When silence isn’t golden: businesses suffer without telephone service

NOT SEEING EYE TO EYE: Optometrist Gary Clothier lost his phone service on May 2. 
Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER  0509lsoptom

NOT SEEING EYE TO EYE: Optometrist Gary Clothier lost his phone service on May 2. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER 0509lsoptom

TWO business owners had to contend without their most basic tools last week after their telephone provider left them without a dial tone.

Conec2 was forced into administration after two of its business divisions collapsed and were sold off on May 2.

When Fix ‘n’ Fit Footwear owner David Cardwell tried to send a fax the following Monday, nothing happened.

“Then I tried to make a call and it wouldn’t go through,” he said.

Mr Cardwell said calls to Conec2 had only reached a voicemail service and he had lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications ombudsman, but he was still unsure whether he would have to pay more money to Conec2 under his contract or whether he could keep his current number.

“I’ve been in business for 25 years with that number, I’ve got work from the whole western area and people think you’ve gone broke if the phone’s been disconnected,” he said.

Mr Cardwell was able to get his eftpos operating via an unreliable wi-fi signal, but has been unable to order supplies.

While Mr Cardwell mostly relies on passing traffic to keep his business afloat, optometrist Gary Clothier has been hit harder.

Mr Clothier said he usually saw more than 30 patients a week, but despite visits from his most loyal patients, few appointments have been made for this week.

“With the [federal] budget jitters, business is so bad at the moment and with this on top of all that, I’m a bit stressed,” he said.

“I will have no income unless people start ringing.”

Mr Clothier is currently relying on his 16-year-old daughter’s mobile phone until his new iPrimus service activates.

“Not only do we have no phone, we have no fax, we can’t process Medicare claims, we can’t process private healthcare claims or Mastercard or Visa,” he said.

“My advice to people would be, don’t go for the cheapest deal.”

Telstra was Conec2’s supplier and Mr Clothier said he would have liked to see Telstra contact Conec2 customers to find another service.

However a Telstra spokeswoman said those who purchased a retail service from the Conec2 were not Telstra customers.

She said disconnected Conec2 customers were welcome to bring their business to Telstra and people were usually able to keep their existing number when they switched providers, however only those with a life-threatening condition would receive priority assistance.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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