A SANCTUARY POINT man has refused to pay his mobile phone bill – and is encouraging others to do the same – after almost two months of call drop-outs, delayed text messages and lost business.
From late November until mid-January, Justin O’Connor’s phone would routinely drop out within seconds of making a call.
He would receive messages days after they were sent, most depressingly five days after his brother, visiting Mr O’Connor in Sanctuary Point, had returned home to Sydney.
“I’m at your front door,” the message said.
Mr O’Connor complained to his provider, Optus, and said the telco excused him from paying bills for the troubled period.
But he remains locked in negotiations with the telco over lost income and is concerned that others are paying bills when they shouldn’t have to.
Mr O’Connor estimates he lost about $13,500 in sales from his business, which ironically involves restoring and selling London-style telephone boxes.
“I’d get 12 messages in one day from people who were here days ago, inquiring about the phone booths,” Mr O’Connor said.
“By the time I rang them they were back home in Victoria or wherever they came from.
“They just thought I wasn’t bothering to get back to them.
“I did zero sales during that period, which is normally my busiest time of year.”
Mr O’Connor said he had spoken to many Optus customers as far north as Engadine with the same problems.
He said the company eventually told him the problems were due to the network becoming overloaded, and he questioned why it was allowed to keep selling phones and plans while not providing a service.
“They were playing stacks-on to a network that was already overloaded and couldn’t provide service to people,” he said.
“To me, an omission’s a lie. If they knew there was a problem they should make a public announcement.
“I spoke to as many as 60 people in that period; every one of them with the identical problem. They couldn’t send texts, couldn’t make a call without it being cut off, and couldn’t connect to the internet.”
Mr O’Connor had complained to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and said he was curious whether a case could be made for a class action.
An Optus spokesman attributed service interruptions to upgrade work and extreme weather.
“Optus has been upgrading services in the Illawarra region over the last eight months,” the spokesman said.
“Due to some of this [upgrade] work and extreme weather conditions over the summer, Optus customers may have experienced some service interruptions.”
The spokesman apologised to affected customers and offered a number – 1509, and a website www.optus.com.au/customerhelp for complaints and assistance “on a case-by-case basis.”