Byte Me Article 485 – Security through indecipherability

– Security through indecipherability

Hello to regular readers and my apologies for a 3-week absence!  We have been so incredibly busy at the shop that I was not able to find a spare few hours to construct another article until now.  The topic for this week will once again relate to a story that unfolded over the last 2 weeks with one of our good long-term business customers which, for the purposes of this article we will call ‘Deserving Better’.

So, around 2 weeks ago Deserving Better decided to try to cut down on some of their fixed costs and in this case, they targeted their monthly Telstra phone bill which was averaging $3,500 per month.  Deserving Better had a Telstra business partner located at the Sunshine Coast that was ‘supposed’ to look after their Telstra account and guide then through any plan changes or problems.  For the purposes of this article we shall call this Telstra business partner SNAFU 

Deserving Better heavily relied on the advice of SNAFU as their Telstra phone bill was a portly 86 pages long and as is tradition, it needed the undivided attention of both a rocket scientist and Rhodes Scholar to decipher.  However, SNAFU had devised a brilliant money saving plan which identified 2x Telstra DOT services that could be switched off to save around $300/month.

The next day after following SNAFU’s advice, Deserving Better found their office to be rather quiet – without any working phone system or Internet.  Mobile phones we employed to make the urgent calls to SNAFU who quickly passed the buck as even though they could turn off a service overnight, they had zero ability to re-connect anything anytime soon!  Deserving Better also called us from their mobiles.

We immediately sent 2 techs to their aid with one of our Rural Internet Kits and a loan SIM – which saw connection speeds better than their previous Telstra NBN connections.  Apart from the 2x Telstra DOT services which Deserving Better had been running their SIP phone service across, they also had (as luck would have it) as spare NBN TBB connection.  Some dancing around with different cable ends and reconfiguration of routers finally saw Deserving Better’s phone system reconnected. 

So, what did SNAFU offer?  Nothing!  They would not even come to the party with a loan SIM – we offered to do that.  So where does this leave Deserving Better?  About $225/month better off with their monthly phone bill currently, around $10,000 worse off through lost staff productivity and possibly hundreds of thousands worse off if they missed an important new customer call.

As one of my techs put it – the complexity of the Telstra phone bills is no accident – it is planned business security through indecipherability!  In other words, Telstra does not want you to easily be able to understand your phone bill as that would enable you to easily trim excess services or move to another carrier.

So why did SNAFU turn off needed Internet connections that were in use and had current history of lots of data flowing across them?  It was either incompetence or greed – either SNAFU themselves as a Telstra business partner doesn’t know how to interpret a Telstra phone bill themselves or they wanted to be put in the position of needing to order some new connections as this is how they make most of their income.

When will we finally see an enquiry into Telstra’s behaviour in this country?  Their billing methods, service complexity, offshore customer service and lack of customer service is very un-Australian and is causing major damage to Australia’s ongoing standard of living. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is still contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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