Anyone here who is a Telus customer may be familiar with the poor customer service situation. Last year, I cancelled a phone line, which I assumed would be a pretty simple matter of saying “please cancel my phone service” and that would be that. An hour later, I finally get routed to the right person, and have to field a barrage of questions about why I’m cancelling before they will process my request. As if 60 minute on-hold wait times on the phone for telecom customer service weren’t bad enough, Telus’ internet services technical support is about as effective as calling the psychic hotline for legal advice. Just recently, in frustration over a spam problem, I contacted Telus by e-mail to find out why their spam filter doesn’t work.
My e-mail to Telus:
> Every day I get a handful of spam messages in my inbox, which all contain the
> term SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT (just like that, in capital letters) in the subject
> line. Now, I realize that filtering is an inexact and evolutionary process,
> but despite the fact that I consistently report these messages as spam using
> the option in the web menu, they continue to pass the Telus spam filter.
> Again, these messages identify themselves as spam in the SUBJECT line,
> consistently, using the same text, every time. One might reasonably expect a
> monkey to write a filter that would catch these - it saddens me that Telus
> internet services can not be held to the same standard.
> Hello Fuji,
> Thank you for contacting TELUS. We apologize for the delay in our response.
> In regard to your inquiry, messages that contain identifier strings such as
> “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT” or “ADV” are not filtered by our Spam filtering software,
> as you may have noticed. This is due to the social and legal ramifications
> of filtering potentially legitimate messages. Advertisers that correctly
> identify their message in the message subject or body (according to recent US
> legislation) and provide a means to remove your email address from their
> future mailings are not technically considered “Spam”, and as such are not
> filtered by TELUS. To prevent yourself from having this messages arrive in
> your mailbox, you may wish to use the filtering capabilities of your email
> software. It is not recommended that you use the “remove” option, as this
> could potentially result in even more of these types of messages arriving in
> your mailbox.
> Here are the steps to follow to create a mail filter in your email program:
> [full page of generic technologically-deficient-windows-newbie-type >troubleshooting guide deleted]
> Thank you for choosing TELUS as your Internet Service Provider.
> James S.
> TELUS Internet Services
> Technical Support Help Desk
> Alberta and BC: 1-877-310-TECH (8324)
> Email: email@example.com
> Home Page: http://www.mytelus.com/internet/
> “24 hours 365 days for you”
Problem not solved, and they raised more questions than answers. Fair enough. I reply again:
>James - thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, it was not at all helpful.
>A client-side e-mail filter does not prevent spam from reaching my inbox. All
>it does is allow me to delete or move these messages once downloaded from >the Telus server. The internet bandwidth and processing overhead associated >with this procedure is still borne by the customer in this case. I know how to
>write filters - that’s not the issue. The reason I use the Telus spam filter is
>to shift the responsibility and immediate cost of filtering spam to my ISP
>(Telus), in the hope that eventually the problem will be taken seriously.
>You wrote: “social and legal ramifications of filtering potentially legitimate
>messages”. Riiight. Because effective spam filtering would create a bunch of
>happy customers, and we can’t have that, right? Just out of sheer morbid
>curiousity, what negative social ramification do you envision would result from
>filtering out “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: hot teenage farm animal slut action” type
>messages? Apart from getting pubescent teenage boys to have to put the
>keyboard down and find something else to do, I can’t see the negative impact.
>Perhaps Telus has an entirely different vision of social utopia than the rest
>of us, but regardless, one would think that consistently reporting such
>messages as spam would lend you guys a clue. Then again, I’ve been a Telus
>customer for long enough to know better.
>Speaking of having a clue, I refer you to the Coalition against unsolicited
>commercial email, Canada, website at http://cauce.ca. You might want to brush
>up on exactly what legislation is applicable to spam here in CANADA, where,
>FYI, US law tends not to apply. Unfortunately, we don’t really have any
>legislated protection from spam here, but if and when we do get such laws on
>the books, I sincerely hope that they are constructed so as to be much more
>effective than the US model. Do you have to know any of this to work at Telus
>tech support, or do you merely have to know how to ignore phone calls?
>In any case, I would be interested to learn more about the “legal
>ramifications” you refer to. Are you suggesting that Telus is legally liable
>for business losses if it filters content on its own network? Surely not,
>especially if Telus can dictate its own terms of service. Or am I missing
>I look forward to your reply.
Okay, maybe the tone of my reply wasn’t overly friendly, but I tried to ask a couple of reasonable questions. Telus’ reply:
>Thank you for contacting TELUS.
>The Spam Control on your account currently has Option 2 (Delete Spam) >activated. Please note that while TELUS Spam Control will reduce spam the >amount of Spam you are receiving, no spam program can filter 100% of these >troublesome messages. You will likely see some Spam still arriving in your Inbox. >The Spam filters are under constant review, with new criteria being added >constantly. We strive to provide the most effective Spam control.
>We sincerely thank you for helping us by reporting the spam emails to us. >Please note, however, that not all spam reports will be acted upon. Currently >TELUS doesn’t offer any further filtering than the option you already have used. >We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience in this >matter.
>TELUS Spam Control electronically scans your incoming email to tag or delete >annoying and offensive junk mail (Spam) before it reaches your mailbox. It scans >your email for words and word relationships and then deletes Spam from your >mailbox. TELUS Spam Control is extremely accurate with industry-leading results. >For every one million messages it filters, only one is falsely identified as Spam. If >you are concerned that legitimate email may be incorrectly identified as Spam, >we recommend using the “tag” option.
>Please note that customers who have a TELUS Internet service plan and who >use a registered domain name with their email (i.e.: >firstname.lastname@example.org) are not currently compatible with TELUS Spam >Control. This includes customers who use a standalone TELUS Domain Hosting or >TELUS Domain Essentials and who have customized email accounts with their >own domain name.
>We hope this information has been helpful. If you require additional assistance >please visit us online at http://help.telus.net. Should you have any questions, >please do not hesitate to contact us.
>Thank you for choosing TELUS as your Internet service provider.
I’m not sure if they didn’t read my e-mail, or if they read it and simply chose to ignore most of it. Neither case surprises me.
“24 hours 365 days for you” <— this is the tagline on the e-mail signature of all of Telus’ representatives. Am I the only one who finds this funny?
The TWU is preparing to strike, and some 13,000 Telus workers in BC and Alberta may walk off the job as early as Friday. The union, however, fails to ask a critical question:
Will anyone notice?