Ire over Telstra blackout in North Bendigo

FAULTY cables have left 800 homes and businesses, including the Bendigo District RSL, without phone and internet access, and Telstra says the problem could take more than a week to solve.

Phone lines in the North Bendigo region have been down since last Wednesday, limiting businesses and frustrating residents who are unable to use online services.

Telstra, which operates phone lines, says cable faults are continuing to be fixed.

Area general manager Ray Pratt said four technicians had already worked to restore services, with 200 landlines remaining out of service.

“A repair crew has been dispatched, and we hope that all services will be restored by Wednesday morning,” he said.

“We apologise to customers for any inconvenience and assure them that we are doing everything we can to restore services as quickly as possible.”

Businesses in the area are continuing to operate without eftpos and ATMs.

Poker machines at the Bendigo District RSL were out of service for almost two days last week, before a wireless replacement was provided.

Administration manager Mary Hartley said the RSL had lost a considerable amount of income by having to turn away business.

“We had no gaming last Thursday night, it was our big members’ draw night and we look forward to that event as one of our biggest nights of making money,” she said.

“We’ve lost a lot of customers, it’s really affected us and our phone line is still out. How do you run a business without a phone?”

Victoria’s poker machine figures from last financial year showed the 81 machines at Bendigo RSL made an average of $15,228 a day.

Mrs Hartley said the RSL was appealing for adequate compensation from Telstra.

“Telstra said they’ve put more technicians on, I’m hopeful that we’ll get it fixed soon and get a considerable compensation,” she said.

Prouses Road Milk Bar had no access to phone, internet or eftpos, costing hundreds of dollars in lost revenue.

Owners Kylie and Michael McDonell had their phone service restored yesterday but said the five days offline was a major setback for the family-run store.

Kylie McDonell said it was frustrating not knowing the progress report of their service.

“It was four and a half days of missing sales, no internet and phones,” she said.

“We were told three different dates of when it was meant to be fixed and it kept getting delayed.”

Graphic designer Morgan Macdonald works from her home studio on Prouses Road and has yet to have her phone line fixed.

“I’ve not been able to do any work or send any files, it’s been very difficult,” she said.

“I’ve rung about five times and asked for compensation from Telstra. I’ve had mixed messages, but all I’ve been told so far is that they will give me $25 off my monthly bill.” Mrs Macdonald said there was concern some of the 200 homes affected might have emergency situations before their phone service is fixed.

“A lot of elderly people don’t own mobile phones,” she said.

“If you’ve got health issue it would be quite an inconvenience to try and get help.”

Damian Hovenden lives in nearby Magpie Street and said it had been a large issue for the amount of locals affected.

“You don’t realise how much you need to use the internet; it’s a major inconvenience,” he said.

“If it was a system upgrade, I could understand that, but a fault that hasn’t been fixed is even more frustrating.”

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