By Kirra Grimes
IN AN “incredibly frustrating” set of circumstances, a Korumburra takeaway food business has been stuck without a working phone line for over three weeks due to unexplained issues with their National Broadband Network (NBN) connection.
The owners of Burra Fish Kitchen on Bridge Street, Erick and Lisa Berges, say they’ve lost thousands of dollars of revenue in recent weeks due to their inability to receive incoming phone calls from customers wanting to order from their takeaway menu.
The issues started just before Christmas, about two weeks after opening the business, with the landline “continually” dropping out, playing an engaged signal to customers trying to get through, or simply failing to ring at all.
Contacting their NBN provider hasn’t helped, said Lisa, with the company placing the blame with NBN Co, and neither party able to provide a clear answer on what exactly the problem is or when it might be fixed.
With no solution in sight, the Berges’ have purchased a mobile phone to receive incoming calls diverted from the faulty landline.
Lisa described the situation as a “complete disaster” that has left the new business unable to capitalise on the high demand for its products demonstrated in its opening weeks.
“It’s reducing our business massively. On a Friday or Saturday night – our busiest times – we’d normally have two phone lines going continually.
“Now, we’re down to one that has to be diverted to a mobile, at extra cost to our business, and that still doesn’t handle the volume of calls we need it to.
“Based on our original numbers, you could easily say we’re missing hundreds of calls a week, and as a new business trying to make a name for ourselves, it’s incredibly damaging.
“People give up if they can’t get a hold of you straight away. If they’re hungry and they can’t get through, they’ll instantly go elsewhere, and they might not give you another chance.”
Citing reports of poor NBN service from other Korumburra residents and business operators, Lisa questioned why consumers were being “forced to take up a product that isn’t 100 per cent”.
She said connection to the NBN had also proven “problematic” at the family’s other seafood business in Warragul.
“You’re backed into a corner because there’s no other way to set up a phone line anymore. A lot of people in the community have got issues and there’s no hands-on customer service anymore. It’s all left for the customer to sort out themselves.”
Firmly focused on finding a “workable solution,” Lisa and Erick said they were not considering pursuing NBN Co for compensation for the lost revenue.
“We just want our phone lines up and running,” said Lisa.
When contacted about the situation at Burra Fish Kitchen, NBN Co told the Sentinel-Times: “There were planned works at this location which ran from the evening of January 29 which were completed the following morning.
“This may have caused a service interruption for about 30 minutes.
“In addition, there was a service modification earlier in January to update the stability profile of this service which could potentially mean there was an issue that wasn’t reported to nbn as a fault.
“This is an automatic process whereby the network learns and adjusts each line’s profile automatically to manage changing conditions.”
NBN Co’s public affairs manager James Kaufman said the company was planning to send out a technician to “assess the line and whether there is any major problems that need fixing”.