Ha ha! Hee hee! Ho ho! Woohoo!! I finally won my battle with BigPond.

After cancelling my account with them over a year ago and refusing to
pay until they responded to my complaints, I mostly forgot about them
after I didn't hear from them for the best part of 14 months.

When they finally got around to responding, it was in the form of a
not-very-polite letter of demand which threatened that they'd refer me
to a collection agency should I not pay. I think they forgot the whole
"velvet glove" part of the equation and just went for the iron fist.
Unfortunately, it was a bit rusty, as they shortly found out.

When I received the letter, I phoned and asked to talk to Nixon Roberts,
the guy whose signature appears at the bottom of the letter. Surprise,
surprise - they told me that he didn't actually deal with mortal
customers, and that I'd have to talk to a droid about it.

I wasn't really in the mood to talk to a droid, so I took a guess at his
internal Telstra email address (no, I didn't even look it up in the GAL)
and mailed him directly. I wasn't even irate - I just said that since he'd
been a bit impolite in having his droids refuse to let me talk to him, I
was disputing the entire amount.

I didn't get a response from him, but the next day I received an email
from another bloke, who told me that the charges were all legit and that
I had to pay, or else. I'd evidently been shunted back down the food
chain, which I didn't take all that well, so I sent a (polite!) reply to
both the new guy and Mr Roberts. Basically, the gist of my message was
that they could either investigate the complaint, admit that they'd
stuffed up, apologise and try to come to a settlement, or they could
drag me through the courts and eventually lose anyway.

Lo and behold, my second attempt provoked an unusual response - they
agreed to actually look into the complaint. Not bad, for a complaint
that was logged in April of 2001

A few days later, I had yet another guy phone me up. He was the
first person who'd actually read through what I'd written, and he
couldn't believe it. It sounded like he just kept shaking his head as he
went over all the various responses the billing and tech people had
given me.

In the end, he offered to slash the bill by just over a third, and to
send a written apology for Telstra's giving me the run-around for so
long. Needless to say, the collection request has been withdrawn and
I've happily agreed to pay the revised bill.

So, all in all, after over a year of stuffing around, how long did it
take to solve the problem? A phone call of 13 minutes and 36 seconds.
Bloody amazing. I guess there's something that Telstra might be able to
learn from this experience - not every little guy is going to roll over,
and sometimes... just sometimes... maybe the little guy could be right.