Corporate woes

You might think that the big monolithic corporations are the ones who got that way by giving their customers what they want, and taking vast amounts of cash in the process. But it seems to me that some big corporations get so big that they move so slow that it’s a wonder that they’re still profitable.

Around a month ago now, I decided on two things:

  1. I decided I was going to dabble in the stock market. With the current price descent into the depths, especially for technology stocks, I thought it might be a good time to pick up a few bargains. After all, an appalling number of my friends have made small fortunes in technology stocks, and even my mum has a share portfolio, so why shouldn’t I attempt to join in the fun?
  2. I decided I was going to ditch my Internet account, and get cable Internet instead. After all, the price has dropped to the point where it actually costs about the same as my current modem Internet access and the dedicated phone line I run it on. But the cable is around twenty times faster, and has absolutely no logon time limit.

So, I got onto Commonwealth Securities, printed off an application form, and sent it off. And I got onto the Bigpond Advance web site, and filled out an online application.

And then I waited.

Within days, I got a note from the Australian Stock Exchange, noting that they had received a sponsorship for me from ComSec, which is apparently the thing to get to start trading. Just one problem: it was addressed to the wrong house number. There was a digit missing. Someone had figured out where the letter needed to be.

I e-mailed ComSec and asked them to change it. They e-mailed straight back to say, effectively, that "your e-mail is in a queue, and will be answered shortly". Great – I was on e-mail hold.

In fact, they phoned me the next day, and the bloke explained that they couldn’t change my address without it being in writing. I said they’d got it wrong from my application form, and couldn’t they check it? He said the form was somewhere in the system, and would not emerge for several weeks. Seriously! And this is the company revolutionising the share market in Australia through its online trading!

Okay, so I could write a letter. I asked what my account number was. He asked what my password was. I told him. Why this wasn’t enough to initiate the correction to my address without a letter, I don’t know.

It was all beginning to resemble Ron & Jeff’s adventures ordering a pizza. But I wrote the letter, and about a week later, TWO letters from the ASX arrived, confirming the change. One to the correct address, one to the wrong one, which again someone had forwarded on.

The only problem is that many weeks after this, ComSec themselves still haven’t sent me any information about my account, and how I can use it. I’ll keep waiting, though with dozens of other companies I can trade through, I might lose my patience eventually…

Meanwhile over at Telstra Bigpond, one could be forgiven for thinking that they’ve got ComSec handling their application forms. I haven’t heard anything from them. Not a peep. Unfortunately the opposition company, Optus, won’t wire up flats, so I’m stuck waiting until they get their act together.

Stay tuned, I’ll let you know when I actually hear something from either of these two monoliths.

By the way, for those reading who have long memories, the carpet shop that took over the Pot Spot’s location has just closed down. As a retail site, I reckon that spot is doomed.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.