cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by TFDuesing

I must admit that when I come across other people’s flaming #FAIL tweets I experience a wave of “hey- over reaction, eh?”– until it is I in the fiery rage of being done under by a bad consumer experience.

And here is the thing, no matter how it sounds, We are in a unique time where at least for now we can have a place to voice such complaints — and sometimes there are results (I have my own success story after fighting Canon on shoddy rebate practices). I find it utterly stunning that companies would continue practices that attempt to wear down consumer complaints with the leaden weight of their own bureacracy.

So for the sake of others who might hear, or find themselves falling into the same pit, or maybe someone who has a pipeline to pursuing consumer action here in Australia.

Before leaving the USA, I found many sites that offered codes to unlock my LG Thrive mobile phone, which in an ideal world, would allow me to purchase a sim card and plan here so I can use my ohone and data services while traveling abroad. I paid $10 for an unlock code from (who I must say does respond to questions).

On arrival at Melbourne airport, I stopped at a Yes Optus store, and purchased a AU$40 sim card with unlimited phone/text/3 Gb data plan. The young lady did all the button punching to set me up, including entering the unlock codes– the latter seemed to not work at first, but when the phone was able to make text and calls, she assured me it was all set to go. When it failed to access the web, she told me it was because of poor signal inside the terminal.

I was a bit tired to think here- but a key missed step here was she never looked up my phone model to see if it would work here. Apparently unlocking a phone means squat if the host network closes its doors to phones it does not sell. So I was sold a product that would nto work with my phone.

Later that afternoon at my hotel, I called Optus Pre-paid and got some technical assistance from someone who tried to walk me through the settings. Everything failed to work. I suggested it might be easier for me to take it the next day to a store.

I walked a few km to the Optus store in Docklands. The woman there punched up my account and told me my phone was not compatible with their network .I did not get an answer when I asked why this was not told to me when I bought it. I asked about getting a rebate for the data plan since it was of new use to me– she told me I would have to call Optus; it could not be done a the store.

Oh, I was offered the option to buy another phone for AU$140.

Scratch that.

Later that afternoon, I called Optus Prepaid customer support. When I explained what happened, the first operator tried to say I should get a phone that would work on their network. When I asked to speak to a manager, the first answer was that a manager would call me back in 24-48 hours.

Blood pressure rose here.

“No that is not acceptable, I need to speak to a manager now”.

I waited on hold about 10-15 minutes.

The manager who came on tried to tell me I would have to go back to the store at the airport to deal with this. He used he word “walk” — I tried to explain the airport was far away. He then said I should go to the closest store to get a refund. I replied with incredulity that the woman I spoke to at the store told me the exact opposite, that I would have to call Optus.

He went away and ostensibly contacted the store, and came back with a litany of that there was nothing that could be done, that I had a full phone plan that was good. I again explained that I was sold something that out of the box would not work here and it was not acceptable practice.

The blood pressure boiled higher, and my ending was letting them know I would be calling my credit card company and disputing the purchase. I hung up.

Now I come down from the angry exchange disappointed in myself for getting so angry on the phone- that obviously doe snot accomplish something, especially with the worker ants on the end of the phone.

But I do feel totally screwed by Optus, and incensed that they would rather spend employee time giving me a run around, rather than doing the right thing- like even offering a $10 refund. So by following all of their internal protocol, they have earned a customer who will hold this grudge a long while, and will now tell others about this –because I can.

Is that the best business practice?

So my recommendation is to avoid Optus Pre-paid at all costs– and to really ask the key questions when you try to use your phone on another country’s system. And do not leave the store if the thing is not fully functional.

As an example to show that this is not always the way a company can go, a few months back I bought use of the privacy service that hides your IP address when online, with the accurattely named — it worked extremely well (and their tech support responded within minutes to an email question about setting it up on my phone), but I really only needed it for a short while. I had remembered that they offered a 30 day trial period, and when I wrote to ask for a refund since I did not need it- they did so without question or hassle.

There is a night and day difference in these approaches.

Yeah, in one case I got what I want and the other I did not.

But also, in once case I feel completely jerked over, and the other I feel respected. Which kind of customer would your company like to ave out there?

Whether I sound like an overly outrageous jerk, let it be known, I have a channel to do this on. And my channel is lit.

Once more, say No to Optus Yes.

Update (Dec 3, 2011) After several rounds of emails that sounded like Optus might be willing to save their reputation, I find nothing but failure.

At times though it can be a little tricky, as we’re not always going to have settings available for every handset available worldwide, but we will definitely do what we can to try and find them so we can pass them on. Unfortunately the handset you’re using isn’t one that Optus provides support for on our network so I’m unable to find suitable data settings.

They kept asking me to “return my starter kit to the store” and offering to refund if I would not be using the calls function.

They seem to toally miss the fact I am using the damned phone. I was asking for some renumeration for being sold a data plan that clearly does not work on the phone I brought into the country, despite that I had done my research that the handset (an LG p506) was quad band and compatible with the network here. Their clerk at the airport did not look up my model at all; if she had done so and told me I could not use the data, I would have skipped the entire purchase. The other clerk at another store said it would not work at all on their network, then their Social Media Response team says it does work but they dont know how the f**** to set it up.

It’s all a pile of dog crap.

Again, if you bring your own phone into this country, go elsewhere then Optus. Say NO.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Hey, really sorry to hear of the experience you had with us when you called through for support.

    I’d like to get some information from you to ensure this is all provided as feedback and happy to look into the starter kit you’ve got there also.

    We want everyone to have a great experience when they call through so this type of feedback is definitely something that we want to hear!

    If you’d like me to check this out further, could you please send your info & also the starter kit details through to me @ and I’ll give you a call.


    Ian Thomson
    Optus Social Media Response Team

  2. This post is many years old BUT I think it helps for others who read this
    Don’t blame others. Your problem is:
    1. It’s SILLY to have your phone unlocked in a foreign country. North American phones are locked by the phone provider. It’s BEST to have it unlocked before you leave and check that the unlock WORKS. It’s easier to deal with someone you are familiar with, not with someone in a place you don’t know at all.
    2. It’s your responsibility to check that your phone is compatible with other providers (over the world). Again, you know better than people elsewhere – they may not know even though they are a “Provider”. Check with the phone manufacturer’s web site for the specific model, for your country and destination country – there may be different features !

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