THE collapse of a group of national telecom companies which left dozens of western Victorian residents and businesses without landline communications has been described as potentially worse for them than the Warrnambool Telstra exchange fire two years ago.
Unable to use phones, eftpos links and fax machines, business operators estimate they have lost thousands of dollars in sales since subsidiaries of CONEC2 were placed into administration on Friday.
It is unlikely they will be able to claim compensation and many may be unable to get their old number back.
People with medical and disability issues reliant on landline links have also been badly hit.
Affected customers of One Telecom, AsiaPAC Communications, iBOSS and other brands, including ONESeniors, lost service on Friday morning, leaving them unable to contact the complaints departments or management. Businesses have scrambled to advertise mobile numbers in place of their inactive landlines.
The office of Wannon MP Dan Tehan has been contacted by concerned constituents and has referred the crisis to federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Manager of Warrnambool’s Wallace Plumbtec, John Jordon, said: “At least with the Telstra fire outage people had a fair idea what the problem was, but with this they don’t know what’s happening.
“We don’t know how many sales we would have lost, but the impact would be thousands of dollars.”
Gateway Jewellers proprietor Brian Kelson agreed.
“For us it’s as bad as being left out in the dark with the Telstra fire. We’ve got a major renovation sale happening and rely on our landline, but we have no idea when landline service will be restored — it could be two to three weeks,” he said.