Yarram goes offline

HUNDREDS of Yarram Optus customers were left without reception for six days after an outage derailed the system last Friday, with some businesses facing thousands of dollars in lost sales and online marketing.

The telecommunications giant was bombarded with complaints and demands for compensation through the week as telephone users and eftpos clients in and around Yarram were unable to complete electronic funds transfers or communicate with clients and staff.

Business owner Sarah Kidd, who runs Kids Will Play — Sports and Apparel in Commercial Rd, was unable to process eftpos sales when the outage occurred last Friday until National Australia Bank changed her eftpos service to Telstra during the week.

Ironically, she had only transferred her business to Optus days before the outage after recurrent problems with Telstra.

“I don’t have a landline so I had no phone or internet for my Facebook sales, or eftpos, and it was a major disruption to my business,” she said.

Ms Kidd, who relies heavily on digital media as an important element of her business, said she had potentially lost “hundreds” of dollars because of the telecommunications fault.

She said she had spoken to Optus about compensation, but was yet to hear back.

But changing mobile service has proved difficult for Optus customers, with many locked into long-term contracts. 

Federal Coffee Palace owner Paige Eaton said half of her staff were Optus users and she was forced to drive around to their homes during the week to contact them for their shifts.

“It has been a major problem and caused a lot of difficulty,” she said.

Ms Eaton said Optus technicians had told her the problem wouldn’t be fixed until today, but others were told they were waiting on a “spare part”.

Yarram Bargain Centre owner Alan Lowe was without eftpos access for six days, and was forced to tell people he could only sell them products if they paid cash.

Yarram Early Learning Centre worker Steph Joseph said some parents were difficult to contact during the week, which would have been “disastrous” had there been an emergency.

“It’s just really lucky that there wasn’t an urgent need to get hold of any parents who had lost mobile coverage,” she said.

One Yarram business owner, who was also left without eftpos access all week, said he had endured months of telecommunications problems, and had changed service providers three times in the past few months.

Late on Wednesday an Optus spokesman told the Gippsland Times they had been able to restore service to Yarram.

“Optus mobile customers in the region may have experienced disruptions to their calls, texts and data services over the past few days as a result of a hardware fault affecting local towers,” he said.

“We apologise to all customers in the area who were affected.”

The spokesman said requests for compensation were reviewed on a case-by-case basis.