Telstra’s rewards program arrives, but is it worth it?

Telstra customers are about to gain points they can trade for products. Kinda. Sort of. Maybe. Let’s discuss.

We’re always fans of when companies feel like they’re doing things for the customers, for the very reasons they have business, though it’s not always perfect.

Some companies offer amazing support, while others don’t. Some companies advertise special deals that will come to their customers, and others don’t.

As far as marketing exercises go, companies can nail it, make a half-hearted attempt, or not even try at all. You’ll know which ones succeed because you’ll probably feel good about it, and become a loyal customer.

Telstra has this week launched one we’ve been a little skeptical of thus far, announcing a replacement to its previous “Telstra Thanks” program that rewards customers with lower prices to movies and other events simply by being a customer.

The new program is Telstra Plus, and while customers will still have a variation of Telstra Thanks, the point with Telstra Plus is rather fitting of the whole “point” so to speak: you gain points for being a Telstra customer that can be changed into goods and services later on.

That means members of Telstra Plus will gain ten points of Telstra credit for every dollar spent, be it from internet or mobile, and those points will accumulate to let you spend on things. In theory, you could get products simply by being a Telstra customer.

But that’s where the problem may lie.

While Telstra has yet to reveal the entire product listing for its Telstra Plus Rewards Store, it details some examples, noted below.

Telstra Plus points store examples

Those examples include getting a Telstra TV3, a Netgear Nighthawk M2 mobile modem, or a Google Home Mini, either for points or points and pay.

However that’s where the rub also is, because a Google Home Mini will apparently set you back 14,000 points, which means you’ll have needed to spend roughly $1400 on Telstra products in order to get one (though Telstra says customers will be able to get bonus points, some coming as sign-up bonuses, for instance). That’s a rough $1400 spend for a product that ideally costs $79 RRP, and yet can be found typically for below $50.

The Telstra TV3 on the Telstra Plus program will cost roughly $4000 worth of spend on Telstra, and then you’ll still need to spend $115 on top of that, all for a product that costs $216. That means to save $101, you’re factoring a cost of roughly $4000 worth of Telstra products.

It’s not hard to see that we’re getting into some high-priced territory, and while you don’t have to spend the points at all (because Telstra will be giving you those points anyway), it does make the addition of a point system a little arbitrary since the cost to use those points can hardly seem like a customer benefit in the first place. We’re used to points rewards programs generally feeling like they’re not worth the effort, but the whole thing is is almost saying that Telstra is giving bonus, but it probably won’t affect your Telstra experience.

The Telstra Plus points are almost like the “Whose Line Is It Anyway” of marketing exercises, because:

  1. They’re kind of a joke, and
  2. The points don’t matter

Despite this, Telstra believes its service will be an addition to its customers, with the next stage of its strategy to include simplified mobile plans, among other things.

“Telstra Plus is about saying thank you to our customers and represents just one of the ways that Telstra is providing our customers with product and experience improvements,” said Telstra’s Michael Ackland.

“We want to give customers and families around Australia simple and easy ways to access our products and services, and have access to technology sooner that can enhance their lives day to day,” he said.

While we’re dubious about the whole thing, you don’t need to spend the points, and given what we know about the point’s value, you may not for quite some time. We wouldn’t necessarily advise buying heaps of Telstra services in order to claim rewards, because you could probably just spend on those rewards yourself and get them sooner.

However, it could just come as a nice surprise at the end of a couple of years on a contract, where surprise, you’ve saved enough in an arbitrary points system to get a free speaker of $100 off something else.

At least Telstra isn’t taking away the lower-priced movie tickets, so that’s something.

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