No sensis® and no sensitivity

In October 2011 we were persuaded to switch our Australian Yellow Pages advertising from print to on-line media, based on a shift in sensis’ overall direction. The package and price offered was good.

The process of sensis staff creating the advertisement took several weeks rather than several days despite me supplying a complete set of text for the advertisement (but I was assured there would be no bills from senses until the work was done). Delays in completing the work and publishing the advertisement cut out all sales opportunities pre Christmas 2011.

Before the advertisement was live, we had received a bill for the work that at the time had not been done contrary to earlier promises. A written objection was lodged in early December. To date no action has been taken on this written complaint by senses apparently ‘the complaint is in the queue….’ But this has not stopped their credit department following up on monies that were billed for work not done – a potential breach of the Trade Practices Act.

Dozens of phone calls later, in mid January 2012 the situation remains:

  1. No one from senses has contacted me (apart from the credit people)
  2. The advertisement as created by senses is incorrect and inaccurate and has not been corrected despite numerous telephone calls
  3. I’m now being billed monthly for an advertisement that is wrong and does not reach our specific market – we are refusing to pay this bill as well
  4. No information has been provided on how to manage the advertisement and its on-line content
  5. Telstra/sensis management continue to hide behind call centre staff who have generally been more then helpful as individuals but are helpless when faced with internal bureaucracy and indifference

To add insult to injury, the on-line form for contacting sensis in writing has been defective since December 2011 and every telephone call takes over 30 minutes ‘on-hold’ before contact is made with the call centre staff, who listen to the complaint, log the call and escalate the problem again so that nothing happens.

My strong recommendation to any small/medium business operator is to do almost anything with your on-line marketing budget other than wasting your time with the incompetent systems created by sensis. You may be lucky to get things 100% right first time otherwise forget any notion of customer services – based on my experience, as far as sensis is concerned anything they do is good enough and you should be grateful, even if as a small project management training company, you get listed as a miner.

Maybe in 2 to 3 years time the glacial bureaucracy within sensis may have worked out how to implement on-line systems that are responsive to their customer’s needs, until then the cost of the time you will wast trying to deal with their processes will be 5 to 10 times the cost of any bill for the actual advertising.

8 responses to “No sensis® and no sensitivity

  1. Patrick. Take the easy route and black-ban telstra. I did it 7 years ago and have never looked back. I did this after they called me, offering a special business account, which I ended up signing up for on the phone in a 45 minute call. 3 Days later I received another call, informing me I wasn’t eligable for the offer and I would be billed extra.

  2. It’s a funny world – shortly after going public a very helpful person worked through the problems and Sensis have a moderately happy customer.

    My consistent experience was really helpful staff let down by totally incompetent senior management, who of course were much too important to allow a mere customer to contact them and have proved totally incapable of providing the necessary resources to let their people do a proper job.

    I know where the ‘downsizing’ should happen – but of course it won’t.

  3. Hi Pat,

    fining ourselves in a similar situation with Sensis billing, I began looking online for topics which might add to my aresenal when this situation ends up in court – which you might find easy to believe having been through a similar situation.

    In August last year our small business, Mint and Moss signed up over the phone for an advertising package with Sensis. We were promised that the turnaround for the advertisment ‘going live’ with the data we required would be five weeks from the time the data was received.

    Similar to your experience, we were told no billing would occur until the advertisement went live – but lo and behold a Sensis bill arrived almost straight away. The sales representative told us not to pay the Sensis bill until the ad went live. However, after many follow-up emails, after over ten weeks, nothing had been done. We finally gave up and cancelled the service with Sensis due to non-performance, and the staff respectfully apologised and told us the bill would be credited and withdrawn – this was mid-November 2011.

    Since then, all during December, January, February and March the Sensis billing staff have repeatedly hounded our business for payment of the erroneous bill. Most times we are very polite, working with the staff to find out why the promised credit to the account did not get correctly applied. Many times, though, we have simply said “the previous staff member said a credit had been applied, and to ignore all further bills”.

    Finally in March 2012, we contacted the original Sensis sales representative, out of desperation – by now a credit collector had left his business card under the door of Mint and Moss with an ominous message written on it. The Sensis sales rep. said he would gladly help and set about making internal phone calls whilst we waited for a result.

    Finally, the Sensis sales rep. called back and repeated his apology, explained to us that an internal error had occured however it had been identified and fixed. He assured us that there would be no further problems because the specific cause of the billing error had been identified (specifically that applied credits were being rejected, or some such thing).

    You can imagine my surprise when we received a letter last week from a legal firm named Alpha Legal Pty Ltd based in Bank Place in Melbourne making a final demand for payment of the $800-odd ‘outstanding balance’ within seven days or face legal action which wold result in additional costs.

    Really!! I suppose my next step is to either make a complaint to the Department of Fair Trading or to allow them to challenge this in Court…

    Thoughts? Anyone else had a poor Sensis experience?

    • I do have to report that once Sensis took the matter seriously the resolution of my issue was very professional and effective. Getting noticed is the challenge.

    • Hi Shawn,
      I have the same problem with you now. They send me a letter from a legal firm named Alpha Legal Pty Ltd. Honestly I do not what to do with them now. What did you do? Did you pay to them or go to court? Really need advice at this moment.

  4. What you have experienced is only the tip of the iceberg. This company is a complete disaster. The probem lies in their inefficient systems and incompetent managers not their staff who unfortunately are abused daily for a myriad of issues outside their control. Management simply doesn’t care about the customer and any attempts by staff to rectify a problem almost always fails because their is no accountability or responsibility from above. Please do not give up and pursue the matter further, it is only the customer that can bring this incompetent company to account for their failures. We the humble employees try to resolve issues but are often silenced with intimidation and bullying if we complain about the problems.

  5. I have had three years of problems with sensis all the same as the above.
    This year is even better!!! we were automatically sent a ” purchase confirmation” by email. that i did not see. we have not even been contacted by a salesperson. now we are getting bills for a further year of book and online advertising that we didnt want or conifrm to purchase. because i did not reply to said email (that i didnt see ) we are apparently locked into another year. i have complained by email but i know from other years of complaints that it will probably fall on deaf ears. I will go to office of fair trading but will see what happens….i am sooooo angry with this company….

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