Tall tales true from Telstra

A SPECIAL cheerio today to holders of a Telstra home fixed line account . . . like myself.

Using an old-style handset wired to the wall instead of the latest mobile phone, online calling or wireless gimmickry is turning us into technological dinosaurs.

But the one thing that will surely unite us in frustration this billing month is the ominous white slip of paper you’ll find accompanying the account.

“IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR HOME PHONE,” the headline screams in big bold capital letters.

Important for their shareholders; plurry deplorable for us poor old customers.

From March 20, Telstra will (again) change their pricing structure (substantially in their favour) and will bill all timed calls in one-minute blocks of time – and here’s the kick up the Khyber bit for us – ‘which means the charge of the call is automatically rounded up to the nearest minute’.

In other words, dear and most loyal readers, if you make a timed call lasting one minute and one second, you are going to be stung for the cost of two whole minutes.

You are going to be stung for 59 seconds of time you never used and no government is going to lift a finger to protect you.

You – and me – are going to be stitched up and hit in the hip pocket nerve, good and proper.

In these new-fangled times when digital technology allows utilities to charge an exact amount for the value of goods or services rendered without adding to their own costs, this is an old-fashioned, unadulterated, Olympic gold medal-winning. . . rip-off.

It’s true Telstra won’t alter charges made to a very narrow range of pricey bundled services.

However, for the general, ordinary household user, you are going to cop it in the neck once again with no way to get out of it.

At least Telstra didn’t insult our intelligence by adding some deplorable slogan like ‘responding to public demand’ on the notice or a patronising phone number – theirs of course – where we sit for hours, pushing buttons and talking to automated robot voices in futile hope of finding a human we could complain to.

Where are all the consumer ‘watch dogs’ while this is going on?

‘ . . . where have you gone, Professor Allan Fels, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you . . .’ (with sincere regrets to Paul Simon’s evocative lyrics).

Despite the sanctimonious huffing and puffing, politicians allow voters to be stiffed relentlessly by big companies, over and over again.

How can the banks slug us with outrageous fees after little or no consultation?

And what happened to all that gaff about world parity pricing being responsible for the cost of fuel at the bowser?

You may have noticed the cost per litre jumped up sharply and without warning again at local servos this week when the wholesale price of American crude oil was $US88 a barrel.

Yet the last time we got a jump like this week’s was in 2008 when crude was $US148 a barrel.

Where’s the oil company or political spruiker willing to insult the consumer’s intelligence by explaining that?

Electricity charges, anyone?

It’s starting to seem like the main three duties of the Sydney Sunday papers are to enlighten us on the latest atrocity involving Premier ‘Nobody’s Geeerrll’ Keneally’s rabble, Warney’s latest exploits . . . and how much this week’s electricity price hike will be.

But let’s get back to your Telstra phone bill after March 20.

Maybe we should run a sweep on what the next price gouge will be.

Line rentals?

Silent numbers?

Timed . . . local . . . calls ????


Suggestions please to greg.white@coffscoastadvocate.com.au

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