Telekom Austria AG

I thought telecommunication companies were supposed to be good at communicating. It sure seems to be lacking at Telekom Austria, the former state-owned phone monopoly. Revenues in 2001 were 3.9 billion Euros with 16,500 employees and, it's still 48% owned by the Austrian government.

The six-story headquarters building stands near Vienna's city center in a large plaza area. It's close to lunchtime as I walk into the place. A building directory sign says Citibank has offices here also. I check in with the two receptionists and explain how I sent a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Heinz Sundt. I ask if they could call Sundt's secretary to find out where my letter had been referred. For some strange reason they direct me over to a side room. I walk into the room and discover it's a service center---you know where people go to pay phone bills. Mystified, I return to the two receptionists and explain again what I do. Jeez, it takes five more minutes of talking before they finally seem to understand.

There isn't much to the lobby area with a small sofa the only place to sit. I can see the company cafeteria past the reception area. After a 20-minute wait Alois Schrems from Corporate Communications comes to the lobby. Schrems says the company didn't receive my letter but agrees to answer questions.

Instead of going to the cafeteria or a meeting room Schrems elects to step next door to the adjacent public pub. Jeez, I HATE tobacco and the place is full of smokers. Needless to say I race through the questions quickly.

A new headquarters building is currently being built on the outskirts of Vienna and will be ready in 2003. About 400 people work here. During World War II Allied bombing destroyed this building, except for the facade. It was rebuilt in the 1950's. Smoking isn't allowed in offices, senior management gets reserved parking spots and, it's eight miles to Vienna Airport. Employee perks includes discounts on mobile phone and fixed line charges.

My request to see CEO Sundt's office and boardroom is met with a quick "no". "Why?", I ask. Schrems says it's because he has no background information on me. I explain that's why I send a letter of introduction along with news clippings a month before my arrival. I go on to say the letter and news clippings are here but Telecom Austria has poor in-house mail delivery.