The Case of the Pre-Paid Mobile Credit

Last week my wife purchased $30 pre-paid credit for a Telstra NextG service from an automated machine at Safeway supermarket.  Telstra is already infamous for it’s bad service, and it was no surprise that probably the service they least care about is pre-paid, and of course provides the worst service in the rare instance you actually have to use it.

So as soon as my wife got home she tries to use the 12 digit authorization number. However there is no credit. So immediately she calls Telstra. Telstra tell her she needs to wait 48 hrs. Now she has been using pre-paid for several years and it has always been available instantly. So I’m not sure if this is a made up statement to get you off the phone and improve call duration stats, or if this is something that really can occur.

48 hrs later the credit is still not available.

So call Telstra again – this time they say there is nothing they can do about it, you must go to the store you purchased it at.

So she goes to Safeway, and the management their say you must go to Telstra store.

So after about 1 hr waiting at the Telstra store it is finally concluded they also cannot do anything, all they can do is provide the number of the person who used the credit. Telstra did suggest that in some cases people might guess an authorization number, and up to 3 can be entered in a day on the phone. How that would be my problem I don’t know. If that truly is the case then it would seem the authorization number algorithm / length of number is not sufficiently secure, and possibly additional authorization should be required instead of just a single number.

It is interesting to note at this point that the credit was used 1 hr before the date/time on my wife’s receipt, which would seem to obviously exclude the possibility she had just given the number to someone else.

So it was back to SafeWay. One manager escalated to another, and it was full on pow-wow between the three local ‘managers’ of some description. The number and date/time of the usage of the pre-paid credit was provided to SafeWay. They called Telstra to verify that. Another hour of life wasted. Still no refund or replacement of credit.

In the end the value of the time attempting to get a refund has already far outweighed the actual value of the credit.

SafeWay said it is not possible to provide a refund because the credit is already used. In addition they said it was “impossible” that the machine could have printed the same number twice. (ever hear of software bugs? or wait…their code is 100% bug free. where can I learn to do that?)

My wife now waits as SafeWay have said they will contact the person who used that number. Good luck.

About chentiangemalc

specializes in end-user computing technologies. disclaimer 1) use at your own risk. test any solution in your environment. if you do not understand the impact/consequences of what you're doing please stop, and ask advice from somebody who does. 2) views are my own at the time of posting and do not necessarily represent my current view or the view of my employer and family members/relatives. 3) over the years Microsoft/Citrix/VMWare have given me a few free shirts, pens, paper notebooks/etc. despite these gifts i will try to remain unbiased.
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