Businesses’ frustration with phones – ‘who’s responsible?’

Telco trouble: Confusion over who is responsible for telecommunications faults in the NBN rollout is a frustration for Illawarra businesses, according to a survey. Picture: Glenn Hunt

Telco trouble: Confusion over who is responsible for telecommunications faults in the NBN rollout is a frustration for Illawarra businesses, according to a survey. Picture: Glenn Hunt

“I’m sick of it.”

That’s the response Jim Rooke has to the dramas involved in getting the phone line to his business connected.

A smash repairer in Port Kembla, Mr Rooke said he’d been waiting weeks to get his landline sorted out ever since opting to connect to the NBN at the end of June.

He claims there’s been a litany of cancelled appointments, first from NBN technicians and then those from Telstra.

He’s kept a list of the cancelled appointments from the time he decided to get the NBN installed.

That list shows at least nine dates where either an NBN or Telstra technician missed an appointment.

“They don’t show and so you ring them the next day and say ‘what happened to the appointment we had yesterday?,” Mr Rooke said.

“‘Oh, they canceled that’. It would have been nice if we’d gotten a call. I’m just sick of this. It’s costing me business and business is money.”

While Mr Rooke now has an NBN connection to the internet, for the last three weeks his business number has been diverted to a mobile phone.

An NBN spokeswoman said they were notified of an issue on August 21 and attended within a week to fix it.

“We have not been notified of any issues since that date,” the spokeswoman said.

A Telstra spokeswoman apologised to Mr Rooke.

“We are working to fast-track a tech appointment, to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” she said.

Mr Rooke’s issues are among those raised in the Illawarra Business Chamber’s campaign to improve telecommunications for the region’s businesses.

Part of that campaign included a forum on Friday to help identify possible solutions.

Chamber executive director Chris Lamont said a survey of businesses showed that problems were “pretty widespread” across the Illawarra.

He said the problems were occurring with a range of service providers.

One of the main problems, he said, was that the business didn’t know how to resolve issues between their provider and the NBN.

“No one seems to be in charge or taking responsibility and rectifying the faults,” he said.

“The customer doesn’t seem to be able to get in touch with the person who can fix it.”

Labor spokesman on regional communication Stephen Jones called the confusion over responsibility “the NBN ping pong”.

“The phone company says ‘it’s not us’ it’s the NBN’,” Mr Jones said.

“The NBN says ‘we don’t deal directly with customers, you’ve got to go through your phone company’. The poor old customer just wants their bloody phone to work.”

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