There’s a Consumer Service Guarantee (CSG) for all Telstra fixed line customers.
Well, Telstra wasn’t going to tell you. When the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was started by the Howard Government at the turn of the century to protect fixed line customers from lengthy telephone repairs, the publicity noise wasn’t deafening.
Nothing on television, radio or in the papers to attract attention. Because Costello wanted to sell the company to mum and dad investors, not put them off.
So if you wanted to find out, you had to go to the ACMA website on your own research. There you were told that Telstra had two days to fix your phone or else the penalties started.
Telstra would owe you $14.52 per business day for five days, increasing to $48.40 per day thereafter.
The city dwellers in the dark weren’t affected because phone services were repaired quickly. The regional customers were the ones who were disadvantaged due to staff cuts.
To avoid Country CSG payments, Telstra applied to APRA for a waiver to permit Manila to organise a diversion of a fixed line to a mobile phone, this helping out the country technicians for short periods.
Ha! Now that’s a joke. My farm phone’s last diversion lasted 55 days and ACMA staff said they had heard much longer. The sight of my mobile acting as a wallphone caused great mirth to my children with their smart phones on plans that cost far less than Telstra’s landline, plus only those within four feet heard the phone ring and the battery would run down.
To refuse the diversion was the same as taking it – no CSG.
A Telstra parent of an ex-student said we should have taken the third option. Say we wanted a direct line but had no mobile. Then Telstra had to get a mobile to use from a Telstra Shop (Wonthaggi the closest). He said that hurried repairs.
There are now only 6.8 million fixed line customers across Australia. To them I say, read the ACMA rules carefully on its website. Quote, ‘Telstra must ‘notify’ its customers at least once every two years of the CSG and the current penalty rates’.
Have any customers ever been notified? No, you were expected to read the website! Telstra wasn’t going to be foolish enough to write it on your account – then you’d know! No, through osmosis fixed line customers would learn of their CSG rights. All 6.8 million of them?
After 21 months of a faulty farm phone, I like this part. Quote, “Telstra will automatically start crediting the account holder once it exceeds the time limit for repairs”. Sure, I’m breeding flying pink pigs here on my farm.
ACMA didn’t spare a thought to the customers who were computer illiterate, had suffered strokes or didn’t own a computer. They didn’t know their rights – they were a minority and minorities can be discriminated against. People like my banker, my doctor, my lawyer, my dentist, my specialist, my accountant, my mechanic, my plumber, my electrician, my shopkeepers and so on.
I’ve asked 120 Telstra customers since I heard of the CSG and not one has known – never mind, there’s millions to go. Don’t ask Telstra Filipino though, ‘cos if he raised the CSG, he’d lose his job.
Michael Hogg, Yanakie.