I don’t want the NBN!!

I used to work for the largest ISP and mobile provider telco call centre in Australia.

[For context, in Australia, the government had an arrangement to change everyone, regardless of ISP, from the copper network/ADSL to fibre optic, calling it the National Broadband Network (or NBN). In Australia, this telco I worked for used to be publicly owned, then got privatised, and this meant they owned the copper network and all other ISPs rented their lines. With the infrastructure, it was now publicly owned again. This meant that every single person using the internet in Australia had to be migrated to NBN.

Due to the government getting it so wrong, this didn’t end up being an upgrade at all and it has a severely bad PR issue among the general public. The government also failed to explain to the general public that it was mandatory and what it actually was. This meant that as soon as you brought up the NBN, people freaked out and rejected it. Most people who migrated to the NBN had severe connectivity problems and it rarely worked for people. This also meant the company I worked for had bad PR too.]

My first job with the company was in outbound sales calling customers “inviting” them to migrate from DSL to the NBN. Us calling, among with the scam calls about the NBN, made it an extremely difficult job.

This one lady I spoke to used to come up once a month in our dialler system. I only remembered her each time from her town name, which was unique. She never used to answer and it would go to voicemail. This one time, though, she answered and let me have it saying that “stop f*cking calling me, I don’t want the NBN and you people can’t force me to have it!”

I had to explain that it was a mandatory switch, and that the only difference was that your landline plugs into your modem, it was a free transition and technicians, etc (the usual spiel we were told to objection handle customers with).

She said she was going to call the police for harassment if the company told her the NBN was mandatory because “it’s not and you can’t force people into something they don’t want”. I got a bit nervous on her behalf because I saw that she was due for disconnection from ADSL in 4 months. However, I offered to take her off the calling list due to it upsetting her so much. She said fine and hung up. I thought the story was done, because this happened multiple times a day. I was wrong.

Later on a few months later, I got “promoted” (read: transferred) to the inbound NBN team where customers called me when they were ready to transition. I go through the usual script, but I didn’t recognise her name. She had dialled in on a mobile. She’s really pressed again and go through the authentication process. Until the authentication process is done, the dialler doesn’t let us see the customer’s full account. I saw the town name and it all came back to me. I also saw in a big red label in the system that her home phone and internet service was currently disconnected. She was in a spot with dodgy mobile reception because the call kept cutting in and out. She was in the middle of ranting about wanting to know how a company could disconnect the services of a customer who has been with them for 25+ years.

The call actually cut out and I don’t know what happened after that. I felt so bad for her because she legitimately had not been properly informed of what the NBN was. All she had gone by was urban myths and conspiracies. Even when the government did marketing campaigns on it, it was always posed as an “upgrade” and no mention that it was mandatory. The only thing the company did to inform customers other than the outbound calls was an ambiguously worded memo on a customer’s bill. And even then, it only said “transition soon before you get disconnected”. No dates or explanations were on it.

Many people like this lady got unnecessarily stitched up. I left the job not that long after due to how soul sucking it was having to deal with situations like that.

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Getting one up on the customer

Customers who think they’re the only customer our company should care about