04 Dec 2012
By David Thodey

My visit to Warrnambool today


I went down to Warrnambool today to spend time with the incredible Telstra team who have been working around the clock to restore the exchange, as well as meet with community leaders to talk through our progress.

I have been monitoring progress daily and receiving regular updates from the team on the ground, however I believed it was important for me to visit today to meet with the community, as well as support the team.

We know people have been doing it tough and this outage has had a significant impact on the local community. We now have over 120 people on site, who are working 24 hours a day, 7 days per week to restore over 100,000 services across the area, and hopefully we will have it all finalised by Friday. In fact, it would normally take two years to build an exchange and our incredible team are aiming to have completely restored the exchange in two weeks.

Our team in Warrnambool have been working hard on the restoration of the Exchange building and working with all of our customers to get them back on line as soon as possible. Importantly, we now have a streamlined process available for business customers to access compensation for their losses from having been off the air. We are also crediting fixed phone and ADSL broadband customers with one month’s line rental, as well as ensuring any customer who has used their mobile service as their primary phone or data service will not incur additional charges.

We now have an internal review underway to look at learnings and of course we will also work closely with the Departmental Inquiry.

I am very sorry this has occurred and I would like to thank our customers for their patience as the restoration process continues. We are all focussed on getting things back to normal as soon as possible for the community of the South West coast.

It has been an enormous effort and a challenge we have not faced before. I am extremely proud of how our team have worked together as one team to restore services to our customers.


Posts: 23


  1. Andrew Twaits says:

    Quality response in obviously difficult circumstances. Rare to see a CEO take personal interest and responsibility this way.

    • Gregory Opera says:

      I met David when I used to work at Telstra and when it comes to patriotism, there’s no one with a love for the company more than David…

      But what really sets David apart is that he is the sort of CEO that is not afraid to get his hands dirty, to get in the and ask “how can we make this a more pleasant experience for the customer” or in this example, “how can we prevent this from occurring in the future?”

      David cares about the company, more than anything he wants to see Telstra move forward and most importantly, he is open to constructive critism….

      These are just some of the things that make a great CEO, and why David is one of the best things to happen to Telstra in a long time.

  2. Andrew says:

    Good on ya…Thodey for PM. This is why Telstra is doing better with David as CEO theres no stopping Teltra now and in the future

  3. Josh O'Brien (Telstra Employee) says:

    Amazing work by all involved from around the country assisting Warrnambool and surrounding areas. It’s incredible how much work has been accomplished thus far, and a credit to the crews working 24/7 to get everything back online!

  4. Mark(Bigpond Techsupport) says:

    It is very rare that, a CEO goes to the exchange itself to see whats been happening. If ever I’ll become a CEO someday, I’m sure I’ll never forget David.

  5. Anthony says:

    Good job to the techs for getting services connected. But where does this leave all wholesale customers and their compensation?

  6. peter says:

    Thodey seems to have no clue about exchanges or shcedules. They didn’t need 2 years to repair it because it was 95% ok. They only had the repair the damage from the fire.

    Sure the guys have done a good job, but seriously, that sort of comment just ridicules the rest of his statements.

  7. John Cowan says:

    I notice a deathly silence. Does everyone(at Telstra) hope it will go away and everyone(else) will forget and forgive. I am still waiting for internet service, I certainly won’t forget(or forgive).

  8. Gurpreet says:

    It’s all well to give each other taps on the back. How about me and my family. I have a cable connection with Telstra. Which continously drops out. It did again on 25/12/2012. The day we were preparing to connect with our family via Skype to wish merry Xmas. I was advised that the earliest the connection will be repaired is on the 4/01/2012. No manager wanted to esclate the issue to get this resolved earlier. Please note that on 25th dec 2012, the garbage collection took place in Quakers hill yet Telstra employee was available to get my connection repaired. What did I get in return when I called to complain, excuses, it’s public holiday. When I pointed out that it is not a public holiday on 27th, I was advised no tech is available. No wonder Telstra has such a bad name. I was advised to go buy a USB wireless device to utilise in the meantime.

  9. Sebastian Randerson says:

    Hi Thodey

    I am fast coming to the conclusion that Telstra is a very unsafe network to be with. Without any warnings, and due to some untrackable quirk in data usage and accounting, I have been presented with a monthly mobile bill over $1700. Attempts to address this with the call centre have been futile, we were advised we would receive a call within 48 hours responding to the issue – this never occurred.

    I keep a mobile with Telstra because of the network coverage. While away on our Christmas holiday, I knew we would be using more data as we were away from our home ADSL, so I bought a 3Gb extra data pack. A single purchase was not on offer, only a subscription, so I made a note to finish the subscription after our holiday. After we returned, I called and asked for the subscription not to be extended beyond the month. From memory, the operator did dutifully say something about that will take 1-2 days to take effect? I am not sure she knew what she meant by that, she certainly didn’t go on to say that all the data usage for the period would be charged at $2/Mb.

    I was hoping for better customer service with you at the helm. In this case, as a customer, I have been badly mishandled in a number of ways:
    1. No option to simply buy an additional data allocation – the only option was an inconvenient subscription.
    2. When I called to have the subscription terminated after the month, the operator clearly did not understand my request or the implication to my account, nor did she express that I would be charged at $2 per megabyte during the period.
    3. A complete absence of warnings that the account being charged at the phenomenally expensive rate of $2/Mb
    4. A “shark” style contract that allows this accounting to occur. My advice to Australian families dealing with Telstra is to beware, it is not safe.
    5. An absence of any sort of detection systems to catch this anomaly before it reaches the customer.
    6. Call centre staff inability to escalate the call to someone with authority to deal with it appropriately.
    7. Call centre staff promise of a return call with 48 hours.
    8. No return call with 48 hours.

    In the case of one or two such mistakes, that would be understandable – however, eight of them? I have a family to support and I am not willing to be a victim of this style of predatory accounting. I believe it reflects extremely poorly on Telstra’s reputation. I hope I am mistaken that Telstra will lower itself to this style of predatory tactics on the Australian public.

    • Leigh Price (Blog Editor) says:

      Sebastian, I’ve just sent you an email so we can discuss your complaint further with you.

  10. Sebastian Randerson says:

    Thanks Leigh
    A complaints officer did contact me, after the ombudsman had emailed Telstra. It was over 1 week since i initially raised my concerns with the call centre.
    I believe the complaints officer has resolved the problem. It turned out the Telstra operator had completely removed all data allocations from the account when i requested the additional 3Gb subscription be cancelled. Whereas the account should have reverted to the 1Gb cap allocation.
    On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the overall customer service experience at 2, for the 8 reasons listed above. In addition to the eight reasons above, there was a lack of visibility of account allocations and usages and how they relate to charges.
    It’s great to see Telstra forging forward successfully, however we could take a lesson from some American corporations (Amazon, Apple) and their excellent customer service.

  11. Gregory Opera says:

    Well Sebastian, customer service is an after-thought these days… It’s all about profit.

    Telstra – like a growing number of Australian companies – has shipped the majority of their customer service centers overseas, to a country where the consultants struggle to understand their customers or even basic English and the consultants frequently make mistakes, which in return generates complaints.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can understand where a company like Telstra is coming from – maximum profits with minimum outlay – but when the issues with foreign call centers are so common, one has to ask, are the savings really worth the hassle?

    I put customer service on equal footing with the quality of the product (though if the customer service is good enough, I’ll even place it higher than the product or service quality itself!) And if it wasn’t for the fact that I am a former, long-term Telstra employee, I would be off to someone else that uses Australian call centers tomorrow…

    Quite literally the only reason I stay with Telstra is because not only was it one of the most fun places I’ve worked, but no job has ever filled me with such a sense of pride as being an employee of our home-grown national carrier!

    If it wasn’t for that one fact however, the foreign call centers would have me looking elsewhere tomorrow…

  12. Scott Shears says:

    Thanks telstra, you cost me my business now you disconnect my phone….

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