Time for a Telstra rant

Yet another fuck up from the prize idiots at Telstra:

Porn apology over Idol win
And although BigPond may have scored a touchdown in making Casey’s debut single available for download on its BigPond Music service, the service provider has made an equally large touch not with a massive blooper.

The half-page ad, which appeared in both the News Ltd papers in Sydney and Melbourne today, mentions the site www.caseydonovan.com right at the top, under the mistaken assumption that it is the official site for the song.

Instead, the site caters to those looking for gay porn and is not exactly the kind of website which parents would recommend to teenagers - the main audience of the Idol show.

(Unfortunately for all the fans of Casey - the gay male porn star, that is, rather than the try hard school kid with the big voice - Telstra have moved quickly and all attempts to log onto caseydonovan.com are all directed straight to its more family-friendly AusIdol site, caseydonovan.com.au)

But the point remains: Telstra fucked up. Again.

This is just the lastest in a line of screw ups that has plagued a company which revels in its own mediocrity, and remains as profitable as it does only because it had half a century as a monopoly provider. Because I feel like it, it's worth cataloguing examples of Telstra stupidity and incompetence, if only to provide an example of how a large company is not necessarily a well-managed company:

Let's start with Telstra's branding efforts. Telstra is a household name. Everyone knows Telstra. Everyone knows what it does. Everyone knows what its logo is. Everyone knows what its values are. So why the fuck do they spend their money constantly reminding us??? For some absurd and unknown reason, the company has scored itself the naming rights for 2 of the biggest 3 stadia in the country (Docklands Stadium in Melbourne and the Olympic Stadium in Sydney). This would be an ideal marketing effort were Telstra trying to boost name recognition, make people familiar and comfortable with the brand. But as noted earlier, it has already achieved this. What more does it want? Recognition amongst pets and untamed marsupials as well?

Instead of spending tens of millions on naming writes for sporting venues, Telstra might actually like to promote itself as a sophisticated, hi-tech, value for money proposition. In all three, its efforts at both promotion and substance are laughable. In an era when consumers are savvy and acutely aware of their competitive options, Telstra are making glossy ads with kids kicking a footy and gooving to I Am Australian. The Telstra marketing mindset has not moved one iota from its time as a monopoly carrier 15 years ago when a crusty looking John Williamson was crooning that This is Australia Calling.

Marketing aside, it's worth looking at the product line on offer. In the mobile phone game, Telstra are consistantly last to market with new innovations. Months after other carriers launched so-called capped plans (aka bucket plans), Telstra finally decide to get into it. Too little, too late. Price plans are outrageously expensive, a lack of creative energy, and generally a second rate product. Sure, it might be the only network that provides coverage to Lower Wherethefucksville, but customers around the nation pay for the privilege.

The Bigpond product is another sad joke. Unexplained and unscheduled outages are legendry amongst Bigpond users, and these seem to occur far more frequently than for their competition. Email users will be aware of the frequest Mailer-Daemon messages which inevitably arrive when email is sent to a Bigpond email address, reminding the sender that the message will be delayed. Bigpond have managed to successfully delayed the sending of email so frequently that it makes Australia Post an even-money bet in a race between the two. True, Bigpond is leading the way with broadband roll-out, but it is only now catching up to where it should have been three years ago.

On the question of landline services, Telstra shot itself in the foot from close range with a machine gun earlier this year when it increased line rental costs significantly. Telstra, in its stupidity, had figured that their customers saw landline services as a necessity and so much as consumers might complain, ultimately they would pay whatever they were charged. How wrong this was. Customers are abandoning landlines in record numbers and are rushing toward consolidating all the phone use onto a mobile phone. Particularly so with the new call caps on mobiles, in most cases their is no economic sense in maintaining both a landline and mobile and so customers are voting with their feet. It didn't have to happen that way, but an oafish corporation like Telstra make it seem strangely inevitable.

So we've identified the problem, hurled plenty of abuse, but what's the solution. Since the days of Charles Darwin and then Adam Smith, there has been a strong case for letting the market (and by that we mean consumers, and by then we mean me, you and anyone else with a dollar to burn) sort the truly competitive organisations from the bloated Woolly Mammoths of the corporate world. Keep the infrastructure in public hands, privatise the rest, sack the entire marketing division, and find management which is interested in making this bloated company into a sleek, efficient operation which is relevant to consumers. If not, then watch Telstra wither and die.

UPDATE 23/11, 11:40am: Probably worth popping in a disclosure statement at the end of the rant. AOTW is a Telstra shareholder, since he clearly likes questioning his own judgement. He's also employed by an outsourcing firm which works with both Telstra and its competition. So there.


Anonymous said…
Be careful of the "inevitable"s! It's becoming your favourite word.

And I'm not sure whether your carefully crafted disclosure statement tells the full story! Fess up, AOTW - we all know who you REALLY work for (and it ain't Telstra)!

As for "Darwinian economics" .... well, it looks like you might be turning into a big L Liberal (but outsourced to the Democrats via the Greens).

Anonymous said…
Spot on, old son... spot on.

Although I'd make one small amendment... once the infrastructure is separated, I don't give a rats arse if they sack all the management. Let them wither and die as the anarchic former monopoliser they would then be.

Yes, they are truly clueless! I recall many frustrating hours when I was employed by a certain cable TV company in which Telstra had a stake. They believed then, and I think they still believe, that they could in fact go it alone, but the truth is they seldom managed to go to the cafe and order the right coffees!


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