Is this Telstra's angriest customer?
IT'S a story of mistaken identity, phantom iPhones, pissed off police, and a ruined honeymoon.
Many of us have gone through frustrating ordeals with telco companies, but Angela McCarthy's Telstra nightmare probably takes the cake.
It started in November when a Telstra customer with the same name ordered two new iPhones. While the phones were sent to that customer's address on the Gold Coast, Ms McCarthy, who lives in Townsville, got a $2093 bill for the two accounts.
It seemed a Telstra employee hadn't performed the proper identity checks and somehow the billing got sent to the wrong Angela McCarthy.
When she called Telstra to fix the problem, it was determined to be a case of identity theft. She was passed on to the fraud team, and then the Queensland police got involved.
"They had a warrant, ready to take action against this other customer," but the police thought it was strange that the fraudster (who they believe turned out to be an older woman) had used their home address for the apparent scam, she told news.com.au.
Ms McCarthy says she was on the phone with Telstra and the police who were about to execute the warrant when Telstra admitted it was an error on their end.
"The police officer was quite pissed off, to say the least, that they'd been working on the case for the past two weeks only to find that Telstra's like, 'yeah sorry, our bad'".
To make it all worse, this was happening while Ms McCarthy, 27, was on her honeymoon in Japan. That meant she has to go through the process of setting up global roaming in order to communicate with Telstra - which later turned into another fight when the telco was initially unwilling to reimburse her for the costs incurred.
In December another bill arrived for $2413. Then again in January for $2366.
When she finally succeeded in getting the services removed from her file, the victory was short-lived when she was hit with early termination fees. So back to the ombudsman she went.
For the sake of brevity, we'll stop here. But it goes on and on including being hit with a credit blacklist barring her from getting any more Telstra services which caused further frustrations.
In total it's been seven months, thousands of dollars in wrongful bills, three (and now maybe a fourth) Telstra case managers, complaints filed with the ombudsman, countless hours spent on the phone and plenty of stress.
Despite some lingering uncertainty, the ordeal is almost resolved. But this week after having issues trying to organise a new phone she turned to strangers on the internet to vent her frustration.
"Let me tell you a story of an angry Telstra Customer!" she wrote before detailing her story in a fist-clenching 1300 word post.
"I'm not a fan of making things public but the first two times I complained to Telstra they piss farted around," she lamented to news.com.au.
"I feel like as a customer we shouldn't have to go on social media and complain in order to get things sorted."
But these days, that's what many angry customers are doing. The social media pages of Australia's major telcos seem to be to most effective way to be heard and, in Ms McCarthy's case, resulted in the quickest response time. Visit the Facebook pages of Telstra or Optus and you'll reliably see a torrent of customer complaints in the comments section under sleek PR videos.
At the moment, all the wrongful charges have been removed from her account and the ordeal is nearing a final resolution.
But Ms McCarthy says she's expecting a call from the CEO's office today because Telstra has told her it's conducting a full investigation into the ordeal on her behalf.
News.com.au has repeatedly contacted Telstra to ask about the internal investigation but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
"A lot of ways they've gone through to handle this has been absolutely abysmal," she said.
"As a consumer you rely on the telco to do their job and to do proper ID checks ... I need some sort of assurance that this won't happen again but Telstra won't give me that."
In the latest report from the telecommunications ombudsman, Telstra reclaimed the mantle of most complained about telco, alongside Optus.
In the January-March 2017 quarter, Optus and Telstra both registered 9.3 complaints per 10,000 services - a higher than usual number due to issues arising from the complicated NBN rollout.