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3 August, 2022

Optus out

Community members may be saying ‘no’ to Optus, after some planned work left users without service for over nine days.

By Emily Middleton

A message was sent out to Optus customers on July 24, stating that the service is “bringing faster network speeds and more reliable service to Gilgandra”.

The text message stated that “while we work, your mobile service(s) may experience some interruptions, but we will do our best to try minimise that”.

However, since July 26, customers have reported no service during the day, and patchy quality from around 6pm onwards. This has left users vulnerable, and without means of contacting anyone.

“My husband was out in Broken Hill, and he rang in the evening and four times the phone dropped out on us, so we gave up,” said Lesley Meyers.

Other customers are concerned that if something goes wrong while they are alone, they will have no means of contacting anyone for help.

“Our phones are our lifeline,” said Lesley Meyers. Amidst concerns for her own wellbeing, Mrs Meyers is also concerned she will miss crucial news.

“My granddaughter has been quite sick, so I’ve been trying to stay in contact with my daughter to see how she is. But I can’t even message her to check.”

But it’s not just individuals that have been affected. Businesses are being made to adapt without internet, creating an extra workload on top of an already full day.

“I rely on everything through my tablet, so all my appointments are through my tablet. Now I can’t access the online side things during the day, I have to battle with it at night adding extra hours,” said Jules Marchant, owner of The Blonde Space.

Mrs Marchant relies on internet and mobile service to book in customers, and for them to pay for their services. As she is with Optus, it was back to basics.

“I have no telephone, no EFTPOS. Luckily I had a memory of what was happening each day otherwise I had no idea who was coming in. But if people were making online bookings I couldn’t see them, or if people were calling me, I didn’t know.

“I have to write appointments down on paper. I bought an appointment book; I haven’t used one of them in years!”

Relying on community trust, Mrs Marchant has in some cases had to be on layaway with customers, and others have had to leave and get cash.

“It’s frustrating when you’re trying to have everything online. It’s been testing. Sometimes people have money, sometimes they don’t.”

While Mrs Marchant will be remining with Optus as a service provider, Mrs Meyers wants to see compensation.

“I can’t access my emails, that have bills for me to pay in the inbox. If I can’t access them, and I can’t pay them, then I will have to pay overdue fees that would be unnecessary if I had access. Optus have even sent me their bill I saw, but I can’t do anything about it,” said Mrs Meyers.

Optus were contacted for comment and have not responded at time of writing. The service issues are set to cease later this week.

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