Life Tech Bad start to long weekend for Telstra customers
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Bad start to long weekend for Telstra customers

Andrew Penn
AAP
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A large number of Telstra customers have taken to social media to complain of yet another internet outage affecting parts of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

The complaints coincided with a spike in Telstra internet problems reported by customers between 12pm and 5pm on Saturday, as tracked by the Aussie Outages website.

The website reported a peak of 790 complaints at approximately 1pm, mainly originating in the capital cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

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The hashtag #telstraoutage trended on Twitter during the outage, as customers vented their fury online (presumably through their phones).

A Telstra spokesperson confirmed to the ABC on Saturday afternoon that “approximately 75,000 customers” suffered broadband network outages beginning “around midday”.

aussie outages
Saturday’s outage hit most of the capital cities. Photo: Aussie Outages

One Twitter user, Alex Smith, dubbed the blackout “a national embarrassment”.

“This is now way beyond a joke. Telstra is a national embarrassment and disgrace,” he wrote.

Telstra’s social media team responded: “We are working to find a solution and we apologise for the inconvenience.”

An ongoing problem

Criticism of the telco has risen in recent months following a string of broadband blackouts.

The first of this year’s widespread outages occurred on February 9 due to an employee’s “procedural error” and on March 17 and 22 due to “system failures”, sparking extra scrutiny — and frequent bursts of social media fury — from Telstra customers.

Some customers reacted to Saturday’s incident with threats to end their contracts, while others simply aired their disgust.

“There are people who go to the toilet less regularly than Telstra knocks out its internet service,” David Smith wrote on Twitter.

aussie outage
There was a large spike in Telstra complaints on Saturday. Photo: Aussie Outage

The complaints come at a sensitive time for the company, which is starting to transition current internet customers to the slowly expanding NBN network. Many other telco companies are trying to poach from this customer base as the network is rolled out.

Compensation?

As of Saturday night, Telstra was yet to announce any compensation for affected customers.

The company’s chosen means of reimbursement for other broadband outages has been a topic of heated debate on social media.

Its offer of free data days for two outages earlier in the year angered many customers. In response, Telstra switched to financial compensation. When its internet services went down in May, it offered those worst affected a $25 credit to their bills.

Some of the angriest Telstra customers have been business clients, many of whom have taken to social media to argue that the teclo’s reimbursement offers are inadequate.

“Hard to run a business online when the internet is down. AGAIN,” Melbourne radio host Dave ‘Higgo’ Higgins wrote on Saturday.

“Has Telstra reached critical mass? Might be time to switch.”

Your legal rights

Mobile phone use with thumb
Affected customers may be able to seek further compensation. Photo: Getty

A consumer law lecturer, Professor Aviva Freilich at the University of Western Australia, previously told The New Daily that Telstra customers may have a right to further compensation beyond any offers made by the company.

Under consumer law, any service offered in Australia – such as a phone plan – must be supplied with due care and skill. If the service provider makes a guarantee that the service is fit for a particular purpose, they must usually fulfil that guarantee. And if the customer makes the supplier aware that they need the service for a particular purpose, it should usually meet that extra requirement.

“If there’s an argument that Telstra has been negligent or haven’t done it properly, the consumer could terminate the contract and they could also get [monetary] damages,” Prof Freilich said at the time.

The expert advised that disgruntled customers contact Telstra, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and perhaps even the consumer watchdog, the ACCC.

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