Telstra fails to answer business’s call for help

FRUSTRATED: Bundaberg Wholesale Palms and Plants owner Steve Pratt is furious at the lack of assistance he has received from Telstra to fix ongoing phone issues and says the problem has cost his business thousands of dollars. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
FRUSTRATED: Bundaberg Wholesale Palms and Plants owner Steve Pratt is furious at the lack of assistance he has received from Telstra to fix ongoing phone issues and says the problem has cost his business thousands of dollars. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

IN THE 21st century conducting a business without phone coverage, internet or eftpos is impossible and following months of ongoing issues, a Bundaberg business estimates it's cost them close to $70,000 in sales.

Disgruntled Telstra business customer and Bundaberg Wholesale Palms and Plants owner Steve Pratt said the business first experienced issues with its six-line phone system in February and since then has struggled with noisy lines, phones that drop out and coverage limited to just a meter within the office area.

Mr Pratt said despite paying a fee to receive priority assistance, the service from Telstra to address the problems had been anything but helpful.

Issues began in February when the business lost all landlines, internet and eftpos for four days; however a claim for $8000 in compensation for losses was refused because the reporting of the problem coincided with a cyclone warning.

"The system was brought in June or July last year and we had full range until February 18," Mr Pratt said.

"On the 19th we lost everything, we reported it to Telstra and they said it would take up to three weeks to fix.

"You can imagine a six-line phone system trying to divert through one mobile."

Mr Pratt said they needed the problem fixed immediately so opted to install a wireless internet system and later applied for compensation.

"They came back to us and said they declared us in a cyclone area," he said.

"We reported it two days prior to the cyclone crossing. It had nothing to do with the cyclone."

Mr Pratt said it still took two weeks to get their landlines back but in March the landlines had more problems which ranged from lines dropping out to noise in the background and no coverage for more than a meter from the office.

For a large site where the ability to quote prices to customers while moving around the plants and landscaping supplies was essential, Mr Pratt said customers went elsewhere thinking they'd been hung up on, while others could get through at all.

"I'd estimate it's cost us about $70,000," he said.

"I know one landscaper was looking to spend $3000 to $4000 on pavers but he couldn't get through so he went elsewhere."

"We pay a bill of about $2500 to $3000 a month and the service we've received has been shocking."

Mr Pratt said after weeks waiting for new handsets, only to discover it wasn't the problem, a faulty aerial was finally identified as the major issue and a temporary system was just installed yesterday, which appears to have finally addressed the problems.

The NewsMail contacted Telstra and a spokesman said a mass service disruption occurred in this customer's area following the extreme weather events caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Marcia, which caused widespread damage and impacted services as far away as Bundaberg.

"Unfortunately, extreme weather conditions or instances beyond our control cause sometimes damage our facilities, meaning our ability to connect or fix faults is delayed beyond our usual timeframes," he said.

"During these times a mass service disruption exemption may be requested and put in place, permitting Telstra extra time to respond to and resolve the issues under certain circumstances that fall outside of the customer service guarantee performance standards for the duration of the disruption.

"We have investigated this customer's case and, while there are no records of any outstanding faults, we will contact him directly to discuss."

Topics:  eftpos internet telstra

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