Archive for the ‘Shame File’ Category

I don’t normally shop at Woolworths if I can possibly help it.

Call me stubborn or perhaps principled, but I have avoided them like the plague ever since the infamous dinner function where one of their executives Simon Berger was Master Of Ceremonies. That infamous dinner function was where Alan Jones made the derogatory and highly offensive comment about the death of Julia Gillard’s father, and Berger himself offered up a jacket made of chaff bags for auction in reference to Alan Jones’s public comments suggesting our first female Prime Minister should be killed by letting her drown at sea in a chaff bag.

The auction items list from the function

The auction items list from the function

Woolworths claimed Berger was there in a private capacity, although given that his job was as Woolworths State Government Relations Manager, you could probably be excused for thinking otherwise.

Woolworths statement to distance themselves

Woolworths statement to distance themselves

Despite this I was in a rush the other day and quickly raced into my local Woolworths as I needed washing powder and some cereal.

I grabbed a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (a weakness I admit) and seeing that Cold Power was seemingly on special for $7 I grabbed a box and headed for the checkout.

With one item being $6.99 and the other on an “Extra Saver” special for $7 I was rather surprised when I was charged more than $14.

What I was charged in fact was $16.48.

I queried this with the checkout operator who took me back down the aisle and showed me the fine print on the “Extra Saver” shelf-talker that I had not noticed. This fine print explaining that without an Everyday Rewards card I would be paying $9.49 rather than $7 advertised in big bold print.

 

Beware the fine print...

Beware the fine print…

She offered to refund the item, an offer I accepted and grabbed another brand that was on a regular style special.

I explained to the lady serving me that I thought that the shelf-talker was inappropriate and unclear, although she didn’t give an opinion, she made mention that there had been a significant number of complaints about the campaign from customers.

I have since spoken to many customers and the consensus is that the campaign appears to be deceptive and misleading.

Most people do not read the fine print on a shelf-talker, and if they see a special advertised there then they assume that is what they will be getting when they reach the checkout.

Those who have a hectic schedule, are in a hurry, have children with them, need reading glasses, or don’t wish to bend over to a lower shelf to read fine print on an advertisement are the ones that will be taken for a ride with this campaign.

The only reason I noticed that I had not received the advertised discount is because I only purchased two items and it was clear to me what I perceived to be an overcharge. If I had been purchasing numerous items, I would probably have been blissfully unaware that I had been overcharged anddeceived.

The average person doing their weekly grocery run would be unlikely to notice at all unless they really combed through their receipt and remembered the products they assumed were purchased on special.

The amount we are talking about is not an insignificant amount either. The item I purchased had a perceived discount of approximately 26%. For someone on a weekly grocery shop spending between $200 and $300 it is not hard to imagine how these perceived discounts could add up.

Some of you will probably think “What’s the big deal? Just get an Everyday Rewards Card”

For starters I have enough junk in my wallet without adding to it.

There are however many who don’t like the idea of passing on their personal details to a company like Woolworths and then allowing that company to analyse their purchasing habits.

Although I’m unaware of Woolworths doing this, companies can often sell or pass your details on to other companies that on-sell databases to charities and telemarketing companies, giving you the pleasure of a barrage of unsolicited phone calls. Even if you are on the Do Not Call Register your number may be provided to registered charities to call you given that they are exempt for the Do Not Call Register restrictions and are free to call you up until 8pm.

All my details and all my purchasing history in one card...

All my details and all my purchasing history in one card…

For those who think this may be paranoid behaviour, bear this in mind. In the US the Target chain of stores were able to detect a teenager’s pregnancy before her father was aware of it, this was done via her buying patterns, and Target then aimed advertising at the teenage girl based on her pregnancy.

I should point out here that the US Target is in no way related to the Australian Target.

Nobody should be expected to have to explain their wishes for privacy, although it would appear that Woolworths are comfortable in punishing those of you who wish for privacy by charging you more.

I approached Woolworths for comment and was assured that someone would get back to me. Despite speaking with two people, at the time of publication I am yet to receive an official response.

I also contacted the NSW Department Of Fair Trading for comment.

A Fair Trading spokesperson responded and stated that Woolworths were not breaking any laws as the price for those who didn’t have an Everyday Rewards card was displayed.

However they also added a section of the consumer law which in part states;

“The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) prohibits businesses from making false or misleading representations in regard to:”

• “the price of goods or services”

I would have thought that having a large discounted price displayed, and in italic fine print a vastly more expensive price displayed for those who don’t meet a particular criteria would fall under the category of a “misleading representation”

As we await what is expected to be a painful budget to be handed down by the Coalition, one thing we all know is that things are likely to become tighter as the cost of living and unemployment rises.

The best advice I can give is, spend your dollar wisely.

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The other day I received a letter from the US of A that I thought might be worth sharing with you all.

Unfortunately however the letter was not a pleasant one.

We live in an electronic age where data security is essential for any company that wishes to remain relevant in a digital world.

That is why I was surprised to receive an email from one of the worlds largest software companies letting me know that their system had been hacked and my credit card details may have been stolen.

Below is a link to a PDF of the letter I received.

Letter From Adobe

The company involved is Adobe. Chances are you used Adobe Reader to view the letter via the link.

Adobe are certainly one of the top ten software companies in the world, their products include Adobe Reader, Acrobat, PhotoShop, and Adobe Flash Player.

They are the worlds leading photo editing software supplier and if you have ever created or opened a PDF document, then you have used an Adobe product.

Adobe_promo_code

I am one of countless thousands who subscribe to some of Adobe’s online services so I assume I am just one of countless thousands who received the same letter.

What surprised me the most about the letter was not that their system had been hacked into, although for a company the size of Adobe that is alarming, it is the flippant way in which they have informed their customers.

The best they seemed to be able to come up with was that they were sorry and they will keep looking into it because as yet they have come up with zip.

Their only recommendation is that we monitor our bank statements closely, monitor credit reports (something that costs money), and keep an eye out for identity theft.

As comforting as Adobe think that recommendation may be I think it does the opposite of what was likely intended.

Identity theft is not an easy thing to spot. Chances are you will not find out until there is a repo man knocking at your front door because of a loan default, or a thug kicking the door in to chase a gambling debt, or a call from your accountant to tell you that you are bankrupt.

As for keeping an eye on your account transactions, that is not real comforting either.

At best we have to worry and monitor our accounts more closely than usual, like we have nothing better to do with our time. At worst we will see our credit, or debit cards cancelled leaving us with no access to funds whilst we await replacements to be sent after we notice someone in Mexico has been buying up expensive jewellery and booze on our dime.

identity-theft

What was missing from the letter, which was clearly not run past anybody with an ounce of PR knowledge, is any form of compensation for the inconvenience.

I’m not expecting an all expenses paid holiday in Tahiti (although someone else may be having one on my card) or anything like. However the reason that Adobe have our card details is that we pay for an access to a service monthly. Would it be too much to expect a few free months of that service from a company worth Billions? I don’t think so.

Alas we were offered didley squat, all we got for our loyalty was a letter telling us to worry and watch our backs.

I’m sorry Adobe, but I expected better and I don’t I’m the only one.

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I was contacted by a reader the other day who told me a tale of customer service so hideously bad it was almost unbelievable.

The company she was having issues with were acting like Truly Pathetic Grubs, which is probably how they came about naming themselves TPG.

It all started when she decided it was time to organise a broadband connection at her home, as having a reliable broadband connection these days is quite important, despite what the Coalition may think.

Coalition assess the long-term costs of servicing and upkeeping their sub-standard Broadband policy

Coalition policy advisors assess the long term costs of servicing and upkeeping their sub-standard Broadband policy

She had been advised by a friend that TPG’s plans were reasonable and so decided to check out their plans.

That was her first mistake, but unfortunately not her last.

Her next mistake was to fill out an online application for one of their plans. From there on, there was seemingly no turning back…

As you can see from the link below, TPG were unable to provide her with the service that she was requesting.

Unable to provide service email

TPG stated in an email response to her request

“The address that you have indicated for installation to take place has been unsuccessful in qualifying by Telstra for the following reason: BUFFERED.

This means there is not enough Ports in your Exchange to supply the ADSL2+ with Home Phone service.”

As a result of this another option was sought, and Optus was chosen and an online application was completed as it had been for TPG.

Whilst waiting for Optus to come back to her, TPG had a change of heart and told her that they may be able to indeed connect her service despite their earlier advice and asked if she would like to proceed with her application. Having not had a confirmation from Optus as yet she said yes.

TPG then sent an email, linked below to tell her where the application was up to. It is to be noted that it states that there is no fee owing, it would take between 10 and 20 business days to connect, and that on their diagram/graph it shows they had reached as far as verifying her address.

Account Update Email

At this point Optus contacted their potential customer to inform her that they could connect her service in two days, which was at least five times faster than TPG, as they had cable available in the area.

Naturally Optus had themselves a new customer.

An email was quickly sent off to cancel any action that was intended to be taken by TPG seeing as though there was no fee owing and TPG had only reached the confirm address stage according to their correspondence.

Cancellation request sent same day as no fee stated

TPG sent an email to confirm that they had received the cancellation, and said that someone would be in touch.

From that moment on things became hairy, and I don’t mean in a clean, shiny, blowing in the breeze kind of way, I mean like the gross hairs hanging out an old man’s ears kinda way.

tpg-logo

Apparently confirming someone’s address has become quite a pricey process if TPG are to be believed, because below is part of their response:

“According to our Standard Terms and Conditions which you agreed to as part of the sign up process, an agreement is formed whereby you apply to acquire a service from us and we accept your application.

Installation of your service has already commenced in our system based on your application which we accepted on 25/04/2013.

The contract you entered into specified a total minimum charge of $2,029.71 over the contract term which you are liable for. We have decided not to charge you the full amount, however you are required to pay a cancellation charge of $350. Plus $480 cancellation fee for the super unlimited bundle. A total of $830 fee will be incur to cancel the account.”

 

How nice of them to not charge the full amount. If anybody out there wants an address confirmed, as that is as far as they’d reached, I’m happy to do it at half of TPG’s rate.

This is despite TPG’s own chart shown below that shows that the next step in the customer application after “Confirmation Of Address” is “Advance Payment”. Given the application was cancelled at this point, and the same letter stated no fee owing, I’d assume there is nothing to charge the customer for.

chart_Page_1

Since this point, TPG have been waging a campaign of harassment, calling repeatedly each day and demanding the $830 or they will continue with processing the connection. These calls have been made to both my reader’s mobile phone and her place of work, causing an awful lot of stress.

TPG seemed intent on harassing and bullying a consumer, who was only exercising her right to choose her service provider, until she paid $830 to TPG for providing no service at all other than sending the original notice stating they were unable to provide the consumer what she was originally seeking.

This bullying and harassment has continued unabated all this month. My reader was also advised by TPG that despite being told daily that she did not want their service, TPG had arranged for a Testra technician to come out and do the connection, something that may actually incur a cost on TPG’s end.

The Testa technician didn’t turn up as threatened, but the harassing calls still continued.

A better option than TPG

A better option than TPG

This week I contacted TPG myself in order to hear their side of the story, and I saw just how frustrating it must have been for my poor reader.

I contacted customer support with the details of the reader and spoke to a young man named Ariel. He informed me that due to privacy reasons that could not discuss the particulars of a case with anyone but the client, which is fair enough.

I asked to be put through to whoever was in charge and said I only wanted to understand why they were trying to charge $830 without performing a service, and then harassing and bullying the poor soul on a daily basis. I made it clear I did not want to discuss anything about the account that would be considered private and was writing an article on the matter, if they wanted their side of the story to be told, they best tell me what it is.

After much discussion with things going seemingly nowhere, I was finally told a manager would not talk to me, and that there was absolutely no record of my reader on their system at all, and I must have the wrong company.

I then asked if the call was being recorded and was told that it was. When I informed Ariel that it was against the law to record the conversation without informing the caller I was told that everybody calling TPG knows their call is being recorded. I have my doubts.

Given that I wanted a record of the conversation to refer to I asked for the recording number, if you work for TPG and are reading this you can look up the record it’s number 180955.

Miraculously, TPG must have used their psychic powers of observation, because moments after I was off the phone, my reader for whom they had no record or detail of just moments ago was being called yet again. How odd.

This time my reader was told by TPG that the service was indeed cancelled, and apparently could not seem to understand why my reader was so upset, the recording number for this call was 2784788 if someone from TPG wants to check it out.

Time will tell if this sorry saga is over, although I fear not as another email was recieved the day after this call saying;

 “We would like to advise you that the installation is still in progress at the moment.  We are still waiting for confirmation on the status of the job order.

    Please check your service in the next 24 hours and should you encounter any issues, please feel free to reply to this email or contact us on 1300 725 322.

     We appreciate you choosing TPG.”

The matter is now being reported to the Telecommunications Ombudsman.

For those of you looking for a broadband solution or any other type of solution, I would avoid TPG like the plague if I was you.

Judging from these links, I don’t appear to be the only one who thinks so, far from it in fact.

If you are having an issue with a company and have the documentation to back yourself up, you can email me here and I will let my readers know about it. I’ve decided to take  a leaf out of Derryn Hinch’s  book and start my own “Shame File” of company’s who bully, harass, and seek to rip-off the consumer.

TPG is no doubt the first of many.

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