NEW! A positive experience with Telstra!

30 05 2008

And it’s about frickin’ time.

I’ve been avoiding calling Telstra’s billing enquiries line for 3 months now, which in turn has cost me $150 more than it should have. How bad must things be when a customer would rather pay that kind of money in unnecessary fees rather than actually ring your call centre to fix it? It’s often such a saga trying to deal with phone companies – I have yet to meet one who’s people did not leave me feeling more confused after I called than before (of course Telstra aren’t the only culprit by a long shot, but they serve as my focus for the purposes of this rant).

So the issue was thus: I recently dropped down my fixed monthly cost plan and was told at the time that there would be no extra charges, it’s all fixed for you ma’am, and by the way your contract runs out in June and would you like to renew it? Uh… no thanks.

Fast forward to the next billing period and I receive a bill for twice what I was previously paying. A complicated phone call later and I believe I have sorted out the problem. Nope – my next bill is still showing the wrong amount. Now I just think ‘stuff it’ and pay the thing because I don’t have the emotional strength to deal with another ‘customer care’ person (what a total misnomer).

Today I discovered I had a rare hour of spare time to devote solely to telco gobbledygook so I bit the bullet and called Telstra.

To my utter surprise I had the pleasure of dealing with a call centre rep who not only explained things to me in plain English but actually fixed the problem, AND waived a fee, AND he sounded like he actually wanted to be at work.

Hooray! At long last the phrase customer service is actually put into practice. A positive attitude is such a simple thing, but it can have such a great and lasting effect on customers.

Dammit, I can’t remember his name but if I did I would recommend him for some sort of award.



Soft furnishings rock

28 05 2008

Aren’t these beautiful?

French designer Stephanie Marin has created wonderfully tactile ‘stones’ as modular seating, bringing the outdoors in and turning living spaces into playful, serene cocoons of relaxation.

From 15cm to 2m wide, Livingstones are available in a range of natural earthy colours for both indoor and outdoor use. At around USD$128 for the 30cm stone, I’ll have to be content with admiring them from afar, but if you’re interested they are available to purchase from Olozoo.

Check out the full range at Livingstones.



Know your customer

19 05 2008

The FAIL blog always brightens my day… and shows the importance of accurate targeted advertising.


The fall and rise of paper

9 05 2008

I’ve been thinking about writing today. Not typing – real writing. Pen-and-paper, no-backspace-key, ink-smudged writing. Why? Cleaning out a cupboard I happened upon a box full of calligraphy quills given to me by my Nan years ago. Memories came flooding back.

As a little girl (and as the ‘arty one’), I was taught uncial, blackletter and gothic scripts sitting at her Formica kitchen table. We borrowed books from the library on The Book of Kells and tried to recreate gilt-laden Celtic pages with black, silver and molten gold inks.

This was a practice piece I did – and yes, it is a list of dates from the 1994 Ren & Stimpy Diary (c’mon I was only a little tacker at the time):

We sucked, of course, but perhaps that was my watershed moment. I’m still putting together page layouts today, and loving it.

So whatever happened to beautiful writing on beautiful paper?

A few years ago, the Next Big Thing was that communication would become totally electronic, automatic, e-this, e-that, with no time or space in our busy lifestyles for old-fashioned paper. The future was symbolised by the paperless office. This has become a reality to some degree – communication in business is almost always done via email, company letterhead is almost defunct, friends email and IM each other instead of posting a letter. Even photographs have gone the way of the dodo, replaced by jpegs on a hard drive.

But there is a backlash towards this high-speed, impersonal, function-without-beauty trend – a resurgence of the art of the pen. Receiving a hand-written letter is an event; posh paper shops are popping up all over the place; and the rarity and specialness of beautiful, tactile papers is reflected in their price tags.

Personalised, decorative office stationery is a strong trend at the moment with stores such as kikki.K and Smiggle catering to the worldwide obsession with customisation. Even Officeworks is in on the act. There’s thousands of handmade cards, notebooks, gift tags and writing sets for sale on Etsy. And scrapbooking is taking over the world like some sort of Laura Ashley-clad Godzilla.

Personally, I’m glad paper is back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write a letter to my Nan.



Photoshop boo-boos made public

6 05 2008

This blog keeps us designers on our toes (and provides a good laugh):


Foxtel drops the ball

3 05 2008

Foxtel’s crisis management plan leaves a lot to be desired. Earlier today 10,000 homes in the Blacktown area lost television coverage when cables were deliberately cut by vandals. Fair enough; crazy hoods with box cutters can’t be helped, but the company’s management of the problem was poor at best.

Five phone calls to their technical help line ended with ‘I’m sorry, all our operators are busy at the moment. Please call back later.’ WTF?

When we did finally get through to a real person, we were told the lines had been cut and they were on it. Why not just insert a recorded message in your automatic call answering system, saving countless calls from irate customers and freeing up service staff to help those in other areas who were having specific technical problems? A very simple solution that will at least keep viewers off your back temporarily. Their website shows no indication of any problems either, another easily executed communication to customers that could also have allayed ‘is it just my telly?’ stress.

Why am I personally so annoyed?

I’m missing the Eels vs Panthers game. (As I write, hubby is in the office doing the angry dance after Hindmarsh scored a try he couldn’t watch – we’re listening via the NRL website. Thank heavens for radio streaming.)

I doubt Foxtel will offer any compensation to its customers, although I think the price of a ticket to the footy deducted from our next bill will make all this much easier to swallow.

AND, all this comes after the previous day’s shamozzle (SMH coverage below)

Foxtel interrupts prime time
Asher Moses
May 2, 2008 – 12:43PM

“Foxtel customers around the country had their service interrupted for up to 30 minutes during prime time last night because the company chose an inopportune time to push through a software update.

The pay TV operator confirmed that it sent a software update to subscribers’ set-top boxes around 9:12pm last night, which users reported interrupted viewing for between 15 minutes and half an hour.

Foxtel said the interruption last only five to eight minutes.

Customers complained of missing large portions of their prime time shows and Foxtel iQ subscribers who had scheduled recordings during that time lost them completely. Users were either greeted with a message saying the service was updating or a blank screen.

Some Foxtel iQ users said they lost their settings to automatically record a series whenever new episodes aired.

“Due to a system issue last night subscribers’ service was temporarily affected by a software update,” a Foxtel spokeswoman said.

“This meant subscribers may have needed to come out of standby mode on their set-top unit once the update finished to restore service. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

IT worker Gavin Adams was watching Dexter with his wife last night when the show suddenly cut out about two-thirds of the way through.

“Foxtel do system updates on the set-top box devices, but the expectation is that they’re normally done between two or four in the morning or the wee hours where you’re not really affecting the majority of customers,” Adams said.

“The main thing is that it certainly wasn’t advertised or anything like that as being an urgent update required, and then to do it nationwide at a quarter past nine when everyone is watching their shows in prime time, I think that’s what irked a lot of people.”

Meanwhile, Foxtel is preparing to launch its high-definition channels and new iQ2 HD set-top box, which will have 320GB of storage, by the middle of this year.”

 Following is the SMH’s article about the vandalism:

Vandals sever cables
May 3, 2008 – 3:32PM

“About ten thousand homes and businesses in western Sydney are without phone, internet and EFTPOS services after vandals cut a Telstra communications cable.

And Telstra customers in Blacktown could be without home phone, mobile, internet and EFTPOS services for most of the weekend.

Telstra says vandals severed two fibre optic cables in the area at about 8am (AEST) this morning, also affecting Rooty Hill, Erskine Park, Arndell Park and Shalvey.”

Britney – you go girl

1 05 2008

I like Britney Spear’s response to constant media & paparazzi hounding – dish it right back in the form of a hit pop song.

‘Piece of me’ peaked at number 6 in the worldwide music charts in late ’07 proving Britney’s recent trash glam antics and erratic behaviour need not be a career-ending bungle. The pop diva’s lyrics, such as ‘they’re still going to put pictures of my derriere in the magazine’ takes her off-the-rails lifestyle choices and morphs them into a matter-of-fact ‘this is me, live with it’ public statement.

It’s a perfect example of negative PR turned into a positive.