Canberra Man Chains Himself To Optus Store, Frustrated Over iPad Customer Service

Gizmodo just got off the phone with Laurence Kain, a small business owner who earlier this afternoon took the extreme step of chaining himself to the Canberra City Optus store. He said his “peaceful protest” was a last resort after unsuccessful attempts to switch the ownership of his iPad data account between his businesses, despite three previous store visits and five hours on hold. Updated

At around 1pm, Kain entered the store with a camera crew and a stop watch timer. The protest lasted 22 minutes and 47 seconds. As you’d expect, security were quick to arrive and watched the situation while a store employee spent 20 minutes on the phones with superiors to address the situation.

Speaking with Gizmodo, a still frustrated Kain laughed: "Spending time chaining myself to the counter in an Optus shop isn't high on my priority list for a Friday afternoon. I'm not a nutcase that enjoys going around chaining myself to shit."

"I have done everything over the past 3 months . . . the ownership of this account was starting to affect the accounting procedures of two of my companies and . . . drastic action was the only way I was confident this would be fixed."

Police soon arrived and Kain freed himself from the store’s counter once presented with the choice of leaving or being arrested for trespass. "I'm not going to break the law. I wasn’t there to be aggressive or to damage property. I felt I had exhausted every other avenue."

“The purpose wasn't just to fix my account, it was to make a statement to these big businesses, including Optus, that it's not OK to charge a premium for their service and not provide any after-sales support."

Contacted for comment, an Optus spokesperson said: "We are aware of the incident and understand that the customer's issue is in the process of being resolved."

Update 30/6 11AM: Optus has advised that "the issue has now been resolved and [Mr Kain] has been notified. We are now looking into why it wasn't actioned earlier/after repeated requests."

We had to ask him: Why didn’t you take the issue to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)? As Lifehacker reminded us today, any business with annual turnover of less than $3 million (and up to 20 employees) can have its complaints considered by the independent arbitrator.

Unfortunately, Kain hadn't been aware of the TIO until after the protest. And that’s the takeaway here -- not enough people are aware that they're not stuck dealing solely with terrible customer service staff. Whether you're a business owner or consumer, you’re generally not alone in these matters. Just don't take those matters into your own hands.



    I had a terrible Optus experience across about five months. I didn't bother going in-store, but their call centre staff and official processes kept screwing things up on what should have been a pretty basic process.

    Eventually I went through the TIO, but unfortunately Optus won't have gotten their ass kicked enough over it - after lodging your complaint, the TIO simply forwards it to a high-up Optus Customer Service team [ie. one that can speak decent English] who will sort you out pretty quickly, and at the end of it, you're just glad to have it sorted and can't be bothered registering your complaint anywhere else.

    [Except here, obvs.]

      cheap labour = crap service....

        The negative publicity is a great punishment for a corporation that is not honouring it's side of a contract. Hope they are red faced to the max and it costs them big time in loss of patronage!
        A far more fitting penalty than the wrist slap from TIO, said TIO having clearly not been a successful strategy for getting these corporations to fulfill their commercial obligations as such problems not only continue but are evidently widespread. Major problem being corporates factor fines into overheads, fine is cheaper than doing the right thing and probably tax deductible too.
        Good on you Laurence Kain.

    If he didn't know about TIO he deserves his treatment. If he didn't know about whirlpool he deserves worse.

      No consumer deserves shit treatment.

        Treatment aside, Whirlpool and the TIO are your biggest friends in these situations. This situation could perhaps been averted had he been more aware of information readily available to everyone. He doesn't deserve the treatment, but he does deserve to made look a fool because of his lack of awareness.

      Whirlpool is a joke. I have never seen a positive comment there. It's just a place where the negativity troll hang out to complain about everything and if you ask a question they kick the crap out of you for not figuring out the always obvious answer. Also, @ marzon, not everybody knows about the TIO, so you may be more comfortable over at Whirlpool.

      Douche chill!

      Jerks blame the victim. Whirlpool, as already noted, is full of jerks.

      Go back to Whirlpool?

    He's got an "ipad account"? WTF? Premium service? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    Man... get some fricken brains, buy your device outright and then use any 3G service you want with it. If a service isn't good enough then just terminate it and move on.
    YES Optus and telstra and Vodaphone and the rest are con-artists, but it takes a gullible victim for a con to work.

      ummm he said it was for his business so one would assume that he gor it on a data plan or something...
      Secondaly if you ter,inate your contract, you're still gonna have to pay the rest of your contract... Common sense mate...

        Have terminated all phones at Optus. It has taken DoDo 5 tries to get my number from Optus.They say they can't do it without the account number,but Optus changed the number. Lets hope this last go works.They also want $98 dollars cancellation fee from my wife's $29 cap phone,still on contract for two months. ha ha ha.

      Really? So you think that if you sign up for a $29, month-to-month plan and spend $500 on a phone of your own, you are being smarter than someone else who signs a 24 month contract for the same $29 a month plan and gets a $500 phone for nothing? Yeah, right.

        Hey hey hey... lets not bring logic into this!

        I'm far smarter in that I don't have to go around chaining myself to things to get good service, my phone and tablets are mine 100% and I'm not overpaying on my device through the idiotic fake subsidisation involved in phone plans where the price of data and calls that you make are decided upon your level of credulity.

          No mention of contract, no mention of purchasing the tablet through the telco....just the data account itself is in dispute.

          You so clever, and you read real good!
          Being a judgemental prick off the back of your own comprehension issues...well....this sort of priceless shit you can only get from wankers on gadget blogs.

    Runs at least two companies.
    Acts like a child to get his own way.
    Isn't aware of well-known avenues for aid in resolving issues with bad customer service.

    Would you kindly tell me the names of the companies this guy runs so I can go out of my way to avoid dealing with any of them? Thanks.

      Found him on Twitter - @lexingtonmusic

        And also @kicks_entertain

        Oh and you obviously run a very successful business and he would be shattered if you didn't deal with him! No you are most probably an old fat nerd, so unless he runs KFC or a brothel the chances of you ever going near his business are quite slim you idiot!

          And you're probably the type of person cheering this guy on, because if you walked into said KFC outlet and they ran out of Double Downs, you'd chain yourself to their counter because you're not getting your daily intake of fat.

      You can only use the TIO if your business turns over less than $3m PA and has less than 20 employees, unfortunately in this instance this avenue is not open to me. Believe me I tried for 3 months to resolve this in every other way possible. Spending 2 hours screwing around on a Friday chaining myself to an Optus service desk is not high on my to do list, believe me.

        That refers to the company you are dealing with. Basically an.individual can raise a complaint against a telco e.g. Three/opt us....I know because I have done it, gets issues resolved quickly as long as you request is reasonable.

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

        Dont lie Loz, you love being chained to things... I know I do

    Optus and Vodafone all the same, could not give a toss about your 49 or 59 a month, you are in a contract with them regardless you signed the contract. You are only one of millions of customer do you really think they care? Always use the Government, they are always afraid of TIO and fines. But chaining yourself to their counter? These sales peeps who work there are mostly part timers if not casuals making like 21 an hour before tax you think they give a toss? They do not care as most are just students studying who wants to have a better career than a shit sales person at Telco retail outlets, they will not give any empathy unfortunately, Telco retail shops are the "slightly older " version of MacDonalds staff.

      I used to work retail. Did for 15 frigging long years. What you say is so true. However, a lot of staff to really care about what is going on with the customer. However, as you stated, there is not much you can do when some twat in your company screws the pooch with customer service.

      I only hope he was not nasty to the sales staff there. However, if he was dealing with the same staff member over a period of weeks AND they kept on dropping the ball......well you get what you deserve don't you.

      You really have no idea what you're on about.

      As a student working casual at a Telstra store, I'm rather offended at this comment. Not sure which tosspots have served you in the past to make you assume we're all like that, but I actually make the effort to help my customers out with their billing issues and waive any charges which I feel the customer don't deserve (and 95% of the time, I'm successful in doing so).

      Oh, and yes, I do care and give several tosses.

    Want to make a complaint ? There's an ombudsman for that :)

    This is brilliant. I'm sure some copycats will follow, I'm considering it myself for a large company that won't resolve my dispute.

    Optus once use to be a decent company to deal with. Not any more. Their call centre staff are useless, tell lies and give you squat. The Optus stores are sometimes worse. Staffed by careless twits who are more interested in their looks than serving customers. But who do you tell, its a company with no leader. Optus, if anyone there can read this, you are a disgrace, your services are woeful, your reception is almost non existent and I will be ditching you the second my contracts are up. In tough times, businesses need to work that little bit harder to stay ahead of the pack. Optus has become the bottom of the barrel.

    I had a similar experience. It's so frustrating

    Telco cares about you as much as your insurance company cares you pay your premium and reject your claims. It's a contract not a business relationship, contract. Contracts are devoid of emotions empathy and exceptions. AMD all 24 months of it.

    Telco Cares about you as much as your Insurance company cares you pay your premium and rejects your claims. It's a contract not a business relationship, contract. Contracts are devoid of emotions empathy and exceptions. Contracts are also devoid of customer service common sense and reasoning - all the successful ingredients for telco's contracts, all 24 months of it for you to endure.

    I used to run the complaints desk at "3" many many years ago when they first launched. I won't go into detail, but no teleo wants a complaint with the TIO. Every one of them- every one..... Has a penalty attached.

    Whats worse & more effective than the TIO - bad press. Good job Mr kain

    Had an issue with an optus dsl connection once, as well as the phone line itself. I called up and the monkey on the other end didn't want to know because i was using a non approved third party router. I kept insisting that i knew the issue was on the line outside the house, and possibly on their end. I eventually got through to a supervisors supervisor who actually listened, realised i knew my stuff and placed a fault log. Turns out a pit was full of water at the end of the street killing connections for everyone. after it was fixed, there was a noticable speed boost. Moral of the story, keep on them, but dont act like a douche.

    Should have gone to a Telechoice. Service is much better

      Or he should have gone to Specsavers.

      as it was a wireless service it not somthing the store could have done. these are done through optus customer service. this guy just made a dick of himself and would find it funny if those staff popped into honkey tonks or even one of the events one of his companies organises and pull this same stunt. karma is a bitch ,

      I'm just going to assume that was a sarcastic comment.

      Telechoice are horrible.

    Maybe a publicity stunt for his company(s) he is on linkedin Laurence Kain Owner, Kicks Entertainment Pty Ltd Canberra Area, Australia · Events Services

      Pretty sure he recently sold his stake in kicks.

    The Canberra city Optus store has terrible customer service. I've had them sell reserved items on me (while then refusing to give me the same item they "Reserved" for someone else), be straight out rude to me, and tell me I'm wrong about pricing while refusing to check the computer for the latest price.

    In each case either Belconnen or Tuggeranong have had fantastic customer service and I've had no problem with them at all.

    Unfortunately that service couldn't make up for the overall quality of the Optus network and the TIO got me out of there.

      good to hear u got good customer service from tuggeranong, as a store manager its always good to hear

    Problem is Telco make too much profit, that is why they could not be bothered.
    Even when Vodafone had that huge network problems last year, thousands and thousands of customer left and nothing happens, Vodafone still enjoys a healthy profit with no indication that the Australian arm will fold, in fact, so cash up that they boast about spending 1 billion dollars on their network which only saw marginal improvement in city and nil difference in the suburbs, as if they cared..
    Despite so many cistomers left. balance sheet still looks as healthy as ever. This tells me they absolutely have no motivation to improve on their performance.

      Actually, VHA is in the red and has been for a while now. Rumour has it that Hutchison Whampoa (the company behind Hutchison Australia/3) are the ones pumping the most money into it to keep it afloat, yet Vodafone Group plc (Vodafone Australia) want the most control.

      To be honest Hutchison Whampoa should just buy out Vodafone Australia/Vodafone Group's share and rebrand the network 3. :)

        Oh, and the $1 billion claim is a lie really, most VHA staff will now tell you 'up to' $1 billion.
        Most of it is being spent on hardware that has been neglected for many a year.

    Optus "WAS" good back in the day, about 10 years ago when i arrived in australia as a student back then, telstra was the crap ones.

    Dunno what the f*ck happened in between those 10 years that the role is switched now

    The Ombudsman office is useless
    I had an issue with a financial company starting with " V" and they just ignored the evidence at hand.
    I wouldn't trust them again

      The telecommunications ombudsmans office is probably the only one which actually does their job. I can't say the same for any of the other ombudsmans offices.

        I'd have to disagree on that, the ACCC helped me out when a real estate agent got a bit greedy, said real estate agent then backed off with their tail between their legs and just a wet spot was left on the carpet. In many cases your left with no alternative but to use one of these departments, and if your case holds water 9 out of 10 times then end result will be a positive one.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Pretty soon the Australian governments going to give the ACCC bigger teeth. Had a real estate agent try and scam $659 out of my bond, sicked the ACCC onto them and they backed off with their tail between their legs. Just don't abuse those teeth.

    All you people that run the telco shops down have no idea of the stress in running these shops. We own a Optus shop and we do everything in our power to look after our customers. My husband had a breakdown because of the commitment he put in to helping our customers. We will not tolerate bad customer service from our staff and so we have loyal customers. It is not just Optus but telstras customer service is disgusting also. We cannot pick up Optus where we live so have to use Telstra. Have had nothing but problems all the time. So please do not put us all in the same league there are telco staff in shops who do care.

    At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming yet again to read other news.

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