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Optus leaves Balaklava residents phoneless

Things are always pretty quiet in Balaklava at this time of year. Farmers have traded their works shorts for boardies and are putting their feet up at the beach, and families are making the most of school holidays, in locations less “arid”.
But this year, it seems even Optus has headed off on holiday too.

Returning from some South Aussie exploring myself, I had to do a mercy dash from Balaklava to Gawler to change phone providers, after realising I had no communication with the outside world! Sure a glitch in the service every now and then is somewhat acceptable, but reports from other Optus customers in the district revealed that the outage had been causing major headaches for up to ten days.

With our reliance on mobile technology and internet, living without it for a length of time can be catastrophic. E-Scripts for medication, online banking, contactless payments, even a simple phone call. Let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come!

Optus has been rather confusing in addressing the issue, and while the response from its media department was suitably swift, I’m not sure it’s the answer affected customers are looking for.

On Friday afternoon (Jan 19), – “Optus is committed to keeping our customers connected by providing the highest possible coverage across our network.  Due to a transmission fault, some Optus customers in Balaklava experienced an unplanned service disruption. An Optus field technician attended the site, and coverage was restored on Monday night. We apologise to affected customers and thank them for their patience.”

Wondering which Monday they were referring to, I replied letting them know residents were still without service. After “looking into if further”, this was the second response.

“We understand that Optus customers in Balaklava are still experiencing disruptions with their mobile services. Further investigation of the equipment is required and technicians are troubleshooting to fix the fault.”

Well thank the Lord for that! But meanwhile….in Balaklava, Optus customers have inundated Betta Electrical, which hasn’t been a Telstra store for three years, and has never been affiliated with Optus. Owner, Jeff Karklins, said while he didn’t have the answers people wanted either, he understood the outage had been problematic, especially for people locked into an Optus plan.

Some locals have labelled the lengthy disruption “a nightmare”, unable to send emails, make calls or payments and those on outlying properties are feeling “unsafe”. The local swimming pool had to get an emergency Telstra back-up service to be able to remain open, with others who heavily rely on communication needing to drive to neighbouring towns to conduct business.

Some customers say they’ve been told by Optus that they would be compensated.



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