TELSTRA has apologised after an Adelaide grandfather struggling to work out how to use his new smartphone was told to "just Google it", only to be later helped by a kind Aldi staff member while buying his groceries.
Wes Coleman, 75, said the heartwarming encounter at his local Aldi store in St Agnes last week made his day, after a visit to the Telstra Store at the Tea Tree Plaza shopping centre left him feeling "frustrated".
Mr Coleman had been seeking assistance with his first ever iPhone, given to him by his daughter so her parents could keep in touch with their grandchildren via Facetime when they move to the US in a few weeks.
"Being one of the old, non-computer age people, I was frustrated and couldn't get the thing to work," he said. "One of the young girls in there that knows me said, 'How's your day been?' And I politely said, 'Frustrating.' She said, 'What's the matter?' I said, 'I can't work my mobile phone. I can't find the phone numbers'."
After asking if she could help, the Aldi worker took Mr Coleman's phone, moved all of his contacts to his front page for easier access, and showed him how to use them. "The consequence of all this is I've learnt basically how to use all my phone numbers, how to delete some, put some in," he said.
"The irony of it was the fact that I'd just left the Telstra shop, where all I could get was, 'Go back and Google this, Google that.' I really got no help at all even though I'm a Telstra customer. In a matter of a few seconds this very pleasant girl has taught me more about my phone than trying to muck around with Telstra.
"Unfortunately it's typical of a lot of larger conglomerates, they only really want to sell you their goods, and you don't get a lot of information. Even when you buy a new phone, you're supposed to know it all. When you're in your 70s and 80s, you're well past that generation to understand."
Mr Coleman, who shops at the Aldi once or twice a week where he does about three quarters of his shopping, said the staff were "all very pleasant".
"We are happy to hear that one of our staff members in our St Agnes store could help this customer," an Aldi spokeswoman said. "We hope he enjoys using his new smartphone."
Telstra, meanwhile, has been left red-faced. "Every day Telstra helps our customers in store or online with their telecommunications needs but on this occasion our service wasn't as good as it could have been," said Mark Bolton, Telstra's South Australia area general manager.
"We apologise to this customer who was affected and we welcome him to come back to any of our stores if he needs assistance with his phone again in the future."
Mr Coleman's daughter, Sandi, gave a "huge shout out" to the staff member, saying she "significantly improved his day ... and quite possibly his life". "The backstory is my mum is not well, she has Hodgkin lymphoma, and he hadn't been able to call her from the shops," she said.
"So it was a small gesture, but it absolutely made his day and helped him out. It was RU OK Day as well, which wasn't lost on me."
But she described his treatment from Telstra as "totally dismissive". "He asked them if they could help and they responded with, 'You can just Google it.' That's like talking a foreign language," she said. "If he can't find his contacts, chances are he's not going to be able to Google. It's so Telstra."