Telstra doles out $3.6M in user compensation

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) yesterday released a report revealing Telstra spent $3.6 million on customer compensation during the first six months of this year. Telstra compensated 52,847 of the 6.5 million "customer contacts" it received between January 1 and June 30 1998.

The carrier is liable to compensate users for the breach of customer service guarantees (CSG) under part 9 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

The ACA's Telecommunications Performance report 1997-98 says the Telstra-supplied figures indicate it doled out an average of $694 per customer. Both residential and business customers are included in the figures.

The report states that compensation is typically issued for delays in connecting or repairing a standard telephone service beyond the required standards. Telstra also compensates for its failure to keep agreed customer appointments.

Telstra spokesman Greg Swain said the complaints are largely the result of the carrier's ageing network. "Yes, it's an ageing network and needs some repair," he said.

Swain said while Telstra's national network is largely designed to cater for voice traffic, it is in the process of spending $120 million this year to upgrade the network.

Swain described the compensation news as "good", considering the level of customer feedback it received during the period.

Telstra repaired 4,110,360 faults, carried out 1,735,495 in-place connections and provided 750,533 new services in the 1997-98 financial year, the report said.

According to the report, Optus has issued an average of $47.44 per customer in New South Wales and Victoria since May 1998. NSW and Victoria are the only two states where it provides access and local telephone services.

While Optus figures are not detailed for the same period as Telstra, the ACA reports since May 1998 Optus paid just $3320.45 in compensation for 70 cases in NSW and Victoria.

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