Telstra’s $90 million phone bill

Telstra has lost millions of dollars on its phone line deal with the DHS.

Telstra has lost millions of dollars on its deal with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to operate its call centre. The $474 million deal granting Telstra control over Centrelink’s phone lines has cost the telecom giant more than it expected, according to Fairfax.

The current deficit is purported to be up to $90 million, and with at least two more years left of the agreement, Telstra is set to lose millions more. According to Fairfax, Telstra lost $30 million per year for the first two years of the contract, with this figure expected to continue rising at a similar or greater rate for the foreseeable future.

However, Telstra isn’t the only one losing out. Callers to Centrelink have been subjected to a worsening service ever since Telstra took over the contract in June 2012. In 2013-14, Australians spent a total of 143 years waiting to speak to Centrelink before giving up. Additionally, Telstra’s shareholders have also been kept in the dark about the losses.

However, suggestions have been made that criticism of Telstra is unjust, since the phone company may simply be willing to absorb the contract’s initial fallout in order to guarantee ongoing future projects with the government.

Telstra competed with rivals Optus, Dimension Data and NEC in 2012 to seal the deal, which at the time, became one of the Commonwealth's biggest IT contracts.

The five-year deal includes two, one-year extension clauses, and will eventually lead to Telstra’s management of all of the DHS’s telephone, data and call centre services. The deal is supposed to simplify DHS services by connecting Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support. It is also supposed to provide valuable services for several thousand staff across more than national 855 sites.

Read more at Sydney Morning Herald.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    1st Jul 2015
    How is Telstra to blame for lengthy delays trying to get through to Centrelink when all that is needed is for some one at the other end, ie. A Centrelink employee to merely pick up the phone???? Or is it Telstra who cuts me off after having waited hours on the phone for someone to answer? That's it, it must be Telatra's fault for the disconnection???
    1st Jul 2015
    From my understanding Telstra has the contract - they are the ones that answer not C/Link. So I really wonder if these people are trained & how secure is the system if every Joe Bloggs knows our business?? No wonder things get hacked & identity theft is on the increase.
    1st Jul 2015
    The contract should have gone to Optus because they are more reliable,more courteous,and very approachable.After trying Telstra for internet connection originally I left them & have been with Optus for about 13 years & have received a 12 month & a 6 month free glossy magazine subscription for loyalty (I think).
    2nd Jul 2015
    Playboy or Penthouse ? :-)
    1st Jul 2015
    That seems true Peterrj - would DHS managers be more firm with staff re calls if they were picking up this phone tab?
    1st Jul 2015
    Record of attempts to contact Centrelink re bank changes.
    30th June 2015 – Tried to contact Centrelink using the program set up for customer on line services, but found that it was necessary to register with My.Gov to facilitate the action.
    Successfully proceeded to register via myGov and attempted to use the link to Centrelink to advise of the changes to a term deposit, but system refused to acknowledge my CAN Number (403652716). After 3 attempts I phoned the myGov help line.
    After speaking to a customer service representative at around 10 am for at least half an hour, and going backwards and forwards through the online system he told me he had no answer to the problem and said he would transfer me to another section which would be able to assist me.
    I held the line for another 45 minutes while music played and telephones rang and recorded messages told me how helpful and easy it is to use the new myGov system, then the line finally shut down, so I gave up in frustration, determining to try again tomorrow.

    1st July 2015 – I attempted to access myGov to notify about bank details and was refused access by the server at 11 am.
    1st Jul 2015
    I notice your CAN number you show above does not have a letter at the end. In my experience they usually do; perhaps this is your problem with access?
    1st Jul 2015
    Hey man, don't give out your CAN over the internet. Haven't you heard about identity theft?
    Ask the web service to delete the message as you are risking it big time.
    1st Jul 2015
    TOO late mate I have written it down!
    1st Jul 2015
    1st Jul 2015
    Hillbillypete, don't waste your time, those numbers won't work!!!!
    1st Jul 2015
    To peterrj....TELSTRA is managing the Centrelink Call Centre they are teh Managers and to blame.
    & to Francobee I have had similar problems with My Gov I have finally sorted it
    after many calls ......On one callthe person I spoke to said "I tell all callers to cancel their security settings Its a hopeless system" Now I can actually use the web site on some days
    Once it was easier to travel into town to teh Centrelenk office than get any satisfaction with my Gov BUT it is the messiest worst website I know and as screwy as Telstra I am not that happy eeither about TELSTRA managing my Data for MEDICARE AND CENTRELINK they are and always have been inefficient an dUNTRUSTWORTHY
    1st Jul 2015
    Unfortunately the only way to deal with Centrelink is in writing. The verbal advice either face to face or over the phone is unreliable even if you get a receipt number. I'm still sorting out underpayments dating back three years. Once you can get onto the officer responsible things start to happen, but my impression is that staff are so overloaded they can't cope.
    I find that too many matters are handled by computers where benefits are cut off quickly, prior to matters being discussed or resolved which takes time. To me this is another issue where the Managers tell officers to initiate action first and sort it out later. The Government(s) are entirely to blame as they go down the privatisation of services without ensuring quality of service. It's not just Centrelink, but all agency service levels are appalling. Don't bother attending their offices because they turn you away telling you to do everything online. Pathetic.
    1st Jul 2015
    Maelcolium, you have taken the words right out of my mouth!

    1= have been trying to sort something out since February, they say go on line.
    2= Have tried to contact there fraud line, still waiting for a call back! ITS A JOKE!
    Dollars over Respect?
    1st Jul 2015
    As a member of the public, I have just picked myself up of the floor! ...after having an uncontrollable laughing fit! What?! Telstra...!!!!!!...taking over any call centre - anywhere.....???? !
    Telstra had to drop their own crazy arrangement they had in place for Indian/Pakistani call centre operators to handle Australian service issues - due to the inefficiency (primarily a lack of English speaking skills/lack of comprehension) of these services a few years back! Who (in Australia) hasn't hung up in frustration (or pure anger), while waiting on for hours to have our request for service attended to then? The other Australian organisation that had the 2nd worst reputation for making its clients wait on endlessly was/is Centrelink! People still complain of having to personally front up and wait in long queue's (often having to take time off work to get their issue finally resolved) to deal with either of them. This is the absolute funniest case of "the Blind leading the Blind" - neither have been able to provide an efficient telephone/internet service facility. Currently, for Centrelink, it would be helpful to have employees with adequate English language skills...and essential training to be able to deal with the general public. Once again, not enough 'indians' (meaning 'workers' in this instance) available to do the actual 'work'. What management team made this decision? Look at how much this decision has really cost! Perhaps such 'heads' should roll?
    1st Jul 2015
    No point complaining here about Centrelink, they do not read this page.

    In any case, Centrelink is what it is. Nothing is going to change - ever. So get over it.

    It has been long standing government policy to deliberately understaff Centrelink. It started out as a way to curb the dole, and frustrate people so much they would give up. But in recent years it has been extended to all forms of welfare. The rationale is simple, make it easier for a person to get a job and earn money, rather than deal with the Government.

    In my local Centrelink Cheltenham), the office has been refurbished at least 4 times in the last few years. Who pays for that? We do. The money would have employed more staff, instead of having queues out the door. The last time I went in, there were over 100 people waiting, only about 6 desks manned with staff on the whole floor, and the door bitch trying to maintain order.

    If you want change, stop complaining here, and get off your backsides and do something about it. Politicians (of any colour) will only listen to us when we threaten them with their jobs. There are enough of us to put every Liberal MP out of office tomorrow if we really wanted to. But no-one is prepared to fight.
    3rd Jul 2015
    Have just tried unsuccessfully twice in 2 days to contact Centrelink by phone. No luck. Would do it over the internet but the query in question doesn't fit into the website's area. Also, tried the website for something different yesterday and it was having trouble, warned you it could happen. But if it was something urgent, how else are you going to get through?
    3rd Jul 2015
    send an online message asking for a return phone call. Don't worry that it doesn't fit the criteria.
    3rd Jul 2015
    So, Australians spent a total of 143 years waiting to speak to Centrelink before giving up. I am so proud of the Aussie spirit! Inspirational stuff! This is another reason why we need to live to 150.
    5th Jul 2015
    And a Little Boy Waited :-(
    5th Jul 2015
    I just put in the Biggest Complaint to Telstra that they ever likely to get ( Without the Swearing) I'm proud of Myself :-) There Costing is a Bad Derailment in My eyes ! :-(
    5th Jul 2015
    "THEIR" Costing ! Before the Spelling Cops get here ! :-)

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