Attention Telstra: Shut up and take my money


blog Hey everyone, just a quick update on my plans to dump my iPhone 4 for a HTC One XL today. This afternoon, after going for a run around the Domain with a mate, I went into Telstra’s T-Life store in Sydney’s central business district to proceed with the purchase.

Unfortunately, at the store I was informed by a Telstra staff member and his manager that they would not sell me a HTC One XL because I did not have enough points of identification on me; normally when I go for a run I only take an ATM card and my mobile phone. That was all I had today.

I offered to provide them with whatever details about my account or personal information they wanted to identify me, but they declined the opportunity. I briefly considered taking the “don’t you know who I am” approach, but came to the conclusion that I would merely embarass myself. I’ll head back in tomorrow with my full wallet and try again. In the meantime, this is my response to you, Telstra retail staff:

Image credit: Still from Futurama


  1. Well, it’s only the law for you to provide photo ID for that kind of purchase…isn’t it?

    • I have no idea, but it was certainly annoying. Whenever I ring up Telstra to change my contract on the phone I don’t have to provide photo ID.

        • IMO online chat is even worse because there is no voice signature… It could be anyone….

        • Given the huge amount of transactions (Internet, credit card, etc) that take place over the telephone, and given the extensive series of checks which banks, telcos etc use over the telephone, that’s a pretty big statement there, PointZeroOne.

          I ask again: If you can provide a reasonable amount of detail about yourself and be verified by Telstra over the phone, why shouldn’t the same apply in person?

          • My friend had his wallet stolen and he wanted to cancel his credit card. So he went into a CitiBank branch and – get this – they asked him to phone up. They wouldn’t do it in the store! He actually borrowed the phone of the teller to call in to cancel his credit card from within the branch!

          • You mean you get to actually talk to someone if you wait on hold for 30 minutes (or more) becuase of the “unusually high call volumes today”

            I’ve never had that much free time so I assumed it was some sort of method they used to provide a phone number for unsuspecting clients, but never actually answer the phone.

      • Even if you wanted to buy a prepaid phone that included a SIM card, it’s regulated that you can use the credit/debit card as the entirety of the required ID as long as you only have less than 5 accounts:

        It’s been discussed on other forums that some retailers get this wrong (locking phones as prepaid when they’re not in their POS system, asking for too much ID) but I would have expected better from Telstra when it’s their core business

      • It is the law to provide a minimum of 60 points, photo ID as per the verification process. This is an AMTA process designed to protect the consumer. As a Dealer, that T-Life store wont be paid commission and will be subsequently punished for not following this procedure.

        They’ve done the right thing by you – to protect your account and your privacy :)

          • I think the signature on your delivery docket of the new handset counts as some form of verification when ordered over the phone/Internet

          • @Aaron actually that’s a good point, lucky my little dinky country post office is pretty lax about things like that. The systems only as secure as the bozos involved.

          • I suspect is has something to do with drug dealers and generally bad-peoples wanting to keep changing their mobile phones.. ID’s are important so the AFP can track them!

            I’l put my tinfoil hat back on now. As you were..

      • When (if) the NBN comes in, the next stop is video calls.
        THEN you’ll have to provide your photo ID over the phone!

        I can see points of failure here already. How do they know it’s not fake?!?

        Am still waiting on Photo ID cards with chips.
        And (fixed) Phones with card readers on them.

      • retail law means they have to ask for the ID dude.. you should be thanking them for preventing fraud in your name =P

    • Yep its the law you need photo id (and with fines up to 2m telstra might be more worried the goverment will take their money!)

  2. How do they know its *actually* you..? Would you like someone else to re-contract a phone on your account without your permission pretending to be you?

    • *sigh* there are reasonable checks and there are unreasonable checks. A photo ID check to buy a mobile phone is a little unreasonable — especially when the customer offers to provide any other detail they want.

      • Eh, the compliance culture used to be much worse. Its quite rare for someone not to have photo ID on them.

        • Until recently the only photo ID I had was an out of date birth card. Every now and then I had staff scratching their heads over it, as they’d never seen one (active or OOD) before, and it was only the Govt stamp on it that saved me.

          Fixed now, I needed to update it for my passport (and hence bring my ID into the 21st century), but it was entertaining to see them learn on the job.

          There would be Govt regulations for things like this, just so they know who to track the phone number to if its misused. There were times in the past where prepaid phones with $2 SIM’s were used for bad things.

  3. I agree, we should move to a system where we use finger prints/retina/blood to identify who we are.

    • I don’t think that’s necessary; I think providing enough detail about your account, along with passwords and so on, is fine. The same checks should apply in person as they do over the phone.

      • It’s to prevent fraud, otherwise if someone else has stolen your identity trying to be you. Then anyone could come in to store without photo id knowing your details and to purchase handsets under your name…You would be screwed ! It happens too often in retail !! It’s for your identity safety as well so they know you are legit whoever is in store at the time trying to get a phone on a plan… !!

  4. Were you buying outright or re-contracting?

    If you were recontracting, then fair enough they need your ID. But if you’re buying it outright, that makes zero sense.

    • He would have been re contracting. You don’t require ID for outright phone purchases… You can even pay in cash too.

      • I’m in the same position. Nearly two years ago Telstra offered half price data packs, I naturally jumped at the opportunity. Two separate T-Shops advised me that I would lose the 50% off data deal if I was to re-contract to the XL.
        I have now purchased the XL outright and moved the micro-sim.

        Good Luck

  5. 100 points of ID should only be needed for new contracts or new accounts.
    if you buy it outright and bring a pre existing SIM *zero* ID is needed

  6. Having recently set up a new Prepaid service, I was forced to fill out a pretty official looking government form. In addition to Photo ID as you mentioned.

    Me suspects this is government required.

    • Just a side note, in Malaysia you used to be able to get a prepaid sim without showing any ID or setting up any ID what so ever. But it’s now law that ID is required.

      • only in that it took you this long…
        incidentally have you compared it to the S3? (I know there is not 4G, but still)

        • I haven’t yet reviewed the S3, but I think the build quality and features are comparable, apart from the lack of 4G, which is a deal breaker for me.

          • How much speed do you realistically need from your phone???

            For me the deal-maker on the S3 was the removable battery and having a uSD card.

            I’m getting 6.5Mb/s sustained (3MB pic on with my Gal S3 on Optus. I have 1.5GB a month, but it would be used up pretty quickly if I kept 6Mb/s downloads going all the time.

  7. You wanted them to give you a new phone for zero dollars upfront and you’re upset they wanted to make sure that you are who you say you are? Take it to whingepool.

    • No, I didn’t forget my ID, I didn’t think I needed it; after all, I’ve been a Telstra customer for five years or so, doing all my business with this one store.

  8. Due to the subsidies involved it is like a line of credit the telco is giving you. even with a recon. You could in theory be recontracting someone elses account fraudulently and walking away with brand a $750+ device. You could do this in 3 or 4 stores in 15 minutes before the Billing systems caught up. Meanwhile you’ve taken 4 devices. Telco fraud is rampant at the moment.

      • As someone said, most ‘sales’ type calls – New adds and Recons – are all verbally recorded – so the risk is reduced for the Telco. A walk into store requires your ID be photocopied etc so that is how the risk is mitigated.

  9. I’ve had similar issues with Telstra, though on that occasion they insisted that I had to have a Drivers License. The problem with this is that I’m blind, so that’s totally impossable. I had my RTA-issues proof of age card on me at the time, but the person insisted that it wasn’t enough.

  10. I’d say telstra wants your money, but the law’s the law. Can’t blame them for following it.

  11. I’m confused – so were you attempting to buy the phone outright for $744 or whatever it is?

  12. Should have just ordered it over the phone. For metro areas, normally get next day delivery to your door via courier…

  13. Wow, I ordered mine online and they verified nothing apart from the fact the phone just got added to my account. Was incredibly simple really. I was going to get one from a store, I even tried, but living in a town of 50 people, I didn’t have the patience to wait to be served, had to wait a couple of extra days, but I must admit I’m not sure they would have given it to me anyway, add like Renai I don’t think I would have had 100 pts.

  14. Just wanted to post this as a brief message to those who are saying I should always have 100 points of ID with me and should always know exactly what’s required in every situation etc. The reality is I’m not on top of absolutely everything. I didn’t know you needed photo ID merely to upgrade the phone on my existing plan. It’s not a big deal. I’ll just go in tomorrow with ID.

  15. Maybe if you had tried to sign up for a new plan they would have helped you! LOL

  16. Don’t know if this affects you at all but if you drove for any stretch of your journey you would have been required to have your drivers license with you.

  17. Phone can be so much easier than calling into telco shops. Rang Vodafone yesterday morning and my brand new Galaxy SIII was delivered 30 minutes ago.

  18. On the flip side – even when supplying Photo ID, it doesn’t mean Telstra staff can’t stuff up with the identity check. I was a telstra customer years and years ago, then moved to Three when they came along, then Optus, back to Three and then back to Telstra. Going from Telstra to Three, Optus, etc was quite a painless process (Photo ID required!). Going back to Telstra however… not so much.

    Went into a T-Life store to change back. Credit check (Telstra’s internal one) came back saying I owe money. Uh, what? I haven’t been a Telstra customer for a good 5 years and I’ve never not paid a bill (ever). The guy at the store took an hour and a half to sort it out while I was there (poor bloke – wasn’t his fault). It seems that somehow Telstra had added my drivers license number to someone else’s account… who hadn’t paid their bills. Even the Telstra guy had trouble fixing it up because the people on the other end of the line would keep saying “but it says that the license number matches Mr X” – even though the guy with me kept telling them he had the physical photo ID license in his hand!.

    So yes, while it’s all well and good to say that photo ID is a requirement to prove who you are, it seems even that isn’t enough to prove your identity!

  19. Ronson, that’s because you’re the only customer they sold a phone to yesterday ;-)

  20. Hey everyone, just a brief update:

    I headed into the Telstra T-Life store in the Sydney CBD — the same store as yesterday. I then proceeded to buy a HTC One XL. I bought the phone outright, but I chatted with the sales guy about details of my account, my options and so on; he looked me up on their system.

    The only thing is … today nobody asked me for my photo ID, despite the fact that the same manager was present and inserted me into the same queue. I said exactly the same thing: That I was a Telstra customer with an iPhone and wanted to upgrade to a One XL, but this time I didn’t receive any queries at all about any ID, all through the process.

    All they asked me for was my date of birth, name and phone number — nothing else. Then the sale proceeded as normal.

    I think this goes some way towards validating my complaint about yesterday.



    • @renai They obviously knew who you were and decided you were not to be trusted until you came back.

      On a more serious note, porting an existing phone number to a new phone is one of the more pervasive attacks that frausters use to to steal money from peoples bank accounts. It provides a reasonably straight forward way (if you don’t need to provide photo id) to get second factor SMS passwords sent to you (the fraudster) rather than the actual account owner (the victim).

          • Complain to Telstra about the process. Now you have your phone you dont care what happens, but if you lay it out nice and clear, perhaps it will lead to a ‘better trained staff’…

            Its something that happens everywhere though. Some staff are lax about ID, some are overly militant.

    • If you are purchasing a handset sold on a plan outright telstra do not require id verification because its a standard purchase. If you walk in saying you want to recontract or upgrade you handset as they say they will reply with your id requirements because you will be agreeing to a new contract term.

      • @BRENZ in my experience I’ve recontracted instore and online without photo id, so if there is a rule it is not applied consistently.

  21. Just coming back to this for a second, I went into the local Telstra shop at lunch to look at the Galaxy S III and HTC One XL. Interestingly, the floor rep pretty much pushed me away from those two devices, and on to the older Galaxy S II instead…

    Had a lovely conversation with the girl, tossing out some wildly inaccurate comments (apple has backed themselves into a corner with its OS, rubbish like that) that she heartily agreed with (despite an iPhone 4S being her personal phone…), so in the end I didnt give her opinion much weight, but it was interesting to see that they are still under direction to push the older tech.

    As a part of that, it seems Samsung is significantly ahead of all the others in terms of tech, with HTC apparently ranked 4th…

  22. Renai, similar customer service experience at a Telstra shop – signing up for a new iPhone under contract was very painful – obviously all the consumer credit rules and Telstra fraud protection processes. All this for a $800 phone, and having been a Telstra mobile customer for 20 years, took over an hour. Bit different to the banks who seem to throw credit cards with ridiculous limits at me all the time….

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