Ombudsman welcomes telecoms dispute team for SMEs

Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) announcement that it will form a Small Business Team.

“From April 1, 2019, small businesses who are in dispute with their telephone, mobile or internet services provider will have a specific team to contact,” she said.

She also highlighted the potential chaos and lost revenue that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could suffer.

“Connectivity is key to a business’s success,” she said. “With 95 per cent of small businesses online, a disruption or complete lack of connection can affect their sales, marketing, ordering and invoicing processes.

“It’s not acceptable for small businesses to lose customers due to problems with phone or internet connections. This is why this new small business team within TIO is needed.”

Disconnected for 59 days

Ms Carnell gave the example of a chemist in ACT whose business was severely disrupted by communication problems.

“We recently helped a Canberra-based chemist whose phone line had been disconnected for 59 days,” she said. “The telecommunications provider had cut the lines while redirecting to the NBN. The chemist then had their fax line disconnected. This caused, among other issues, critical concerns regarding doctors being unable to fax prescriptions for palliative-care medication.

“Once my assistance team stepped in, the telecommunications provider reconnected both the phone and fax lines.

“We’ll continue to support measures that assist small businesses to maintain and grow their digital connectivity.”

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