Police Negotiate Telstra NBN Bundle For Protester

Image: iStock

When Matt Dooley refused to leave a Telstra store after months of battling with the telco, the last people he might have expected to fix his problem were the police called to remove him from the store.

Having spent hours on the phone to Telstra trying to get his NBN connection properly installed, he had had enough and staged an impromptu sit-in at the Marrickville Metro store.

When the store called security, and then police, to have him removed from the store, he was surprised by what happened next.

The three officers – Probationary Constable Christopher Williams, Senior Constable Scott McCarthy and Detective Cameron Thomas – started negotiating with Telstra staff on Mr Dooley's behalf.

"The cops kind of took our side," Mr Dooley said. "They understood. They used their excellent negotiating skills to negotiate what I hadn't been able to in the last four months.

"One was very technically minded and got it. He knew what we needed.

"This cop was running back and forth between us to negotiate so we didn't have to talk to each other, talking about cables and routers and modems."

Mr Dooley said he and his girlfriend sat by the front door as the police moved back and forth, negotiating between the two parties before eventually solving the issue.

"Lo and behold the next day there was a Star Track Express delivered to our house with all the things we needed and just all sorted out," he said.

"As a result of police coming to the store we had internet that afternoon and cable the next day."

The successful negotiating of the police ended a months-long saga for Mr Dooley, who had been trying to get internet at his new house since September.

Working from home in the film and television industry, he needed good and reliable upload capacity so chose an NBN plan through Telstra.

"It was horribly mishandled," he said. "A handful of technicians came and didn't install it properly. Everyone just didn't know what they were doing."

He tried calling their support line, making over 80 calls to the telco in a bid to rectify the issue. He said he was often passed between four or five people who were all unable to help.

"The aim has got to be for Telstra to get rid of you. They just don't care. If you call and ask to speak to sales you'll get through to someone right away."

He took his complaints to the industry ombudsman but was found that he was just one of many putting in complaints about their telco provider.

"They were so overwhelmed by complaints they couldn't do anything effectively. They told me they were backlogged by a month of cases they can't get through."

"I was temporarily disabled at the time. I had broken my leg and I was losing thousands of dollars in money not being able to do work because had no internet from home.

"I'm convinced it affected my mental health. I got so angry and frustrated. It sounds really whingey but internet is so essential but also my lifeline for work and being laid up for months," he said.

"What really got frustrating and got me down was in the end there was no one accountable."

After $3000, 100 hours on the phone and a temporary ADSL connection, Mr Dooley had had enough.

With a still-healing leg, Mr Dooley went with his girlfriend to the Telstra Marrickville Metro store on Wednesday.

Although he had managed to get the NBN cable installed, he still needed a modem, router and cable.

"I said just give me that stuff at least and I'll run it out the window. They said they couldn't help and I said we're not leaving so they called security."

While he was lucky to have three cops step in to assist, Mr Dooley said that there were others not so fortunate.

"I think about people who don't know about tech who are elderly or don't speak the language properly. They would never be able to deal with this. What really got frustrating and got me down was in the end there was no one accountable.

"[While we were in the store], an elderly man came and congratulated us saying 'I think it's great what we're doing'," Mr Dooley said.

"A whole lot of people came up and told us their horror stories of telstra problems."

Telstra is investigating the incident.


    Good on them , it is an absolute disgrace that this horribly planned, convoluted mess of a network not only saw the light of day but became federal legislation and have the ability to kick genuinely happy consumers off their infrastructure which is vastly superior in some cases.

    I myself went for an interview for a senior job in one of the NBN software teams a couple of years ago, the interviewer (who was a senior project stakeholder) was extremely rude and unprofessional. They continuously left and entered the room around about 5 - 8 times over the space of 20 minutes in what was meant to be an hour long interview. On the 20th minute they said to me 'i'm sorry , we're just leaving the room to check whether the next applicant has arrived yet.

    This is the foundation that the NBN company was built off at some of the highest levels of management, if this is how they treat people it is no surprise what a complete utter dysfunctional mess the rest of the organisation is.

    Although Telstra are historically crap they should get a pass in some ways, because if you want to blame someone, you should be blaming the NBN and the government for the awful mess we have inherited and have no choice but to accept.

      I would have walked straight out after that. Why would anyone want to work somewhere they aren't respected. What's worse is that they actually told you :/

    That sounds about right. I look forward to sharing a similar story in 2021 when mine gets installed.

      I look forward to 2031 when it's actually installed for you!


          And 2041 when you get 100/40 speeds! While the rest of us finally, in 2041 reach 200/80 speeds when promised 1000/400 speeds!

        funny thing is, @Weresmurf is only partly joking here. this febuary, it will be a year since the NBN (FTTN) went live in my town, yet my street and 4 others that are near by still cant get the NBN because it hasnt been "switched" on despite the fact that i havent seen a single techy or cable laying setup since january 2017

    I wish I could say I was surprised. I've been waiting for a mobile phone number to be ported from Optus to Virgin for a month.
    Virgin keep calling me to tell me that they spoke to Optus and Optus have said I gave the wrong account number, despite that Virgin took the number directly from my Optus bill the first time and I've resent it to them three times.
    If you try to call Optus to see what's going on, they do everything possible to get you to fill out an online form, or read the FAQ. They actively hide their contact numbers from you. If you do manage to call, they put you on hold for a LONG time. But if you call sales, you get someone immediately.

      Yeah, going from Optus to an Optus MVNO is a manual process so I've heard. I've also heard it's quicker and easier to port out to a $2 Voda sim, then to Virgin!

      The problem from my experience is a complete breakdown in communication between company, stores and the support structure.
      The outsourced support divisions often lack much of the access needed to fix most of the issues they receive and people get stuck in a spiral.

      My personal hell with Optus related to a billing issue where they had two active accounts under my name for the same service and nobody seemed to believe or have access to the same sets of information.
      It wasn't until the account was cancelled that they saw the mistake and then they basically stuck their heads in the ground and avoided anything to do with me, refusing to restore my account.

      I've actually had more luck with the live online support these days.
      They seem to have a much higher clearance, including the option to give a number of discounts if you play it firm but nice.

        Guess I'll give optus online support a message and see if they can do something. At the moment I'm being charged for two accounts because one guy made a typo and the army of tech support people at Virgin and Optus combined can't seem to work it out.

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      Well... you would, wouldn’t you?

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          My cousin does something similar. Viewed from the inside, these issues are apparently more like Time-consuming brain-teasers than an uphill battle. Only hideously mismanaged.

          More just meant what you confirmed in your second statement. Soz.

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      Yeah, “80 calls” and “100 hours” on the phone... huh?

      Why no Telecommunications Onbundsman involvement?

      I’m not bringing the debacle that is the state of the NBN... but there are some serious problems with the details in this story...

      Kudos to the fuzz for putting their negotiation skills to work on the problem in the store though :P

        The TIO is so overburdened, and their staff often so new and inexperienced, that the investigation can take a very long time. A lot of different parties. A lot of moving parts.

    As someone that has been on both sides of the fence when it comes to Telstra I feel really sorry for the guys in store, but the management teams can suck a fat one. They know it is only a matter of time before the government requests to be bailed out of the "bargain" that is NBN and legislation in place will pretty much cement Telstra as a monopoly thanks to the Liberal parties protections in place for NBNco.

    There are more ISP's in Australia with NBN packages then Telstra. Not completely sure why you would give them your money but whatever.

    I'm on MyRepublic unlimited 100/40 (88/33) connection for $59.95 and its doing pretty good so far, however the first 2-3 months had allot of congestion but I hear that was wide spread with NBN in general.

      TPG 100/40 unlimited with home phone $99/month, flawless for past three years. Easily max out the connection during peak (e.g. Game of Thrones Mondays ;) ). I live in a big family home with 5+ heavy users.

    Telstra is investigating the incident

    I would suggest taking it bloody seriously?
    Call me old fashioned, but when I think smooth and easy, I'm not thinking of hostage freaking negotiatons with police.

    More peeps should this.
    I did it to Harvey Norman once over their refusal to refund a PSP with dead pixels on the screen. The police were called and my PSP was replaced.
    Win at consumerism, people!

    Imagine being such a piece of shit that you'd go into a retail store, abuse kids for a long enough period of time to have the fucking police come and then still have the audacity to think you're some kind of martyr. This guy is a cunt regardless of the service he received

      I think you've missed the point a bit - he's obviously at his wits end due to the outrageous inability of Telstra to provide any sort of decent customer service. Going via standard channels clearly wasn't working and he was forced into fairly drastic action. Yes he was being a bit of a carnt but sometimes it's absolutely necessary to get things done. I'd have gone off the deep end long before he did - it really shouldn't have got close to this stage.

      Where in the article does it say they abused the retail staff? Sitting down and refusing to leave until your problem is addressed is hardly abuse.

      I fail to see where it says he abused anyone? If anything he has be abused by telstra. He did not abuse any of the staff. He simply wanted he issue sorted as refused to leave untill it was.

      This guy is a c*** regardless of the service he received

      Funny, Id use the same quote to describe someone like you who goes off their rocker claiming things with no basis in fact.

    Here's a handy tip I've used when dealing with a telco in the past. Google around for senior management names and send emails with your complaint to [email protected] found they're much more willing to kick up a fuss when the emails are going direct to management.

    Telstra refused to upgrade cabinets in a large area of melbourne (Caroline Springs) because the NBN was coming. That was 7 years ago.

    Since then i’ve Been paying ADSL2 prices for a 1.5mg/200k connection that constantly drops out, is rarely strong enough for streaming services and - as a final insult - was disconnected for nearly a month leading up to Xmas due to an “outage”. Had I not continued harassing IINet they never would have had their “wholesale partner” (Telstra) check the connection. None of this was properly communicated.

    The internet in this country is fucked. Completely fucked. And whether you blame it on poor planning, infrastructure or administration, that’s all just excuses.

    Paying nearly $1200/year for a service that’s probably only ever used 30% of it’s quota -max - is beyond a joke.

    Yeah I had about 6 months of waiting where my node was the only one in town not switched on. Then one day out of the blue (without any work being done anywhere near the node) I got an email saying it was ready.
    The upside is that the node is only 2 houses away and I get a steady 95+/35+.

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