TELSTRA’S helpline for customers hit by the south-west communications outage has fallen way short of expectations as the region approaches its third week without full coverage.
Numerous complaints have poured in to The Standard about lack of adequate response by callers to the 1800 171 355 call centre.
One woman said she rang to complain about a Telstra bill arriving in the mail this week and was forwarded to another call centre in the Philippines where there was no knowledge of Warrnambool or the region. The call taker, thinking the blaze had just occurred, asked if the fire brigade had been contacted.
“It took 40 minutes to get an answer to my issue,” the customer told The Standard.
Geoff Rounds, part-owner of the Flower Gallery in Warrnambool, criticised the lack of response and information about repairs to the exchange.
“They take the call, but seem to just fob us off,” he said.
“We were nearly three weeks without internet, our phone line returned on Monday last week, but then dropped out for a while today.
“Services were restored just before 5pm today.
“About 60 per cent of our sales are online-based so it’s now a matter of clawing back lost business,” he said.
“If there are going to be further interruptions in service they should tell us beforehand.”
Dan Carey, manager of Brian O’Halloran and Co real estate and livestock agency said they were operating on only one of seven phone lines into the Warrnambool office.
“Our business is suffering because people think we aren’t doing our job and answering their calls,” he said. “The only feedback we’ve had from Telstra is when I’ve rung them.”
Mr Carey slammed Telstra management for painting a false picture of the extent of the outage.
“Why didn’t they just admit there were many customers still without full service instead of putting out propaganda about having only a few hundred lines to go,” he said.
“Our agents have had to do a lot more travelling to country clients and take the chance of catching them.
“This week’s Warrnambool livestock sale will be the last for the year, but many farmers probably don’t realise it because of the lack of communication.”