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Summary: Telstra has been fined over half a million dollars for failing to connect new landline phones in a timely manner, yet ACCAN is concerned that affected consumers are unaware of their right to compensation. 

 Close up of a landline phone's buttons

Telstra has been fined $510,000 by the ACMA for delays in connecting new landline phones in urban areas during the financial year 2012-13. ACCAN welcomes this enforcement action, as penalties and a regulator prepared to take action if required are an essential part of making consumer protections effective.

The delays affected around 4000 consumers in urban areas, who had to wait longer than they should have to get an active landline. The Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) allows a maximum time for new landline connections and repairs. Telstra was also formally warned for missing its CSG benchmark for new connections in remote areas and for breaching its regulatory requirements regarding payphone removals.

ACCAN's concerns

We are concerned at the number of people who experienced delays in getting a landline phone connected over the last financial year and we expect a better performance from Telstra from now on. ACCAN understands Telstra is already taking steps to ensure these frustrating delays aren't repeated in 2014, but we expect the ACMA to continue actively monitoring the situation.

Landline phones are still an essential service for many Australians – particularly older people – and of critical importance to small businesses.

Your right to compensation

We are also concerned that Telstra may not be informing consumers that they are entitled to compensation payments when there are delays in connections and repairs. ACCAN has been contacted by consumers who only heard about their right to compensation payments by chance through media reports. In at least one case, an older consumer only received compensation for a delayed connection after speaking with ACCAN and then asking Telstra about it. This is not good enough – most consumers are not aware of their entitlement to compensation and Telstra is required to inform consumers about the customer service guarantee.

ACCAN is also encouraged by the ACMA's action on payphones. Payphones are important for vulnerable consumers and it is essential that Telstra fully consults with communities when considering payphone removals.