Phone messages lost in translation

IPSWICH councillors have condemned Telstra for moving its after-hours call answering service to the Philippines - prompting complaints about operators who can barely speak English.

Telstra moved its call centre off-shore early this year without informing the council of its decision.

After complaints about garbled and illegible messages sent by Filipino call workers, Telstra has redirected council's Memo service to Ballarat, Victoria.

Councillor Andrew Antoniolli, a regular recipient of mis-spelt messages, said the off-shore product was a “very poor service”.

“Not only could they not understand us, we couldn't understand them,” he said.

“We were getting complaints from residents.

“It was a second-rate service.”

Telstra Memo is a messaging service that can be attached to any Telstra mobile phone.

When callers leave messages, they are typed by the call centre employees and sent to the mobile phone as an SMS.

Messages can also be sent via email.

Mayor Paul Pisasale said the Telstra move overseas did not affect the council's call centre voice number 3810 6666, which was always answered in Ipswich between 6am to 8pm weekdays and in Brisbane after hours. “(Memo) calls were moved to the Philippines without notice,” he said.

“Between 6am and 6pm weekdays, pager text message calls to Telstra are answered in Australia.

“At other times, they can be answered overseas.

“Telstra tell us they will work with their contractor overseas to improve service and plan to resume using this service for pager messages full-time from July 2009.”

Last October, reports surfaced that more than 500 Telstra call centre jobs in Australia were to be transferred to the Philippines.

Federal Member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll said he would prefer to keep all Telstra services within Australia.

“There's very little that the Federal Government can do about a private business,” he said.

“We have seen a trend in recent times with companies (who had set up overseas operations) moving their services back to Australia.”

  • Do you think Telstra should operate call centres overseas? Leave a comment in the area below, or let the QT know by calling 3817 1738 or email

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