchased for $12.99 to your local store and the customer service team will be more than happy to look after you. This way we can investigate the batch for future reference, If you have any further queries please feel free to contact Juliana the store manager on (02) 8035 9281 to discuss the matter further.

If you no longer have your receipt of purchase, please take this letter with you as proof of purchase.

We appreciate your feedback and we thank you for shopping at Woolworths.

Yours faithfully,

Werner
Woolworths Customer Service Team

And indeed, next time I went to Woolworths, the attendant happily offered a refund. The easiest was to add this as a discount on other purchases, so I bought a few needed items. They also offered to replace the fish itself at no cost, but the sushi opportunity was past, so I didn’t get it.

I’d hope to see such very decent customer service more often.

CommonWealth Bank: Not So Helpful

I recently realised that I had been paying fees on my CommonWealth Bank Account that I shouldn’t have. When enquiring about why I hadn’t been informed about this, and left paying them, I was told that the information had been given to me through advertisements (Why not a personal message? I wonder…). Additionaly, my consent was needed for the fees to be waived, though it surfaced that my consent wasn’t so needed for the fees to be applied in the first place. In light of this extensive information and due process (not!), the bank refused to refund these undue fees.

Continue reading CommonWealth Bank: Not So Helpful

Not sure about StarTrack couriers’ service quality

Today, I got an “Attempted Delivery Advice” from StarTrack couriers in the post. Somebody must have been impatiently waiting for a parcel. Problem is that the parcel is not addressed to anybody living here. The advice has not been delivered to the right address.

Looking on the conveniently advertised website, I could see that the parcel was dropped at my local post office, and labelled as “Delivered”. So my understanding is that StarTrack considers they have done their job. But they haven’t.

The actual recipient of this parcel does not know that it has arrived. There is no information on the notice nor on their website for me to track the recipient and inform them. There is no obvious point of contact mentioned anywhere for me to even inform StarTrack that something went wrong.

In a week, the post office will return the parcel to the sender and the recipient will not have what they ordered. Yet, according to StarTrack’s books, they will say they did their job properly when delivering it.

They didn’t. They got the wrong address and offer no way to correct the problem. Their motto seems to be “When Service Matters”. Well, when it does, indeed matter, I will choose another courier than StarTrack.

Now, I will try some more to find who the recipient might be. I should probably charge it back to the couriers…

Internode’s customer service is a breath of fresh air

In short, I had troubles calling some numbers (13xxxx; Australian local rate) from my Internode-provided VoIP line.
I opened an issue about this on a Sunday, in late afternoon.

Less than half an hour later, they called me directly to run some tests, but I missed that. When I ringed them back, seeing I was calling from my mobile, they offered to call back.

After a couple of tests, they identified the problem, and tracked the cause down to a misconfiguration (some numbers were prefixed to the dialled ones; my fault, I’m afraid) in my router (a Fritz!Box, almost certainly the best piece of home network gear I’ve ever had), and guided me through the process of fixing it (deactivating “Adjust Number Format” features in “Telephony/Own Telephone Numbers”).

Problem fixed in less than an hour, on a Sunday evening. Internode’s customer service is great. This is a very refreshing change as compared to the others usually described here in less than flattering terms.

Beware of Virgin Mobile’s Immutable Credit Limit

A couple of month ago, over Easter, I was puzzled, by a cryptic SMS from my operator, Virgin Mobile, letting me know that I was “approaching my agreed limit.” Not sure what they were referring to, and because we had been travelling past past the Blue Mountains that very day, with my trusty phone working as a GPS navigator, more for fun than need, I assumed I was getting close to my monthly 750 MB limit.

I was wrong. As it turned out, I was getting close to a never-agreed-upon forcibly-set-despite-my-requests credit limit of more than $350 on top of my monthly $25 fee. As it turns out, to “maximize the allowance completely” (I’m still not sure what it means, any suggestion welcome) without letting us “be hit with a massive bill at the end of the month,” Virgin enforces a limit of what one owes them, and cuts outgoing communication once it is reached.

This is a very commendable goal, and it would surely work but for two problems. First, this credit limit is based not on the monthly fee, (expressed in real hard dollars, R$, getting out of my pocket, 25 of them) but on the included usage (expressed in something akin to Virgin brownie points). For an added dose of confusion, and despite not having any link to real money, this included usage is also counted, at Virgin and many operators, in the same unit, dollars. I get 190 of what I will call fake dollars, F$, for R$25. Surely 25 is not equal to 190, so these two unfortunately like-named units are not the same. This becomes a problem when Virgin happily add up fake dollars, decides you have to pay them, and asks for real dollars. That’s a 7600% gain for them. Well done.

Second, once having discovered the speciousness of the entire business. it turns out that the customer has absolutely no say in what the limit is set at. Nobody can change it as it is “set to the correct amount.” Correct for Virgin, I’m sure…

As the icing on the cake, Virgin also seems to take pride in not warning their users when they reach their included quota, and only deems it appropriate to inform their customer about anything when the incurred debt is starting to loom close to this credit limit.

“Please help me create debts for you.” should be their motto.

So what follows is a summary of the email exchanges to get this charge I didn’t even know about reduced, and my credit limit lowered. It took putting the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in the loop to get a half satisfying answer (fee waived), and a rather lame excuse for not changing the credit limit (computer says no).

Well, I won’t be renewing my additional data plan. I can’t use it for fear of going above without warning. What is it good for then?

Continue reading Beware of Virgin Mobile’s Immutable Credit Limit