THREE months after the Telstra exchange fire in Warrnambool blacked out thousands of south-west residents, some business operators are still struggling to recoup losses.
Although more than 1000 claims for under $1000 have been paid, the flow of larger pay-outs is much slower.
So far there have been less than 100 claims lodged for above $1000 of which several have been approved and paid, Telstra’s regional manager Bill Mundy said.
One central Warrnambool trader told The Standard Telstra’s claim forms were too demanding while an industrial business operator spoke of the battle in trying to get compensation through a wholesale telco which uses the Telstra network.
Mr Mundy defended the compensation processes which were outlined to a packed community meeting in Warrnambool late last year.
“We are not backing away from paying compensation,” he said. “But we need to have the necessary information to help prove the claims.
“We think the information requested is reasonable.”
However, those views are disputed by Tracey Thomas who operates Chernat’s Lingerie. She initially lodged business activity statements (BAS), but has been told detailed profit and loss reports for comparative years must be submitted. “It’s like a rich man taking a poor man to court,” she said.
“Trying to run a business virtually on your own and finding time to collate all the relevant information is difficult.
“It means paying an accountant to prepare two profit and loss reports, but Telstra won’t pay for this cost. I think it’s a stalling tactic and absolutely unreasonable.”
Ms Thomas plans to join a potential class action against the telecommunications giant.
A business operator in the industrial estate said she was growing tired of trying to get a wholesale telco to pay some compensation.
“I was told they couldn’t pay because they hadn’t received compensation from Telstra,” she said.
However, Mr Mundy said wholesale telcos had been sent the same claim forms as were sent to Telstra customers.
“Customers with other telcos should request compensation forms which should then be completed and sent back to the telco for submission to Telstra for processing,” he said.
“They have the same compensation entitlements as Telstra customers.”