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Our response to Rank the Telcos survey

Telstra News

Posted on April 27, 2017

3 min read

Today the Financial and Consumer Rights Council (FCRC) released a report on the way telecommunications companies deal with customers in financial difficulty.

We are disappointed that the report (a survey of financial counsellors) found that financial counsellors ranked the telco industry relatively low in assisting customers in financial hardship against other industries, and ranked Telstra second of the top three providers.

Telstra has a proud history of providing the largest and most extensive offerings in the industry for low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged customers – this equates to more than $2bn in value since 2002.

It is also disappointing to see the report’s statements claim that the telco industry as a whole was more driven by sales than by customer care.

This is certainly not our objective at Telstra, but we acknowledge there are times when we may not get this right and we will continue to work with your teams to ensure they provide the best possible services to customers with financial difficulties.

At Telstra, aggressive sales behaviour is not acceptable. Our focus is on listening to our customers to understand what their needs are, and providing solutions to meet those needs.

And while we do have a range of sales incentives, we also have strong incentives based on the customer experience – not just instore, but whenever our customers need our help.

Our message to our customers is this – we are here to support you, in good times and in bad. If you ever feel like you need some extra time to pay your bill, or not sure if you are eligible for a discount, please call us on 13 22 00.

We know that connection to phone and internet services is vital for all of our customers, especially when they are facing hardship, that’s why we have such an extensive range of assistance programs in place to keep our customers connected.

We will continue to work to improve our services, policies and programs for low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged customers – and we will continue to do this by working with financial counsellors and industry groups to find solutions together.

Telstra’s programs to assist customers facing financial hardship include:

  • Our Access for Everyone programs are designed to assist people on a low income, or facing financial hardship, to maintain access to telecommunications. These include a range of measures to improve affordability of telecommunications including improved billing and pricing options and the Pensioner Discount Scheme.
  • We have a Specialised Assistance Team who help customers who are experiencing financial hardship. When a customer enters into the program, there is no set timeframe of how long a customer can stay in the program.
  • We also have a direct, dedicated hotline for financial counsellors to access our specialist assistance team and have a strong track record of keeping our customers connected to their essential services.
  • Our CEO meets twice a year with representatives from key consumer groups, including Financial Counselling Australia, and we also hold a Financial Hardship Forum every six months with financial counsellors to ensure we understand what is happening in the community and to allow for Telstra to receive any feedback for areas of opportunity.

 

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Building a new kind of network

Network

Posted on April 11, 2017

2 min read

The only constant is change. Nobody knows this better than people who live and work in Australia’s regional and remote communities. Now these communities are on the cusp of a technological revolution.

Farmers are already able to use sensors to remotely track soil moisture and soil health, even on the biggest properties. Dedicated Internet of Things (IoT)  technology is going to better assist farmers, enabling them to make smart decisions about how to use water, where to fertilise and when to move livestock or rotate crops. This IoT technology won’t just make farms smarter, but more sustainable and profitable.

Doctors and nurses will be able to connect using super-fast 5G connections to deliver care to patients in real-time, no matter where they are. Rather than travelling long distances for medical scans and a specialist diagnosis, patients and doctors will be able to use advanced robotics to get world-class healthcare even in small towns.

Thanks to wearable devices, augmented reality, and data analytics, classrooms will go from physical places that teachers and students travel to each week, to digital spaces where young people can get the support they need, when they need it. Students will be able to learn at times that work best for growing minds and bodies, while teachers will be able to provide content and guidance that is individualised based on needs.

These are some of the powerful changes that are coming to regional communities. And Telstra customers will continue to have access to the nation’s best mobile network to stream live sport, speak to loved ones around the world, and run their businesses, whether they are behind a desk or behind the controls of a combine harvester.

Find out more about how we are building a new kind of network

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Why we’re extending free calls for mental health services

Telstra News

Posted on October 14, 2016

4 min read

One person can only do so much. Cross out the only in that sentence and read it again. This captures why I feel proud to be sharing this story, along with beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman, as it’s a story that starts with one person – and an idea.

To mark World Mental Health Week we’re announcing an extension to the Telstra National Crisis Line Initiative. This will provide free calls from mobiles to two new mental health support services, including beyondblue and Suicide Call Back Service.

The expansion of this program is thanks to a staff member in one of our Telstra shops, who wanted to eliminate the barrier of cost to accessing critical mental health services for our customers.

Our team member had experienced the impact of mental health issues first hand and shared her story of how calls to services like beyondblue and Suicide Call Back Service had saved her life.

The story inspired Telstra team members throughout our organisation, who picked up the idea and brought it to fruition.

As a result, Telstra customers will no longer be charged for calls from their mobile phones and most payphones to the beyondblue and Suicide Call Back Service 1300 number counselling services.

To help announce this new initiative, I asked beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman why access to these support services are vital.

Georgie, how would you describe Australia’s mental health?

I think it still surprises people when I say that there are currently around three million Australians living with depression or anxiety – and the fact that eight people will take their own life every day. Mental health and suicide prevention is an issue that vitally needs our attention.

But it’s also important to be clear on what we’re talking about. At beyondblue, we talk about the difference between a ‘mental health condition’ (such as depression or anxiety) and ‘mental health’ – something we all aspire to – which refers to a person’s state of well-being and ability to cope with the normal challenges of life. So you may not be experiencing a mental health condition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your mental health is flourishing.

When we talk about mental health the conversations we are having shouldn’t just be about mental health conditions – they should also be about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy.

Why is ‘good’ mental health so important?

Mental health is about wellness rather than illness.

What we know is that high levels of mental health are linked with increased learning, creativity and productivity, as well as improved physical health and life expectancy. On the other side of the coin, mental health conditions can cause distress, impact on day-to-day functioning and relationships, and are associated with poor physical health and premature death.

At beyondblue we focus a lot on the needs of people affected by depression, anxiety and suicide – but more and more we are wanting to widen the Australian conversation around mental health more generally.  A good state of mental health will enable all Australians to reach their full potential, but importantly also help to prevent mental health conditions from developing.

What help is there for people out there – and why are services like beyondblue’s phone counselling important?

We have a number of ways for people to reach out for help when they need it, including our 24-hour, seven-day a week counselling line (1300 22 4636) and team members also available to chat live online on our website 3pm to midnight (EST) each day (www.beyondblue.org.au). Beyond that, our website is a good source of information for people who might be experiencing mental health issues or a mental health condition – as well as those with family members or friends who they would like help supporting.

Mental health conditions, such as depression, impact all facets of a person’s life. But the good news is that there is a range of support, treatments, health professionals and services available to help. Our most important job is to make people aware that support is there and to connect them with the services they need.

If you or someone you know needs support please call beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 for support.

Telstra National Crisis Line Initiative

The Telstra National Crisis Line Initiative provides free access to a number of 13/1300 national, 24 x 7, first response, support services for Telstra customers from mobiles and most payphones. Services include Lifeline, Family Drug Support, MensLine Australia and the SES. From July 2016, calls to counselling support provided by beyondblue (1300 22 4636) and Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) are now included.

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Why a new Spice Girls video is going viral

Telstra News

Posted on September 19, 2016

2 min read

Girl power. It was a phase coined in the late 1990s by pop quintet the Spice Girls to voice a new movement of female empowerment and independence.

Twenty years on (yes, 20 years) since the group’s break-through single was released “Wannabe” has been resurrected, bringing another manifestation of girl power into the 21st century. You may have seen the video on Facebook or Twitter– but what’s it all about?

The video was commissioned by Project Everyone (founded by Love Actually director Richard Curtis – a favourite film of mine) to promote the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – or Global Goals.

What exactly are the SDGs? They are a set of 17 goals and 169 targets that seek to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, promote economic growth and prosperity, improve health and education, and protect the planet by 2030.

Ambitious? Yes. Achievable? It depends on us. If every country, community, business and organisation across the globe contributes towards these aims, remarkable things are possible.

Enter #GlobalGoals week. World leaders, organisations and, I’m sure, even the odd celebrity around the world are engaged in live concerts, social media and online streaming to promote awareness and action on the SDGs.

So how can you get involved?

Global goals require global action. Action begins with awareness.

As part of #GlobalGoals week, we are helping to raise awareness of the SDGs and their importance. Join the conversation at globalgoals.org/, see what’s trending via #globalgoals or tune in to the Global Goals Mobile Show from 8am this Sunday September (AEST), featuring some big names in entertainment.

At Telstra, we are committed to action on the SDGs and believe that technology has a central role to play in helping to achieve them. As a large telecommunications and technology company, we’re well placed to make a difference. To learn more about Telstra’s approach to the SDGs, see our Bigger Picture 2016 Sustainability Report.

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Free calls to Italy in the wake of earthquake

Telstra News

Posted on August 25, 2016

1 min read

Our thoughts go out to the people of Italy who have suffered a devastating earthquake.

To help our customers check on friends and relatives affected by the earthquake, we’re offering free standard voice calls and texts made from personal post-paid mobiles and fixed lines to Italy from 12.01am AEST on 25 August until 11.59pm AEST on 1 September 2016.

For personal pre-paid customers, we’re offering a refund of the costs of your standard voice calls and SMS to Italy from 12.01am AEST on 25 August until 11.59pm AEST on 1 September 2016 (refunds will be applied by 8 September).

Please keep in mind that disruption to services may impact calls getting through.

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