[AMA] I Used to Work for Optus Phone Customer Service and Retail

Hey guys,

I used to work for Optus' call centre in Sydney for billing and general enquiries for 4 years and also worked for retail for 4 years. I believe I have enough experience to give you an insight.

Ask me anything you like :D

Edit: I will be ignoring your post if you're going to ask me how to fix your problem, please contact Optus for that as process may have changed

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  • +4

    Is it true is you shout and swear while on hold, you get answered quicker?

    • +7

      No, but the music gets louder each time you scream :P

      We all know how much you love that hold music :)

      • +2

        What is the special phone number the staff use in store, to get faster response from call centre ?
        I was in store, and it was like 5 minutes till closing time. When they said they had to call someone up to fix the issue (and I said, but we wont have time cos its almost 5pm), they explained they have a special number to call, which was answered almost immediately.
        What is the number to call which is answered faster than when general public call?

        • +2

          Yer…. you’re never getting that. Hahaha

        • Yes but it only works in-store. Try call that number outside the store, it won't work.

    • It's true from telstra i believe, at least a warning is presented before they answer.
      My brother worked there a couple years and was on phones for a month or so during his grad.

      • The numbers change quite often, and yes there is a strict warning if you do call it, and yes they do follow up on those warnings who ever breaks it.

  • +3

    Oh dear. Your brave.

    • +11

      ~8 years dealing with customers gives you very thick skin…… VERY THICK SKIN. That or my tears at night desensitised me.

      • Out of all the calls you have taken what was the funniest thing you have had to deal with or thing that just made you laugh and made your day. Hope not all your calls were frustrated customers. Although suspect they would have been. My wife couldn't wait soon enough to get off Optus mobile plan. When our other plan expired and I said to her we should try Optus again. She told me no way. Anyone else except Optus.

        • +25

          The first that popped into mind was this guy being honest. Man approx around 45+ years old. He was angry at the start because he was promised his phone can access the internet by the in-store sales rep. The internet option was off, due to his old account did not have data in his plan. I turned it on and he was very pleased. He then said: "Thankyou! I can access porn now". I said: "you're welcome, enjoy the internet". He then asked for my personal number so he can send me links of his favourite porn sites. I had to decline, even though I was interested to see what he liked. HAHAHA! Loved that guy. That was like 6 years ago.

          • +1

            @hasher22: Yeah had a collegue who use to work at a bar and one of the guys wanted some help with his phone. Couldn't access something on it. Then all of a sudden all his porn on this phone popped up. Oops. Like how its the first thing he wanted to do on it. Phones should just come pre loaded with links.

      • Ironically we are back with Optus through Virgin mobile, but we are holding out as long as we can before we are brought back to the dark side. Ill probably have to move to another provider.

        • +1

          Optus goes through a lot of plan changes and deals come and go very very often. Monthly. People come for the deals, but yes, it's unfortunate that Virgin is going and Optus does have Virgin customer deals only, if you like them, go with it. Sometimes you have to wait for that awesome deal.

          I don't know what bad experiences you had with Optus, I can only imagine, but there are genuine people that can educate you on what went wrong.

  • +2

    Optus give me a $15 per month loyalty discount. I have been receiving this for a number of years, but only because I phone them every time it expires and get it reinstated. Is $15 per month the maximum? Is there any way to get a bigger loyalty discount?

    • simply port out then port in to sign a better deal

      • The deal we get is a high speed internet that is no longer offered. So if we ditch the deal they won't sign us up at that speed again. Loyalty discount is the only way to go until the NBN arrives in our area.

    • +2

      $15 a month is quite high. I assume the retention team gave you that discount, from your comment just above, it looks like compensation discount not a loyalty discount?

      In my experience, $15 is the max you'll get for your situation unless something significantly misleading happened in-which you're 'entitled' for more credit per month.

      • Good to know. thanks!

    • -1

      How do you get a loyalty discount? Do they let you know automatically or you need to ask them for it?

      • +1

        I asked for it

  • +1

    Shoplifting and theft experiences. :)

    • +7

      Store is busy and understaffed (as usual), angry customers and people frustrated to be served next. Average wait time prob 15 mins.

      1 Man comes in with a pram, looking at the accessories. 1 hour later, 6 beat solos and studios were gone from the wall. Went back to the cameras, man had scissors and cut the bracket and put the beats in the pram.

      2 We had a star wars promotion going on and we had a life size cardboard cut out of I think a storm trooper. Someone took it and ran.

      3 3 teenagers come into the store, looking at the iPhones, looking shady. We had 1 rep around them, and I kept and eye out. They walked out. Approx 30 mins later, they ran in, stole 2 iPhones from the bracket and ran

      4 Customer comes in steals approx 10 paper bags without asking one of the reps. We saw her just come in, take it but I ran up to her and said that's not hers to take, she walked off like nothing happens.

      • +2

        Why would you want 10 Optus bags. Weird.

        • Anything for free right!?

          • +20

            @hasher22: Its an ozbargainer looking for new source of free bin liners

            • @orangetrain: Dammit! Should have taken some before I left….. or did I?

        • I was in store yesterday, and I didn't even spot them, but couple of small kids did (at their eye height) they just grabbed them out, took them. They certainly look like they are there for free and there to take (for customers I guess) .
          They looked a bit like gift bags, paper bags with pretty pictures/drawings on them. Which I guess is why the kids were attracted to them, and took 1 each.
          I actually considered for a moment, taking 1 for myself for a gift bag next birthday comes up. I would have put my sim card in it, lol, since I think they are there tucked away on lower shelf, to give to customers to place their purchases in. Especially a good idea, if customer has just bought >$1,000 iphone, it's not quite safe for them to walk around shopping centre holding the box.

          • @DisabledUser271064: In all honesty, just ask the rep to take some if you purchased something from the store. Most likely we will say yes and give you some. But if you come in and just want some, then no, that's being a greedy gobbler.

            Yes we had kids taking them as well, I suspect the parents told them to. What kid wants a bag as a toy?

      • +1

        In the case of the iphones do you just invalidate the imeis so they are of no use?

        • +2

          Yup! :)

          I don't even know why people steal phones, we block the IMEI. Also demo phones from suppliers are being smart now, they don't have IMEIs now, they give us phones without cellular functions. So if someone does steal one, they pretty much stole a non-functional cellular phone.

      • lol at #2…must be a diehard fan…or was a prank…..

        did the cops get them thieves? :P

        • +4

          not diehard. star wars he said

        • did the cops get them thieves? :P

          Matter was refered to the Coruscant Security Force

      • +1

        In retail, always watch the prams. Got in a fight with a big ass dude and his misus with a case of JD 700ml. They were hitting our 'brand's for over 12 months. Another one with a burkah used to steal RTDs with a pram, also hit our brand's for over 2 years. They're both probably still doing it today!

  • +2

    What would you recommend in the apple range that is still reasonable for a person who hasn't had a mobile before. We were thinking a 6s plus as my wife has that phone and her mum now wants a phone for emergencies. Does Optus have a prepaid plan that lasts for months just phone credit. She will hardly use the phone at all.

    • +3

      Depends on their age and ability to use technology. I would never sell a smart phone to the elderly if they asked me what I recommend, in my experience, they have trouble using a smart phone and I always tell them to play with it before making a decision. I always ask what phone they previous had and how familiar they are with touch screen tech. Some are willing to learn but it's more effort to us and them.

      If it's for making calls and sms only, I suggest get a button phone like a nokia or doro.

      With pre-paid they are plans that last up to 365 days, but I suggest turn off internet as internet uses alot of data on that pre-paid plan. I always suggest this to my customers and many sales rep forget to tell them internet is expensive if they go on that X pre-paid plan.

      with the iPhone, just really depends what they need it for. I can't really suggest a model for you, sorry.

      • +1

        Hey Mate, just wondering what you mean by internet uses a lot of data? I'm currently looking at the 365 day plan for $120 and have just seen your comment. Cheers.

        • +1

          I believe he is referring to the rate at which internet use is charged to the available credit. It is much higher than what you might get on the 30 day plans.

        • The 365 prepaid plan you saw now on OZbargain has data inlcuded which is good! Go get it

          BUT…… previously, the 365 day plan didn't include data therefor it was charged at like 5c per mb I believe and because smartphones chew up alot of data, people would run out of credit within 1 day and come back to complain. My 1st thought is always data and I am usually 95% correct.

  • +5

    when did you work for Optus in a call centre, every time I've had to talk to Optus I get indians?

    • +7

      I believe their Sales Call center are based in Aus, everything else is Offshore

    • +3

      Depends on what service you have.

      Yes, there are still Australian reps.

      Pre-Paid mobile: You will most likely get an Indian rep
      Post-Paid mobile: You will most likely get a Filipino rep and Australian rep
      Sales: Mixed of all 3 countries

      The ratio between on-shore and offshore is significant.

      And no, the rep cannot transfer anyone to an Australian rep. There is no magical number. If you are transferred, you are placed back in the queue.

      In my experience, I rather deal with a off-shore rep than an Australian rep.

      • +6

        In my experience, I rather deal with a off-shore rep than an Australian rep.


        • +1

          In my experience, I rather deal with a off-shore rep than an Australian rep.


          Yeah, nah.

          Nah, yeah.

        • +3

          In my experience getting resolutions for customers while being a store rep, in-which it's always some type of dispute, most likely a credit, every time I get an Australian rep they are always…… questioning us and our ability to do our jobs. I cannot recall an offshore rep doing this to me.

          Remarks like
          - Why can't your manager credit? (stores cannot credit anything)
          - Why can't your area manager credit? (they can, but it needs to be a store error and a really big F UP for that to happen, even then area managers are anal about credits)
          - Did you tell the customer this?
          - Did you tell the customer they can get a credit?
          - Who said you can call this department for X solution?

          Whenever I get a Filippino or Indian rep, they are more incline to help us without the smartass remarks from Aussie reps.

          Yes I am generalising, but whenever I hear an Aussie greet me, I always think… "omg, here we go, lets see if they will help". They tend to fight back.

          • @hasher22: sometimes that can be a good thing.
            I had experience dealing with offshore IT Support and they tend to give what the customers want without asking too much.
            But what the customers want is not necessary the right thing to do. there could be an underlying issue needs to be fixed and this requires critical thinking that they don't have.

  • +4

    Is it normal to be transferred 30 times via the offshore call center and 6 hours later still not have an outcome (I know the answer)

    • Yes and No.

      Yes: In the sense of getting you the right department, and it comes down to education and knowledge. If the rep transferred you, they THINK its the right department but ends up being the wrong department so you get transferred 100000 times

      No: In the sense that the IVR system when you call suppose to re-direct you to the right department.

      What's your answer? I am keen too.

  • +1

    I had the worst customer experience of my life with Optus.

    We went to the shop and took ADSL + Home phone pack.

    The couldn't transfer the internet properly between one ISP to another. The internet wasn't working.

    In the shops, they systematically refused to help us. They gave us the phone number of a call center offshore.

    We called for hours, they wouldn't do a thing and probably didn't understand a word we said.

    We lost 60 hours of our lives between the shops and the calls.

    Eventually, we cancelled everything with Optus one month later.

    Never, I will touch again anything from Optus.

    OP, feel free to comment.

    • I am sorry that happened.

      Stores have little power in fixing problems, stores are there to make sales and they are not there for customer service, after sales or technical support issues. That's the hard truth.

      There is a system that checks if you can get ADSL + home and if that check didn't pass, the system wont let us continue the order. There are many reasons why porting and activation of the internet could happen and unfortunately, stores can't fix any of it. They can only try call the relevant department and try fix it for you.

      You're suppose to call the call centre for help and not come back to the store, unless it's a store specific issue.

      • +1

        I understand the hard facts of that situation but what I have great difficulty understanding is the division of a company that essentially turns against the customer, it's not smart and not fair.

        If I am a customer and if I would like to purchase a particular product or service I have no interest whatsoever in what different departments do, what department is responsible for a particular problem, what the departmental structure of the company is or any of that garbage. I certainly don't want to wait on hold for hours because no one is responsible.

        The ideal situation would be to deal with one person that would be responsible for your customer service rather than transfer to multiple other departments where you have to start again.
        Why isn't there a simple system where not only are you transferred but the exact reason you are calling is transferred with you?

        • +3

          I agree but to be frank, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

          The amount of information one rep needs to know to operate in just in-store sales is massive and people think we just sell phones. The amount of followup, admin, product knowledge, what different departments need to do what, behind the scenes info, promos, legal scripts, legal documentation, processes etc we need to adhere to is very over whelming. If someone is off for 2 weeks, when they come back, the information is so overwhelming and need the day just to catch up on missed information. Therefor, to my understanding to try execute and relieve pain from both staff members and the customer is to have different departments specialising in X.

          At the end of the day, we are trained on what other departments can and cannot do and we trust that department can do it within process.

          • @hasher22: Thanks for that explanation, I suppose it's just a sign of the times we are living in.

            • +1

              @JTTheMan: not really, its a sign of a poorly run company. a CSR could easily be trained on the basics of all products and have a robust knowledge base or wiki with all more complex details of any product or process. you'd only need to involve a product specialist when things really go wrong or if the customer have very specific needs.

              it would also help if they had a decent IT department that wasnt outsourced so they could actually build and maintain their IT systems to avoid having to do workarounds all the time.

              i've dealt with optus both as a customer and in my employment with competing telcos, and can say every part of their company i've ever dealt with is garbage

          • @hasher22: What I don't forgive is that they offshore the call center. There is no excuse for that.

            Also they have 2 phone numbers: one for anyone, offshore, and the other one exclusively for the shops: they call it "Family & Friends"

            • @DisabledUser54871: I have never heard of a "family & friends" phone line. There is no such thing, stores have speed dial numbers but this 'family & friends' phone numbers is non-existent. Family and friends need to call the generic numbers as well. Also that generic phone number to Optus is not exclusive to offshore reps, it connects to Australian reps as well.

              Tell me this, think of the internet or mobile phone bills you're paying now. Now tripple or even quadruple that amount per month. Would u be happy paying up to 4x or more per month?

              Fact of the matter is: Offshore keeps costs down, whether you like it or not.

    • Once took me 6 months of weekly phone calls to Telstra to sort out an internet problem(was a yes you can, week later no you can't get it scenario) got there eventually :D

  • +1

    When the call drops off, why do you never call back? You manage our phone number and service but yet you disappear like we said goodbye?

    • +6

      The thing is, it's not that we don't want to call you back….. it's that we can't.

      Call centre reps are on high and strict KPIs, when a call drops out and if you do get a call back, that rep is sacrificing his/her KPI.

      The KPIs when I worked, if a call dropped out, we can call back but we know how badly it would affect our stats, so we didn't. If the KPIs included call backs, then yes, you would get a call back.

      Reps are under high stress due to KPIs, if you never worked in a call centre, just ask someone how their life was in a call centre and I can tell you it aint positive at all. Ask about their KPIs as well.

      It's a problem we raised even when I was working there 4 years ago. Trials have been done with different teams for dropped out calls but nothing never stuck.

      There are over prob 10 KPIs reps have to adhere to within their shift and if one KPI is not met for 2 months in a row, that rep is given a verbal notice, prob go on performance management etc…. it's not good.

  • If you were curious about knowing more about someone and you had their phone number, could you just enter in their phone number into the system to find out their details? (Assuming they were with optus of course)
    Are workers held accountable for every account they view?

    • +7

      Each number you enter in the system records your staff ID. Yes, it's possible but the consequences is not worth it.

      For example, I entered a customers number wrong in the system and a corporate account came up when getting to the 2nd page or so into the account. I noticed it wasn't the customers account and quickly closed it. Next day, I got an e-mail from the account manager stating why I accessed the account and they CC'ed my manager and centre manager. They made a big deal out of it even though I had hard evidence that I got 1 digit wrong from the customer and it was an honest mistake. I was threatened that I will get a formal warning if I accessed any corporate accounts again.

      • Is it possible to ask for your account details to be completely deleted off the system if you are no longer an optus customer?

        • +1

          I think by law, don't quote on this but non-active account details need to be kept in the system up to 7 years then by request it can be fully deleted with no traces.

          Call the call centre and ask them, most prob they won't know since it's a rare question but I am sure the internal process intranet will have the answer.

          • @hasher22: By law they need to maintain 7 years history for record keeping, auditing and customer disputes purposes.

            After 7 years they backup data to tapes or cold storage.

            Its very very rare that they delete it.

            In fact now a days they use old data to do predictive analytics and forecast using big data and AI.

  • Why don't they ever call you back when they say they will call you back???
    In optus' defence, Telstra is bad for it too.

    • +2

      Read my reply to ssa02

      There could be a number of reasons why they didnt call back
      - No answer to your question / dispute
      - Didn't get approved to get time off the phones for a call back
      - They just didn't want to call you back / forgot

      I've had many reps in other companies as well that offers a call back but doesn't. Seems is a call centre thing….

  • I am looking at getting a couple of services from Optus, is there a way to get any Freebies. All up $95/month.

    • In-store unfortunately no.

      The 'freebies' are usually part of new customer deals and are in-built in the deal. If you're looking for freebies such as something that's not part of a deal, such as free case or extra discount, the answer is mostly no. Store reps and even the manager cannot give freebies.

      Phone sales may have something different and online sales may have something different. Try those channels.

  • How do I get direct to a complaint line?
    I recently moved apartments and I've been out of internet for 2 and a half weeks, and have been told I will be out for another week because I have to reapply for them to move my connection for the 3rd time. They still have the hubris to charge me for it.
    I just want to let them know politely that I don't want to pay for a service I haven't received.

    • +2

      There is no 'complaint' line as such. You need to call the billing team for internet connection you have and they 'should' compensate you for the time loss.

  • How much surcharge doe optus charge for paying monthly bills with Amex/other credit cards?

    • 0.427% this can change at any time

    • I pay with my mastercard credit card without a surcharge

      • Weird, you should be charged a surcharge on the next bill. If you're not being charged, keep it that way :)

        • Also never charged for master

    • It's free for Direct Debit billing. My five bills are all direct debited with Optus (business x 2 + personal x3). Telstra and Vodafone have surcharge though and I'm with them as well for different services.

      • Are you on Direct Debit through your BSB/Account number though? I am sure you are still charged the surcharge when going through direct debit with a credit/debit card

  • Why does Optus always “upgrade” their online systems, but keep breaking everything which was working well?
    e.g. Web page are loading slower and slower, fonts are getting bigger and bigger, MyAccount system is getting worse and worse (and broken now).

    Also, it was very disappointed that they removed me2u and $2 Day.

    • I feel ya, I feel they always upgrade but it seems to be getting worse.

      They always update because our systems keeps changing and alot of internal testing and processes change therefor the online system needs to change. Whether its for maintenance or features.

      Don't fix what's broke… but they do.

    • The my account is nothing short of horrendous.

  • With system automations happening now… Data pooling is setup quicker and seen more and more with vmno's.. how many numbers can we pool together? Tried to get a 4 number pool and they stated only with corporate accounts..

    • With the new System in place, there shouldn't be a limit. Just as long your credit check is approved and all the services are on the one billing account then you can have 10/20/30 etc services that can data pool.

      In the old system, you can have up to 5.

      In the corporate system, I don't know sorry.

      If you tell me how many digits and what number it starts with I can tell you what system you're in.

      Edit: When you tried, were you an Optus customer already or the rep said you can't get it and it's only for corporate accounts? If you're not an Optus customer and you tried to get 4 and the rep knocked you back. That is incorrect and the rep shouldn't have knocked you back due to incorrect information. Personal, business and corporate can all get an account with data sharing, just as long they're on a data sharing plan.

  • +2

    do you like chicken nuggets?

    • +5

      YES! Depending on my mood, it's either Maccas or KFC nuggets :)

  • What's your favourite mobile plan and why?

    If your internet is seperate, what's your favourite Internet plan and why?

    • +1

      To be very very honest with you, I was never with Optus with my internet. I know they stuff alot of people around in the sense of delays, reaching a rep, connection updates. Therefore I will never sign up with Optus ever with internet. I've been with TPG then Mungi and now with Aussie Broadband.

      My fav plan would be a plan that is bang for buck (vague I know) with complimenting my lifestyle. I use alot of mobile data and tethering as a single person. I am currently paying $75 per month with a galaxy S9 w/ 32gb of data.

  • What are you bonuses like if you reach your KPIs?

    • +1

      In the call centre, they don't have monthly bonuses per say but if you do really well in your yearly review, rating from 1 to 6, 6 being the worst, you will get a monetary bonus. The bonus is dependent on how the business did that year. One year I scored 2 and got a 6k bonus before tax. The year after that, I got 2 again and got 4k. It's up to the team leader if they run individual team rewards such as chocolates etc….. not really a motivational tactic but its something.

      Stores changed their commission structure, since most stores now are company owned, the commission when it was a franchise was amazing. I would get X dollars per sale and would easily get $300 - $500 per month just me doing my job and I didn't have to meet target, I was part time too. It was amazing working for a franchise, everyone was happy, I actually wanted to go to work. We even had reps that would come in early and volunteer to work outside their shift without pay because they know the sales they make would outweigh their hourly wage.

      When Optus purchased all the stores, processes and culture started to decline. Reps have to meet 80% of target to get commission, mind you which is hard depending on the area then they get commission based on the hours worked for that month. My store made the 80% target, and I got $45 commission. Full timers would get roughly $200 but when it was a franchise, they would easily hit $600+.

      When customers say, "do you get commission on this sale?", my response would be "what commission?".

      To be fair, when we had full staff members and a competent manager, we were hitting 80% but when they decided not to replace the people that left, we never met target for over 1.5 years. We had no motivation to meet the KPIs, what for? $20? Our physical and mental health was not worth it.

      It's harder for stores to meet targets because they are understaffed and targets are unrealistic to a degree. The store I worked at, we used to have 5 people working on weekends, now its down to 3. It makes a huge difference.

  • +1

    OP love your responses most interesting AMA I've seen so far in 2019

    • +1

      Thank you!! :D

  • if one is in a lengthy phone call however an urgent #2 beckons, do you stay on the call, or make an excuse to go do your business.

    • It's rare for someone to do that, because one of the KPIs is hold time, if your hold time is very high they will investigate into why. The last thing a call centre rep wants is some manager that micro manages.

      But, if it's #1 then yes, I've done that a few times. If nature calls, nature calls. :)

  • Optus my account portal seems to be a pain in the butt. I know they are upgrading it but that platform is the worst I can tell so far.
    Once the account gets timed out and it will be in an infinite loop until you kill the window and go again.
    This is the main reason I stay away from Optus for my main mobile service but I do have multiple numbers with their Mobile Broadband.

    • Don't worry, I have the same problem for years now. I even noticed they got rid of the "stay signed in" check option because it never worked for me anyways.

  • What's KPI?

    • +4

      Key Performance Indicator.

      Its a measure of performance goals/business objectives within the workplace.
      ie, say you're a salesman, you must make 500 sales to meet the performance goal, etc.

    • +2

      the reason why life is shyt, and getting shyter by the minute

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