My family bought me a mobile phone for emergency use as I live alone and if something happened I needed to be able to call someone.
I decided to go with “prepaid” calls and so I paid for $20 of credit. But when I tried to make a call I received a message saying that I was out of funds. Although puzzled I did not query this. However, I decided to check it out and so paid for another $20 credit and made sure that I made no calls.
Then recently I had to make an emergency call from my backyard, only to receive a message saying "I was out of funds". I knew I had not made any calls.
Fortunately in this instance, I managed to get to the house and make my call from the house phone: I finished up in hospital on that occasion.
When I left hospital I decided to follow this matter up as I believe it has serious implications for aged and other pensioners living on their own like myself.
Poor staff training
After being referred to different centres and being told "oh I am not trained to answer this query, I will need to refer you to another centre”, eventually I was connected to a young lady who seemed to know what she was talking about.
She said I had been put on the wrong plan. With the one I had you lost your prepaid credit if you did not use it within a month. I should have been put on the one where if you paid $30 it would extend coverage for six months or if you paid more it would be useable for up to 12 months. These options were more expensive but would extend the coverage for the periods she mentioned.
I asked why my daughter or I had not been advised of this and she replied that all consultants were trained to give the information and should have given it.
I told her that this had not happened and when I had tried to get an answer previously all the Telstra consultants were interested was in selling me another, more expensive, plan.
I kept saying that they were missing the point. I had paid for a service I was not getting and no matter what new plan they put me on it would result in the same outcome. I had paid for a service that did not do the job that was requested. One plan she suggested was to pay $15 which would give me $20 of calls. I told them that they could give me a $1 million of calls but if I did not use it within the month I would lose it and still be unable to make an emergency call when I needed to.
And I would then need to pay another $15 the next month.
I was then told that I could call 000 for emergency at any time. I said I understood the triple 0 system but a person may not need to call the ambulance, fire brigade or police. The emergency may only require a call to a member of the family. There is no need to take up time of these valuable, under resourced and understaffed services.
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